What are parasites?
Parasites are organisms that infect the body of another living being and live off their hosts to survive. While some parasites create no symptoms in their hosts, others can cause severe illness. Parasitic infections occur when parasites grow, reproduce, or invade organ systems that make their hosts ill.
Some common human parasitic infections found in the United States may include the following:
Most parasites come from consuming water or food that has been contaminated. Traveling abroad can also expose you to tropical parasites. Depending on what parasite you have and what body system it affects, symptoms of parasitic infections can include the following:
A parasite infection is most often diagnosed by a stool sample. Your doctor may have to test your stool more than once before you test positive for parasites.
Once you know what type of parasite infection you have, you can choose how to treat it. Some parasitic infections disappear on their own, especially if your immune system is healthy and you eat a balanced diet.
For parasites that don’t go away on their own, your doctor will generally prescribe oral medication. This treatment is generally effective and proven to work.
Some individuals choose natural remedies to cleanse their bodies of parasites instead of conventional treatments, although these remedies are unproven.
Parasite cleanse home remedies
Some natural health practitioners claim that a large percentage of the U.S. population has parasites, and that everyone should do a regular parasite cleanse. Some even say it should be done once a year. There is no research to support this.
Nevertheless, many natural health practitioners recommend cleansing human parasite infections with herbal supplements, such as:
There are other naturally based, plant-derived medicines that claim to cleanse parasites from various body systems, including the intestines, liver, and other parts of the digestive tract. Your natural health practitioner may also recommend homeopathic treatments to eliminate specific parasites from your body.
Your practitioner should choose gentle herbs for your detox. Some herbal detox supplements can have harsh side effects or interact with medications you’re already taking. Because of this, be sure to ask your doctor or health practitioner before beginning any supplemental detox program.
Some herbal detox programs last two weeks on, two weeks off. Others can last for up to a month. It’s important to consult your practitioner regarding how long you should be taking your anti parasitic supplements.
Many herbs and remedies interact with medications. If you are taking any medications, talk to your doctor and pharmacist before beginning.
Parasitic cleanse diet
During a parasite cleanse, it’s important to follow a balanced diet high in nutrients and low in refined sugars and processed foods. Fiber is particularly important, as it keeps your bowel movements regular while you cleanse.
A nutrient-rich diet is also important for strengthening your immune system as the parasites are flushed out of your body. Natural practitioners claim that this, combined with a healthy dose of probiotics, will help protect your body against another infestation.
Garlic, honey, pumpkin seeds, and papaya seeds are all touted as antiparasitic foods to include in your diet. Some natural practitioners go a step further and recommend a grain-free, sugar-free diet. Others recommend limiting fruit intake in order to further reduce dietary sugars.
To prevent further parasitic infections after cleansing, natural practitioners recommend that you avoid eating raw or under cooked meat and seafood. When traveling internationally, avoid:
When it comes to natural parasite cleanses, it appears more research is needed to support whether they’re effective.
One study Trusted Source suggests that probiotic therapy may help control a parasite infection in progress, though more thorough research is needed.
Another study Trusted Source indicates that little is known about the effects of natural compounds on parasite infections. Authors suggest that natural medicines may be effective. However, not enough is known regarding side effects or whether the remedies might encourage resistant strains of parasites.
Despite a lack of research, the dietary recommendations that make up a parasite cleanse are generally good rules to follow to complement any treatments your doctor prescribes.
Side effects and safety
Some possible side effects of natural parasite cleanse herbs and supplements include:
Not all supplements are safe for everyone to take. Some may interact with your current prescription medications, and others may cause problems for children and pregnant or breastfeeding moms. If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about any parasitic infection concerns right away and follow their instructions to keep you and your growing baby safe.
Parasite cleanses may also worsen autoimmune symptoms or other chronic health conditions. Cleanse supplements may also be harmful to individuals who are anemic. You should always talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement.
Avoid starting a parasite cleanse if you’re already constipated. Before you begin taking cleansing supplements, make sure you’re getting plenty of fiber in your diet and having regular bowel movements. In an intestinal parasite cleanse, this is especially important, as the parasites in your intestines need to be able to exit your body over the course of the cleanse.
Black walnut, in particular, can potentially cause mutations in the DNA. It shouldn’t be taken by pregnant women. It can also cause the intestines to empty abruptly, so breastfeeding moms should also avoid it.
Natural parasite cleanses may be effective, but more research is needed. If you think you may have a parasitic infection, consult your doctor for testing. Talk to your doctor about your options. You may find that conventional parasite therapy under your doctor’s care is right for you.
Finally, find out if you have parasites and what kind they are before you start a cleanse. Cleansing before you know for sure what’s going on may do more harm than good in the long run.Health line Challenges Looking to cut back on sugar? We’ll give you some sweet tips
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7 Powerful Parasite-Killing Herbs
It would be nice if a single herbal remedy could kill all the parasites you might pick up. But, the critters are pretty cunning. Each type has specific ways to fight back against your efforts to get rid of them.
Just as certain drugs target specific pathogens, certain herbs tackle particular parasites. But herbs work naturally. They help you avoid the collateral damage that can come with prescription medicines.
Maybe you’ve already used an herbal formula to kill parasites and Mimosa pudica seed to help purge them. But, if you have lingering symptoms from parasites, it may be time to try a new blend of herbs.
Sometimes to outwit your opponent, you have to switch up your game. Attacking parasites from several angles with different herbs could help you outplay the critters.
Along with a different blend of herbs, it may also help to try them in an alternate form. A liquid extract or tincture is a versatile alternative to capsules.
Here’s an in-depth look at a potent combination of 7 herbs that kill parasites, as well as the advantages of a tincture formulation. You’ll be well-equipped for your next parasite cleanse.
Salvia officinalis or sage has gray-green leaves. The herb is native to the Middle East and Mediterranean region.
Maybe you like to add sage to roasted vegetables or soup. But, do you know it could also support your health?
Sage contains many phytochemicals, including tannins and flavonoids. It’s been used in folk medicine for diarrhea and upset stomach, among other ailments.
Now, animal research is confirming that sage may help combat diarrhea. It may fend off bacteria and fungi like Candida albicans that can cause chronic diarrhea.
Sage could help in your parasite cleanse and support liver health as well.
Anti-parasitic actions of sage
In an animal study, sage extract significantly reduced the number of eggs of three intestinal parasites in only five days. These included two types of pin worms and one type of tapeworm. These and other parasitic worms are called helminths.
Lab studies also suggest sage extracts may combat protozoan parasites. Those are microscopic, one-celled critters. Sage may be effective against the following protozoans
- Leishmania: Skin sores are a common symptom of infection with this parasite. It can also infest your bone marrow, as well as your liver and spleen. This can cause internal swelling of your organs.
- Plasmodium: This protozoan causes malaria, which is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. It can cause fever and flu-like symptoms.
- Trypanosoma cruzi: Infection with this parasite leads to Chagas
- ’ disease. This may trigger eyelid swelling. Over the long term, it can also cause heart problems and enlargement of your esophagus and colon.
Liver benefits of sage
Sage may also help indirectly against parasites by supporting your liver. Remember, your liver filters blood coming from your gut. So, it’s exposed to pathogens and their toxins.
Common parasites — including Schistosoma flukes and Plasmodium protozoans — can damage your liver. That’s bad news.
You need a well-functioning liver for overall health, as well as to deal with the toxins released during a parasite cleanse.
When rodents were given sage tea instead of water for two weeks, their liver antioxidant activity increased by 10–24%. Sage helped protect the membranes of liver cells from oxidative damage.
In other words, sage may do double duty. It may help you get rid of parasites directly. Plus, it supports your liver. That may help ease your symptoms of parasite die-off.
Tanacetum vulgare or common tansy has fern-like leaves and yellow flowers. It is popular in folk medicine. The herb has been used to lower inflammation, relieve migraines, ease nerve pain, and treat parasitic infections.
Science is helping to prove traditional medicinal uses of the herb. For example, lab studies suggest that tansy essential oil lowers inflammation.
Lab studies are also confirming the benefits of tansy extract against parasites. It may be particularly effective against Schistosomiasis mansoni. That’s a type of fluke. A fluke is a worm that has a flattened, leaf-shaped body.
You can become infected with S. mansoni by contact with contaminated freshwater, such as by swimming in it. The parasite is most common in tropical and subtropical countries. It can cause anemia and diarrhea. It can also damage your liver and intestines over the long term.
S. mansoni may survive for decades inside your blood vessels. Like a hunter wearing camouflage clothing, the worms may mask themselves from your immune system. You have to outsmart the critters. Tansy may help you do that.
In a lab study, tansy extract significantly reduced the worms’ ability to move. And when tested in a high dose, the extract killed 100% of the adult worms within 24 hours.
Tansy extract also decreased the number of worm eggs, as well as hampering the development of the eggs.
Tansy could be a real asset in your bag of tricks when you do a natural parasite cleanse.
On a side note, essential oil from tansy flowers contains chemical compounds that may help to repel ticks. Ticks are vectors, meaning they can transmit parasites and bacteria. So, repelling them helps safeguard you from infection with these pathogens. (14)
Thyme — Thymus vulgaris — could be a powerful asset in your arsenal against pathogens. That includes certain parasites, bacteria, and fungi.
This popular culinary herb contains several potent plant compounds or phytochemicals. Eugenol and thymol are two that help fend off uninvited guests.
If you’ve previously thought of thyme as only a food seasoning, you’ll likely be impressed by the herb’s actions against pathogens.
Anti-parasitic actions of thyme
Thyme has been tested against several different types of parasites. These include certain helminths and protozoan parasites.
Based on this research, thyme could be a potent weapon in your natural parasite cleanse. But, that’s not all it could do for you. It may help fight other pathogens, too.
Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal actions of thyme
Thyme also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. If you’re going to give parasites the boot, you might as well knock out other unwanted pathogens, too. (24)
Lab studies suggest thyme may help prevent the growth of potentially problematic bacteria. These include harmful strains of: (25, 26)
You can pick up harmful strains of these bacteria by consuming contaminated foods and beverages. This is particularly true if they’re under cooked or improperly handled. For example, C. perfringens is one of the top five causes of food poisoning in the United States.
Lab studies suggest thyme inhibits the growth of Clostridium infringements. In one study, essential oil from thyme leaves was more effective against the bacteria than five other essential oils tested.
Additionally, lab studies suggest thyme oil may reduce the replication of harmful strains of S. aureus, Listeria, and E. coli. Even when thyme is only present in low amounts, it may reduce the growth of these pathogenic bacteria.
Thyme may help fight Candida albicans as well. This yeast is a normal part of your micrometer. Its overgrowth can cause inflammation in your digestive tract. Candida overgrowth is also linked to Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis.
Lab studies suggest thyme may reduce enzymes that Candida needs for its metabolism and the colonization of its host. Thyme may also decrease the yeast’s ability to form a biofilm. This is like a blanket it uses to hide from your immune system.
In short, thyme is a hard-hitting herb when it comes to parasites, as well as harmful bacteria and fungi. It may inhibit their normal functioning, replication, and growth.
Epazote is known scientifically as either Chenopodium ambrosioides or Dysphagia ambrosioides. It’s an herb native to southern Mexico, Central America, and South America. In everyday language, epazote is also called worm seed and Mexican tea. As you might guess, it’s used to make tea.
The herb’s anti-infection properties include actions against some parasites, bacteria, and fungi.
Anti-parasitic actions of epazote
In traditional medicine, the purpose of Mexican tea made with epazote is for de worming. Studies are confirming the herb’s benefits against parasitic worms, as well as protozoans.
- Schistosoma mansoni: In a lab study, epazote essential oil killed all S. mansoni worms within 72 hours. And in a rodent study, epazote oil killed 54% of S. mansoni within nine weeks. Further treatment reduced worm eggs in the rodents’ liver by 77%.
- Toxocara canis: This is a parasitic roundworm you can get from dogs. A lab study found that epazote extract was effective against the larvae of this parasite. And in an animal study, the herb reduced inflammation caused by the parasite.
- Leishmania: Epazote contains powerful phytochemicals that may interfere with mitochondrial function of the protozoan Leishmania. These phytochemicals are fat-soluble and readily-absorbed by parasites. In a lab test, the phytochemicals reached the mitochondria of Leishmania within minutes.
- Other protozoans: Animal and lab research suggest epazote may help combat several other protozoan parasites. These include Entamoeba holistically, Plasmodium falciparum (which causes malaria), and Trypanosoma cruzi.
Continued research could likely confirm other anti parasitic benefits of epazote.
Antibacterial and anti-fungal actions of epazote
Epazote may also help fight some bacterial and fungal infections. The herb may be especially useful in cases where bacteria have become drug-resistant. Staphylococcus aureus is a prime example of such bacteria.
When scientists tested essential oil from epazote leaves against S. aureus, it didn’t directly kill the bacteria. But epazote interfered with the bacteria’s ability to get rid of the antibiotic intended to kill it. So, the drug was able to do its work against S. aureus.
On its own, epazote extract may help you fight bacterial infections by activating your macrophages. Those are specialized immune cells that can detect, engulf, and destroy bacteria. Plus, the herb may reduce the inflammation that happens in infections
Epazote could also be a powerful tool against fungi, including yeast. In an animal study, epazote oil resolved a vaginal Candida albicans infection in only twelve days.
In addition, a lab study suggests epazote may help break up biofilm on some surfaces. Your immune system is better able to kill Candida if it isn’t hiding in biofi
5. Black Walnut Hulls
If you’ve seen black walnuts on the tree — Juglans nigra — you know that a thick green hull surrounds the shell. The hull eventually darkens to black. Herbalists value the hulls for their health properties.
Black walnut hulls contain an anti-parasitic plant compound called juglone. It may help combat some protozoans.
For instance, jug-lone may be effective against Acanthamoeba. This protozoan parasite lives in soil and water. It can cause severe eye infections. Contact lens wearers are prone to it. The parasite can also infect your lungs, brain, and spinal cord
People with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to Acanthamoeba infection. Still, you can contract it even if you have a robust immune system.
In a lab study, jug-lone put the brakes on Acanthamoeba growth and triggered them to die.
Another protozoan that jug lone may combat is Toxoplasma gondii. Many people carry the parasite but don’t know it. If you have a weakened immune system, the infection can be especially problematic.
T. gondii may even migrate to your brain. Interestingly, the infection is 2.7 times more common in people with schizophrenia. And, it’s 2.4 times more common in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Still, its role (if any) in these conditions is unknown.
In a lab study, jug lone interfered with T. gondii’antioxidant defense systems against free radicals. This led to the death of the parasites but didn’t harm the host cells.
So, black walnut hulls could be a valuable addition to your natural parasite cleanse due to its selective toxicity to harmful critters.
On a side note, don’t give black walnut hull to your cats. It could be toxic to them.
6. Holy Basil
In scientific language, holy basil is known as either Ocimum sanctum or Ocimum tenuiflorum. In common lingo, it’s also called tulsi.
Holy basil is not the one you would use in making your favorite spaghetti sauce — that’s Ocimum basilicum.
But, holy basil is commonly used in herbal tea and supplements due to its believed health properties. It’s considered an adaptogen. That means it may promote your overall well-being and resilience, including against stress.
Additionally, in Ayurvedic medicine, holy basil is called “Queen of Herbs.” That’s because of its many potential benefits. For example, extracts of the herb are used in Ayurvedic remedies for stomach problems, inflammation, and malaria.
Now science is confirming anti-parasitic properties of holy basil. These include actions against certain protozoans and helminths.
Anti-protozoan actions of holy basil
You already know Plasmodium protozoan parasites can cause malaria. Plasmodium falciparum is the species that causes the most severe infections in people. It has become drug resistant, so scientists are turning to herbs for remedies.
In a lab study, leaf and root extracts of holy basil were very effective against P. falciparum. Yet, the extracts didn’t harm human red blood cells. The parasite invades and multiplies in red blood cells. So, it’s important that the herb didn’t damage the cells.
Another protozoan parasite that holy basil may help combat is Leishmania. As mentioned earlier, this critter can damage some of your organs, including your liver.
In one study, mice infected with Leishmania were given an extract of holy basil leaves. The herb reduced parasite levels in the animals’ liver by 43% after one day and by 73% after 15 days of treatment
One way holy basil may combat Leishmania is by boosting your own immune defenses against the parasite. In other words, it could help arm you for the fight against pathogenic critters
Anti-heliocentric actions of holy basil
Holy basil may also combat parasitic helminths in your digestive tract. That includes nematodes, which are roundworms.
In an animal study, scientists tested holy basil leaf extract in sheep infected with gut parasites. Specifically, they had four nematodes: Harmonious, Trichostrongylus, Oesophagostomum, and Strongboxes.
Holy basil decreased the animals’ excretion of nematode eggs by 77% in two weeks. The herb also paralyzed parasite larvae and halted their development. In other words, holy basil decreased reproduction of the worms and shut down the activity of immature worms.
Additionally, antioxidants in the sheep’s blood increased during the study. This extra defense may reduce oxidative stress and damage during a parasite cleanse.
Holy basil’s antioxidant properties and anti-parasitic actions against worms like Strongboxes may be due to its many phytochemicals. These include flavonoids, tannins, and several others. They could be potent weapons in your natural parasite cleanse
7. Clove Bud
You may be most familiar with clove — Syzygium aromatic um — as a food flavoring. But, this spice is more than just pleasant-tasting. Clove has been used as a natural food preservative and medicinal agent for hundreds of year
Many herbs and spices are known for their anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. But, clove really stands out. It’s especially rich in phytochemicals called phenolics, including eugenol. These contribute to clove’s health benefits.
Here’s a closer look at clove’s protective actions against parasites and microbes.
Anti-parasite and anti-bacterial actions of clove
Studies suggest clove and eugenol may help combat certain parasites and harmful bacteria. These include:
- Babesia: This microscopic parasite is a common Lyme confection and invades your red blood cells. In a study of infected mice, clove extract inhibited the growth of Babesia microti by 69%.
- Blastocystis hominis: When this protozoan invades your intestines, it can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and anal itching. In a test-tube study, clove oil caused Blastocystis to shrink significantly in size.
- Clostridioides (Clostridium) difficile: This bacterial infection often occurs during or after antibiotic therapy. It can be resistant to drug therapy and causes severe diarrhea. Preliminary lab research suggests clove oil is effective against the bacteria.
- Giardia: This protozoan may be best-known for triggering diarrhea and stomach upset. In a lab study, clove essential oil and eugenol inhibited the growth of Guardian. Clove may also keep the critter from attaching to its host and could promote the parasite’s death
- Leishmania: Lab studies suggest eugenol may combat these protozoan parasites by boosting the host’s immune system. Animal research suggests eugenol may also kill the parasite directly. (67, 68)
- Schistosoma: This blood fluke is a major source of helminth infections worldwide. In a two-month study of infected mice, eugenol reduced the number of Schistosomiasis flukes by 19%. It also reduced liver damage caused by the worms. (69)
- Trypanosoma cruzi: You can contract this protozoan via contact with an infected inebriation bug. This insect is found in the southern half of the United States. In a lab study, clove essential oil inhibited the growth of T. cruzi and damaged its structure. (