Finding out that you have roundworms or other intestinal parasites can be shocking. Some measures help you prevent them or favor their elimination.
Diarrhea, fatigue, gas, abdominal pain and bloating, itching in the anus, nausea or weight loss can be symptoms that we have intestinal parasites, although they can also not cause any discomfort. Until, if it is about worms, one day we get scared and we see them!
There are different types of intestinal parasites. The worms or “worms” are the most frequent, especially pinworms (small white, as threads or pins) and ascarids (round, as a string). Tapeworm is rarer but requires special attention and requires seeing a doctor as soon as possible once it is detected, so that the appropriate treatment can be established.
Other common intestinal parasites are protozoa, such as Giardia lamblia. Sometimes giardia is behind conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
INTESTINAL PARASITES: CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS
We tend to think that we contract parasites on trips to tropical countries or by drinking untreated water, and this can be the case.
However, it can also happen when eating contaminated food, or in daily contact with children, that when they touch everything and put their hands in their mouth they are very vulnerable. Elderly or immunocompromised people may be another source of transmission.
Apart from causing discomfort such as those mentioned (diarrhea, fatigue, gas, pain, itching or nausea), parasites can reduce the absorption of nutrients and, in some cases, such as tapeworms or some protozoa, lead to complications.
In addition, in the case of some parasites, for example pinworms, it is easy to infect other people if extreme hygiene measures are not taken. For this reason, although some intestinal parasites can disappear in a few weeks, when suspected, it is always advisable to consult a doctor for a correct diagnosis.
On the other hand, knowing what parasite we have is important, since not all anti-parasitic are good for everything, not even natural ones.
The most common tests to determine which intestinal parasite we have are a stool test (both in the case of worms and in the case of protozoa) and the placement of rubberized tape on the anus that allows detecting the presence of possible eggs.
THE HELP OF COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE
As a treatment reinforcement or alternative for people for whom conventional therapy does not solve the problem, complementary medicine proposes different measures that range from some changes in the diet to the use of medicinal plants and supplements that act against parasites or reinforce the immunity.
1. DIET AGAINST INTESTINAL PARASITES
Although there is no specific diet against worms and other intestinal parasites, in general it is advisable to follow a diet rich in fiber, as fiber can help to drag them away. It is also advised:
- Reduce the consumption of sugars.
- Promote the consumption of certain foods with anti-parasitic action, including garlic, onion. Pumpkin pulp and pumpkin seeds, cabbage juice, pomegranate or beets.
- Support the immune system with a diet rich in vitamin C and zinc.
- Take probiotics and digestive enzymes, as they help restore the state of the intestines.
According to Dr. Berdonces, a naturopathic doctor and expert in herbal medicine, with pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) you can prepare two natural remedies against parasites:
- With pumpkin seeds: They are very rich in cucurbitin, with anthelmintic action, making them ideal for fighting worms. You can eat them as is throughout the day, as a snack, but it is best to take them on an empty stomach. You can also prepare an horchata of pumpkin seeds : to do this, macerate 200 grams of seeds in 1 liter of water for 24 hours and drink the water throughout the day (you can sweeten it with a little honey, make it very light, since the sugar attracts worms)
- With the pulp of the pumpkin and garlic: 100 grams of pumpkin pulp are boiled in two liters of water until they are reduced by half. Add to the very hot decoction, but with the fire off, 500 grams of powdered garlic cloves. Let it infuse for two hours, then add 250 grams of sugar and filter through a tulle. The daily dose is two tablespoons every morning for a week.
2. PHYTOTHERAPY: THE BEST ANTIPARASITIC PLANTS
Plants can be another great support. Some attack the nervous system of parasites or prevent them from attaching to the intestinal walls.
“Treatment with medicinal plants is effective,” says Dr. Berdonces. “However, the treatment should not be prolonged beyond 15 days, especially if we use wormwood or tansy. In addition, these plants can have side effects and should never be administered to children.”
The most effective for the treatment of intestinal parasites according to the expert in phytotherapy Josep Lluis Berdonces are:
- Mugwort (Artemisia annua): Mugwort, traditionally used as an anti-parasitic in traditional Chinese medicine, suffocates parasites through peroxidation. Its use is safe and it can be prepared as an infusion or taken as a powder in doses of 500-100 mg daily.
- Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium): This plant reduces the adherence of parasites to the intestinal wall and helps to expel them, but it has side effects and should be used with great caution, always with medical advice. It is very bitter and is used as an infusion (very concentrated, 1 gram per cup), especially in ascaris infestations. It should be avoided in children and pregnant women.
- Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare): Another plant that requires caution, insecticidal action. It has been used against tropical infestations such as schistosomes. It is used in joint infusion with the previous plants, in powder or in infusion
Other plants with scientific studies behind that support its anti-parasitic action are garlic, black walnut, papaya seeds, myrrh or berberine extract.
Natural supplements can be found with these and other plants, such as cloves, pomegranates, or grapefruit seeds.
In any case, always consult your doctor, as some can interfere with other medications and studies in people on their effectiveness and possible generation of resistance are limited.
MEASURES TO PREVENT CONTAGION AND REINFECTION
Extreme hygiene is essential to avoid re-infecting ourselves or infecting others. The worms lay eggs that are shed through the anus and can survive for 2 to 3 weeks on underwear, sheets, towels, toilet seat, or fingernails. Therefore, it is essential:
- Avoid scratching around the anus and still brush your nails well. One can scratch unconsciously in the morning, so it is important when getting up to insist on grooming.
- Wash underwear and bedding daily with hot water.
- Wash the anus well in the morning (females lay eggs at night).
- Disinfect the toilet daily, and better after each use.