It’s common to think that parasites only infect people in less-developed countries or in unhygienic conditions. However various types of parasites are likely carried by millions of people in North America. Some estimates are as high as 40 percent of the population being affected by a parasitic infection.
Parasites can cause a wide range of symptoms and often go undetected or are misdiagnosed by Western medicine. Symptoms can be anything from trouble sleeping, to seizures, to pregnancy complications.
How do we get parasites?
There are many ways we can pick up unwanted stowaways:
· Undercooked meat
· Unwashed produce
· Contact with animals
· Transmission through sex
· Insect bites
· Infected water
As you can see, parasites are difficult to avoid since they come from so many everyday sources.
Weird signs that you might have a parasite
Feeling particularly sociable or reckless:
Evolutionary biologist Jaroslav Flegr, from Charles University in Prague, explains that he first learned about a parasitic ability to influence the behavior of the host by observing ants in the 1980s. He discovered that a particular type of flatworm could take over the ants’ nervous systems and access their behavioral mechanisms.
Recent studies show that a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (Toxo) can have a similar effect on humans. It influences dopamine signalling to make us less fearful and more likely to take risks.
Waking up in the middle of the night:
Some experts theorize that parasites have their own rhythm and that they may become active in the middle of the night. For example, Taeniid parasites are able to stimulate the host to produce antibodies, which they then bind and use as a protein source. This type of activity may bring about chemical changes that cause the host to wake up and have excess energy at strange times.
Floaters or spots in the eyes:
Many parasites have been shown to cause vision problems, including Toxocara, Toxoplasma gondii and some associated with Lyme disease. Patients have even said they can see tiny worms floating in their vision. Other times symptoms can appear like an eye infection.
Chronic digestive issues, even with a healthy diet:
Parasites can influence the fluid balance in the gut and cause either constipation or diarrhea. Other digestive problems can include cramps, gas and bloating, or poor nutrient absorption. An invasion of foreign organism in the gut can also cause lowered immunity, making it difficult to shake off any minor illness.
How to prevent or get rid of infections
Good kitchen and bathroom hygiene is important for prevention of parasitic infections. Undercooked food is a common source for parasites, so safe cooking is an important practice, as is washing fruits and vegetables. Keeping the hands clean, especially in public environments is a good way to avoid parasites transmitted by contact.
Parasites are usually diagnosed through comprehensive stool testing, which is best done by a functional medicine physician. Natural treatments can include herb combinations, probiotics, diatomaceous earth, apple cider vinegar and essential oils.
If you have persistent symptoms that seem unrelated or remain unexplained by conventional medicine, a parasite test may help you find answers!
—The Alternative Daily