by Dr. Larry J. Milam, HMD, Ph.D
Parasites - Nasty Creatures
A parasite can best be described as an organism that
lives in or upon another living organism (the host). Parasites
derive their food and nutrition from the host and
can produce symptoms that range from mild discomfort
to severe damage to organs and systems of the
host. Basically, they cause damage in the following
1) They rob the host of nutrients, including vitamins and
amino acids. Severe cases can lead to malnutrition
and/or anemic conditions.
2) They secrete poisonous metabolic waste into the
body and blood of the host.
3) They can cause trauma to the body by perforation
of the intestines, the circulatory system, the lungs
and the liver.
4) They can cause damage to certain organs such as
the brain, heart, etc.
Most people think of parasites as being a problem in
developing countries or where there is poor sanitation.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Some statistics
indicate that at least one forth of the world population is
infected with one or more different types of parasites.
Other statistics indicate that as many as 60% or more
of the population of the U.S. may be harboring parasites.
Statistics show that warmer, more humid areas are likely
to harbor the most parasites. Regardless of the known
statistics (many cases go unreported), some experts
are seeing a significant rise during the past several years.
This may be, in part, due to the following changes in lifestyle:
A) Consumption of raw fish
B) Increase in fast foods which may not be cooked long
enough to destroy parasites.
C) Increased dependency on microwave ovens which
may not raise the internal temperature of food high
enough to kill the parasites.
D) Increased consumption of raw fruits and vegetables.
E) Increased air travel to remote areas known to have
higher levels of parasites. Returning soldiers from
different parts of the world often bring parasites home
F) Increase in the number of pets (especially cats &
dogs) which often harbor parasites and frequently
G) Increased population of children. Children are usually
more infected than adults.
H) The lack of non-prescriptive medication available to
the general public for the treatment of parasites.
I) Increased infection of water born parasites which
inhabit many mountain streams and lakes in wilderness
J) Increase in immigration (both legal and illegal). Many
immigrants harbor parasites from their native countries.
While there are literally hundreds of known parasites,
this article will concentrate on the most commonly encountered
parasites that may be experienced by the
majority of people.
Pinworms are one of the most common parasites. They
are found in all socioeconomic groups, particularly in
children. They are not harmful to tissues and organs
like some parasites, but they may cause great discomfort.
They are normally white and are about 1/4 inch long and
live in the lower part of the intestines, the colon and the
rectum. They crawl out of the anus and lay their eggs
(up to 15,000 per day). After a few hours, they are capable
of infecting other people, especially since they are
light and can be carried by the air, clothes, walls, sheets
Even though this parasite is easy to get rid of, most often
children will re-infect themselves by scratching
around the anus and then putting their fingers in the
mouth, or by not washing properly before eating.
The most notable symptoms are rectal itching,
grinding teeth while sleeping, constipation, diarrhea,
bad breath and dark rings around the eyes.
The second group of parasites are known as the Roundworms.
These worms make their home in the intestines
and can reach up to 17 inches long. They are
more difficult to expel than the pinworm because they
attach themselves to the walls of the intestine. It is here
that they begin to excrete poisonous metabolic waste
into the bloodstream of the host. In cases of extreme
infestation , the larva will travel to the lungs, liver, eyes,
brain and ears causing extensive damage.
The infection begins with the ingestion of the eggs which
are usually present in contaminated soil, or on fruits and
vegetables grown in infected soil. Children are easily
infected by eating dirt or putting soiled hands into their
The most notable symptoms are bloating and severe
pain in the intestinal tract, diarrhea, digestive
problems, peritonitis, jaundice, chronic dry cough
and lack of energy. Individuals may experience
blood sugar imbalance, weight loss and fatigue.
The third most common group of parasites is the infamous
tapeworm. There is a whole family of these
worms, including the Beef Tapeworm, Pork Tapeworm,
Dog Tapeworm, Broad Fish Tapeworm, Dwarf Tapeworm
and Bladder Worm. They do not have a digestive system,
so they absorb nutrients, particularly vitamin B-12
& folic acid, through their skin. They give off toxic waste
products which cause much stress and damage to the
Infection normally occurs through the consumption of
eating raw or uncooked beef, pork or fish. Dog Tapeworms
are common in children due to their close association
with pets (cats & dogs).
This parasite not only eats our food, but often sucks
our blood, causing anemia, abdominal discomfort
and pain, diarrhea, toxemia, lack of appetite, nausea,
weight loss, exhaustion, unclear thinking, hunger
pains and allergies. Some tapeworms may
cause a sugar imbalance and, as a result, people
may lose or gain weight.
The information in this Bulletin is intend for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose
or treat any medical condition. It may be useful in working with your Health Care Professional.
Serious medical problems may require immediate treatment.
Another group of parasites are the Flukes. These flatworms
invade the liver, the lungs, the intestines and the
blood. Humans generally become infected by eating
raw or undercooked fish or crab. Eating infected vegetables
such as water chestnuts, watercress or drinking
or wading in infected water may also be a means of
contacting these parasites.
Almost everyone who travels into other countries, particularly
tropical climates, may have experienced the
Entamoeba Histolytica, the amoeba parasite, that causes
amoebic dysentery. The symptoms may be mild or very
The primary symptoms are chronic diarrhea, nausea
and pain and intestinal discomfort.
Drinking bottled water is recommended when you travel
to reduce exposure to these parasites.
Giardia is a microscopic parasite that lives in water. All
streams and mountain water should be considered infected.
Giardia is not killed by chemicals used to treat
drinking water, including chlorine. Recently this parasite
was found in the New York State Reservoir that supplies
most of the City's water. Giardia has been frequently
reported in the Rocky Mountains and most western
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Diarrhea
is the most common, but malabsorption, light
colored fatty stools, gas, abdominal cramps, lactose
and meat intolerance, folic acid and soluble vitamin
deficiency may occur. Extreme exhaustion
is also a symptom.
Many parasites can be prevented:
1) Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water.
2) Cook all meats to the prescribed temperature.
3) Stop eating or cut down the amount of raw uncooked
meat or fish in your diet.
4) Drink bottled water or install the proper water purification
5) Keep pets properly treated on a regular basis with
6) Keep yourself on a good detoxification program as
suggested by your health care professional.
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