Could Parasites Be Why You Feel Sick?
“One in three people among us are harboring parasites! – are you kidding me?” was the question going through most people’s minds when they watched the recent episode of Dr Oz’s show that informs about parasitic infections.
What on earth are these parasites doing here and how do we get them? In fact, they are undetectable through conventional diagnostic tests and most people get infected very easily by eating under-cooked animal meat and/or due to poor sanitation. Common human parasites that colonize our gastrointestinal tract are helminths (commonly known as worms) and protozoa (single cell organisms but not bacteria or virus). These organisms not only colonize the human gut but also spend a part of their life-cycle in the animal tissues (muscles, gut, blood etc) which makes animal meat a very easy vehicle for them to be transmitted to the human gut. Once inside the human host, they often steal the nutrients from the intestine causing chronic fatigue, they often also release toxic metabolites that cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Dr Oz, in this current episode discussed about the ways to prevent, diagnose and treat these parasitic infections and how the viewers can help to improve the way conventional medicine attempts a better prognosis.
Why Most Doctors Fail to Detect Parasites!
Elisa, a guest on the show, described her plight with parasitic infection. It all started after she had dinner at a local restaurant. Immediately after, she experienced frequent episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. This continued along with exhaustion, blurry vision, a sense of bloating with gassy abdomen all the time. She had been through countless diagnostic tests including endoscopy and cat-scan however, without any detection of parasites whatsoever. Dr Oz agreed that medical professionals in the United States often fail to detect parasites with conventional procedures. Elisa’s story is only common. She herself was suspecting food poisoning in the beginning. She visited a number of doctors none of whom suspected ‘parasites’ and finally when she came across an expert who offered to help, did her infection get diagnosed. She had actually two different parasites in her system – an amoeba – Dientamoeba fragilis and a helminth – hookworm.
What Prevent Doctors From Detecting Parasites?
As Dr Oz explained, the water supply, poor sanitation and our food supply is to blame. As opposed to getting our meat from the heartland and fish from our shores, today up to twenty percent of our meat and eighty five percent of fish comes from overseas, from countries like Australia, Newzealand, Mexico, Honduras, Chile, China and Indonesia. Parasites are more common in these countries than in the US. The USDA only inspects about nine percent of the entire supply of meat and two percent of fish that comes in.
As Dr Tasneem Bhatia, MD and an integrative medicine specialist put it, doctors in the US are simply not trained to think of parasites except if someone undertook a foreign travel or relocated from a foreign country. She also mentioned about the conventional testing to detect these parasitic infections being inaccurate. For ages, doctors in this country relied on examining stool samples under the microscope and that seems to be inadequate now. The missing piece of information here is that the parasites escape detection unless the patient is actively shedding parasites in his/her stool. However, she mentioned about some revolutionary new tests that are helping more accurate diagnosis. Those are new biochemical methodologies designed to accurately detect parasite footprints in patient samples including parasite DNA analysis. Additionally, patients are encouraged to accurately describe their symptoms to their doctors in order to be prescribed for these tests.
Parasitic Infection Symptoms
Dr Bhatia outlined some of the very common symptoms to look for so that a more observant patient can allow his/her parasitic infection to be diagnosed accurately.
1. Most important is to observe the quality of stool: If someone has diarrhea for more than about two weeks, that is an indication.
2. Look for is chronic fatigue: Feeling of exhaustion for more than about seven days even after good sleep, that’s surely an indication.
3. Unexpected weight loss is another important sign: about ten pounds over a two month period – mentioned Dr Bhatia.
4. Itching around the anus is the other important but often ignored sign especially if it lasts for over two weeks. The prominent symptom though is abdominal pain and cramping that women often confuse with their menstrual cramps.
All these combined, it represents a sure fire case of parasitic infection. Dr Oz showed pictures of some of the parasites, for example, Trichinella, whipworm and tapeworm, some of the pictures being graphic. This episode was a very informative and helpful approach to convey the importance of learning about parasitic infections in order to help doctors pick up the right test and make an accurate diagnosis.
Parasites Detection and Treatment
Dr Bhatia talked about the new and effective tests and how they are different from the conventional testing. Apparently, the new tests rely on multiple samples as opposed to a single stool sample being used in the conventional test. The important difference lies also in the chemicals being used which allow the worm to be alive in the sample enabling their detection.
Specialist You Should See If You Have Parasitic Infection Symptoms?
Having outlined all these information, Dr Oz brought up the most important question as to who is the specialist we should see if we have these symptoms. Definitely, a gastroenterologist is the starting point, however, an integrative medicine specialist who combines western medicine with eastern traditional remedies would be the best way to go.
Parasitic Most Effective Remedies
Following up on that notion, Dr Oz asked, how effective are those remedies as opposed to the conventional medications that are proven to be effective most of the time. Dr Bhatia talked about some of them that work best and have been found to work in combination with conventional medication alleviating symptoms 75% of the time.
1. Garlic, she mentioned is one good candidate that works very well. Additionally, 2 cloves a day helps to kill parasites and especially effective against abdominal cramps.
2. Wormwood tea is by far the strongest anti-parasitic agent out there, however, she warns against taking it more than 3 cups a day not more than 10 days. Same advise for black walnut extract, about 1000 milligrams 3 times a day not more than 6 weeks.
She encourages patients to talk to their doctor before taking any anti-parasitic remedies. She also encourages patients to come with a well-observed symptom list, a timeline of those symptoms, a diet recall for last 2 to 3 days and also a medication and supplement list they are taking at that current time. Ultimately, it is detection first and treatment after that. That was the most valuable piece of information he wanted viewers to remember and take home.