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Parasites pose real problem

For most North Americans, the term parasite is connected with the image of poverty-stricken children in central Africa, or perhaps unwary tourists in South America, though these parasites are not as far away as you might think. There are literally dozens of parasites common to the inhabitants of this continent, with tens of thousands of people suffering from infection each year. In fact, some researchers predict that by the turn of this century, nearly one in two Americans will have suffered from at least one parasitic infection by the time they die. As unfamiliar as parasites might be to most Americans, most of us know someone (perhaps a family member or even ourselves) who has experienced extreme fatigue, food sensitivities, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal upset (including constipation, diarrhea, bloating, etc.), or depression without ever being able to target the cause, even with the help of a doctor.

Do I Have Parasites?

Since various health experts predict that nearly one-half of the earth's inhabitants will experience a parasitic infection by the turn of the century, we should not dismiss any unexplained condition that may suddenly arise. Constipation can be a common sign of parasite infection. Large worms can obstruct the intestinal tract, the bile duct in the liver, and other organs, thus making bowel movements infrequent and difficult. Diarrhea is also very common, with giardia being a major cause in all children's cases of diarrhea (Alternative Medicine, 784). Indigestion, gas, vomiting, weight loss and bloating are also common gastrointestinal symptoms.

Severe cases of infection can produce a suppressed immune system, poor nutrient absorption (and thus malnutrition), weight loss, and deficiencies of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B6, B12, calcium and magnesium. Parasite infection can also produce or mimic a myriad of other conditions and diseases, often leading to misdiagnosis of such. Various studies tracking the conditions of chronically ill persons show that many of those suffering from chronic disease, such as irritable bowel syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome, either have or have had some type of parasitic infection.

Natural Treatments for Parasites

Garlic (Allium sativum): While living in Thailand, working for the United Nations, Sonha de Graaff, M.D., noted that the chief medical concern among the various refugee groups and U.N. workers was parasitic infection. She also observed the extensive use of garlic in both nutrition and folk medicine. It was common for a family to ingest whole cloves of garlic daily, partly for taste, but mainly for its ability to prevent and eradicate parasites. Also, a 1996 study points to garlic's ability to kill the African trypanosomes (the feared organisms that cause sleeping sickness and other deadly diseases) and found it to be very effective in curing the host of the trypanosome.

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra): This is perhaps one of the most common ingredients in herbal parasite preparations. Its use as a vermifuge (expels parasite from body) and vermicide (kills parasite in body) are widely circulated. Literally dozens of marketed products used for parasites contain black walnut. The hull of the nut is the part most commonly used.

Elecampane (Inula helenium): This herb has long been used for treating parasitic infection. A recent study supports folk use, showing that extracts of elecampane and another herb were effective in treating the C. sinensis parasite in rabbits.

Pumpkin Seed: Pumpkin seed is another widely used ingredient in herbal preparations for parasite control. Many Chinese herbal preparations contain it (one combination puts it with the Chinese herb quisqualis, to use as a preventive measure).

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium): This is one of the oldest European medicinal plants. Its history is well-documented. Its abilities are similar to those of Artemisia annua, an herb used in Chinese medicine.

Artemisia annua: This herb is an herbal reme

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