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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Helminths (Parasitic Worm) and How They Affect You

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Helminths are a group of parasites affecting most humans today. Parasites are organisms that live in or on a host (either humans or animals). It gets its food and other needs from the host.

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There are three main groups of parasites: we have the Helminths, Ecto-parasites, and protozoa. This post focuses wholly on helminths, various types, ways they affect you, and natural ways to get rid of them.

What Are Helminths?

Helminths are large multicellular worms/organisms living inside humans. They are visible in their adult stages and they live in various body parts.

Unlike protozoa, helminths cannot multiply in their adult forms in humans. Most helminths live in the intestine, we get them from infected soil, and they affect the gastrointestinal tract. Other parasitic worms like schistosomes can reside in the blood vessels.

Helminths that are human parasites are further divided into three groups:

  • 1. Flatworms: They are also known as platyhelminths and examples are tapeworms (cestodes) and flukes (trematodes).
  • 2. Thorny-headed worms: These are believed to be an intermediate between cestodes and nematodes. They are also known as Acanthocephalins and their adult form resides in the gastrointestinal tract of humans.
  • 3. Roundworms: Also called nematodes, they live in the gastrointestinal tracts, subcutaneous tissues, lymphatic systems, or blood. The immature ones (larvae stages) cause diseases by infecting various body tissues.

Annelids (segmented worms) and leeches are also in this class.  

How Helminths Affect Their Host

These parasitic worms live in you and feed on you. They receive protection, nourishment, and everything they need from you. But while carrying out their normal activities in you, they cause diseases and weaknesses and impair your ability to absorb nutrients.

The parasitic worm doesn’t reproduce entirely within your body, some stages in their life cycle take place outside your bodies. Helminths can survive in the human body for many years.

They can manipulate your immune response by producing and secreting immune-modulatory substances. They also produce eggs during reproduction.

The eggs they lay have strong shells that protect them from a lot of environmental conditions. This gives them the ability to survive in the environment for many months or years.

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These intestinal worms also cause helminthiasis, an infection. This infection is also known as intestinal worm infection or helminths infection.

Examples of Helminths and The Diseases They Cause

Hookworm

This is caused by the intestinal worm Nector americanus or Ancylostoma duodenale. This infection is common in the developing world and it causes malnutrition and anemia.

Guinea worm

This causes dracunculiasis. It is gotten through contaminated water and it lies within the skin where it causes lots of severe inflammatory reactions.

Filarial loa loa worm

This is known as African eye worm disease or Loiasis and the filarial loa loa worm is responsible for this. It is contracted through the bites of mango fly or deer fly and the adult worms move through the subcutaneous tissues going towards the subconjuctiva of the eyes.

This infection causes itchy swellings and redness. This is known as calabar swellings. It also lives in the lymph nodes and causes lymphatic filariasis.

This is a painful and disfiguring disease. It causes fluid retention in the genitals, limbs, and other swellings.

Tapeworm or Taenia Sollium

This causes an infection called cysticercosis and it doesn’t show symptoms for years. But over time, painless bumps start developing in the skin and muscles. It can also cause neurological problems.

Tapeworm infection can be deadly if the larva has created cysts in the tissues of the host. Tapeworms also cause a whole lot of health problems.

It causes nutritional deficiencies, especially B12 deficiency. This, in turn, can also lead to pale skin, depression, and ulcers.

They are ribbon-like worms but flat and they live in the intestines. They infect humans through the ingestion of raw pork, fish, beef, or food contaminated with infected feces.

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Most people don’t know they have tapeworm because it doesn’t give symptoms. People don’t even know they have tapeworm until they see segments from the worm in their feces.

The segments are almost like white grains of rice and contain the eggs of the worm.

Echinococcus tapeworms

This causes Echinococcosis, an infection that affects the lover first before moving to the lungs and brain. When the liver is affected, you might experience abdominal pain and jaundice. Infection of the lungs causes cough and breathlessness.

Roundworms

These are also known as nematodes. They are slender and live in the intestines where they feed and reproduce. They get into the body through contaminated food and water.

Roundworms can also penetrate the skin and insects carrying the worms like mosquitoes can transmit it when it bites a host. These worms do not cause problems until they become plenty in the body.

When present in large numbers in the body, there cause diseases and affect the gut, body tissues, lymph, and blood. Roundworms have also been implicated in causing eczema.

There are thousands of species of roundworms and most of these affect humans.

Giant roundworm

These are very long worms, they can be as long as 30 centimeters or even more and their diameter also varies. An example of a giant roundworm is Ascaris lumbricoides.

It can grow up to 35 centimeters long and it infects humans. Ascaris eggs are deposited in the soil through contaminated feces. From there, there contaminate human food and drinks.

The eggs hatch in the intestine of the host and move to the lungs. The body induces a reflex action (cough) to take it out of the lungs. Through cough, they are moved into the mouth and swallowed.

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They find their way to the stomach and then enter the intestine where they live. Ascaris don’t cause symptoms until they are more in numbers.

They cause shortness of breath, vomiting, blockages in the intestines, swelling in the abdomen, and many other uncomfortable symptoms. Ascaris has even been implicated in the formation and growth of tumors.

Whipworm

Their unique whip-like shape influenced their name. They also have a thick tail and a thin front end. They can be as long as 8 centimeters and like giant roundworms, their eggs are laid in the soil through contaminated feces.

From here, they contaminate food or water and they hatch in the small intestine. They move to the large intestine where they spend their adult lives.

Whipworms are behind inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They trigger the immune system to attack its own body, especially the gut area.

Flukes

These are flattened and oval-shaped worms. They can also be leaf-shaped and they can be as long as 8 centimeters. There are two groups of flukes, we have the tissues and blood flukes.

The tissue flukes invade the liver, bile ducts, and other tissues. They live in the bile duct and eat the epithelial cells and cause jaundice, weight loss, and abdominal pains.

They cause the swelling and blockage of the bile ducts. This is the tube that carries bile from the liver down to the intestines.

The blood flukes inhabit the blood of the host and it is contacted when you bath in contaminated water. The larvae will dig directly into the skin.

Blood flukes cause high temperature, abdominal pain, cough, skin rash, and muscle aches. In chronic cases, inflammation can occur in areas where the eggs are staying in the body.

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If this is not handled properly, it can cause long-term damage to the affected organ.

Signs and Symptoms of Intestinal Worms

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HELMINTHS Doç.Dr.Hrisi BAHAR

Each worm has its unique symptoms and the part they are located in the body also influences the symptoms you feel. However, they are general symptoms specific to all worms and some of them are:

  • Weight loss
  • Teeth grinding when sleeping
  • Stomach tenderness and pain
  • Bloating, gas, diarrhea, and sporadic constipation
  • Bad dreams, restlessness at night, and sleep disturbances
  • Rashes
  • Excreting worms and their eggs in your stool
  • Nervousness
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Stubborn obesity
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Immune dysfunction
  • Headache
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Depression
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Food cravings and constant desire for food
  • Weakness and chronic fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Anemia
  • Allergies
  • Sensitivities
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Rectal or vagina itching
  • Anemia
  • Eczema (caused by roundworms)
  • Hives
  • Itchy skin
  • Anxiety
  • Blood in stools
  • Respiratory symptoms and cough
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Dehydration
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headaches
  • Poor memory
  • Chronic pain
  • Skin problems

In severe cases, intestinal worms can cause:

  • Block the intestine and cause severe constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Causing nutritional deficiencies by disrupting the absorption of nutrients
  • Weight loss

Home Remedies To Get Rid of Intestinal Worms

Garlic

This is common anti-parasite food. It deals with any type of intestinal worms. Raw garlic has anti-parasitic activity and it also kills microbes.

If you want to get rid of all types of intestinal worms, make sure you take 3 cloves of raw garlic daily on an empty stomach every day for one week.

Wormwood

This herb is called wormwood for a reason. It kills all kinds of worms. It expels roundworms and tapeworms especially and any other type of intestinal worms.

The oil can also be used to kill intestinal worms. For the powder, you take 8 to 16 mg daily. For the oil, mix with 8 times olive oil and take it in doses of 50 to 100 ml.

You can also make an infusion by mixing 2 ml of wormwood oil with 120 ml of water. This can be used as an enema for killing worms in the rectum.

Turmeric

This is a powerful remedy for intestinal worms. It has anti-microbial properties and also cleans your body with its anti-septic properties. It is a strong killer of intestinal worms.

It also relieves symptoms of intestinal worms like excessive gas, bloating, abdominal pains, nausea, etc. Extract the juice from raw turmeric and add a pinch of salt to this. Drink this on an empty stomach for one week.

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Another way to do this is to use powdered turmeric. Add 1 ½ teaspoon to 1 ½ cup of warm water, add a pinch of salt and mix thoroughly. Drink this on an empty stomach daily for 5 days.

Coconuts

This is a powerful worm expeller. It expels all types of intestinal worms. It is a strong anti-parasitic agent. Both the oil and the fruit can be used to expel intestinal worms.

Take one tablespoon of crushed coconuts along with your breakfast. After 3 hours, add 2 tablespoons of castor oil to one glass of warm plant beverage like almond milk and mix thoroughly and drink.

Do this daily until the symptoms are gone. Children, less than 5 years of age, and people suffering from gastrointestinal diseases should avoid castor oil.

If you have access to pure coconut oil, take 4 to 6 tablespoons of this oil daily.  

Cloves

This strong herb has anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, and antiseptic properties. It can kill both intestinal worms and their eggs in your body. Use freshly ground cloves if you want to get the maximum health benefits of this.

Add a teaspoon of powdered clove to 1 cup of boiling water. Cover the cup and allow it steep for 20 minutes. Drink these three times daily for one week.

Pomegranate seed bark

All parts of the pomegranate tree have anti-helminthic properties. This includes the root, leaves, stems, and bark. Pomegranate is one of the top home remedies for intestinal worms.

This tree is rich in punicine, an alkaloid that is highly toxic to intestinal worms, especially tapeworms. Add a 2-inch piece of pomegranate tree bark to a cup of water.

Boil this until the quantity of water reduces by half. Allow this to cool and then you drink it. Do this three times daily. Leave a couple of hours between each drink.

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After that, you eat a purgative fruit like avocado or banana to aid bowel movement. Do these for a few days. If you are using this remedy for children, you have to reduce the dosage of the decoction to 1/3.

Also, regular intake of pomegranate juice or fruit prevents the attack of intestinal worms.

Unripe papaya

This is used in Ayurveda medicine for a lot of ailments and intestinal worms are not left out. The latex in unripe pawpaw has the enzyme papain which has strong anti-helminthic properties.

This enzyme can destroy all intestinal worms. You can also eat the seeds, they contain caricin, a substance that expels worms from the body.

Mix a tablespoon of fresh and raw papaya juice with one tablespoon of honey. Add this mixture to four tablespoons of hot water. Drink this in the morning on an empty stomach. Two hours later, drink a solution of castor oil.

You can make this solution by putting two tablespoons of castor oil in a warm glass of plant beverage.

Pumpkin seeds

These get rid of intestinal worms. They contain a compound called cucurbitacins and this has a strong anti-parasitic effect. It can even paralyze the parasites.

This, in turn, prevents the parasites from holding on to the walls of the intestines. This increases the ease of their elimination. Peel and crush pumpkin seeds and then you add 2 tablespoons of this to 3 cups of boiling water.

Leave it inside for 30 minutes to steep. Then drink it when warm. You can try fasting for a day before you try this therapy. When breaking the fast, drink the juice gotten from boiled dry prunes.

This will help cleanse your intestines before you take the infusion of pumpkin seeds. Another way to use pumpkin seeds is to roast the seeds. Then crush a tablespoon of this and mix with a tablespoon of honey.

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Take this mixture on an empty stomach every morning, do this for 7 days. You should also include a laxative like a kiwi or a banana in your breakfast.

Neem

Also known as Indian lilac, this powerful herb removes all types of intestinal worms. It kills parasites and also removes the toxins they leave inside you when dying.

Fry one tablespoon of dry neem flowers in a teaspoon of ghee or clarified butter. Eat this with plain boiled rice for four days. Do this twice daily when on this program.

You can also drink a glass of warm neem leaves twice daily for one week. Then you rest the following week and repeat it in the third week. Another way to go about this is to grind neem leaves into a fine paste and eat 1 ½ tablespoon of this paste with a glass of warm water every morning on an empty stomach.

Rest for one week and repeat it in the third week. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid neem.

Carom seeds

The rich content of thymol in these seeds helps to inhibit the growth of intestinal worms. This should be used along with Jaggery. Take a tablespoon of jaggery on an empty stomach in the morning.

After 20 minutes, eat 1 ½ teaspoon of crushed carom seeds. Take this along with a glass of water. Do this daily for 2 weeks to get rid of all intestinal worms.

Carrots

Beta-carotene is present abundantly in carrots and this strong antioxidant destroys the eggs of intestinal worms. It is also rich in Zinc and vitamin C which boosts the immune system.

A strong immune system can quickly fight off any type of parasite. Grate two carrots and eat them on an empty stomach every morning. Don’t eat anything that morning till lunch.

Do this daily for one week.

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Sources;

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Ebiojo David
I am a Biochemist and Naturopath, I love writing and educating people on health and wellness matters.
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