Parasite Awareness Might Be TikTok’s Most Helpful Wellness Trend Yet

Do you suffer from chronic IBS, autoimmune disease, weight gain, acne, anxious restlessness, and bloating? It might be parasites.

By Anna Hugoboom7 min read
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Although parasite research is nothing new, TikTok has shed new awareness on the influence these revolting creatures have on our health. Multiple people posting videos have shown their symptoms and their cleansing process, and of course, the amazing results and better quality of life they’ve achieved post-parasite cleanse. Yes, this is a disturbing and gross topic, which is why it’s not addressed very often, even in the health and wellness sphere.

According to the CDC, a parasite is defined as an organism that lives on or in a host organism and gets its food at the expense of its host. Able to infiltrate any area of the body, parasites weaken your general immunity. They can also affect your energy, mood, hormones and blood sugar, and even your emotional thought patterns. Some TikTokers have shared how they struggled with anxiety, depression, brain fog, and a lack of motivational drive – only to realize they had parasites. 

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What Kinds of Parasites?

The most common parasites that infest humans are roundworms, tapeworms, flatworms, and hookworms. Roundworms, including pinworms, infest the intestine and can cause abdominal pain, fever, and diarrhea. Hundreds of millions of people around the world host roundworms, but pinworms are the most common in the U.S. These worms can infest via contaminated soil or fecal matter, and the larvae can often enter the body through the skin or hide in contaminated food. Tapeworms can also invade a host this way, especially by poor hygiene and sanitation. 

Hookworms also invade the human skin and target the intestines; they spread via the feces of an infected person. If an infected person poops outside, or if the infected feces happen to be used for fertilizer, the soil then becomes infected, and a person contracts hookworm by walking barefoot or touching the soil. However, parasites can inhabit other areas of the body too. 

Flatworms usually infect people who are swimming, wading, or bathing in freshwater inhabited by infected snails. They burrow into the skin and grow within blood vessels, then travel to the liver, bladder, and other organs. Children who host flatworms often suffer from anemia and malnutrition disorders. 

Parasitic Side Effects

Parasites cause a variety of problems: skin reactions such as eczema, acne, hives, ringworm fungal infection, as well as nerve and sensory disorders including anxiety, restlessness, brain fog, vertigo, and poor coordination. They also make you more susceptible to yeast infections, colds, and environmental and food allergies. Parasites can mimic and cause gastrointestinal disorders and indigestion. Ever feel like you’re bloated after the slightest bit of sugar or grain? It might not just be low stomach acid. Studies have found that parasite symptoms are similar to those of Crohn’s disease and indeed may be the cause, and there is a strong correlation between parasites and autoimmune disease and inflammatory bowel disorders. Parasites can even cause insomnia as well as weight gain.

Parasites and Food

Parasites hijack your digestion and steal much of your nutrients, affecting your proper digestion and metabolic function, which is why an infected person often is hungry with an inability to get full or feel satisfied and may struggle with restless snacking. 

Following the ensuing diarrhea and malabsorption, nutritional deficiencies become part of the package. Anemia is often a result of parasitic infestation, as some parasites feed on host tissue and cause a loss of protein and iron. 

Parasites and Autoimmunity

Food sensitivities can even be affected by parasites; studies show that some allergies may be maladaptive responses to parasitic invasions. The body’s immunity antibodies recognize an allergen, a foreign invader, and bind to it and cause an inflammatory response (which can include a wide range of symptoms from sneezing to stomach pains to anaphylactic shock). 

Even apart from immune response, parasites feed on sugars, so eating any food that breaks down into sugar can trigger an inflammatory response. Those who struggle with digesting grains or any type of complex carbs or can’t eat the smallest amount of sugar or dairy without suffering skin breakouts, bloating, and smelly gas often are hosting parasites that are causing the reaction. 

Parasites Are Endocrine Disruptors

Parasites, especially tapeworms, are endocrine disruptors and can cause hormonal imbalance, resulting in issues such as endocrine dysfunction, adrenal insufficiency, metabolic abnormalities, and thyroid dysfunction. Parasites can even be a factor in diabetes. Some parasites, medically named Toxoplasma gondii, that infect the pancreas could damage pancreatic cells and affect insulin production and secretion, thus increasing the risk of developing diabetes.

Some doctors have seen a correlation between parasitic infections and thyroid issues, such as Hashimoto’s and Graves’ diseases. Again, the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, found in undercooked pork and infected cat feces, can infect a human, and the infection may linger for years, triggering Hashimoto’s or Graves’. As a symptomatic result, this can cause weight gain and insomnia.

Parasites and Your Weight

Parasites, such as tapeworms, can also cause rapid weight loss, among other severe health risks. Back in the late 19th to early 20th century, Victorian-era women undertook the Tapeworm Diet – which involved literally ingesting a tapeworm egg – so they could fit into society’s standards for thinness and their corsets (yep, no kidding).

In Hollywood, celebrity culture pushed extreme weight ideals that influenced horrific weight-loss methods, including eating tapeworms (which is so medically unsafe it’s illegal). This self-destruction has continued, because people (especially in America) often think they can just get a quick fix and take antiparasitic medication later to kick the parasites out after they’ve lost weight. In 2014, the Daily Mail published a story of a pageant girl’s mother who fed her tapeworms so that she could lose weight (besides the illegal part, this is outright child abuse). Even today, a modeling industry trick is to travel internationally to pick up a parasite and lose weight in a short amount of time before a photo shoot or runway event.

Parasites and Cancer 

More seriously, parasites can cause fatal disease, the most widespread being malaria. Although many associate parasites with tropical, third-world environments like the slums of Africa, parasitic infections and diseases also are problematic in modern countries, including the United States. 

The American Cancer Society indicates that certain parasites can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. After all, parasites compromise immunity, debilitate homeostasis, and weaken the body’s autoimmune responses. Cancer growth is literally cell deterioration and depleted immunity, so it makes perfect sense that parasites can indirectly cause or increase the risk of cancer.

Parasite Symptoms

Okay, you might ask, so how do I know if I personally have parasites taking up my inner space? Symptoms include, but aren’t limited to, the following: abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, weakness and fatigue, brain fog, nervous anxiety/restlessness, loss of appetite, weight loss or the inability to lose weight, vitamin deficiencies, and malabsorption. Pinworms can cause anal itching and sleep disruption, while hookworms can cause anemia. Symptoms can be medically diagnosed through several options, including via endoscopy, colonoscopy, stool test, and blood test (for some). 

What could expose you to parasites? Exposure outlets include traveling (especially in third-world countries), animals (especially indoor/house pets and rescues), walking barefoot around animals outside, contaminated water, raw fish, undercooked meat, underdone pork, contaminated food (especially from food trucks and fast food), or eating food prepared by infected individuals. Swimming in lakes, ponds, creeks, and even public pools and hot tubs puts you at risk, since chlorine doesn’t kill all parasites, so be sure not to accidentally swallow any water!

Parasites can enter the body orally and sexually, and larvae can even be airborne and enter via the respiratory passages. Pinworms, for example, lay their eggs on surfaces, such as counters and bedsheets, and can travel via air or touch contact. Touching your face with contaminated hands increases exposure, so be careful to avoid touching your face when in public or handling dirty objects.

How To Get Rid of Parasites

To kick the parasites out of your body, you should do a few things. There are offensive measures you can take that are more natural and better for your overall health and immunity if you don’t want to do antiparasitics or steroid drugs.

  • Go on a detox cleanse diet to weaken and starve out the parasites (see below).

  • Start an herbal cleanse to actually kick out the parasites.

  • Wear shoes and don’t walk barefoot outside near animals or sewers.

  • Wash your hands after touching animals.

  • Practice hygiene in sexual intercourse (and consider doing a cleanse with your partner).

  • Make a habit of avoiding processed sugar and alcohol, at least during a cleanse.

  • Pass on the sushi and underdone meats, at least during a cleanse.

  • Skip fast food and sketchy food trucks.

  • Consistently supplement with high potency garlic and probiotics to keep your immunity strong.

  • Incorporate more anti-inflammatory and antiparasitic herbs and spices (fresh or in powder or essential oil form) into your diet, such as ginger, turmeric, oregano, rosemary, thyme, cumin, and dill.

  • Increase fresh garlic and onions in your cooking diet, as they are high in sulfur and have antiparasitic properties.

  • Eat a high protein diet with a sufficient amount of clean, healthy calories. Studies show that both sufficient protein and calories are needed to resist parasitic infections.

  • Avoid pork that’s not well-cooked. Most pork is not cooked enough to kill the parasites in it – it’s considered not kosher (“unclean”) for a reason.

  • Avoid tap water and only drink bottled water when traveling. Filter home water with a purifier, like a Berkey filter.

Cleanse Diet

Proper nutrition is essential to make a cleanse effective; otherwise, you’re just feeding and strengthening those little monsters. Parasites feed on sugar, in all its forms, so stay off the sugar while you’re on a parasite cleanse. That includes the following:

  • table sugar, honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar

  • all fruit, except berries in small amounts (they’re low in fructose and can help stabilize your blood glucose)

  • alcohol, kombucha, soda, sweet tea, juice (except fresh lemon/lime juice)

  • sweetened nut butters, chocolate (unless you’re eating pure, unsweetened cacao), fruit spreads/preserves/jam, sweetened condiments (ketchup, BBQ sauce, relish, honey mustard), and pasta sauce and salad dressing

  • all gluten grains, rice, bread, noodles, cereals, potatoes, legumes, and red meat

  • all dairy, creamer, and any sweetened dairy alternatives. Butter and ghee are allowed.

You’ll need to eat a high-protein diet with plenty of natural fats like olive oil, coconut oil, or butter, fish, some nuts in limited portions, and avocados. Avoid red meat during a cleanse and stick to fish, eggs, and poultry. Protein powder is allowed as long as it’s vegan and sweetened with stevia or monk fruit. Small amounts of sprouted lentils and quinoa are allowed on occasion (season with lots of fresh garlic to counter any carbohydrates that might feed the parasites). Avoid sweet, starchy vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, squash, potatoes, yucca, beetroot, and corn. Do eat lots of leafy greens, as well as vegetables like cucumber, peas, green beans, bell peppers, olives, and artichoke.

This detox will be generally beneficial for your system and help reduce overall inflammation. Although the going might get rough and you might feel tired and irritable, and crave sweets and carbs, just remember your goals and the long-term benefits. You’ll feel great after it’s done! But a detox doesn’t mean a smorgasbord afterward – you don’t want to shock your system. 

Detox Cleanses

For the cleanses themselves, this tincture from Zuma Nutrition is an antiparasitic remedy, and this parasite cleanse from Nature’s Sunshine is highly effective. Chlorophyll is also very beneficial for gut detox and is good to supplement during a parasite cleanse (it’s mint-flavored and tastes very pleasant). Garlic is a natural antiparasitic and supports immunity, so increase garlic in your diet and maybe even supplement (and avoid the garlicky breath) with concentrated garlic like this one or garlic oil like this one. During and after the cleanse, soothe your gut and rebuild your system with probiotics. Recommended products include Nature’s Sunshine Probiotic Eleven or Eleven Elevated probiotics, Garden of Life women’s probiotics, and Dr. Gundry’s Bio Complete (and his Total Restore formula can help with gut and tissue lining after cleansing).

Nature’s Sunshine Products is a personal favorite for quality supplements from clean sources, unlike some brands that just stick their company’s label on a generic vitamin bottle. Tip: use this link HERE to get a 25% discount and free shipping on your first order! Just click where it says Anna Hugoboom’s favorites near the top of the screen, select whichever item you want to order from the favorites, and enter the promo “NSP” at checkout.

Unless otherwise specified, parasite cleanses are best taken over a one to two month period, approximately. You want to detox long enough to get rid of any larvae as well as the mature parasites, but you don’t want to keep cleansing for a long, extended period of time and exhaust your system. So, for example, if you order the ParaCleanse, which is a 10-day supply per box, it would be smart to order two boxes, complete one, rest for five days, then start the second box. However, it would be advisable to do this twice, to be on the safe side while you’re already putting in all the effort. Especially if you see parasites coming out in your stool toward the end of that second box, you’ll want to stay on your no-sugar diet and do a second cycle (two more boxes). And as a routine preventative measure and general detox, you should do a parasite cleanse once every year to keep your system strong and healthy (and to discourage any little creeps that may have snuck in). 

Closing Thoughts

Obviously, just like disease and germs, parasites are a natural part of life. You can’t become paranoid and never eat pork, pet a dog, or go on a trip ever again. Just be careful of those things that can increase your exposure and risk of possible infection. Be mindful of routine hygiene, especially when traveling. Invest in your health and order annual parasite cleanses while supplementing with garlic. And don’t eat cheap sushi!

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