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Parasites-How Do You Know if You Have Worms and What to Do About Them
I had a client a while ago who had this question for me: “I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting menstrual cramps for the past few months and I don’t usually have them. Can you tell me what you think it is?”
It has been determined, strangely or not so strangely, that the cause of those menstrual cramps is parasites! And this is not the only disease caused, in part, by parasites. Read more…
I recommend for her, and for you, that you worm both your pets and yourself about twice a year.
I have tried natural wormers over the years–actually MANY natural wormers such as: garlic, cloves, black walnut, coriander, wormwood, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, diatomaceous earth, Rascal, Zymex, Vermifuge, several other natural worming formulas and homeopathy, but nothing seems that effective. I even tried the Hulda Clarke “Zapper” (which by the way doesn’t work because the voltage of the thing isn’t strong enough to penetrate the faecal material into the intestines – save your money by not buying or building one!) I’m sorry to report (as a naturopath ) that studies show that these herbal treatments are only about 20% effective. The Certified Organic organization says when all else fails, use ivermectin (which is somehow not organic), but have you seen the list of side effects on that particular product? Three pages long!
I will say that when a client comes to me, I ask them if they have any cravings. One sure sign they are “wormy” is when they tell me they miss finesse. Clove oil has been shown to penetrate the egg and kill it where the other herbs only kill the adults. Herbs that kill parasites are often found in herbal cancer formulas because parasites are often a core cause of that particular disease.
One reason I push so hard for routine worming is that the medical field often misses this diagnosis — especially if you don’t have a history of traveling outside of the US where parasites are often a big problem. I love working in my garden and I am often an open mouth breather when I work the soil. We also live in a windy area and dirt from the wheat and grass fields is often in the air. I try to wash my hands often, but anyone who works in the dirt knows it’s almost impossible to avoid it.
Another reason I stay on top of the worm situation is that worms carry viruses into our body. Some of these viruses can cause cancer, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and many other terrible diseases.
In my opinion, the safest, cheapest, easiest, most effective way to worm yourself and your pets from the most common worms (roundworms — also called strongyles, threadworms, pinworms, roundworms) is to go to the local feed store and get a bottle of horse or dog roundworm – Equi-Phar, ProTal, Strongid-T, and Nemex are all trade names of Pyrantel Pamoate. I say this because when you ask your doctor about deworming, they usually tell you that you don’t need to be dewormed. Make sure it says Pyrantel Pamoate on the label and nothing else added. Combination dewormers are not always needed and not always safe.
Dosage: Use the dosage of 5-10 mg/kilogram of body weight (about 1 ml/5 to 10 pounds of 50mg/ml solution) of body weight for dogs and humans and 1 ½ ml/5 to 10 pounds for cats. One teaspoon is 5 ml or cc (ml and cc are the same unit of volume). If you’re not good at math, you’ll want to double check that you’re taking the correct dose. Although this vermilion is so safe that you can take 40 times the amount without harmful side effects, you don’t want to overdose. And, “If a little is good, MUCH need not be better.” The most common side effect is nausea, so take this product with something on your stomach like a small meal or some crackers.
One dose is all, but you may need to give a second dose 7-10 days after the first dose for the initial worming or if the worm is large enough. I use this once a year now for myself as I have had a history of heart palpitations (another symptom associated with parasites.) The worms will die within 20 minutes. You won’t feel anything and have no side effects. You won’t see anything going into the toilet as a general rule but if you’re wondering what’s going on, a photo often helps. Often people will mistake intestinal scraps for flatworms or tapeworms and undigested food for parasites. This wormer will not kill those types of parasites. Sometimes I see a pet nauseous from an overdose, but in 30 years, I have never seen another side effect.
Will a store bought dewormer work the same way? No. Many stores still carry Piperazine dewormer which has been so overused that it is no longer an effective dewormer. Piperazine is often marketed as a “monthly” dewormer in the pet departments. I once saw a litter of eight puppies in full convulsions that had just been wormed that week with piperazine. Imagine eight cute little Golden Retreiver puppies lying on their sides shivering. It was terrible! I immediately dewormed them with Pyrantel and the worms just flushed out their small rectums and the seizures stopped within 20 minutes. It was incredible to watch!
If the product you buy contains a tapeworm medication (such as clorpyrifos, which is an organophosphate vermilion), this can cause serious side effects. Never use these store bought wormers on pregnant animals. The animal’s intestines can contract so hard to pass the worms that they can burst their uterus and die. Always get tapeworm medication from your doctor or vet because we carry much safer brands than the grocery or food stores. A tobacco plug is also not safe. Don’t use it.
How do you get worms? We catch worms from some of the things we eat, from the dirt, and from the dust we breathe. Eating dirt is a sign of iron deficiency. We should talk if you do that… I got pinworms when I was a little girl eating slime pie (my friend said she’d give me a nickel if I did it!) Pinworms are the equivalent of cat and dog roundworms, only they is a different species of worms so are not transmitted from us to them and vice versa. See more about this below.
Most adults (pets and humans) have enough enzymes in their mouths to break down most of the eggs that enter through our mouths and noses, our stomach acids break them down even more, but some eggs get through both of those backups where they hatch, find a home and grow into adults within about 10-14 days in our small intestine. After 14 days, these adult parasites produce more eggs – millions of them in their lifetime. Yuk!
We see worms most often in baby animals and humans because their salivary enzymes aren’t as strong, the hydrochloric stomach acids aren’t fully developed yet, and because they have mouth attachments and put a lot of stuff in their mouths – they ingest more dirt. than adults. Their immune systems can’t keep up with that. The “load” (number of worms) becomes so large in the small intestine that it spills into the large intestine and into the stomach. That’s why it’s so common to see babies either throwing up worms or pooping them out. Because adults have a better immune system, the burden is controlled and the worms like the environment of the small intestine, so that’s where they stay. We can still have worms, but it’s not as obvious as when we were young children (or pets under a year old).
How do you know if you should take wormer?
Signs of roundworms include fever, cough, breathing problems, stomach problems, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramping, appendicitis, gas, bloating, increased cramping (menstrual), heart palpitations, pain in the lower right quadrant that comes and goes (spasms in the ileocecal valve) , itchy anus, dry dull hair with split ends, seizures, ravenous appetite (often for sugar), clear mucous threads in the stool (yes you should look at it every time you go! And yes, I will ask). you how it looks if you ever consult with me.) People and animals with many parasites also have large bellies and a lot of diameter below the belly caused by the intestines losing their tone. Most often worms can be diagnosed by looking at the intestinal contents under a microscope or by doing a blood test, but not always. Protozoan parasites such as giardia are often missed.
Can I get roundworms and tapeworms from my pets?
Good question, and I get that a lot. If you worm your pets regularly, you will not have this problem. Dog and cat worms are different than most human worms. There are only a few species of worms that are zoonotic (passed from your dogs and cats to you)–one of those is Toxoplasma cati, which is transmitted to humans from cat feces and causes blindness in children. But, the Pyrantel Pamoate kills that and if you clean the bin every day, the probability of that being passed is almost nil. Giardia lamblia, an intestinal protozoan parasite can also be passed to you through your pet, but mostly people get Giardia from drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated lettuce or water chestnuts. Ringworm is NOT transmitted from animals to humans and neither are head lice or pubic lice. Tapeworms are not transmitted from dogs and cats to humans (but they are from fish and some farm animals). Tapeworms are treated with different medications than roundworms.
Ringworm is not actually a parasitic worm. It’s really a fungus and that can also be passed from your pets to you. We have fantastic homeopathic drops for that, but keeping the area scrubbed and applying iodine to it can help. Also, keeping your immune system and your pet’s healthy with good high quality foods helps tremendously.
Well, that’s worms in a nutshell (or in this case, intestine!) Bon appetit, eh?
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