Could your digestive issues be caused by a Parasite infection?

As a naturopath, I often work with women or parents who are seeking guidance on a wide array of health concerns, especially digestive health issues. One topic that frequently arises in our conversations is parasites. While the mere thought of parasites may send shivers down your spine, it's crucial to understand that these microorganisms are more common than you might think. In this blog post, we'll delve into what parasites are, how they affect humans, and the telltale signs that you might be hosting these unwanted guests in your body.

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What Are Parasites?

Parasites are organisms that live off another organism (the host), deriving their nutrients and sustenance at the host's expense. These freeloaders can be found in various forms, including protozoa, helminths (worms), and arthropods. In humans, parasites can take up residence in various organs, tissues, and body systems. They come in many shapes and sizes, making it essential to be vigilant and informed about their potential presence.

Common Parasites in Humans

Several parasites can afflict humans, but some of the most prevalent ones include:

  1. Protozoa: These single-celled organisms can cause conditions like giardiasis and amebiasis. They are often ingested through contaminated food or water.

  2. Helminths: These are parasitic worms, such as tapeworms, roundworms, and flukes. Transmission can occur through consumption of undercooked meat or contact with infected soil.

  3. Arthropods: Parasitic insects like fleas, ticks, and lice can cause skin irritations and other health issues.

As a naturopath, the specific parasites that I encounter and treat in clinic can vary depending on your geographical location, especially if you were affected by the floods or work in industries where you are more susceptible to picking up a parasitic infection. However, some common parasites that I encounter and treat include:

Intestinal Parasites

  • Giardia lamblia: A microscopic parasite that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating.
  • Entamoeba histolytica: This parasite can lead to amebiasis, which manifests as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever.
Helminths (Worms): itchy bottoms and teeth grinding are a sign that you may have worms. Having pets are also a sign that you have worms if you are both showing signs of being infected.
  • Roundworms (Nematodes): These can include Ascaris lumbricoides, which can cause digestive issues and malnutrition, and hookworms, which can lead to anemia and skin problems.
  • Tapeworms (Cestodes): Such as Taenia saginata (beef tapeworm) or Taenia solium (pork tapeworm), which can lead to digestive problems.
  • Flukes (Trematodes): Liver flukes can affect the liver and biliary system.
Protozoa: Some people will experience no symptoms although these will show in a stool test.
  • Dientamoeba fragillis: lives in the large intestine and is most likely transmitted via the faecal-oral route. Symptoms include loose stools, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea and fatigue.
  • Blastocystis hominis: Associated with digestive symptoms like watery loose stools, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, excess gas and bloating.

    Arthropods: There is a lot of research on tick borne illnesses. 

    • Ticks: Some ticks can transmit diseases like Lyme disease.

    Common Symptoms of Parasitic Infections

    Parasites can be stealthy, often living inside your body without causing obvious symptoms. However, when they multiply or invade specific tissues, a range of symptoms may manifest. Here are some common signs of parasitic infections:

    1. Gastrointestinal Issues: Parasites can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting and frequent bowel movements. Symptoms may vary depending on the type of parasite and the location of infection. Symptoms can be very similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or an underlying cause of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

    2. Fatigue and Weakness: Some parasites can deplete your body's nutrients, leading to fatigue, weakness, and anemia. Symptoms can be very similar to exhaustion or in some peoples cases Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

    3. Skin Problems: Itching (itchy skin or bottom), rashes, hives, or sores can result from certain parasites, including scabies, bed bugs or lice.

    4. Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss, despite normal eating habits, can be a sign of a parasitic infection.

    5. Nausea and Vomiting: Certain parasites can cause nausea and vomiting, often accompanied by a loss of appetite.

    6. Joint and Muscle Pain: Some parasites may trigger joint pain and muscle aches.

    7. Allergies: Parasites can sometimes induce or exacerbate allergies, leading to symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.

    8. Psychological Symptoms: In severe cases, parasitic infections may cause cognitive and emotional disturbances, including anxiety, depression, and mood swings.

    9. Respiratory Issues: Lung parasites can lead to coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

    Preventing and Managing Parasitic Infections

    The best approach to managing parasites is through prevention. Here are some tips to help keep these unwelcome guests at bay:

    1. Practice good hygiene, including proper handwashing, to reduce the risk of ingesting or spreading parasites.

    2. Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, and avoid eating raw or undercooked foods.

    3. Drink clean, filtered water to minimize the risk of waterborne parasites.

    4. Maintain a clean living environment to prevent the spread of arthropod parasites.


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    Naturopathic Support 

    If you suspect a parasitic infection, consult a healthcare professional. As a Naturopath, I keep in mind that the treatment approach for parasitic infection can vary, and it's essential to consider your unique circumstances and preferences when developing a treatment plan.  As a naturopath, my role includes providing support through:-

    • Functional testing: Comprehensive Stool Tests (including parasite testing), Microbiome testing, SIBO breath test.
    • Dietary recommendations: eating a whole food diet or anti-inflammatory diet will help to reduce symptom flare ups. Gluten free, dairy free, refined carbohydrate free are a great start. 
    • Herbal remedies: that are specific to the type/s of infections that you have. It's not uncommon to have a parasite infection and have SIBO as well. 
    • Lifestyle: changes to boost the immune system and aid in recovery along with nervous system support as having a parasite can be extremely stressful.

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    Parasites are a part of the natural world, but it's important to be aware of their potential presence in our bodies. Understanding the symptoms associated with parasitic infections can help you seek timely intervention. As a naturopath, my focus is on holistic health, and I encourage a balanced lifestyle, clean eating, and natural remedies to support your body's defenses against these tiny intruders. Remember, knowledge and prevention are your best allies in the battle against parasites, ensuring a healthier and more vibrant life.

    If you think you may have a parasite infection or 'just not feeling right' please reach out and contact me via my link below. I work with clients in clinic and online:-

    Work With Me – Katrina Froome Naturopathy


    Yours in health and wellness,




    katrina froome naturopathy, naturopath, nutrition, parasites, sibo, ibs


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