Human Body Parasites

Human bodies, inside and out, are swarming with living parasites. Find out which ones!

Millions of parasites, including mites, worms, bacteria, fungi, and viruses are eating your flesh right now. The human race is subject to infestation by more than 1,000 types of parasites. These freeloaders can be extremely harmful, wreaking havoc on the health or their unwitting hosts.

Virtually all parts of our bodies will host some type of parasite within our lifetimes. Parasitic infestation of the bodies of humans has reached epidemic proportions in some parts of the world, including North America, representing a major health challenge that is often overlooked by medical professionals. There is a tendency to only treat the symptoms: chronic fatigue, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain, weakened immune system, forgetfulness, food allergies, colitis, water retention and many others, without considering that parasites may be the root cause of health problems.

Parasites are living beings that exist on the bodies of other living things. Inside the human body, parasites enjoy what we eat, sucking the nutrients from our food while we get the leftovers and the parasites' waste products. An example a particularly nasty parasite is an American species of hookworm, aptly named Necator Americanus or American Murderer. These ugly creatures attach themselves to intestinal walls, then suck on tissues and blood, causing the host to suffer from iron deficiency anemia.

When we are always hungry, we may jokingly say that we have tapeworms. However, there is nothing funny about tapeworms. These huge parasites may be more than 30 feet long and are capable of producing a million plus eggs a day. Tapeworms consume so much food that the host may actually be hungry all the time, yet may appear obese because of tapeworm-induced water retention.

Pinworms are extremely common intestinal parasites. It's hard to avoid pinworm infestation; their eggs are often airborne. Once pinworms are snugly ensconced inside the human body, they crawl outside the anus at night, causing severe itching, and then lay their eggs on bedding or sleep wear.

One thing to remember about parasites: Although most of them lack a brain as we know it, they are highly developed survival machines. They focus all their energies on eating and reproducing. Getting rid of them is difficult.

Not all parasites are menacing. Some living things that park themselves on or in our bodies actually perform a service. One example is the relatively harmless tooth amoeba. Brushing your teeth won't drive these tiny squatters out; they run for cover when they see a toothbrush, then happily emerge to feast on microscopic bits of food or other organic material. This kind of relationship between host and parasite is called mutualism.

Another less than dangerous parasite is the dust mite. Although they can cause allergies, dust mites operate as a sort of clean up crew for our skin. They march about on our skin and scalps all day, scarfing up dead skin cells. They coexist with Demodex Folliculorum, the rather ordinary eyebrow mite, which lives in human hair. Harmless compared to the Dracula-like hookworm, eyebrow mites have been implicated in hair loss but pose no significant health risk.

Combine the invisible guests such as worms and bacteria with visible ones like fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, lice and flies -- all of whom feed on human blood or tissue -- and it's easy to get a little paranoid about being host to an army of parasites.

What to do if you suspect that you suffer from an infestation of harmful parasites? (Remember, experts say that more than 85 per cent of us are.) The first thing to remember is; don't panic and run out to buy a bagful of remedies that may be useless. Removing parasites takes time and patience. There are a number of books available that provide useful information that will help you and your health care provider make wise decisions. Check out The Essentials of Medical Parasitology by Thomas J. Brooks. Animals Parasitic in Man by Geoffrey Lapage. Medical Parasitology by Markell and Voge, and just for fun, consider Furtive Fauna by Roger Knutson. On the Web , search for writings by Dr. Ross Anderson, N.D., Dr. Peter Wina, Dr. Frank Nova, and Dr. Hazel Parcels.

One additional way you can keep parasites away is to strengthen your own immune system. Eliminate sugar, saturated fat, junk food, white flour, yeast, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. Avoid eating meat that is not well done. Educate yourself about proper food handling and storage practices. Drink plenty of pure water and consider a moderate exercise program.

Practice good personal hygiene by washing your hands often with an antibacterial soap. Clean surfaces in your home with a mixture of 1/4 cup liquid laundry detergent (not dishwashing detergent) and 4 tablespoons chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Use rubber gloves and keep the area well ventilated.

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