Parasite cleanses are totally “in” right now! Is this really a good idea?
First, we have to remember that parasites are a normal part of the human gut microbiome. Our microbiome is a complex ecosystem and they are not inherently damaging or pathogenic. Many very people test positive for parasites and are not causing negative symptoms because they are living in balance with the other microbes. Some people actually introduce parasite eggs into their digestive tract (helminth therapy) which has actually been shown to reduce autoimmune and allergic symptoms. Meaning- some people don’t have ENOUGH parasites in their bodies!
It’s all about balance. Parasites can cause a problem if they are OVERGROWN. That means they are out of balance with the other microbes in the gut. Parasitic overgrowth works on the IgE allergic pathway in the immune system- so parasitic overgrowth is a very common factor in histamine and other systemic allergic issues. Similarly, parasites tend to live around the digestive organs such as the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. That means that symptoms such as liver and pancreas issues and gallbladder issues, particularly gallstones, may be indications of parasites (often dead parasites are found inside gallstones).
Other neurological type symptoms, such as jaw tension, anxiety, agitation, and insomnia can indicate parasitic overgrowth, especially these symptoms that get worse around the full moon, as parasites become more active and mate during the full moon. Sometimes parasitic overgrowth is associated with extremely bizarre, violent or risk taking behaviors. This is due to the intense microbial hijack that can happen in the brain, where the parasites need their host to be eaten by another animal in order to complete their life cycle.
Sometimes, the immune system allows parasites to overgrow on purpose. Why would it do this? Well, parasites can neutralize toxins, particularly heavy metals. We see this particularly in sharks. Sharks overloaded with heavy metal toxicity have massive parasitic overgrowth to help protect the animal from the toxins in the tissues. This can happen with humans as well. High levels of parasitic overgrowth is associated with heavy metal toxicity, and so a more intensive detoxification protocol may be indicated to keep yourself in remission long term from parasitic overgrowth.
It is a myth that parasites feed on meat and that a vegan diet is required to starve parasitic overgrowth. They actually primarily feed on sugar, and a common way to draw parasites out of the tissues is through foods like milk and honey. Therefore a gut rebalancing diet free of starch and low in sugar will often spontaneously cause the passing of parasites as you take away their primary fuel source. No herbal protocols needed. I’ve also seen people (myself included) spontaneously pass parasites after doing intensive heavy metal detoxification and doing low oxalates diets (therefore releasing heavy metals bound up in tissues). The lower your toxic load becomes, and the more you support your immune system through a gut rebuilding diet, the more your body will be able to release the parasitic overgrowth on its own.
All that being said, sometimes an herbal anti parasitic protocol is warranted. I usually only do this with people who continue to have stubborn symptoms even after being three, six, or even twelve months on a therapeutic dietary and lifestyle protocol. Wormwood, cloves and black walnut are my favorite herbs to use and they are generally very gentle on the immune system over all- although they are powerful anti parasitics. I have experienced some very intense “purging” that did really benefit my overall recovery from mast cell activation when I have done herbal cleanses in the past.
I hope this helps explain about parasite cleanses! They can absolutely be helpful, but the bigger picture must be understood, and they are not a magic pill!