An Ayurvedic Perspective on Parasites


In my practice, I find many people are very concerned about parasites. This article offers tips on how to ward off these nasty critters as well as advice about herbal antidotes to parasitic infections from Banyan Botanicals.

Our world is home to more than 3,000 different types of parasites. Like many species, the most common parasite, Giardia, is notorious for causing diarrhea and other digestive problems. While you’re most apt to pick up parasites when traveling in developing countries with poor sanitation, infections can occur anywhere. Giardia, for instance, poses a risk to children who play in soil contaminated with animal feces as well as to hikers and backpackers who drink from directly from lakes and creeks. (Bear in mind that water that looks clean can harbor millions of microscopic parasites from neighboring wildlife.) Giardia and other parasites can also lurk in food that’s been handled by infected individuals.

Ayurveda teaches that low agni (weak digestive fire) predisposes people toward parasitic infections. For this reason, vata- and kapha-dominant individuals, who typically lack strong agni, are particularly at risk. The vigorous digestive fire of pitta-dominant people, on the other hands, tends to consume the parasites before they can really take hold. Once they’re firmly entrenched in the body, parasites start hijacking nutrients from the host, compromising immune function, and generatingama—the toxic wastes that serve as a breeding ground for disease. These wastes serve as an ideal food supply for  common yeasts like Candida albicans, so it’s not unusual for an infestation of parasites to lead to a yeast infection. The same Ayurvedic methods can be used to treat both types of infection.

Digestive Strategies
Maintaining a robust digestive system, then, is a first line of defense against parasitic infections. Avoid frozen, leftover, and processed food, which often contain the impurities that generate ama. Steer clear of sweets as well. Yeasts thrive on sugar, and an overgrowth of yeast provides parasites with the damp environment that helps them flourish,

A diet that consists of small quantities of light, warm, and easy-to-digest foods will help discourage parasitic infections by limiting the production of amaand strengthening agni. To further sharpen your edge against parasites, adopt the following strategies: 

§  Include anti-parasitic foods, such as coconut, fresh pineapple, and pumpkin seeds in your diet.

§  Maximize your nutritional intake while minimizing the ingestion of toxins by eating organic fruits, vegetables, and grains. 

§  Optimize intestinal flora by eating yogurt or taking probiotic supplements.

§  Boost your digestive fire and clear toxins by

o   Adding black pepper, cayenne, dry ginger, and asafetida to your food.

o   Spacing meals at least three hours apart.

o   Sipping ginger tea in the morning and throughout the day.

Lifestyle Measures
Observing strict hygiene is absolutely key to avoiding infection!


§ Wash your hands frequently—especially before eating, after using the bathroom, and changing diapers or cleaning up after pets; use soap and spend at least 45 seconds washing.

§ Never drink water from a stream unless you’ve boiled it for 1 minute.

§ Always wear shoes outdoors in areas that may be contaminated with sewage or animal feces.

§ Peel fruits that may come from an unhygienic source.

Para Cleanse from Banyan Botanicals is a synergistic combination of the most effective antiparasitic herbs in the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. It helps rid the gastrointestinal tract of unwanted parasites and supports balanced functioning by eliminating the toxins that they feed on. Based on vidanga and neem leaf, this formula also contains ginger, black pepper, and pippali to improve the body’s digestive capabilities, as well as triphala, amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki, to help cleanse and tone the colon. While there may be a worsening of symptoms during the mass die-off of parasites and yeast at the beginning of the treatment, persistence is crucial during this phase to ensure the body eliminates all unwanted parasites.

Rejuvenation is vital after this type of purification to help rebuild and nourish the tissues, and balance the digestive system. The nurturing daily practice of abhyanga (“self–oil massage”) is recommended for this purpose, as is a restorative herbal regimen. Herbs such as shatavari or ashwagandha help rebuild tissues, especially in cases of  significant weight loss. Chyavanprash is highly effective in helping the mind as well as the body recover from the stresses of a parasitic infection. The depleting symptoms of this malady take a particularly heavy toll on the large intestine, so a continuous course of triphala to restore its strength and healthy functionality is also advisable,

Be sure to apply the same treatment dietary, lifestyle, and herbal protocols that you’re following to family members and pets to avoid spreading the infection and becoming re-infected.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease.