In my practice, I find many people are very concerned about parasites. I wanted to take the time to share an Ayurvedic perspective on parasites from Banyan Botanicals. This article offers tools of what one can do naturally to help decrease the risk of them as well as herbal suggestions to use if one becomes infected.
There are more than 3,000 types of parasites. Though they are most prevelant in populations with poor sanitary conditions, millions of people continue to become infected in developed countries as well. Giardia is still the most common parasite worldwide, it is commonly waterborne, making campers and backpackers most susceptible. Foreign travelers can also become infected by drinking contaminated water or eating food which was prepared in unsanitary conditions. Parasites, in general, can cause a wide variety of digestive complaints.
According to Ayurveda, parasite growth is encouraged by weak digestive fire or low agni. Weak digestion is a primary causative factor in creating an ideal host body for parasites. Parasites are more likely to affect Vata and Kapha predominant people since they will be more likely to have weak agni. Robust agni, characteristic of pitta dominant individuals, can burn up parasites before they have a chance to make themselves at home in the body. Because of this, it is essential to recognize what is needed to keep a robust digestive system at all times.
Many people have difficulty determining the primary cause of parasitic infection. Even after contact or ingestion of a parasite has occurred, some, like Giardia cysts, can remain dormant yet viable in the body for months until an imbalance occurs, weakening the body's immune system and creating an environment for a parasite to live. Once a parasite takes up residence in the body, it leeches nutrients and creates waste which can become a breeding ground for bacteria, yeasts, and fungi.
In Ayurveda, parasites are classified according to what tissues they inhabit in the body: blood, intestines, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and brain. Most parasites also migrate in the body so the symptoms could change depending on where the parasites are at any given time. This can make diagnosis difficult. The symptoms of parasitic infection are very similar to an overgrowth of yeast, Candida albicans, in the body. The parasites create waste on which the yeast feeds, while the yeast provides a damp ideal environment for the parasites to thrive. So, it is not uncommon to have to rid the body of both parasites and yeast. The Ayurvedic treatment protocol can be used to address both yeast and parasites.
Strengthening digestion and maintaining intestinal flora is most important while cleansing parasites and for avoiding getting parasites. Paying close attention to the digestibility of foods will help you make choices that your body can use while limiting the production of toxic waste. Avoid foods that will create ama or impurities in the body such as frozen, leftover and processed foods. A diet that is little in quantity, light, warm and comfortable to digest will be the most beneficial. Find more infromation on digestion and agni here.
Minimize sweets. Yeast and bacteria flourish with sugars providing more food for the parasites. Choose fresh organic vegetables, fruits, and grains. These will provide the body with vitality and nourishment. Include anti-parasitic foods such as coconut, aloe vera, pumpkin seeds and fresh pineapple naturally. Allow at least three hours between meals to cultivate a healthy appetite. Strengthen the digestive fire by including cayenne, black pepper, dry ginger and asafoetida in your food. Sip ginger tea first thing in the morning and throughout the day to help strengthen the digestive fire and clear toxins.
Many times there is malabsorption in parasitic conditions. Improving the natural flora of the intestines can enhance digestion and absorption of nutrients while making it difficult for parasites to thrive. Include friendly bacteria such as acidophilus, bifidus, and bulgaricus. These are naturally occurring in yogurt and supplemental forms of capsules or liquids.
Strict hygiene is one of the most important preventative measures that should be taken to avoid contracting parasites. Clean bedrooms and bedding. Wash hands with soap for at least 45 seconds, frequently, particularly after using the bathroom and before eating. If you are camping, be sure to boil stream water for at least one minute before ingesting. Wear shoes in areas that may be contaminated with raw sewage. Peel fruits and vegetables if they are possibly from an unclean source. When trying to cleanse parasites from the body by following an herbal and dietary protocol, all family members and pets should be put on a similar regime to minimize the chances of someone becoming re-infected. It is helpful to become familiar with the life cycles of parasites to continue treatment until all parasites have been eliminated.
Para Cleanse offered by Banyan Botanicals is a synergistic combination of the most effective antiparasitic herbs in the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. This formula helps rid the gastrointestinal tract of unwanted parasites and eliminates the toxins on which they feed. This highly bitter recipe is based on vidanga and neem leaf. It also contains ginger, black pepper, and pippali to improve the body's digestive capabilities. The three herbs of triphala, amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki, are included to help cleanse and tone the colon. Many times there is a worsening of symptoms at the beginning of treatment as the herbs, and healthier digestive environment promotes a mass die-off of parasites and yeast. Persistence is crucial during this phase, as the body will soon be clear of the unwanted parasites.
Rejuvenation is vital after this type of purification to help rebuild and nourish the tissues, and create balance within the digestive organs. Daily self-oil massage, abhyanga, is a nurturing practice that nourishes and protects the skin. Herbs such as Shatavari or Ashwagandha can be taken to help rebuild tissues, especially if there has been significant weight loss. Chyavanprash is very useful to help rejuvenate the mind and body. Triphala should be taken continuously, to rejuvenate and tone the large intestine. Following Ayurveda's ancient wisdom will lead you toward a healthy digestive system while creating an undesirable environment for unwanted parasites.
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.