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Parasites-How Do You Know if You Have Worms and What to Do About Them
I had a client a while back who had this question for me: “I’ve noticed that I’ve been having period cramps for the past few months and I usually don’t have them. Can you tell me what you think it is? “
It was found, strangely or not so strangely, that the cause of these period cramps was parasites! And this is not the only disease caused, in part, by parasites. Continue reading…
I recommend for her and you, that you worm both your pets and yourself about twice a year.
I have tried natural wormers over the years — in fact MANY natural wormers such as: garlic, cloves, black walnut, coriander, wormwood, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, diatomaceous earth, Rascal, Zymex, Vermifuge, many other natural worm formulas and homeopathics, but nothing seems that effective. I’ve even tried the Hulda Clarke “Zapper” (which by the way doesn’t work because the voltage on the thing isn’t strong enough to penetrate the faecal material inside the intestines – save money by not buying or making one!) I’m sorry to report ( as a naturopath) that studies show that these herbal treatments are only about 20% effective. Certified Organic says when all else fails, use ivermectin (which is not organic by any means), but have you seen the side effects list for that product? Three pages!
I will say that when a client comes to me, I ask if they have cravings. A sure sign they are “wormy” is when they tell me they crave cloves. Clove oil has been shown to penetrate the egg and kill it where other herbs only kill the adults. Herbs that kill parasites are often found in herbal formulas for cancer because parasites are often the root cause of this particular disease.
One reason I push so hard for a worming routine is that the medical field often misses this diagnosis — especially if you don’t have a history of traveling outside of the United States where parasites are often a big problem. I love working in my garden and often breathe with my mouth open when working the soil. We also live in a windy area and dirt from wheat and grass fields is often in the air. I try to wash my hands often, but anyone who works in the dirt knows it’s almost impossible to avoid getting it on yourself.
Another reason I stay on top of the worm situation is that worms carry viruses into our bodies. Some of these viruses can cause cancer, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and a host of other horrible diseases.
In my opinion, the safest, cheapest, easiest, most effective way to deworm yourself and your pets from the most common worms (roundworms — also called strongworms, threadworms, pinworms, roundworms ) is to go to your local feed store and get a bottle of horse or dog roundworm–Equi-Phar, ProTal, Strongid-T, and Nemex are all trade names for Pyrantel Pamoate. I say this because when you ask your doctor for a wormer, they usually tell you that you don’t need to be dewormed. Make sure it says Pyrantel Pamoate on the label and nothing else has been added. Combination worms are not always needed and not always safe.
Dosage: Use the dosage of 5-10 mg/kg body weight (approximately 1 ml/5 to 10 lbs of a 50 mg/ml solution) of body weight for dogs and humans and 1 ½ ml/5 to 10 lbs for cats. A teaspoon is 5 ml or cc (ml and cc are the same unit of volume). If you are not good at math, you should double check that you are taking the correct dose. Although this wormer is so safe that you can take 40 times the amount without harmful side effects, you don’t want to under dose. And, “If less is good, MORE is not necessarily better.” The most common side effect is nausea, so take this product with something in your stomach, such as a small meal or some crackers.
One dose is all that is needed, but you may need to give a second dose 7-10 days after the first dose for initial deworming or if the worm load is high enough. I now use it once a year for me as I have had a history of heart palpitations (another parasite related symptom.) The worms will die within 20 minutes. You won’t feel anything and you shouldn’t have any side effects. You won’t see anything going down the toilet as a general rule, but if you’re wondering what’s going down a picture often helps. People often mistake intestinal fragments for flatworms or tapeworms and undigested food for parasites. This wormer will not kill these types of pests. Occasionally I see a pet become nauseous from an overdose, but in 30 years, I have never seen any other side effects.
Will store bought wormer work the same? No. Many stores still carry the Piperazine wormer, which is so overused that it is no longer an effective wormer. Piperazine is often marketed as a “monthly” dewormer in pet departments. I once saw a litter of eight puppies in full seizure that had just been wormed that week with piperazine. Imagine eight cute Golden Retreiver puppies lying on their sides and shaking. It was scary! I wormed them immediately with Pyrantel and the worms just came out of their little rectums and the seizures stopped within 20 minutes. It was incredible to watch!
If the product you buy contains a tapeworm medication (such as clorpyriphos which is an organophosphate wormer), this can cause some serious side effects. Never use these store-bought worms on pregnant animals. The animal’s intestines can contract so strongly to pass the worms that it can rupture its uterus and die. Always get tape medication from your doctor or vet as we carry much safer brands than grocery or feed stores. The smoke plug is also unsafe. Don’t use it.
How do you get worms? We pick up worms from some of the things we eat, from the dirt and from the dust we breathe. Eating dirt is a sign of iron deficiency. We should talk if you do this… Pinworms when I was a little girl eating a mud pie (my boyfriend said he’d give me a nickel if I did!) Pinworms are the equivalent of cat and dog worms, only which are a different kind of worms so they don’t pass from us to them and vice versa. See more about it below.
Most adults (pets and humans) have enough enzymes in their mouths to break down most of the eggs that enter through our mouths and noses, our stomach acids break them down even more, but some eggs are broken down by both support systems. hatch, find a home and grow into adults within about 10-14 days in our small intestine. After 14 days, these adult parasites produce more eggs – millions of them in their lifetime. Yuck!
We see worms more often in baby animals and humans because their salivary enzymes aren’t as strong, their stomach acids aren’t fully developed yet, and because they have mouth ulcers and put a lot of stuff in their mouths–they swallow more dirt than adults . Their immune system can’t keep up with it. The “load” (number of worms) becomes so great in the small intestine that it spills into the large intestine and stomach. This is why it is so common to see babies either throwing up worms or passing them out. Because adults have better immune systems, the burden is controlled and the worms like the environment of the small intestine, so that’s where they stay. We may still have worms, but they are not as obvious as when we were small children (or pets under one year old.)
How do you know if you should get a wormer?
Signs of roundworms include fever, cough, wheezing, stomach problems, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramps, appendicitis, gas, bloating, increased cramps (menstruation), palpitations, right lower quadrant pain that comes and goes (spasms in the ileocecal valve), itching in the anus, dry shiny hair with split ends, seizures, pica cravings (often for sugar), clear mucus fibers in the stool (yes, you should look at it every time you go! And yes , I will ask what it looks like if you ever consult me.) People and animals with many parasites also have large bellies and a large diameter below the navel caused by the intestines losing their tone. Most of the time, worms can be diagnosed by looking at the contents of the intestine under a microscope or by doing a blood test, but not always. Protozoan parasites such as giardia are often missed.
Can I get roundworms and tapeworms from my pets?
Good question, and I understand it a lot. If you worm your pets regularly, you won’t have this problem. Dog and cat worms are different than most human worms. There are only a few types of worms that are zoonotic (transmitted from your dogs and cats to you) — one of them is Toxoplasma cati, which is transmitted to humans from cat feces and causes blindness in children. But, Pyrantel Pamoate kills it, and if you clean the litter box every day, the chance of it passing is almost nil. Giardia lamblia, an intestinal protozoan parasite can also be transmitted to you through your pet, but mostly people get Giardia from drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated lettuce or water chestnuts. Scabies is NOT transmitted from animals to humans and neither are head lice or pubic lice. Tapeworms are not transmitted from dogs and cats to humans (but are from fish and some farm animals). Tapeworms are treated with different medications than roundworms.
The Ring Worm is not actually a parasitic worm. It is actually a fungus and can also be transmitted from your pets to you. We have fantastic homeopathic drops for this, but keeping the area clean and applying iodine to it can help. Also, keeping your immune system and your pet healthy with good, high quality foods helps tremendously.
Well, that’s worms in a nutshell (or for that matter, gut!) Appetizer, eh?
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