Parasites: Everything you need to know

Finding out you have parasites can be disturbing, but you’re not alone; they are far more prevalent than you would imagine. It is a myth that parasites only exist in third world countries. In fact, many of the clients I see in my practice have a parasite. Thay can cause a countless number of symptoms, only some of which are digestive.

What are parasites?

Parasites are organisms that exist and feast from another organism. Intestinal parasites are usually worms that feed off of the food you eat.

Examples of intestinal parasites include roundworms, tapeworms, pinworms, whipworms, hookworms, and more. Parasites can cause a very wide range of problems:

  1. Some eat your food, leaving you feeling empty after every meal and not able to put on weight.
  2. Some feed off of your red blood cells, leading to anaemia.
  3. Some lay eggs that can produce itching, irritability, and even insomnia.

If you have attempted many strategies to heal your gut and alleviate your symptoms without any resolution, a parasite could be the underlying reason for several of your unexplained and vague symptoms.

How do you get a parasite?

There are a plenty of ways to catch a parasite. First, parasites can invade your body via infected food and water. Undercooked meat is a well-known place for them to hide, as well as contaminated water from third world countries, lakes, ponds, or streams. Meat is the not the only offender. Polluted or contaminated fruits and veggies can also hide parasites. Some parasites can even invade the body by moving through the sole of your foot.

Once infected with a parasite, it’s very easy to pass it on to somebody else. If you have a parasite and don’t clean your hands after using the bathroom, you can easily transfer microscopic parasite eggs onto anything you touch such as a door handle, salt shaker, phone, or anybody you feel. It’s also very easy to catch a parasite when around animals. Ensuring you was your hands can help prevent parasite infection and transmission. Going overseas is an added way that parasites can enter your body. If you drank any contaminated water during your travels, you have probably acquired a parasite.

12 Signs You Might Have a Parasite

  1. You have unexplained constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, or heartburn.
  2. You travelled abroad and remembered getting traveller’s diarrhoea.
  3. You have had food poisoning in the past, and your digestion has not been right since.
  4. You have difficulty falling asleep, or you wake up multiple times during the night, particularly
  5. between 2 and 3 pm.
  6. You get unexplained rashes, hives, rosacea or eczema.
  7. You grind your teeth at night.
  8. You get pain in your joints and muscles.
  9. You experience tiredness, weariness, sadness, or frequent feelings of indifference.
  10. You never feel satiated or full after your meals.
  11. You’ve been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anaemia or low iron that does not increase with supplementation.
  12. You experience a crawling feeling underneath your skin.
  13. You drool on your pillow while asleep at night.
  14. You get nightmares – especially children.

The symptoms of a parasite can often seem independent and unexplained. As I stated previously, there are many diverse types of parasites that we are exposed to in our environments. I typically see parasites prompting more constipation than diarrhoea. Insomnia, skin rashes, mood swings, and muscle aches can all be produced by the toxins that parasites release into your body. These toxins often cause anxiety, which can display itself in different guises. For example, waking up in the middle of the night or grinding your teeth at night are signs that your body is feeling anxiety while you rest. When these toxins mix with your brain chemicals or blood, they can cause mood swings or skin rashes.

How to Test for Parasites

The best route to test for a parasite is to do a stool test. In Ontario, parasite testing is covered under OHIP through your family physician. This one major drawback of this testing is that the lab only asks for one stool sample. Parasites can be difficult to detect so taking more than one sample significantly increases the chance of detection. In my practice, the lab I use (Biohealth) ask for three different samples collected on separate days.

Stool testing is the best scientific method for testing parasites sometimes it can produce false negative results even though all the presenting symptoms point towards parasites being present. In such cases, I way up all the presenting data and may treat even though the stool test may be negative.

How to Treat Parasites

Any positive stool test will tell you which type of parasites are present. You can then use specific herbal medications to target those particular parasites. If, however, the parasites cannot be distinguished, you can use a combination of herbs, comprising magnesium caprylate, berberine, Tribulus, sweet wormwood, grapefruit, bayberry, bearberry, and black walnut. You can typically find herbal mixtures at any health food store or my practice. In general, these herbal formulas afford a broad spectrum of action against the most prevalent pathogens existing in your GI tract, while not damaging the beneficial gut bacteria.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.


This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


  1. I’ve had gut problems for 8yrs is there such a parasite that comes out in poop stringy but mostly clear but like a worm does sorta get the color of poop as well but long and stringy

    1. Hi Mitch, I am not an expert on what parasites look like. I suggest you ask your doctor to refer you to an infectious disease specialist.

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