We don’t like to think about it so much, but a lot of us are walking around with a gut full of parasites. We’d rather like to believe that it is a problem for people in the third world – or for those travelers returning with La Tourista from Mexico, Africa or India. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case. We have plenty of similar organisms right here – and plenty of opportunities to become infected with them. The fact is that a lot of people who haven’t ventured past our borders are experiencing compromised health because, unbeknownst to them, they have a chronic parasitic infestation.

Consider this case, for example. A young woman with a long history of food allergies, digestive upset and eczema-like rashes was at her wits end trying to cope with them. Avoiding conventional treatment because she understood that it would only address symptoms in a superficial, suppressive manner, she instead became extremely conscientious about her diet, avoiding any allergenic foods, took all sorts of supplements and herbs, and sought out professional homeopathic care.

With all this effort, she was able to partially manage her symptoms, but nothing really seemed to give her a deeper sense of relief or eliminate the problem. The worst of it was that her energy and sense of wellbeing was low, and she felt stymied about moving on with her life.

It was suggested to her that she should do a parasite cleanse. A parasite cleanse is exactly what it seems: a plan of action that eliminates parasites from the body. Unlike pharmaceutical medications that simply kill parasites (and can be highly toxic), a well designed cleanse not only has natural substances, usually herbs that expel parasites, it also cleanses the lining of the intestines and stimulates liver function. Proper diet is also an essential element during and after a cleanse.

This particular cleanse consisted of a daily regimen using herbal pills and tea, as well as a separate fiber supplement. One day about two weeks into the protocol, she reported that she expelled a long white rubbery ‘thing’ – “like a white shoelace” – in her stool. This reoccurred twice more within a week. Based on her observations, there seems little doubt that what she saw was in fact a tapeworm.

So, how does somebody get infected with a tapeworm? Basically, it is a result of ingesting their eggs or larvae. That means the food you eat or the water you drink contains them or contains soil contaminated with animal or human feces carrying the eggs or larvae. Humans are infected one of four different species of tapeworm: beef, pork, fish and ‘dwarf’. This latter species is the most common form found in humans and often will spend its entire life cycle from egg to larva to adult in the intestines of one host.

If infected by the larvae, they generally develop into adult tapeworms in the intestines. Once they are ingested they can grow into adults. ‘Grow’ is the operative word. They’ve been known to be as long as 50 feet and live for 20 years in the intestines.

The insidious thing is that often there are no obvious symptoms indicating you have them. Two exceptions are that sometimes one might become aware of their presence because they show up in the stool or, in the case of some varieties of tapeworm that can attach to the lining of the intestines, there may be some signs of intestinal irritation.

On the other hand, if the eggs are ingested, they can become larvae that migrate out of the intestines, forming cysts in other organ tissue like the lungs or liver. These cysts can cause serious medical problems. This is most common with pork tapeworms.

Prevention against infestation or re-infestation relies on proper hygiene – good old hand washing as well as the avoidance of raw or undercooked meats and fish. This, of course raises the question whether sushi lovers ought to give up their habit. On the one hand, it does appear that in fact sushi can be the cause of tapeworm in humans. On the other, frozen fish will not be a carrier and most sushi fish is frozen when transported. The operative word here is ‘most’.

Though apparently unrelated to her allergy and skin problems, the purging of the worm had a positive affect on both and, most importantly, her energy and sense of wellbeing improved dramatically. I suspect that the presence of the tapeworm in her not only exacerbated her predisposition toward certain types of illness, but was also what in homeopathy is called “an obstacle to cure”. This term refers to a currently existing condition or situation that diminishes or counteracts the action of a homeopathic remedy (or any appropriate treatment, for that matter) and thus prevents a person from getting better.

Cleansing regimens vary in form and duration. The one that this young woman is following will take a full three months. I have high hopes that the removal of this obstacle to cure and the completion of the cleanse will bring her to an even higher level of health.



Springtime is usually thought to be the best time to do a cleanse. It is a time of renewal, a time to reinvigorate the body after the winter months when, at least for many people, opportunities to exercise are less and foods tend to be heavier, less fresh. And a cleanse is also a wonderful way to reinvigorate the spirit after months of cold, darkness and cabin fever. The sense of wellness that results can really permeate one’s entire being.

So, what, in fact, is meant by a “cleanse”? As the word implies, it is to rid ourselves of something. And while it certainly involves the mind and spirit as well, for our purposes, we shall focus on the body. In fact, on completely a physical cleanse, most people experience greater clarity of mind and spirit as well as brighter emotions. That is why, of course, many religious traditions emphasize periods of fasting.

Most often, the primary focus of a cleanse is on the large intestine. Not only can it be home to any number of parasites – as we saw previously, but in addition over the years a layer of plaque usually builds up along the inner mucous membrane surface. This plaque in a sense suffocates the intestines, and the entire body for that matter, by preventing the proper absorbing of nutrients and fluid from the intestines into the rest of the body. Instead the body can absorb toxins from the plaque, which usually is old and degraded matter. Absorption of toxins from the intestines is a for of autointoxication – that is, self-poisoning.

There are any number of substances – herbs, fibers, homeopathic remedies that serve to stimulate the intestines and clear out the plaque. These are usually taken while doing a diet of some sort – either juice or water fasting, or simply a ‘cleaner diet’ such as eliminating fired foods, meats and/or grains. The intake of lots of pure water, the old ‘8 glasses a day’ is invariably a key element to any cleanse as well.

An intestinal cleanse is almost invariably paired with a liver cleanse. That is due to the fact that one of the primary functions of the liver is to detoxify the body. Thus it is a primary source of accumulated toxins from food, drink, drugs and the myriad of pollutants to which we are all exposed, as well as the autointoxication process described above. There are specific remedies – herbs such as silymarin and homeopathics such as Nux-Vomica, that have an affinity for the liver and serve to detoxify and regenerate it.

One form of cleanse, supposedly quite powerful, is the lemon fast. Based on descriptions and accounts I have read, one consumes nothing but lemon juice for a number of days (that number seems to vary), and people go through strong detox reactions. Though I have no personal experience, it makes sense since lemon is a strong stimulant of the liver and will alkalinize the body.

Similarly, the kidneys, through the mechanism of blood filtration and production of urine, are organs of detoxification. There are specific cleanses that focus on the urinary tract, especially when there is a history of kidney stones, chronic bladder infections or poor urinary function. But there may be other symptoms not so obviously related kidney function indicating toxicity in the kidneys. For instance, one person’s intolerance of dairy products totally disappeared after a kidney cleanse. Again, the cleanse employs appropriate diet and specific herbs like solidago, natural diuretics like corn silk or homeopathics such as Berberis.

Another critical aspect to any thorough cleanse is the removal of heavy metals, pesticides, excess estrogens and other pollutants from the system. The above organ focused cleanses will help in the process. There are some very aggressive – and quite costly – forms of intravenous chelation performed at specialized clinics where specific chemicals are injected into the body which bond to the heavy metals and are then excreted in the urine. Oral chelation is a much simpler process using various herbs and minerals. Cilantro and a number of forms of algae are used for this purpose. Another well researched oral chelator is a form of volcanic mineral known as a zeolite.