Human Intestinal Parasites and Worms.

How intestinal parasites make people sick.

human intestinal parasites and worms

How protozoa make people sick is not clear.
Some directly invade the lining of the intestine.
Others provoke an allergic reaction that causes the damage.
It appears certain that humans can coexist quite readily with their parasites as long as the barrier formed by the intestinal lining remains fully intact, so that the parasites cannot attach to the wall of the bowel.
Millions of people throughout the world are carriers of E. histolytica; the organism can be found in stool samples but it does not seem to make them ill. The variability of pathogenic potential recalls Pasteur's challenge to the French Academy: do the causes of disease lie within the microbe or do they lie within the host?

When the attachment of a parasite initiates a series of injuries to the intestinal wall that increase its permeability, it generates a cascade of reactions that can shatter a person's health in many different ways.

Excessive permeability permits excess absorption of antigens and microbial fragments from the gut, over-stimulating the immune response, fostering allergy and auto-immunity.

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Excess permeability also allows excessive absorption of toxins derived from the chemical activity of intestinal bacteria, stressing the liver. All materials absorbed from the intestine must pass through the liver before entering the body's general circulation. Here, in the cells of the liver, toxic chemicals are destroyed or else prepared for excretion out of the body. The cost of detoxification is high; free radicals are generated and the liver's stores of anti-oxidants are depleted. The products of its own attempts at detoxification may damage the liver. Damage may extend to the pancreas. Free radicals are excreted into bile; this "toxic" bile flows into the small intestine and can ascend into the ducts, which carry pancreatic juices, damaging the pancreas, aggravating malnutrition.
The symptoms produced by excessive intestinal permeability may be limited to the abdomen or may involve the entire body. They may include fatigue and malaise, joint and muscle pain, headache and skin eruptions. The clinical disorders associated with increased intestinal permeability include any inflammation of the large or small intestine (colitis and enteritis), chronic arthritis, skin conditions like acne, eczema, hives or psoriasis, migraine headaches, chronic fatigue, deficient pancreatic function and AIDS. In most cases, it is incorrect to think of excessive permeability as the cause of these disorders. Instead, excess permeability occurs as part of the chain of events, which causes disease and aggravates existing symptoms or produces new ones.
Just as excessive permeability may have many different effects, it may also have many different causes, each of which may add to the effects of the other. These causes include intestinal infection of any type (viral, bacterial or protozoan), alcohol, and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which increase permeability by decreasing the body's synthesis of beneficial prostaglandins. Allergic reactions to foods also produce an increase in intestinal permeability.


The fate of people treated for chronic arthritis exemplifies the spiral of problems caused by excessive intestinal permeability. Arthritis (inflammation of the joints) is the leading cause of physical disability in industrialized countries.
Some forms of arthritis are preceded by increased intestinal permeability. People with inflammation of the intestine are prone to develop inflammatory arthritis, which may continue for many years after the intestinal inflammation is healed. Fragments of intestinal bacteria have been identified in the joints in some cases. In others, antibodies directed against intestinal bacteria may attack the person's own joint tissue, causing an autoimmune reaction.
For most people with chronic arthritis, however, excessive intestinal permeability develops as a result of arthritis and its treatment and may aggravate the arthritis, creating a vicious cycle. People with any type of severe arthritis usually take large doses of NSAIDs on a daily basis to control the pain, stiffness and swelling in their joints; they rapidly develop increased intestinal permeability. Excessive permeability allows bacteria or bacterial antigen to penetrate the wall of the intestine, creating a smoldering inflammation in the intestinal wall (called enteritis), which in turn further increases intestinal permeability. Enteritis develops in seventy per cent of people taking NSAIDs daily for two weeks. The excessive permeability caused by drug-induced enteritis allows fragments of bacteria to enter the circulation, where they cause or aggravate more arthritis.
Much of the research on intestinal permeability and NSAIDs has been conducted with people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammation that affects many joints at the same time and is especially noticeable in the hands. It typically strikes women in their twenties or thirties and lasts for life, crippling thirty per cent of its victims with severe deformities of the affected joints and shortening their life expectancy by ten to fifteen years. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis taking NSAIDs develop antibodies against components of the normal intestinal bacteria. Development of an abnormal or excessive immune response is called sensitization. Sensitization to intestinal bacteria may cause or aggravate arthritis. When patients with rheumatoid arthritis take antibiotics, which reduce the numbers of intestinal bacteria, not only does their enteritis clear up, but their arthritis also improves. NSAIDs, the standard treatment for arthritis, by increasing intestinal permeability, create a new problem, which aggravates the old one. Increased intestinal permeability explains the beneficial effects of diet for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Fasting and vegetarian diets benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Fasting reduces the excessive intestinal permeability of patients with rheumatoid arthritis while at the same time dramatically improving symptoms. Vegetarian diets alter the bacterial growth in the intestine, acting in a sense like natural, highly selective antibiotics. Those people who respond to vegetarianism with a change in the intestinal bacteria are the ones that benefit. Those people who do not change their intestinal bacteria as a result of changing their diets do not improve their arthritis by becoming vegetarians.
There is a common belief that avoiding specific foods can benefit people with arthritis. One effect of the increased permeability produced by NSAIDs is to increase the absorption of antigens coming from food. People with rheumatoid arthritis frequently become sensitized to food proteins. Their arthritis often improves when they avoid specific foods and then flares up when they consume those foods. I have treated enough patients with rheumatoid arthritis to know that food allergy is not the cause of rheumatoid arthritis. It is part of the cycle of immunologic sensitization, inflammation and increased intestinal permeability that occurs in most patients with severe arthritis. The treatments that are used for chronic arthritis may temporarily relieve pain but they help to maintain the vicious cycle. Perhaps this explains why the long-term outlook for patients with rheumatoid arthritis is so bleak and has not been improved by any of the drug therapies developed over the past thirty years. Professor Ann Parke, of the University of Connecticut, voiced an opinion not often heard from rheumatologists, "...maybe NSAIDs have had their day. We should, instead, be striving to maintain the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract in an attempt to prevent the disease at a potential source, rather than treating the complaints and risking perpetuating the disease."

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If medicine is to regain its Hippocratic roots, preserving and restoring health, then physicians must learn the science of preserving and restoring normal intestinal permeability. This is not an attempt to "cleanse" the colon with laxatives or enemas or to correct constipation. In the early years of the twentieth century, "auto-intoxication" was a fashionable concept. It was considered to be the cause of chronic fatigue, stomach ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, breast cancer and ovarian cysts. The complex regulation of intestinal permeability was not understood and autointoxication was attributed to "intestinal stasis", a fancy term for constipation. In keeping with the spirit of the times, it was treated invasively: enemas for mild cases, colectomy (surgical removal of the large intestine) in severe cases. Even institutions as august as the Mayo Clinic sanctioned colectomies for autointoxication during the first two decades of the twentieth century.

The preservation and restoration of normal intestinal permeability rests on two principles:

building resistance and reducing risk. A diet of high nutrient density is the cornerstone for maintenance of intestinal health. The intestinal lining has the fastest growth rate of any tissue in the body. Old cells slough off and a completely new lining is generated every three to six days. The metabolic demands of this normally rapid cell turnover must be met if excess permeability is to be prevented or if healing is to occur. Thorough chewing of food may be important. Saliva contains a substance called epidermal growth factor (EGF), which stimulates growth and repair of tissue. EGF has been used therapeutically to heal the intestine when injured or inflamed.
intestinal worms and parasites Essential fatty acids play an important role in maintenance of intestinal integrity. Fish oils limit the intestinal injury caused by toxic drugs and GLA (found in primrose, borage or black currant oils) stimulates production of prostaglandins, which help to maintain normal permeability. The principles for EFA supplementation should be followed. Merely consuming large quantities of vegetable oils, however, is likely to be harmful to the intestinal lining. High intake of polyunsaturated oils increases the free radical content of bile, producing toxic bile that may damage intestinal integrity.
In addition to a nutrient dense diet, there are several specific dietary resistance factors, which warrant careful attention for their ability to preserve normal intestinal integrity and should be part of any program for intestinal detoxification.

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Fiber is the term that describes remnants of plant cells that are resistant to human digestion. The usual sources are vegetables, cereals, bread, nuts, seeds and fruits. Eating a fiber deficient diet increases intestinal permeability. Although medical researchers have been recommending high fiber diets for about twenty years, and sales of Metamucil and other bulk laxatives have gone up, there has been no significant increase in fiber consumption from food and the fiber intake of Americans is far below recommended levels. This is unfortunate, because the fiber found in food is far more complex than the purified powders sold in drug stores.
There are many different chemical types of fiber, but the most important distinction is between soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a thick gel. Fruit pectin, for example, is a highly soluble fiber. Psyllium seed, the commonest source of bulk laxatives, contains fiber that is moderately soluble. Wheat bran consists of relatively insoluble fiber that is most readily evident as "roughage". Although all fiber adds bulk to bowel movements, the chemical effects of the different types of fiber can be opposite.
Soluble fiber feeds the intestinal bacteria, which ferment it to produce chemicals called short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs have a number of positive effects on the body: they nourish the cells of the large intestine, stimulating healing and reducing the development of cancer. When absorbed from the intestine, they travel to the liver and decrease the liver's production of cholesterol, lowering blood cholesterol levels. Oat bran, for example, contains fibers of moderate solubility; eating oat bran can lower cholesterol levels. Within the intestinal canal, SCFAs inhibit the growth of yeasts and disease-causing bacteria. The effects of soluble fiber are not always beneficial, however. Feeding high levels of soluble fiber supplements like guar gum encourages an overgrowth of the normal intestinal bacteria, which deprives the body of vitamin B12 and produces an increase in the concentration of bacterial toxins. Although low fiber diets increase gut permeability, excessive consumption of soluble fiber from supplements can also cause excessive permeability and may create changes in the intestinal milieu that actually enhance the development of stomach or bowel cancer.
Insoluble fiber does not feed bacteria well and is not readily fermented to SCFAs. Eating wheat bran, which is largely insoluble fiber, has no effect on blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber inactivates intestinal toxins, however, and high intake of insoluble fiber is associated with a decreased risk of colon and breast cancer. Supplements of insoluble fiber as wheat bran or pure cellulose appear to decrease the risk of bowel cancer. Insoluble fibers also inhibit the ability of disease-causing bacteria and parasites to attach themselves to the intestinal wall. Insoluble fiber plays an important role in preventing excess intestinal permeability.
It should be obvious that humans need a mixture of soluble and insoluble fibers in the diet and that food, not supplements, is the best source. Eating high fiber foods protects against the development of the major degenerative diseases of the modern world--heart disease and cancer--increases longevity and protects against the development of parasitic infection. The best sources of mixed fibers are unrefined cereal grains (oats, brown rice, whole wheat), peas, beans and squash. Among fruits, one gets the most fiber per serving from apples and berries.
Some high fiber foods contain natural chemicals, which help to maintain normal intestinal permeability by unique mechanisms. Carrots, carob, blueberries and raspberries contain complex sugars (oligosaccharides), which interfere with the binding of pathogenic bacteria to the intestinal lining. These have been used in Europe for centuries for the treatment or prevention of diarrhea. Synthetic oligosaccharides are presently being developed as drugs for treating infection. Brown rice is the source of gamma-oryzanol, a group of powerful antioxidants, which have been tested extensively in Japan for their ability to heal intestinal and stomach ulcers and alleviate a variety of chronic gastrointestinal complaints. Gamma-oryzanol can be consumed in rice bran or rice bran oil or in pill form. The therapeutic dose is 100 mg three times a day.
If you become constipated when increasing dietary fiber, you may need more fluid. Drink eight glasses of liquid a day, between meals, not with meals.

(2) Friendly flora - AIM Florafood.


Lactobacilli are one of the most important types of friendly bacteria found in the digestive tract. These bacteria get their name (lacto) because they are able to turn milk sugar into lactic acid. They play a key role in producing fermented milk, yogurt, and cheeses.

The "father" of lactobacilli could well be Elie Metchnikoff, who, in 1908, noted that people in Bulgaria lived longer than those in other countries, despite the fact that Bulgaria was considered "underdeveloped." His investigation of this led him to diet, yogurt, and lactobacilli. His work was the first to prove that lactobacilli could transform milk sugar into lactic acid. Metchnikoff also hypothesized that this acidity would provide a hostile environment for unfriendly bacteria. This was later proved correct.

Lactobacilli are able to "balance" unfriendly bacteria because when they produce lactic acid, they alter the intestinal environment, making it unsuitable for unfriendly bacteria. In other words, lactobacilli don't destroy the unfriendly bacteria; they destroy their home, forcing them to leave.

Lactobacilli have other benefits. They may help normalize cholesterol levels, and certain strains may antagonize Candida albicans. There is indirect evidence that lactobacilli may help relieve anxiety and depression. This is because the amino acid tryptophan serves as an antidepressant, and lactobacilli release this amino acid.

Bifidobacteria are friendly bacteria, colonizing mainly the large intestine, or colon. Bifidobacteria are considered extremely important to the health of the gastrointestinal tract. The bifidobacteria have been used to address intestinal disorders, and boost the immune system. These strains are also important for the production of B vitamins.

Bifidobacteria may also reduce antibiotic-induced fluctuations in intestinal bacteriavii and the GI distress that can ensue.viii Antibiotics are particularly effective at killing all kinds of bacteria, good and bad-often leading to secondary infections.

Bifidobacterium bifidum is especially good at enhancing the body's immune response and inhibiting harmful enzymes.ix Bifidobacterium longum has a high affinity for intestinal colonizationx, improving the intestinal environment, which leads to better regularity.

(3) Spices - AIM Bearpaw Garlic and AIM Para 90

Before they were used as seasoning, culinary herbs and spices were probably used for food preservation. Many varieties have natural antimicrobial activity and can retard spoilage. They are also used to mask the flavor of spoiled food, so I suggest using them at home, where you know the food they flavor is fresh to begin with.
The world's most extensively studied spice is garlic. Its medicinal use predates recorded history. Garlic is mentioned in the earliest Vedic medical documents, written in India over five thousand years ago. During an epidemic of plague in Marseilles, in 1721, four condemned criminals were enlisted to bury the dead. None of them contracted plague. It seems that they sustained themselves by drinking a cocktail of crushed garlic in cheap wine, which came to be called vinaigre des quatre voleurs (vinegar of the four thieves). In 1858, Louis Pasteur demonstrated garlic's antibiotic activity. Albert Schweitzer used the herb for the treatment of amoebic dysentery at his clinic in Africa. Antimicrobial activity of garlic has been repeatedly demonstrated against many species of bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. In addition, garlic lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and may protect against cancer. The dose of garlic needed to obtain significant benefit is at least ten grams (about three small cloves) per day.
Onion, garlic's closest edible relative, has also been widely used for medicinal purposes. Although it lacks the potency of garlic, it can be consumed it much larger quantity, so that its antimicrobial benefits may be equal to those of garlic if consumed regularly.
Turmeric, a major ingredient in curry powder, is a natural antibiotic that relieves intestinal gas by lowering the numbers of gas forming bacteria, has antifungal activity and has been traditionally used for relieving inflammation. The effective dose is about one gram per day.
Ginger, which contains over four hundred chemically active ingredients, has long been used for the treatment of digestive complaints. It protects the intestinal lining against ulceration and has a wide range of actions against intestinal parasites. Cinnamon, which I recommend for sweetening the taste of ginger tea, has anti-fungal activity.
Sage and rosemary contain the essential oil, eucalyptol, which kills Candida albicans, bacteria, and worms. Oregano contains over thirty biologically active ingredients of which twelve have antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-parasitic or anti-fungal effects. As mentioned earlier, thyme has anti-parasitic activity.
Meals seasoned with these pungent, aromatic herbs, consumed regularly, help protect against intestinal infection. However, heating at 200 degrees (Fahrenheit) for twenty minutes destroys the antibacterial activity of most of these spices. They should be added to food at the end of cooking, just before being eaten.
NOTE: If high fiber diets, friendly flora, or spicy food give you diarrhea, gas or abdominal bloating, instead of improving digestive function, you may be changing your diet too rapidly, or you may have an allergy to one specific component of the regimen described here. Slow down and try again. Be methodical, making one change at a time. First, cut down on sugar and fat, then switch to whole grains, then add more vegetables. Give yourself a chance to know how each new food you try affects your body. It may take a few days. Then add nutritional supplements, one at a time, allowing yourself three or four days between each change. Experiment with different brands. For some people, one preparation of Lactobacillus will cause diarrhea, but another will not. If you still find that you cannot increase your consumption of fiber or flora without feeling worse, rather than better, you may have an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast in the small intestine, which have adapted to using the fiber you are taking to expand their niche, rather than to limit their growth. Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine is far more common than doctors suspect and most commonly results from a lack of stomach acid or from prior surgery. Yeast overgrowth usually results from taking antibiotics.

Risk reduction of intestinal permeability

The most common, preventable causes of increased intestinal permeability are drugs and infections. Aspirin and NSAIDs should not be taken on a daily basis. Most people using NSAIDs daily are trying to relieve chronic headache or joint and muscle pain. Alternative strategies for pain relief are often available. The likelihood of benefit depends upon the location of the pain and the presence or absence of inflammation
After NSAIDs, alcohol is the drug most likely to destroy normal intestinal permeability. More than one glass of wine or beer is likely to be detrimental.
The body's first line of defense against intestinal infection is the acid produced by a healthy stomach. Stomach acid kills most of the bacteria and parasites that are swallowed along with meals. Strong suppression of stomach acid increases the risk of intestinal infection. The widespread use of antacids is, therefore, a reason for concern, and the FDA's recent decision to make the acid-lowering drugs Tagamet and Pepcid available without a doctor's prescription is a terrible disservice to the American people. Most people who take treatments to buffer or reduce stomach acid do not need acid reduction and should avoid it. Tagamet and Pepcid are called H-2 blockers because they block certain effects of histamine in the body. (Conventional "anti-histamines" used for treating symptoms of allergy are called H-1 blockers). They were originally developed for the treatment of ulcers and they made huge profits for the companies, which owned them. Doctors soon began using H-2 blockers for relieving stomach pain, which was not caused by ulcers (this pain is called "non-ulcer dyspepsia"), even though their efficacy for non-ulcer pain was disputed. The most common cause of non-ulcer dyspepsia, by the way, is taking NSAIDs. If NSAID use were markedly reduced, the frequency of stomach pain and the need for H-2 blockers would also be reduced. Recently, it has become quite clear that most ulcers are triggered by a bacterial infection of the stomach and that antibiotics are superior to H-2 blockers for treating ulcers. As the need for H-2 blockers in the treatment of ulcers just about vanished, the FDA suddenly approved their non-prescription use for the treatment of heartburn. The truth is that H-2 blockers are rarely needed to treat heartburn, because heartburn is not caused by excess stomach acid. It is caused by reflux of normal amounts of stomach acid into the esophagus, which occurs when the valve responsible for preventing acid reflux is not working properly. The usual reason for valvular incompetence is dietary. Coffee, alcohol, chocolate and high fat meals prevent the valve from closing properly. Calcium, in contrast, makes it close more tightly.
Almost all people with frequent heartburn can get relief by eating small, low fat meals, chewing a calcium tablet after each, and not eating for four hours before bedtime. Temporary avoidance of coffee, alcohol, and spicy or irritating foods until the heartburn stops is also a good idea. Were these measures followed, the use of H-2 blockers and antacids could be cut by ninety per cent.

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A second line of defense against intestinal infection is the normal intestinal bacteria, especially Lactobacilli residing in the small intestine. Antibiotics decimate Lactobacilli. In so doing, they may increase the risk of subsequent intestinal infection. Although antibiotics, when appropriately used, are the most important therapeutic discovery of modern Western medicine, they are often used inappropriately and the effects can be devastating. Whenever I prescribe an antibiotic, I always consider its possible effect on the beneficial intestinal flora. An antibiotic that is rapidly and completely absorbed in the stomach, reaching high levels in the tissues of the body and low levels in the small or large intestine, is least likely to harm intestinal ecology. I also administer Lactobacilli along with the antibiotics. L. plantarum is the only Lactobacillus not harmed by antibiotics and can be taken simultaneously with them.

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is considered to be a distinct disease entity, which must be separated from other disease entities, especially infectious colitis. Intestinal infections with amebic parasites or certain species of bacteria can produce symptoms and signs indistinguishable from those of ulcerative colitis. The main difference is that antibiotics may cure infectious colitis but have a rather inconsistent effect in ulcerative colitis. Actually, the role of infection in ulcerative colitis, although obscure, is not inconsequential. People with a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis have an increased susceptibility to infections of the large intestine, which aggravate their colitis. Many people who develop the disease in adulthood only acquire ulcerative colitis after contracting a parasitic or bacterial infection. Antibodies directed against the cells which line the large intestine occur in patients with ulcerative colitis, and may also be found in people with chronic forms of infectious colitis. One theory holds that ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease provoked by an allergic reaction to microorganisms in the intestinal tract. Another theory holds that ulcerative colitis may result from toxins produced by intestinal bacteria. Both theories make the boundary between infectious colitis and ulcerative colitis very fuzzy. In addition to the possibility of multiple infectious triggers in ulcerative colitis, the condition may be aggravated by allergic reactions to foods or to the very drugs used to treat mild cases of the disease. Twenty per cent of patients with ulcerative colitis improve by eliminating all milk protein from their diets. Low fat diets may be useful in decreasing the risk of colon cancer, because there is a direct correlation between the development of cancer in ulcerative colitis and the secretion of bile from the liver; the liver secretes bile in response to eating fatty foods.
Ulcerative colitis is a complex illness that demands a flexible therapeutic approach. Like all chronic diseases, it is far more clearly understood through its mediators, triggers and antecedents in individual patients than as an abstract disease entity. Conventional drug therapy of ulcerative colitis has as its goal the suppression of the mediators of inflammation. Little attention has been paid to the divergent triggers of different patients. Over the past twenty years I have found some patients in whom ulcerative diet, or the composition of the intestinal bacterial flora, or allergic reactions to intestinal yeast, or emotional distress, or the smoking of cigarettes profoundly affected colitis. Each has responded differently to therapies, which included diet change, antibiotics or the administration of friendly bacteria like Lactobacilli, but almost all have responded, sometimes with complete remission of symptoms. There are even some patients who develop colitis when they stop smoking cigarettes and who experience a complete remission of colitis when they resume smoking.

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