What to do, eat and avoid if you think you have a parasite
This advice is based on my experience with amoebas - a specific kind of parasite.
It seems there’s a price to pay for living in exotic places when you’re not properly prepared or in perfect health. For me, the price of living at one of the most beautiful lakes in the world was catching a parasite, likely because I had taken antibiotics for food poisoning before my trip and my digestive power hadn’t returned to fight off new invaders.
Parasites (worms and single-celled organisms) are pervasive in certain parts of the world and amoebas are very common in Guatemala where we lived for 1.5 months this summer. Amoebas are single-celled parasites that live in dirty water contaminated with fecal matter. I got amoebiasis within a week or two of getting to Guatemala so that means I must have consumed someone’s poop. Gross, right?!
We were as careful as we could have been at home in our Airbnb - we drank purified water from clay pots, washed and soaked our produce in water disinfected with ionized silver, and used drinking water to brush our teeth. That said, cystic amoebas, which I caught, have hard exterior shells and can survive for 3-4 months outside of a host so they can lurk in lots of places. Water is an integral part of our lives so it's hard to be 100% safe and sure. We could have ingested contaminated water from the lake during one of our mornings swims, swallowed water during a shower, eaten soiled raw salad, or touched our mouth after drying our hands with a dirty towel in a public restroom (hand-driers and throwaway paper towels aren't a thing here).
Cystic amoebas are microscopic organisms with cockaroach-like resilience, and because they’re endemic in tropical areas, don't get down on yourself if you catch them in a foreign country with unsanitized water. They’re hard to avoid.
With that said, here are the 5 main things to do if you think you have this kind of parasite.
1. Become more aware and monitor symptoms
A lot of people catch a cyst and don't even know. Not everyone shows symptoms, and if they do, it takes 1-4 weeks for them to appear as it takes time for amoebas to germinate in your gastrointestinal tract.
I started feeling off about 2 weeks into our time in Guatemala and after about a week or more of monitoring my bowel movements, I decided to take action.
2. Get a stool test
Only this can confirm your diagnosis because amoebas are microscopic and you won’t see them being expelled like you would with worm parasites. I went to a small clinic at Lake Atitlán in Guatemala for my test. The clinic only had one doctor and he was out delivering a baby, but we made it work.
3. Take antibiotics
You might be able to rid yourself of amoebas using herbs and foods parasites don’t like, but it’s a gamble and it’s possible for amoebas to move to your liver, which is a more serious condition.
I didn’t want to leave Guatemala with anything unintentional so I took two 500g tablets of metronidazole (Flagyl) 3 times a day for 10 days with meals. Eating enough food with the drugs was essential because I’d get body aches and back pain otherwise. Worse, the tablets tasted like sulphur and taking them sort of felt like poisoning myself (because I was).
In hindsight, I wish I considered my continued travel to other developing countries where bad bacteria and parasites prevail because this antibiotic severely debilitated my immune system and destroyed what was left of my healthy gut flora. You should talk to your doctor about whether or not antibiotics might be right for you.
4. Eat well (and what parasites hate)
Like most diseases, you can get rid of parasites through diet. Parasites attach to your intestinal walls and thrive in hospitable environments. Dogs are the most common carriers of parasites because they have acidic stomachs. Be a bad host. Try eating these foods at home.
Allicin, the compound in garlic that’s activated when chopped or chewed, has been shown to kill parasites. Get a bulb or two, chop up 2-3 cloves, wait 10-15min for it to be activated, then swallow without chewing (you can but there’s no need as long as it’s chopped). Read more about this here.
An alternative would be taking garlic capsules with allicin, but it’s questionable whether this can be as effective as the actual cloves. I’m taking softgels now and the jury is still out.
Eating or drinking papaya seeds on an empty stomach has been proven to get rid of parasites. They taste absolutely awful so try blending them into a smoothie starting with a small amount of seeds and gradually taking more everyday because they can cause food-poisoning like symptoms.
Coconut oil is about 50% of a saturated fat that kills bad guys after its converted by the body.
Oil of Oregano
Has high levels of free-radical-crushing antioxidants, and it is antiparasitic, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. Many studies show the effectiveness of oil of oregano with everything from parasitical infections to cancer.
There’s also so much more. I recommend checking out the online forum curezone.org because there’s some really powerful information there and a community going through similar issues.
5. Avoid foods parasites thrive on
Parasites eat glucose (sugar) so stay away from carbs like bread, pasta, rice and sugary fruits like mango and grapes. You can also talk to your doctor about this.
All of these create an acidic environment, which parasites love. Meat and dairy were easy for me to give up, but coffee was a no-go. I was too addicted but you’ll be better served by avoiding all of these during your cleanse.
After taking Metronidazole orally, it’s immediately absorbed into the blood stream, but the brunt of the processing work is done in the liver, the same place as alcohol. Stay away to prevent further toxicity.
There are more serious protocols for parasite cleanses online (Dr. Clark’s is one) if you want to take yours to the next level. This is just the surface. Parasites aren’t easy to get rid of but it’s possible with hard work and diligence so keep your head up and stay strong. I’m still dealing with an infestation and reminding myself of these words daily.
Please comment to share your experience on what's worked or not worked for you.
Some links for reference and further research
- Country Health Advice: Guatemala - Food & Water Safety Overview
- Remedies for common illnesses while traveling Central America
- Home Remedies for Amebiasis
- Being a Bad Host: Treating Parasites & Amoebas
- Nature Cures for Parasites
- Everyday Foods That Kill Parasites
- How To Do A Proper Parasite Cleanse: Everything You Need To Know About Cleansing Parasites From Your Body