Tracy Freeman MD
A very common yet undiagnosed or misdiagnosed problem that we find in patients is parasites. They can live in the body for many years without causing symptoms and when they do, the symptoms are often subtle or vague.
Parasites can generally be divided into two groups:
- Helminthes which are multicellular parasites or worms and are most commonly found in the intestines, liver and pancreas and do not reproduce in the body. An adult worm (see photo credit CDC.gov/parasites) can range from 15-35 cm., or almost 14 inches!
- Protozoa which are single celled parasites that can infest the entire body causing serious infections. They rapidly multiply in the body. The most common in the U.S. are giardia and cryptosporidium.
Helminthes are contracted through exposure to feces, water or soil and tend to be more common in children, while protozoa can be found in food, water, insect and animal bites and contact surfaces.
Parasites are ubiquitous and difficult to diagnose without the right testing as their symptoms are vague or mimic other illnesses.
Parasite Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Stool tests are very useful in finding parasites.
Protozoan infections may be traditionally treated with antibiotics, immune building herbs, binding clays. Herbs such as wormwood, black walnut, maiden barber and absinth have been traditionally used as curatives particularly when treating worms.
Other herbs and medications may be used depending upon what your practitioner finds through examination, testing and your medical history.
Through proper testing and treatment of parasites, health can be greatly improved.
Tracy Freeman MD is an integrative medical physician at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, an integrative medicine and dental center serving Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Primary care with a holistic approach is for your optimum wellness, not just freedom from disease. Her areas of focus are Holistic Primary Care of adults and children, Autism, and Women's Health.