Parasites – we all know some! They’re the folks who don’t make their own living and live off of friends and family. Right? Well, Yes! That’s one way of looking at it. But we’re talking about your health. So, we’re defining them here as those “usually” small critters that get into your body by various means and live off of you!
Who gets them? Well, unless you live in a sterile environment, you do. We all carry some parasites most of the time. By definition they are “animals or plants which must live on or in another plants or animals to survive.” Here are some of the ways you may pick up a parasite:
- Do you have a pet? Pets are notorious for carrying ticks and fleas, but they eat most anything they can get hold of. And they don’t care about the health of their dietary consumables. Cats love mice, birds, squirrels, and all manner of bugs and carrion. Dogs are much the same, but add larger prey like moles, feces of other animals, and so on. You can bet they get a generous number of parasites. Most of us “worm” our pets at least once a year for this very reason. You pet them – that is why we call them “pets” – and some of the microscopic parasites get on you or under your fingernails, etc. You may have heard of ringworm as an example of these. They can enter through your skin.
- If you live on a farm, you’re probably contact larger animals – cattle, horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, or other farm animals – and pick up a few of their parasites.
- Many of us have read the labels on meat items that warn us not to consume under-cooked items. That is because of the many parasites that are present in the foods we eat. Thread worms and hookworms are common examples of these; they generally enter through your stomach or gut. They get in your food, enter your body when you consume that food, then live on your food or even parts of your body. Most worms enter the body as eggs from food sources, hatch and set up housekeeping as worms.
- Others may live in your hair or on your body. Examples are head lice and crab lice; we all know of folks who talk about “getting crabs”.
- And many parasites are called protozoa – small, single-celled animals that can move about on their own. They are not usually visible to the naked eye and require a microscope to be seen. An example which many of us have heard of is Giardia lamblia – which can cause disease.
- And watch where you walk around barefooted. Many parasites are spread by having their eggs leave an infected body through feces. Inadequate waste processing, or the lack of processing, may allow the eggs to get into our food or water supply, allowing further ingestion by another person.
A list of the most common parasitic infections includes Giardiasis, hookworm infections, thread worm (also called pin worm) infections, tapeworm infections, scabies on the skin (caused by a mite), and pediculosis (caused by head lice).
What can you do to lessen the attacks by parasites? Stay clean. Wash with soap (preferably with an antibiotic) after any suspected exposure. Don’t drink from unprocessed or unfamiliar open water supplies. Cook meats thoroughly. Wash fruits and vegetables before ingesting them. Use proper sanitation at all times when possible.
There are many herbs, teas, supplements and essential oils to assist your body in putting up a good fight against parasites. We’ll discuss them in another blog. Stay aware of the fact that parasites are common and always looking for a host. Their survival depends on it.