The Top 10 Digestive Parasites

Digestive parasites cause very unpleasant symptoms. My own experience of having H pylori and Blastocystis hominis was particularly unpleasant, with digestive issues & energy problems. In fact, they are the root cause of many chronic health problems. Unfortunately western medicine does not acknowledge parasites as a problem.

Parasites are easily passed from person to person or picked up in contaminated food and water or day care centres and municipal swimming pools. The following ten parasites are regularly seen in patients’ stool samples:

#1 Helicobacter pylori

H pylori is not really a parasite, it is a bacterium. It buries into the stomach and small intestine causing heartburn, reflux, gastritis, bad breath, bloating and other digestive symptoms. It is known to cause 80% of stomach ulcers and 90% of duodenal ulcers. It can also lead to stomach cancer and possibly heart disease.

#2 Blastocystis homins

‘Blasto’ can cause practically any digestive symptom and has been linked with arthritis and weight gain. It is the most common protozoan found in stool samples with at least 10% of the western population carrying the parasite.

#3 Cryptosporidium

‘Crypto’ is also a very common parasite. It is one of the classic diarrhoea-causing parasites and there have been significant outbreaks recently in Milwaukee, Sydney (Australia) and Daventry (UK). Long term Cryptosporidium infections can be very damaging as they lead to intestinal destruction and nutritional deficiencies.

#4 Giardia lamblia

Giardia can cause the same or similar symptoms as Cryptosporidium. Foul smelling, greasy stools, wind, bloating and diarrhoea are common. This parasite can cause long term symptoms such as chronic fatigue.

#5 Entamoeba histolytica

‘E. histo’ causes amoebic dysentery. It is a very nasty bug. Severe diarrhoea, fever and vomiting are often self -limiting, but the parasite has the ability to migrate out of the GI tract and invade the liver and other organs, where it causes abscesses. Chronic symptoms include mood problems, chronic fatigue, poor blood sugar control and liver dysfunction.

#6 Dientamoeba fragilis

D. fragilis is another diarrhoea-causing infection. Although it is not usually as severe as E. histo, it can cause a multitude of chronic symptoms.

#7 Strongyloides (threadworm)

I see threadworm quite regularly in client’s stool tests. Adults live in the upper part of the small intestine. Larvae get into the body through the skin then migrate to the lungs where they may cause respiratory symptoms such as coughing and mucus. The larvae are coughed up and enter the GI tract where they mature. Adult worms cause similar symptoms to H pylori and are often misdiagnosed as ulcer disease and GERD.

#8 Trichuris trichiura (whipworm)

Whipworm is relatively common and may cause similar symptoms to any of the parasites listed above, such as bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.

#9 Enterobius vermicularis (pinworm)

Pinworm is usually thought of as a childhood infection, but it is also frequently seen in adults. It does not often cause significant symptoms, but rectal itching is common.

#10 Necator americanus (hookworm)

In my experience, hookworm infections can be very nasty. Although the worms are only very small, because they attach and hook to the intestinal wall, they can cause significant damage to digestion and cause a great deal of stress on the body.

If you have unexplained, chronic symptoms of any kind, suspect that parasites are playing a role, even if you do not have digestive symptoms. Click on the link below to discover how to get tested.