Intestinal worms are parasites that can affect both adults and children, though they are more prevalent in children. There are several types of stomach or intestinal worms. The most common types are roundworms, threadworms, pinworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and giardia. Intestinal worms enter the body through the skin, nose, and also through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. They then breed in the digestive tract and cause a number of unpleasant symptoms.
Symptoms of Intestinal Worms
Depending on the type of intestinal worm, the symptoms may include:
- Stomach pain / tenderness of the stomach
- Gas or bloating
- Bad breath
- Constant feelings of hunger
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Bad dreams or restless sleep at night
- Loss of weight
- Increased feelings of anxiety and nervousness
- Passing a worm in your stool
- Itching around the rectum or vulva (caused by pin worms and thread worms)
- Nausea, vomiting and inflammation of the intestines or lungs (caused by round worms)
- Cough, fever, diarrhea and constipation and loss of weight (caused by thread worms)
- Weakness or pain in the legs (caused by giardia)
- Nutritional disorders (caused by hookworms)
Causes of Intestinal Worms
Intestinal worms are found all over the world but are more prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical areas. The monsoons increase the chances of a worm infestation as well. Other possible causes of intestinal worms are:
- Dirty or unhygienically prepared food
- Contaminated water
- Dirty fingernails may also spread the infestation
- Undercooked meats or flesh foods or foods contaminated by dogs
- A sluggish digestive system that provides a perfect place for the worms to breed
- Unhealthy eating habits and diet
- Some worms may enter the body through bare feet if the person walks on earth that is infected
- Traveling to places known to have parasites (such as developing countries with poor sanitary conditions)
- Poor hygiene or unsanitary living conditions
- Weak immune system
- HIV or AIDS
- Exposure to livestock that have been affected with worms
Treatment for Intestinal Worms
Your health care provider will choose the most effective form of medication / treatment depending on the type of intestinal parasite. Ensure that you take the medication exactly as prescribed or the treatment may not work. The course of medication may be for a few days or for several weeks depending on the extent of the infestation.
Remedies for Intestinal Worms
In addition to conventional medical treatments, there are a number of natural cures that may help get rid of intestinal worms. While the efficacy of these remedies has not been scientifically tested, many of them have been used since ancient times to cure worm infestations. Consult with your doctor before trying any of these home remedies:
- Garlic - One of the best home remedies to deal with intense itching around the rectum caused by intestinal worms is garlic. Simply make a paste with raw ground garlic and a pinch of Vaseline. Apply this around the anal region to kill the eggs and lessen the itchiness. Raw garlic has strong anti-fungal and antiseptic properties and eating three cloves of raw garlic a day is also said to help get rid of all types of intestinal worms. While this may help to some extent it should be treated with skepticism.
- Coconut The use of coconut to treat intestinal worms is a practice with ancient origins, but is again unproven. Consume a tablespoon of grated fresh coconut in the morning with breakfast. Follow this up with 30ml or 60ml of castor oil. After three hours, drink approximately 375ml of warm milk. You can repeat this process every day until the infestation disappears.
- Papaya Unripe papaya contains an enzyme called papain that helps destroy roundworms. Drink a tablespoon of unripe papaya juice mixed with an equal quantity of honey and hot water. Two hours later, drink 30 to 60ml of castor oil mixed with 250ml warm milk. Repeat this treatment for two days. For children, halve the above doses and for infants a tablespoon is enough. You could also eat papaya seeds daily to expel intestinal worms. Carpaine another enzyme found in papaya seeds, helps destroy intestinal worms. Grind the seeds and mix one teaspoon of the powder with one cup of milk or water. Have this mixture first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to destroy the worms.
- Pomegranate The bark of the pomegranate tree contains punicine, which is highly toxic to intestinal worms. A decoction of fresh bark and water should be given thrice a day to adults and children suffering from worms.
- Pumpkin Seeds An infusion of ground pumpkin seeds and water can help to expel tapeworms.
- Wormwood Wormwood is a powerful herb that has been used since ancient times to treat intestinal worms. Drink a concoction of wormwood oil and olive oil to get rid of worms or you could use wormwood oil and water as an enema and get rid of worms in the rectum.
Diet for Intestinal Worms
The effects of parasitic infections such as intestinal worms are more likely to have a severe affect on your body if the immune system is already weak. With this in mind, it is essential that you change your eating habits and have a healthy balanced diet rich in fiber and healthy bacteria. Some suggestions to improve your diet include:
- Add anti-parasitic foods to your daily diet. These include blackberries, papaya, pineapple, pomegranate, onions, garlic, and raw cabbage.
- Ground almond and pumpkin seeds are also thought to have anti-parasitic effects. They help cleanse the digestive system and prevent intestinal worms from breeding.
- Avoid coffee, alcohol, refined sugar and processed foods to help cleanse your digestive system.
- Foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes and squash are high in beta carotene and can help improve a weak immune system.
- A diet high in fiber-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, beetroot, flaxseeds may help eliminate intestinal parasites. These also help detox your digestive system and prevent constipation.
- If you are diagnosed with intestinal worms, it may be beneficial to begin an all-fruit diet for five to seven days to cleanse the system. Check with your doctor before beginning any new routine or treatment though.
- Stay away from fatty foods such as butter, cream, and oil until all the worms are removed.
- Meats such as beef, pork, and chicken should be avoided until the treatment for intestinal worms is complete.
- Probiotics such Lactobacillus acidophilus found in dairy yogurt should be consumed every day to prevent intestinal worms from breeding.
Suggestions for Intestinal Worms
Some suggestions to prevent intestinal worms include:
- Trim your nails this prevents dirt from collecting under the nails and reduces the risk of contamination
- Wash all fruits and vegetables carefully before eating
- Cook your food well, before eating as this kills of any parasites and worms
- Drink only filtered or boiled water especially during the rainy season
- Maintain high levels of personal hygiene Wash your hands before eating, after using the toilet and when cooking. Wash your hands after touching or playing with your pets as well.
- De-worm your pets regularly
- If one person in your family is diagnosed with intestinal worms, it is recommended that de-worming medications be prescribed for the rest of your family as well.
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