Do You Need a Parasite Cleanse?

8 Symptoms of Parasitic Infection

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

It is estimated that over 150 million people are infected with parasites, making them much more common than most people believe.  If you are doing everything to keep healthy and are still having symptoms that have no explanation, you may be dealing with a parasitic infection.

The symptoms of a parasitic infection can vary greatly depending on the type of parasite.

Here are 8 of the most common symptoms of parasitic infection:

  1. Digestive Issues. Digestive problems are the most common symptom of intestinal parasites. Symptoms include unexplained or chronic diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea, cramps, gas, abdominal pain, vomiting, and feeling hungry/unsatisfied after a meal. You may be diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or some other G.I. illness. You may experience weight loss, increased hunger, or both. Whipworm, tapeworm, and flukeworm are common intestinal parasites.
  1. General Malaise. Parasitic infections can cause a host of general symptoms that can also be attributed to other diseases and conditions, including fatigue, lethargy, exhaustion, weakness, depression, mood changes, headaches, memory issues, and more. In addition, Giardia, which causes “traveler’s diarrhea” and is spread through contaminated water and food, has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome. These symptoms may be related to dietary deficiencies caused by malabsorption.
  1. Skin Problems. Parasites can stimulate your immune system to produce immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. This can cause allergic reactions in your body, including skin problems that seem to have no cause. Mysterious skin bumps, rashes, irritation, and hives may be due to parasites, especially when over-the-counter treatments don’t improve your symptoms. Itchiness is common when parasites dig under your skin and lay eggs. You may experience itchiness around your anus as well. In addition, certain common skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and eczema can be a sign of a parasitic infection.
  1. Muscle and Joint Pain. Certain parasites can lodge in your muscles and the spaces between your joints where they release toxins that cause inflammation and pain. Trichinosis (caused by roundworms in undercooked meat) is one such parasitic infection. If you have unexplained muscle and joint pain that does not resolve with treatment, you may have parasites. Also, an animal study of rats induced with rheumatoid arthritis using Freund’s adjuvant showed that treatment with Ivermectin (an antiparasitic medication) significantly lowered inflammatory cells.
  1. Anemia. Some parasites feed off of your blood, specifically your red blood cells. Over time this can cause iron deficiency anemia and low red blood cells. If you feel overly tired or are diagnosed with anemia, don’t rule out parasites.
  1. Feel Hungry After Meals. If you are still hungry after eating healthy meals and you are losing weight or having trouble maintaining your normal weight, it could be due to intestinal parasites such as tapeworms. These parasites feed off the food in your stomach and digestive tract.
  1. Trouble Sleeping. Parasites can cause you to have trouble falling asleep and may cause you to wake up during the night. If you practice good sleep hygiene and are still having problems sleeping despite no change to your regular habits, parasites may be the cause.
  1. Teeth Grinding. Many people clench or grind their teeth. Dentists typically “treat” it with specially made mouth guards so that you don’t wear down your enamel or break your teeth. But the action of clenching or grinding may be caused by parasites. Parasites release toxins that affect the neurotransmitters in your brain and can lead to mood changes, including anxiety, tension, and nervousness.

Ways to Heal from a Parasitic Infection

Regular parasite cleanses can be one of the best ways to improve your gut and your overall health. There are many different types of parasite cleanses that you can try—from natural and over-the-counter products to foods and supplements, and prescriptions. And the truth is, you may need to do parasite cleanses more frequently that you would have guessed, especially if you have pets or farm animals, travel internationally, eat sushi or other raw foods, or have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, leaky gut, or autoimmune disease.

  1. Try Dietary Changes First. I recommend starting with dietary changes that include parasite-killing foods such as garlic, onions, oregano, pineapple, beets, and pumpkin seeds. Of course, it’s always a good idea to avoid foods that could contain parasites, such as undercooked and raw meats (especially pork) and fish (including shellfish and crab).  You should also remove sugar (in all forms) from your diet.
  1. Add Supplements. If you need to take it to the next level, you can try adding supplements. Supplements that are proven to purge parasites from the gut include black walnut, wormwood, and oregano oil. Berberine is another supplement that helps to clear parasites. And here are others so do your research and see what appeals to you.
  1. Take Probiotics. Probiotics can help replenish your cut and make it an inhospitable environment for the parasites.
  1. Try Colonics. Some people use colonics as a way to cleanse the colon. This is a personal decision, and you need to be sure you can trust the technician is experienced.
  1. Purchase a kit. There are a number of pre-packaged parasite cleanses that you can purchase without a prescription. Just be sure to research the ingredients and make sure whatever you purchase comes from a reputable source. 

How to Do a Parasite Cleanse

The trick with this type of cleanse is that you need to do it in cycles. This is because as you are killing off the mature parasites, they are signaling all the eggs they have laid and ordering them to hatch. This is why the timing of the protocol is important.

A typical cleanse may have you take the supplements or medications in a specific rotation for one week, then take a week off, then take it again for another week or two. Dr. Lee Merritt is a good source for more information.

You can do a parasite cleanse on your own if you are healthy. If you take medication or simply feel you need more information before embarking on a parasite cleanse on your own, speak to your healthcare provider. They may want you to take a comprehensive stool test, have blood work, or order additional tests.

Have you tried a parasite cleanse? If so, what did you do?


Last Updated: June 4, 2024

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Barbara Smith
    2 weeks ago

    I can not believe that you are promoting compact fluorescent bulbs! Have you sold out for money too?

  2. Pat
    2 weeks ago

    Do parasites contribute to SIBO??
    Diagnosed with SIBO , my problem is weight gain do not sure about it

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