Should I do a Parasite Cleanse?

Nov 13, 2023 | Gut Health, Health and Wellness

By Alyssa Burnham, ND

Naturopathic Doctor at Wise Woman Wellness

Did you shudder a bit when you read the word “parasites” in the title? It’s not a pleasant topic! However, intestinal parasites are more common than many people realize. Regular parasite cleanses have been a part of many cultures around the world for centuries.

Parasites are living organisms that live off of their human hosts. There are a number of possible types of parasites, and many can have a negative impact on your health. Although parasites are a bigger problem in developing countries, parasitic infections occur surprisingly often in North America, too.

Worried About Parasites? Watch Out For These Symptoms

Parasites can live inside you without showing symptoms for years. Some general things to watch for include:

  • Digestive issues such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin disorders like rash, eczema, hives, or unexplained chronic itching
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Itching around your rectum

Diagnosing and Flushing Parasites Out Of The Body

Because of the broad range of symptoms, many of which could be associated with other conditions, it can be tricky to identify parasites. The first step is to complete a stool test to check for the presence of parasites. In integrative medicine, many practitioners will use a combination of antiparasitic herbs plus nutritional protocols to make the gut an inhabitable environment for the parasites. Some of the herbs used to treat intestinal parasites can interfere with prescription medications, therefore it’s important to work with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner.

Parasite Cleansing

Following a parasitic cleanse can help rid your body of parasites. During the cleanse, you’ll combine nutritional strategies with herbal remedies, with the aim of expelling parasites from your body and creating and creating an inhospitable environment for further growth. 

During the cleanse, it’s important to maintain a well-balanced diet to maintain good health, and focus on natural, unprocessed foods. Eating a high fiber diet can contribute to regular bowel movements to flush out parasites and contribute to a healthy gut microbiome.

The exact approach will be determined by your health practitioner after testing. A parasite cleanse could include the following in your diet:

  • Foods with antiparasitic properties like onions, garlic, and honey.
  • Foods high in zinc, such as seafood, whole grains, and legumes.
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut to contribute to a healthy gut bacteria.
  • Foods high in vitamin A, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and mangos.
  • Foods high in vitamin C to strengthen your overall well being and immunity.
  • Herbs that have proven effective in treating parasites including oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and cumin.

Preventing Parasites

Prevention is the best way to protect yourself from parasites! Here are some simple everyday practices to keep in mind:

  • Wash your food thoroughly and your hands frequently – and always after touching raw food, using the bathroom, changing cat litter or dealing with animal feces.
  • Drink clean water. Avoid unpasteurized milk and juices.
  • Cook food to the correct temperature.
  • Approach raw fish sushi with caution.
  • Some studies suggest a diet rich in vitamin A and the minerals selenium and zinc may improve your body’s natural defense against a parasite infection.
  • Practice safe sex.

Don’t be embarrassed to talk about parasites if you have any questions or concerns. The most important step is to test and treat if appropriate. Call us today to get started.


CBS News, “CDC warns of common parasites plaguing millions in the U.S.

Howell, J. and Brown, G. (2008), Gastrointestinal: Beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata). Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 23: 1769-1769.

Iturbe Cossío TL, Montes Luna AD, Ruiz Mejia M, Flores Ortega A, Heredia Cárdenas R, Romero Núñez C. Risk factors associated with cat parasites in a feline medical center. JFMS Open Rep. 2021 Aug 18;7(2):20551169211033183. doi: 10.1177/20551169211033183. PMID: 34422278; PMCID: PMC8377321.

CNN, “Men wash their hands much less often than women, and that matters more than ever.

Fiorenza, EA, Wendt, CA, Dobkowski, KA, et al. It’s a wormy world: Meta-analysis reveals several decades of change in the global abundance of the parasitic nematodes Anisakis spp. and Pseudoterranova spp. in marine fishes and invertebrates. Glob Change Biol. 2020; 26: 2854–2866.

Okeniyi JA, Ogunlesi TA, Oyelami OA, Adeyemi LA. Effectiveness of dried Carica papaya seeds against human intestinal parasitosis: a pilot study. J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):194-6. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2005.065. PMID: 17472487

Krstin S, Sobeh M, Braun MS, Wink M. Anti-Parasitic Activities of Allium sativum and Allium cepa against Trypanosoma b. brucei and Leishmania tarentolae. Medicines (Basel). 2018 Apr 21;5(2):37. doi: 10.3390/medicines5020037. PMID: 29690511; PMCID: PMC6023319.

Travers MA, Florent I, Kohl L, Grellier P. Probiotics for the control of parasites: an overview. J Parasitol Res. 2011;2011:610769. doi: 10.1155/2011/610769. Epub 2011 Sep 28. PMID: 21966589; PMCID: PMC3182331.

Strothmann AL, Berne MEA, Capella GA, de Moura MQ, da Silva Terto WD, da Costa CM, Pinheiro NB. Antiparasitic treatment using herbs and spices: A review of the literature of the phytotherapy. Braz J Vet Med. 2022 Sep 11;44:e004722. doi: 10.29374/2527-2179.bjvm004722. PMID: 36381138; PMCID: PMC9652050.

Long KZ, Rosado JL, Montoya Y, de Lourdes Solano M, Hertzmark E, DuPont HL, Santos JI. Effect of vitamin A and zinc supplementation on gastrointestinal parasitic infections among Mexican children. Pediatrics. 2007 Oct;120(4):e846-55. doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-2187. PMID: 17908741.

Mahmoudvand H, Saedi Dezaki E, Sharififar F, Ezatpour B, Jahanbakhsh S, Fasihi Harandi M. Protoscolecidal Effect of Berberis vulgaris Root Extract and Its Main Compound, Berberine in Cystic Echinococcosis. Iran J Parasitol. 2014 Oct-Dec;9(4):503-10. PMID: 25759731; PMCID: PMC4345089.

Beshay EVN. Therapeutic efficacy of Artemisia absinthium against Hymenolepis nana: in vitro and in vivo studies in comparison with the anthelmintic praziquantel. J Helminthol. 2018;92(3):298-308. doi:10.1017/S0022149X17000529