Many people suffer from parasitic infections. These may be intestinal worm infestations, liver flukes or the parasitic fungal yeast infections connected to the Candida microbe. Parasitic infections can be treated effectively either with drugs or alternative treatments, although it has been reported that a number of secondary symptoms may be experienced when the body-dwelling parasite is destroyed.
Candida albicans is a parasitic yeast found commonly in the gastrointestinal tract, and in a healthy subject should cause no harm. However, for those with lowered immunity, it may proliferate and cause candidiasis, a systemic infection that can affect the whole body. Candida infection has been shown to invade major internal organs. There is evidence that a lack of beneficial bacteria in the gut (perhaps caused by a course of antibiotics) may allow Candida albicans yeast to proliferate and cause health problems. Fungal infections can be treated with drugs such as Nystatin or Povidone-Iodine, as well as naturopathic treatments.
Parasites such as intestinal worms or liver flukes may present unpleasant symptoms, but in many instances they go completely unnoticed. It is thought that worm and yeast infections are encouraged by imbalance in the digestive flora. Parasitic worms may be large and are sometimes visible in the stool, or are passed singly. Testing for worms is generally done with a fecal sample, but blood and saliva can also be tested for parasite antibodies. Worm infections may be treated with a range of drugs, such as Mebendazole or Praziquantel. Some herbal treatments (for example, black walnut) are also found to be effective.
Whether commercial drugs or alternative treatments are used against parasites, there are many reports that the treatment itself may cause unpleasant side-effects. Skye Weintraub is an author who has written extensively on human parasite infections. In her book "The Parasite Menace" she reports that treatment of worm infestations effectively means that the body is full of dead organisms, which break down and release viral and bacterial microbes. This leads to unpleasant flu-like symptoms as the body tries to combat this sudden microbial burden. Reported symptoms include nausea, headaches, general weakness and fatigue, as well as the aching limbs similar to a bout of flu.
The symptoms of candida die-off are also widely reported as resembling flu or gastric upset. Dr. William Shaw, a paediatric specialist, has written a detailed report on digestive problems in autistic children. Dr. Shaw reports a range of symptoms associated with candida die-off, including hyperactivity, sugar-cravings, fever and lethargy. It should be noted that drugs such as Nystatin, Praziquantel and the herb black walnut may all produce side-effects of their own, and it is not always easy to determine whether the drug or the die-off is responsible for the reported symptoms. Patrick Holford in "Optimum Nutrition for the Mind" states that less aggressive antifungal treatments are as effective as Nystatin, but produce less severe reactions.
The phenomenon of die-off symptoms was first identified by the dermatologist Karl Herxheimer in the treatment of syphilis, when secondary die-off symptoms were noted after the injection of antibiotics. The Herxheimer syndrome specifically differentiates between die-off symptoms and sensitivity to the drug treatment itself. It is not entirely clear whether parasite die-off symptoms are a Herxheimer-type reaction or the result of drug sensitivity.
- Science Direct: International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery; Candida albicans: a Review...; McCullough et al; 1996
- Science Direct: Tr Roy Soc Trop Med & Hyg; Potential for Diagnosis of intestinal nematode; Needham et al; 1998
- The Parasite Menace; Skye Weintraub; 1998
- GPL Store Online: Biological Treatments for Autism and PPD; Dr William Shaw; 2008
- Optimum Nutrition for the Mind; Patrick Holford; 2009