• Anise, Berberine (Found in
The human intestines play host to an enormous variety of bacteria and fungi. Most of these are harmless or even helpful. However, other microscopic organisms can also take up residence in the intestines. Such organisms are called intestinal parasites.
Common parasites include amoebas (especially Entamoeba histolytica ), cryptosporidium, giardia ( Giardia lamblia ), hookworm ( Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus ), pinworm ( Enterobius vermicularis ), roundworm ( Ascaris lumbricoides ), and tapeworm ( Taenia species ).
Intestinal parasites can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, bloody stools, itching in the anus, weight loss, and many others. Some parasites are no more than a nuisance, while others can cause serious disease and even death.
Conventional treatment for parasites begins with careful identification of the particular parasite involved, followed by the use of medications capable of destroying the infestation. Careful attention to hygiene while camping or traveling in developing countries can help prevent future infections with parasites.
Proposed Natural Treatments
Intestinal parasites are hardy organisms not easily killed. Traditional remedies used for parasites are generally fairly toxic. Until recently, conventional treatments for parasites were also quite toxic. However, now that safe drugs have been developed, it can be said as a general rule that conventional therapies for parasites are less toxic and almost certainly more effective than natural remedies.
Despite this, many natural products are marketed for the treatment of parasites. The profusion of such offerings is due primarily to a particular current of thought among some alternative practitioners that states that parasites are the underlying cause of many illnesses. Most such natural products are made of herbs that kill parasites in the test tube. However, it is a long way from a test tube study to meaningful effects in humans, and there is no reliable meaningful evidence that any of these natural therapies are useful in a practical sense. Some herbs commonly mentioned for the treatment of parasitic infections include anise, black walnut fruit, cloves, curled mint, essential oils
The substance berberine has shown some promise for the treatment of parasites, and it was, for a time, evaluated as a potential new anti-parasitic drug.
One placebo-controlled study conducted in Africa concluded that use of dried papaya seeds could reduce levels of intestinal parasites generally.
2. Soffar SA, Metwali DM, Abdel-Aziz SS, et al. Evaluation of the effect of a plant alkaloid (berberine derived from Berberis aristata ) on Trichomonas vaginalis in vitro. J Egypt Soc Parasitol . 2001;31:893-904.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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