Skin Conditions, Immune | July 8, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Parasites are living organisms that live and feed of other living things, plant or animal. They can be a tiny single cell organism such as protozoa that cannot be seen with the naked eye or larger such as a worm. You can become infected with a parasite from consuming contaminated water or food, from sexual contact or insect’s bites.
These parasites don’t cause the morbidity or mortality in Australia like they do is some other countries, but they can become an issue in the immune compromised. They are often encountered by travellers or immigrants traveling from other countries.
Some examples of parasitic disease include giardia from contaminated water, toxoplasmosis from cats, intestinal worms - thread worm and hook worm, skin scabies, head and body lice, malaria from mosquitoes.
Some parasites have adapted to living in the intestine where conditions are anaerobic; others reside in blood or tissues in aerobic conditions.
Protozoa are organisms that are able to multiply from a single cell. They can exist without hosts or be parasitic. Due to the fact they can multiply from a single cell they are able to increase in number to cause overwhelming infection. Protozoa that live in the human intestine are transmitted to other humans through a faecal-oral route or other routes such as contaminated food. Protozoa in the blood or tissue of humans is transmitted to other humans by an arthropod vector such as mosquito or sand fly bite.
In Australia Giardia lamblia is a commonly spread parasite found throughout the country. This parasite makes its home in the intestine causing symptoms such as:
A visit to the Doctor is important if you suspect you have Giardia.
Helminths are parasites with multicellular and complex organ systems. They can live in our stomach and gut and also our blood and organs but do not multiply in the body. Intestinal worms can digest our food before we do causing illness and nutritional deficiencies. They can cause eosinophilic responses as they travel throughout the body.
Thread worms (pin worm) these thread like parasites are found in the intestine. The female travels down to the anus at night and lays her eggs where they are transported out of the body in faeces. Contamination occurs from fingers to mouth or from food, clothing and bedding, infected person to uninfected person. The eggs at the anus cause the intense itching that occurs.
Roundworms (nematodes) these are considered the most numerous multicellular creatures on earth feeding off fungi, bacteria and other nematodes of animals, insects and plants.
Strongyloides stercoralis is a roundworm which causes a life threatening disease called Strongyloidiasis. In Australia they are found in the far north in soil contaminated by faeces containing this parasite. Poor sanitation and hygiene is considered a reason for the spread of disease. A blood test and is needed to identify this parasite and medication is taken to remove it.
Tapeworms (cestodes) are found it the stomach or intestine where it lays its eggs. These eggs pass from the body through the faeces and are passed on directly (fingers contaminated with faeces containing the egg), or indirectly from contaminated food, water or insect larvae containing the egg.
Hook worms are found in the ground from sewerage.The worm enterers the body and lays its eggs in the intestine the eggs pass out through the faeces and it is from water and food that newly hatched worms can pass into a new body. Hook worm can also enter the body through unbroken skin - why it is important to wear foot coverings. It is found in tropical north Australia.
These annoying creatures feed off our skin and cause intense itching. They are transmitted by direct human to human contact or from bedding or sharing personal care items (such as combs and brushes).
Scabies are a type of mite. The female burrows into the skin to lay her eggs. When the eggs hatch they travel to the skin surface, mate, travel back down a hair follicle and lay their eggs - causing a perpetual cycle of infestation. It is the burrowing that causes the skin irritation.
Lice like to live in the hair follicle of the body, like the abundant hair on the head, where they attach themselves to the skin and feed off blood. They also lay their eggs (nits) on the hair shaft and the cycle of their existence continues. There are many over-the-counter treatments available to help eradicate these little critters.
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Obviously personal hygiene is very important and good sanitation practices are a must. Keep a clean environment and wash hands regularly. Use protection against insects to prevent vector transmission of infection. Use foot wear when outside.
Our microbiome is very important to our health and well - being. When our immune system is compromised either through deficient nutrition or from stress and anxiety, this can open the way for pathogens such as parasites to multiply and cause damage.
It is always important to look at the diet and increase your nutrient rich foods.
Fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, meat, fish and eggs are full of vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and carbohydrates - choose 'close to nature foods'.
Avoid over cooking and processed foods and you will be on the way to build a healthy body and immune system.
Probiotics. Supporting the gastrointestinal system with a good probiotic can boost the immune system and help remove unwanted pathogens. It has been shown that there is an important interrelationship between diet, microbiome and immune system influences in human health.
Garlic has been used for centuries as a food and medicine across many cultures. It is well known for its antifungal and antimicrobial activities but several studies have confirmed the extract of garlic is also effective against a host of protozoa. The active ingredients, allicin, ajoene, and organosulfides from garlic, are believed to be responsible compounds against protozoa. Other animal studies have suggested that garlic can be an effective prophylactic and therapeutic agent against parasitic infection for humans.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is a traditional herb used in western herbal medicine for intestinal worms and is listed by the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHP) for this use.
Black walnut (Juglans nigra) has been used in traditional for intestinal parasites and worms although there is very little information available relating to its use.
Melaleuca (Tea Tree oil) Research has confirmed the scabicidal properties of Tea Tree Oil (TTO) and may be more effective than permethrin 5% cream and ivermectin in the reduction of scabies. The added benefits of its antibacterial and wound healing properties prevent the disease progression to pyoderma, secondary sepsis, and other bacterial complications associated with scabies infestation. TTO can reduce the itch and inflammation associated with infestation of scabies. Studies are also being conducted for the use of TTO and other essential oils as a potent weapons against head lice and have found to be effective in the death of the both the lice and eggs.
Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/
Efficacy of Allium sativum (garlic) against experimental cryptosporidiosis http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S209050681100128X
Fisher, C; (2009), Materia Medica of Western Herbs, New Zealand
Therapeutic Potential of Tea Tree Oil for Scabies https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4751955/
Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480584/