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The Cyclospora Lesson: It’s Easy to Get Parasites

What we’re learning from the current outbreak of cyclospora parasites in the U.S. is that even if we live in a western, modern society, we are still susceptible to parasitic infections.

cyclospora parasite
The microscopic Cyclospora parasite.

Of course, foreign travel, especially if you visit remote or under-developed areas, is a common source of parasites in Westerners, though not the only one.

This time the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes the parasites are coming from unwashed fruit and vegetables, but parasites can get into your body from eating sushi, pork, or other foods; swimming in lakes or rivers; cleaning a cat’s litter box; contact with pets; gardening; or even sometimes, just from drinking a glass of water from the tap (in 1993, the city of Milwaukee was infected with Cryptosporidium through the municipal water supply).

As someone who has been infested with parasites no fewer than five times (!), including positive stool samples containing both cyclospora and cryptosporidium among other parasites, I do consider myself somewhat of a parasite expert. In fact, herbal parasite cleanses comprise a large part of my naturopathic dietary clinic. I firmly believe that if you have an undiagnosed parasitic infection and it is not treated appropriately, there is only so much better your health will ever get. And, I do think that most people dealing with chronic inflammatory conditions probably have an underlying parasitic infestation.

What are the symptoms of parasites?

For the current outbreak of cyclospora, the CDC suggests that if you have stomach distress that lasts beyond 24 hours, you may be infected with cyclospora parasites. Cyclospora can cause both diarrhea and constipation, as well as bloating, gas, and discomfort.

Parasitic infection often begins with an acute phase which may include violent gastro-intestinal distress (explosive diarrhea, painful gas, cramping), vomiting, fever, dehydration, chills, sweats, shaking, and delirium. Sounds fun, huh? Some people may experience this mildly while others become terribly ill and debilitated.

Then the parasites settle into a chronic phase. This phase may last months, decades, or longer as the goal of a parasite is not to kill the host. The parasite settles in, lays eggs, and populates.

Your body, on the other hand, has difficulty forgetting that the parasite is there and really doesn’t want to be a landlord. As a result, you may experience chronic or occasional symptoms including diarrhea, constipation, bloating, swelling, vomiting, fainting, difficulty gaining or losing weight, lethargy, fatigue, or even autoimmune disorders.

How can you avoid getting parasites?

Always wash all fruits and vegetables with a veggie rinse before cutting through the skin and serving. This applies even to organic produce.

Wash your hands well with soap whenever you enter your house, and particularly after handling unwashed produce.

How can you treat and recover from cyclospora and other parasites?

Although there are western anti-parasitic medications, they are non-discriminatory and you will feel like a fragile, hollow shell after a course. As one G.I. doctor told me, treating parasites with the drug Flagyl is like killing a mosquito with a shot gun: there are unintentional casualties along the way.

Even worse, these toxic drugs will not necessarily eradicate all the stages of the parasite life-cycle (egg-larvae-adult), nor will they always kill off every kind of parasite that might be present in your body (protozoans, worms, or what have you).

In my practice, I advocate completing a three-week herbal anti-parasite regimen to eradicate any suspected parasitic infection. I do not recommend wasting money on testing as many parasites are microscopic and parasite tests are notorious for false negatives.

If you feel like you’re doing everything right –eating healthily, reducing stress, exercising regularly– yet you’re still suffering from chronic physical distress (gastro-intestinal, inflammatory, or otherwise), it would be worth your while to complete an herbal parasite cleanse under the guidance of a qualified natural health practitioner.

12 Comments on “The Cyclospora Lesson: It’s Easy to Get Parasites

  1. Elizabeth,

    Just got your cookbook and excited to try many recipes.

    Now for the cleanse. I am highly sensitive to walnuts, both black and English.
    It is so bad I have to be scoped. So can’t do that again.

    Can I get a cleanse with out these ingredients.

    Because we spend so much time in the wilderness, rescue cats and garden, I know I am infected.
    It also has caused Histamine issues for me for years.
    I have many of the symptoms.
    Has anyone ever then continued with a Bentonite Clay and DE daily dose to totally rid or continue to protect from a re-infection.
    Retrospectively, I realized when we did a series of cleanses that my HI was almost gone.

    So I am a believer totally in parasite cleansing.
    Thanks for being one of the only people who realize this is a huge problem.

    Keep up this important work,


  2. I just ordered your herbal parasite cleanse.
    I suspect I have a cyclospora infection from eating a chicken salad sandwich ( had lettuce ) around the end of August 2013.
    This coincided with the national outbreak of that time.

    This was all I had that night for a meal.

    Around 4 hours later, I started getting SEVERE abdominal pains throughout my small intestinal area.

    This was not food poisoning.

    I was treated with one course of Bactrim…did nothing spectacular.
    Am scheduled to see a GI next week and dread going through the myriad of mostly useless, time consuming tests.

    As a licensed Medical Technologist in a major NY hospital with 38 years of experience I can speak with some authority on the subject and surely agree with your approach to eliminate all stages of the parasitic infection.
    I’ll communicate my progress/results as I progress.
    Thanks for all the info.

    P.S. Couldn’t agree more with your assertion of false negatives on O&P testing.
    Brian Bloodworth

  3. You reslly make itt seem really easy along with your presentation
    however I to fibd this topic to be actually something that I think I
    might never understand. It sort off feels too complex and very large for me.
    I’m taking a look forward for your subsequent post, I will
    try to get the hold of it!

    My web site; coffee upset stomach (

  4. I like Donna Gates the body ecology diet and she wrote in her book that three parasites often need antibiotics first to treat properly-one of them she listed was Blastocystis hominis, which is what I had a year ago, but my internist said I di not need antibiotics bc my symptoms had dissipated. Can your parasite cleanse and combo herbs (wormwood, cloves, etc) kill that parasite too? Thanks for any info!

    1. As far as I know, antibiotics work for bacterial infections but not necessarily for parasites. Even if the chemical mix of the antibiotic were to kill off any adult parasites, you would still have the eggs that will eventually repopulate.

      Just because severe symptoms abate does not mean the parasites are gone; it could mean your body has simply moved from the acute phase into the chronic phase. The chronic phase weakens your vitality with milder symptoms that feel manageable. Eventually you forget what life felt like before and accept this as your life.

      I recommend the herbal cleanse (not the combined tincture) for anyone who knows for sure they were once infected with parasites because odds are high that the eggs left behind from any conventional treatment, or even no treatment, have repopulated.

      Personally, I believe the herbal cleanse is the only way to be sure the parasites are gone. If you have parasites and don’t get rid of them, there is only so much better you can ever get without addressing the parasites.

  5. Thanks so much for your information. My 3 year old daughter is infected with cyclosporum (I think) and I have not done anything yet. Her symptoms are a month long on and off with vomiting/once with diarrhea, and now a fever with no other symptoms. She’ll be fine for 3-6 days and then have a day of vomiting, then she’s fine again. She does not go to preschool. I stay home with her. We are gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, soy free, and corn free. We eat grass fed and free range meats. I have ordered true colloidal silver in hopes that it will help rid her of any bacteria, but I’m not sure it will help with parasites. All the parasite kits I find are pills. Any recommendations for kids? Thanks!

    1. Sara, It does sound like she could have a parasitic infection. I do offer a combined tincture of the parasite herbs, but I don’t think it works as well as the capsule regimen, so I only offer it for little kids or pets. It does work, though, so if you’d like to try it, go ahead and order the parasite cleanse on my website and note in the Comments field on the shopping cart that you want the tincture instead of the capsules and I’ll send you the liquid and the schedule for that formula:

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