Friday, March 14, 2008

Herbal Help with Internal Parasites

by Marian Brown

Internal parasites--more commonly known as worms. As in all health care, prevention is one of the best offenses and defenses. In the case of internal parasites, total prevention is almost impossible.
The most common internal parasites are round worms and tapeworms, both of which are divided into several varieties and each enters the system through a variety of ways. The main paths of infestation are: from infected ground/soil, stagnant (or in some cases even running) water which other animals have access to, the milk of an infected mother (very common and easily passed to the young) and from fleas.

Fleas are very often the carrier of certain species of tapeworm and cause a multitude of what may seem to be never-ending cycles of kill the fleas--kill the worms--kill the fleas--kill the worms--etc... As pets often scratch at fleas by biting, they ingest the flea and thus the worm, now beginning the deworming cycle again.

As one can see, this constant cycle can quickly bring a healthy animal's system down, which in turn can lead to further health problems. And, in reviewing the ease at which pets can (and are) exposed to worms and fleas it is easy to see why total prevention is highly unlikely. A simple walk in your own enclosed yard provides several avenues of exposure...the birds which are in your feeder, the birdbath, rabbits that raid your garden, or a common mouse may all be potential carriers. (We won't even discuss the walk through a park!)

But, being able to keep the presence to a minimum and avoiding high levels of infestation is possible and relatively easy to achieve with the use of good diet, exercise and the addition of herbs.

Historically, herbs have been used to treat parasites in man and beast alike. For severe cases of internal parasites, consult a professional for guidance and proper dosages/treatments. There are also several homeopathic remedies available and Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide offers a method of herbal treatment.

For basic prevention, one of the most common and almost universally recommended herbs is garlic. Garlic is reputed to have a great repelling effect on both fleas and internal parasites. It may be difficult to get your pet to eat raw garlic, however, in the capsule form, it can be easily taken and sprinkled on the pet's food.

A common "American" treatment is the use of pumpkin seeds. Several ounces of dried pumpkin seeds can be mixed with water or vegetable juice to form a mash. This is eaten, then two-three hours later is followed by a dose of castor oil to drive the worms out. Care must be taken to be sure the entire worm is expelled. Tapeworms very often come out in small segments, leaving the head to reinfest again. This treatment may have been common due to the fact that ancient people recognized that worms' activities are influenced by the cycles of the moon. The worms became more active and thus less embedded when the moon is waxing, therefore, according to belief the best time for actually worming treatment is just before the full moon. (Reference The Complete Herbal handbook for the Dog and Cat by Juliette de Bairacli Levy).

In our more modern times, pumpkin seeds are available in powered capsule form, which like the garlic can be safely sprinkled in with pets' food. Elecampane and Black Walnut have also been historically used to rid body systems of parasites. Black Walnut extract has also been used externally for skin parasites including fleas and ringworm.

In more recent times (1974), a study conducted at the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethedsa, Maryland, found that lapachol--an extract from the bark of Pau D'Arco trees--is quite useful against parasite infection. (Reference Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, 1992).

Remember, herbs are foods, not cure all drugs. The Herb Book by John Lust, list over 45 herbs which have been used for internal parasites in both humans and animals. Every body system is different and every herbal combination is different and supports the system in a unique way. Please take the time to learn about herbs and the different ways they can support the various systems.


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