PARASITES – Things to Consider


Parasites are an unfortunate part of life. For those with animals, this is not news. However, did you know that parasites can be an issue for humans, too? Unfortunately, they can, and many people are unaware of this fact, which means they also might not know how to guard against them.

As you may already know, it is pretty common for a dog or cat to become infected with an internal or external parasite at some point in its lifetime. This is why most vets recommend regular deworming for such animals and other parasite control protocols. They say you should treat these animals at least four times yearly with no more than three months between treatments.

However, if you are paying attention, you will notice that it is not just for dogs and cats. Vets recommend this treatment for almost any mammal that will come into close contact with a human – even those animals in the food supply. This includes rabbits, ferrets, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and more.

There are a few things we should be asking ourselves at this point. To begin with, let us pay homage to the fact that we are mammals. The question we should be asking is, are we immune? If not, then when was the last time you were proactive about parasite control? What type of parasites should we be guarding against?

To be clear, a parasite is an organism that lives off of another organism. If you have a parasite, you are called the host. Often, a parasite harms the host, even if the host does not realize it. The parasite relies on the host and sucks nutrients from the host to survive and reproduce. Sometimes, a parasite can even kill, though this is rare because the parasite cannot live independently (without a host), and they know that. Instead of death, a parasite can make the host feel really lousy.

My point is this: if we use anti-parasitic treatments on our animals (pets and food) as a preventative measure, why are we not doing that for ourselves? Why are we proactive with our animals and reactive when it comes to ourselves? The truth is that you are at risk of catching a parasite if you have untreated pets, live in, or have even visited an area known to have parasites (which is much of the country), traveled internationally, or have poor sanitation or hygiene. Something else to consider is that getting a parasite is really easy if you have a weakened immune system for any reason (poor diet, antibiotics, etc.).

Of course, it is really easy to blame animals for a parasitic infection, but we should not be so quick to narrow down the field to just animals. Not only can you get parasites from animals, but you can also get them from food, water, sex, and sometimes just by touching an inanimate object. All it takes is the right microscopic egg in the right spot at the wrong time.

Do you have children or elderly loved ones? Well, children and the elderly can get infected pretty easily as well. This has a lot to do with their weakened immune system. The unfortunate part of the problem is that once a person is infected with a parasite, it is very easy to pass it along to someone else.

Did you know parasitic diseases affect more than 2 billion people globally each year (Kappagoda, Singh & Blackburn, 2011)? Many medical professionals, such as Dr. Oz, have said that 90 percent of humans will have a problem with parasites in their lifetime (Oz, 2006), and they suggest that approximately 1 out of 3 Americans are infected with an intestinal parasite at any given time (Oz, 2013). Of course, that number is just intestinal parasites; this does not include the many other types of parasites.

Some estimates show that over 85 percent of Americans could already have some kind of parasitic infection (skin, intestinal, sexual, etc.). For example, the CDC estimates that more than 60 million Americans carry the single-celled protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii (Koebler, 2012). That is just one parasite out of the many.

Imagine for a moment that it really is easy to pass to someone else; even if only 1 out of 3 Americans is infected with a parasite, how many of these people have you come into contact with today without cleaning or washing directly after? How many objects have you touched that perhaps one of these other infected people has touched? Scary, right?

So, while we are preventively treating our animals, our water, and our food, we typically do not preventively treat ourselves. Isn’t that weird? And consider the symptoms for a moment: unexplained constipation, diarrhea, gas, or other signs of IBS, traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning with digestion that remains just a little off, trouble falling asleep, skin irritations or unexplained rashes, hives, or eczema; these are all possible (perhaps probable) symptoms of a parasitic infection. Many Americans complain of these symptoms frequently. Other symptoms include teeth grinding in your sleep, unexplained pains and aches in the muscles or joints, unexplained fatigue or depression, never being quite satisfied after eating a full meal, and even iron deficiency.

The good news is that parasites are only a cause for concern if you have come into contact with animals or humans that have come into contact with other animals or humans. Of course, that does not address the environment in which we live, which is filled with parasites as well. Perhaps, parasites are just a part of life. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

  • Keep your place clean. It really does help.
  • Wear shoes and clean clothes when possible.
  • Take thorough showers that actually include soap and a scrub.
  • Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
  • Keep your sinks, showers, and faucets clean.
  • Store your food (cooked or uncooked) correctly. If you are unsure, look it up.
  • Clean under your fingernails and don’t bite them (remember: microscopic eggs).
  • Keep your immune system as strong as possible. Eat right, and exercise if possible. A strong immune system goes a long way toward preventing infection.

A Note on Animals and Pets:

The risk associated with cross-contamination between animals and humans is so prevalent that they have a name for it. It is called zoonotic disease (CDC, 2013).

  • Wash your hands after touching animals. Even those treated with anti-parasitic medications.
  • KEEP YOUR ANIMALS OFF THE BED. Yes, it may be cute, but they have fur, and fur can carry eggs.
  • Attempt to keep your children and animals from areas that have animal feces. If you allow your animals to defecate in the yard, DO NOT WALK BAREFOOT. Some young parasites can enter through your skin.

A Note on Food:

Roughly 85 to 90 percent of all reported cases of foodborne illness in the United States are believed to be caused by a lack of hygiene and food-handling errors.

  • Wash your hands BEFORE AND AFTER preparing your food.
  • Cook your food appropriately.
  • Do not eat out at “less than clean” establishments.

A Note on Water:


Tap water’s safety is not guaranteed. According to U.S. News, recent data has shown that tap water can have numerous harmful waterborne pathogens, such as amoebas. Surprisingly, U.S. water systems are not mandated to conduct screenings for these parasites. This revelation comes from study co-author Nicholas Ashbolt, a researcher at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Exposure Research Laboratory located in Cincinnati (Raloff, 2011). Even the Naegleria fowleri parasite (a deadly brain amoeba) has been found in city water sources (Fox, 2013).

Beware of “recreational waters”. The CDC reports that some diseases are spread by swallowing, breathing, or having contact with contaminated water from swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, or the ocean (CDC, 2010). Filters for water are good.


When outdoors:

  • Do not defecate near water – and if you do have to defecate outside, bury it.
  • Do not drink river, lake, pond, or river water without treating it first.
  • Again: Filters for water are good.

CLICK HERE for some parasite treatment ideas.


This article was originally published as a chapter in the book Natural Health Made Easy: The Briobiotic Protocol (2016). It has been updated.

This article was written from a Health Science perspective. Dr. Robertson is a health researcher and educator, not a physician. The information provided here is not medical advice, a professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or service to you or any other individual. The information provided is for educational and anecdotal purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation, or the advice of your physician or other healthcare providers. Dr. Robertson is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or additional information, services, or product you obtain or utilize. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CALL 911 OR YOUR PHYSICIAN.