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Have You Picked Up a Parasite?

by Emma Lane(more info)

listed in colon health, originally published in issue 240 - August 2017


Parasites have hit the headlines recently with reports of fish being infected with these unwanted guests. This is not a new occurrence, but I felt it was appropriate to share some insights into these pathogens. I have been fascinated for many years by parasites and have helped countless people appropriately and effectively address their parasitic problems.

Tapeworm ©Emma Lane

Tapeworms (cestodes)

Hidden Public Health Problem

For many people parasites are a scary and off-putting topic. However, these organisms have been around for many millennia and in my opinion are an increasingly insidious public health threat. Insidious because very few people are aware of them and there are many misconceptions amongst doctors, health practitioners and the general public.

For example, a common belief is that parasites occur only in third-world countries, where poverty and unclean living are more commonplace. The presence of parasites is not confined to these conditions and, despite the popular misconception, those living in the developed world are also at risk.

The belief that parasites only affect those living in poverty or with poor hygiene amenities alone leads many people, including practitioners and doctors, to not even consider parasites as a potential cause of health problems. Therefore the symptoms of an infection are missed, or misdiagnosed.

The other significant challenge is that when parasites are suspected, the testing procedures are frequently inadequate, which can result in an incorrect diagnosis or the scale of the problem being under diagnosed. It is important to always use a reputable specialist laboratory, such as PCI Europe.

Our Poor Health Helps Parasites to Thrive

Often when an infection is in small numbers, it will generally not cause too many problems for the individual. Unfortunately, because our overall level of health and wellbeing has diminished so much, we are more open to picking up these opportunistic organisms.

Parasites will proliferate in an environment that is suitable for their survival and comfort. The modern diet, which is high in processed, poor nutrient-dense food and high sugar, and an overwhelmed immune system all contribute and combine to allow parasites to invade our bodies and thrive.

What are Parasites Specifically?

Parasites are an organism that lives on, or in, a host organism and they draw their nourishment and protection from the host. There are approximately three million parasitic organisms on earth, 342 species of Helminths alone have been reported in humans. Humans are hosts to over 70 species of protozoa, and over 25 flukes can infect humans.


Blood Flukes ©Emma Lane

Blood Flukes (Trematodes)

Main Groups of Parasites

  • Flukes (Trematodes) - The adult flukes are leaf-shaped flatworms, they have prominent oral and ventral suckers that help to maintain their position in situ. Flukes are hermaphroditic except for blood flukes, which are bisexual. The life cycle includes a snail intermediate host;
  • Tapeworms (cestodes) - The adult tapeworms are elongated, segmented, hermaphroditic flatworms that inhabit the intestinal lumen. Larval forms, which are cystic or solid, inhabit extra-intestinal tissues;
  • Roundworms (nematodes) - The adult and larval roundworms are bisexual, cylindrical worms. They inhabit intestinal and extra-intestinal sites.
  • Protozoa are tiny one-celled animals found worldwide in most habitats. Infections can range from asymptomatic to life-threatening, depending on the species and strain of the parasite and the resistance of the host;
  • Ectoparasites are parasites that live off of or in our skin such as mosquitoes, bedbugs, ticks, fleas, mites, lice and botflies.

During their life, parasitic organisms typically go through several developmental stages that involve changes not only in structure but also in biochemical and antigenic composition. Some of these infections can convert from a well-tolerated or asymptomatic condition to life-threatening disease in an infected individual. 

Some common signs and symptoms of parasites include:

  • Abdominal pain; Bloating; Diarrhoea; Digestive disturbance
  • Dysuria; Colitis; Cramping; Flatulence; Nausea/vomiting
  • Central nervous system impairment; Dizziness; Headaches
  • Chest pain; Chronic fatigue; Coughing; Vaginitis
  • Chills; Fever; Sweating; Night sweats; Insomnia
  • Jaundice; Joint pain; Weight loss; Weakness
  • Swelling of facial features; Skin disorders; Ulcers
  • Rectal prolapse; Mental health problems; Lung congestion
  • Memory loss; Muscle spasms; Hair loss or thinning
  • Children are often irritable and restless when infected

If you feel you have some of the above symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you are infected. These symptoms can also indicate causative problems other than parasites and, because other conditions can result in these symptoms, utilizing accurate and reliable laboratory tests is necessary to determine if parasites are the cause. Parasite Testing Inc. is a world-leading parasite testing facility in America and people here can access their accurate tests via PCI Europe. (

Not Just a GI Problem

Parasites do not just live in the gastrointestinal system. The symptoms that can arise from an infection are so diverse because for every area of the body there is a parasite that likes to find its home there. For example, Toxoplasma like the brain; in the intestines, you will find Giardia, Ascaris and tapeworm for example. In the liver Clonorchis and Fasciola can be found, Schistosoma in the bladder and Loa loa like to have a bird’s-eye view from the eye.

Why do we Become Infected?

There are many aspects of our environment and lifestyle that can influence the likelihood of infection. These include:

  • Poor lifestyle choices, such as insufficient sleep;
  • Poor digestion - low HCL levels (Hypochlorhydria), not creating an effective cephalic response when eating, not chewing food enough, constipation;
  • Excessive poor nutrition and/or inadequate good nutrition leading to insufficient nutritional support for good physiological function and health;
  • Stress that is unmanaged and therefore creates a chronic ongoing physiological load
  • Immune insufficiency;
  • Poor protective mechanisms e.g. Hypochlorhydria, poor digestion, immune insufficiency, etc.;
  • All of the above will create poor health and therefore reduce the body’s natural protection to bugs.

How do we Become Infected?

As previously discussed, parasites are not just found in developing countries, in fact, there are some factors prevalent in the UK, Europe and America that could be behind the rise in parasite infections. For example, commercial or intense farming practices can lead to poor quality food with low nutrient value and a higher risk of carrying parasite larvae and eggs because of the lower vitality and health of the farmed animals and plants.

The prevalent use of certain medications that generally lowers overall vitality of the body is another issue. Poor pet health is another factor. Pets can harbour intestinal parasites, such as the various types of worms that can live in the pet’s intestinal tract. Roundworms, whipworms, hookworms and tapeworms, as well as some protozoa parasites like Giardia, are not uncommon in household pets. Parasite eggs or spores are often inadvertently ingested in contaminated soil, water, faeces or food. In the case of tapeworms, they can be transmitted to dogs and cats by ingesting a flea.

Other routes to infection include poor personal hygiene, such as not washing hands after using the toilet, but also handling money, shaking hands and then handling food or putting your hands in your mouth. It is also easy to ingest infected water, whether it is from a tap, lake, stream or even the local swimming pool. Of course, international travel is also a common way to pick up some unwanted ‘hitchhikers’; water, ice cubes, food, other people or eating in a restaurant with poor hygiene standards can all lead to parasite transmission.

Roundworms © Emma Lane

Roundworms (nematodes)


The faecal-oral route is the most common form of parasite transmission, and poor personal hygiene is the main problem. For example, imagine you are eating out at your favourite restaurant: you order a chicken salad, in the kitchen the person that preps the food went to the toilet and did not wash their hands, and they have tiny amounts of faeces on their hands and under the nails. That faeces contains parasite larvae and/or eggs. They proceed to mix your salad up and out it goes to your table. This probably happens more frequently than any of us would like to consider, whether it be at home or eating out. People often forget to wash their hands; just watch next time when you use a public bathroom!

While of course this does not guarantee that you are going to get a parasite infection, it does mean the potential is there, and it depends on your level of health and vitality, especially your digestive tract health and function and your immune response. If your vitality level is low your potential to experience a parasite infection increases substantially. The protective mechanism that should naturally defend you is under par; the bugs will easily get in and be able to set up a happy home for themselves.

So What’s the Take-Home Lesson?

Prioritize and look after your own health to reduce the risk of a  parasite taking the opportunity to hang out in a warm, moist environment where there is a regular supply of food to eat; we make great homes, but unfortunately, these guests may not be the most considerate towards you while they live off you. Therefore, make it hard for them to hang out in you by taking care of your health and being aware of increased risk factors such as poor quality food, high risk infected food, undercooked fish and meat, poor personal hygiene and poor digestive processes.

If you suspect that you have a parasite problem, don’t keep suffering, get tested! ( and be guided by professional who have extensive experience in dealing with these critters. PCI Europe enables those living in Europe to utilize the world’s most advanced, consistent and well researched laboratory, the PCI, Arizona, led by world-renowned Parasitologist Dr Omar Amin, for the detection and treatment of parasitic infections. 

Further Information

The World of Parasites, Fungus and Bacteria.

28 - 29th October 2017

Book now -

Naturopath, Functional Medicine practitioner, nutritionist and Director of PCI Europe Emma Lane will explore how parasites, fungus and bacteria can wreak havoc in the human body.

The two-day course will explore these pathogens and how their presence can lead to gastrointestinal issues and poor immune function as well as causing tissue and organ damage and disease. Attendees will learn:

  • How to recognize the signs and symptoms associated with these invaders, how they are contracted and how to eradicate them;
  • More about the different parasite groups, their growth cycles and how infestation will affect the human body;
  • The key rules for dealing with pathogenic infections and imbalances;
  • How to address fungal issues including triggers for overgrowth, symptoms, sites of infection and how to address them;
  • In-depth information on balancing and healing the digestive tract.
  • The parasite course enables BANT-accredited practitioners to obtain 15 hours CPD.

Emma is the founder and director of the Lane Wellness Group. She is recognized as one of the UK’s leading holistic health and lifestyle experts and has trained extensively in Europe and America. With over 25 years of industry experience, Emma is qualified to practise across a wide range of natural health sciences including naturopathy, naturopathic nutrition and functional medicine.


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About Emma Lane

Emma Lane ND Dip NT CMTA C.H.E.K IV HLC3 PEA RSA – Founder and Director of the Lane Wellness Group – has more than 30 years’ experience in the industry, working as a Naturopath, Naturopathic Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner. She is a registered practitioner of ISEAI (The International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness). Emma has two busy practices in the north of England and central London and is also the Founder and Director of Integrative Health Education and PCI Europe. Emma regularly lectures around the world and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with other practitioners. She works closely with Dr Omar Amin, a world-renowned professor of parasitology. Emma is qualified to practise across a wide range of natural health sciences including Naturopathy, Naturopathic Nutrition, Functional Medicine, FSM (frequency specific microcurrent) Neuro-linguistic Programming, Timeline Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Auricular Acupuncture, Functional Corrective Exercise, Sound Therapy and Energy Healing. For further information please contact Emma on Tel: 01924 242 851 and via Energize, Mind, Body;    Holistics Online,    Parasite Testing,    Integrative Health Education ,   Lane Wellness Group

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