Written by Rachel Arieff
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Parasites can be living in our systems for years without our knowing it. Sure, we may have a few symptoms-fatigue, anemia, abdominal complaints--but we probably attribute them to some other source: a busy lifestyle, a tough job, or stress. Sure, once in a while we hear about a case: a friend of a friend who contracted a ghastly parasite. However, we who live in industrialized societies, where cleanliness seems pretty much the rule, don't really tend to think of parasites as our problem.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we're fooling ourselves. Parasitic infections hit thousands of Americans every year, including children. In many cases, the host is unaware of the parasite and may go for years, even decades, without knowing! In the worst cases, only catastrophic illness and the resulting emergency treatment brings a parasitic infestation to light.

The Effects of Parasites

Parasitic forms range from microscopic protozoa, such as amoebas, to hideously long tapeworms. They can be transmitted in a variety of ways: some orally, some anally, some through the nose, eyes or ears. Others enter the body through insect bites, many through eating undercooked meat, and still others through bare skin coming into contact with infected human or animal feces. It's sad to say, but most people's intestines are the perfect home for a parasite. People living in developed, Western countries tend to have a diet poor in fiber and thus experience a lot of constipation.

As long as blockages of undigested food remain in the intestinal tract, a parasite can enjoy free meals for a lifetime. Some parasites stay in the intestine and cause few symptoms, but many more migrate through the blood to other parts of the body. Depending on the type of parasite, vital organs such as the brain, heart, lungs, liver, eyes and kidneys can become infested, causing irreversible damage and even death. That's why it's so important to pay attention to your intestinal tract and practice regular maintenance, such as colonic cleansing.

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