Tapeworm infection can hit you silently without any obvious symptoms right away – until you notice weight loss, experience abdominal pain, or, worse, discover larvae have made their way to your brain or blocked some portion of your intestine. If the idea of strong medication or surgical intervention worries you, it is a good idea to nip the problem in the bud with some simple home remedies. Or better yet, prevent a tapeworm infestation by taking the right precautions.
5 Home Remedies For Tapeworm
Here are some natural remedies that are under study for their use in curing or containing tapeworm infections in humans.
Papaya and its juice are antiparasitic and good for getting rid of tapeworms naturally. Papaya latex, extracted by scoring the skin, is a potent anthelmintic which fights helminths or parasitic worms. It is, therefore, able to expel the parasite, in this case tapeworms, after stunning or killing them, without any harm to your body.1
However, do note that this remedy can cause gastritis in some. Because it is an abortifacient, it can also bring on uterine contractions in pregnant women and must be taken only after consulting a doctor.2
Air dried papaya seeds also have significant antiparasitic activity on human intestinal parasites. Grind up the seeds and take two teaspoons of the seed powder with some honey on an empty stomach. Alternatively, make a coconut milk, papaya fruit, and dried seed powder smoothie and drink up.3
Pineapples contain protein-degrading enzymes called cysteine proteinases that can help digest tapeworm cuticles, the tough protective covering on the tapeworms. Drink plenty of fresh pineapple juice for a few days. You can leave in some of the skin when you juice it for best effects.4
Anecdotes suggest having the juice from pineapples either over the course of the day or first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Do this for a few days back to back for best results.
Raw garlic and its oil can be used for treating tapeworm infections due to its antiparasitic properties. The sulfur compounds in garlic are thought to be responsible for this action.5
One home remedy just needs you to chew two to three cloves of garlic on an empty stomach in the morning. Alternatively, you could crush two raw cloves of garlic into milk, boil it, and then drink up on an empty stomach. Keep up the regimen for a few days to a week.
Cloves have shown anthelmintic activity in research. In fact, researchers found that a suspension of clove powder was 4.5 times more potent than powdered fresh garlic. It also proved to be 7.3 more active than even piperazine, an anthelmintic drug.6
To make a home remedy for tapeworms, powder up cloves and keep them in a jar. Steep a teaspoon of this powder in hot water for about 10 minutes. Drink up this clove tea a few times a week to help kill the eggs and worms.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Taeniasis is a parasitic disease of the digestive system due to tapeworms. In one study, test subjects with taeniasis were given pumpkin seeds combined with areca nut extract. About 79 percent of the participants released whole tapeworms and a further 3.5 percent expelled incomplete segments. Nearly all those who expelled the worms did so within 3 hours of being given the treatment; some even passed them as early as 20 minutes.
The remedy used an areca nut immersion and peeled raw pumpkin seeds and was followed up with magnesium sulfate diluted to 30 percent in water. Treatment was on an empty stomach. Some of the participants reported dizziness and nausea as side effects.7 Needless to say, in this form, the treatment will need to be administered by a trained naturopathy practitioner or doctor.
At home, you could try consuming raw pumpkin seeds. A pleasant way to have this remedy is to blend up the seeds with coconut milk to a porridge-like consistency, followed by a tall glass of water or two to help with bowel movement. This one-time remedy should help cleanse your system of the worms.
Best Practices To Fight Tapeworm Infections
Getting rid of tapeworm as quickly as possible is important to prevent infecting others living and interacting with the infected person. Because the tapeworm can multiply rapidly once it is in your body, your first and best line of defense is to thwart tapeworm infections before they even happen. Here’s what you can do.
1. Buy Quality Meat
Don’t rely on unknown brands of meats or fish. The well-established brands, both big and small, are more likely to have robust quality checks that don’t just comply with food quality norms but also incorporate best practices that minimize the risk of contamination by tapeworm or larvae.8
2. Cook Meat Properly
While beef, pork, and fish are the most well-known offenders when it comes to sources of tapeworm infection in humans, it is important to cook all meat well. Ensure it is cooked all the way through at the recommended temperature. Fish should turn opaque, while meat must be cooked till the juices run clear when it is pricked and it is no longer red or pink.
Prevent cross-contamination by ensuring cooked, ready-to-eat meat doesn’t come in contact with raw meat at any point in time. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the cooked meat at its thickest part. It should hit 145°F or more for meat and 160°F for ground meat.9
3. Freeze It Out
Tapeworm larvae and eggs usually can’t survive at very low temperatures. As the National Health Service suggests, you could freeze your fish and meat at a temperature lower than 10°C or 14°F for 48 hours or more to kill off these larvae and eggs.10 Cysts are also said to die if you keep the meat at 4°C for over a month.11
4. Wash Up!
Always wash your hands properly, especially after you go to the toilet. Improper hygiene can pass on tapeworm infection not just via food and drink, but even through contact with contaminated surfaces like doorknobs!12
You should also wash your hands very well before preparing food. If you handle raw meat, keep it separate. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water after you are done touching the raw meat and before you begin work on other food preparation.13
5. Use Straws On Cans And Soda
When you’re drinking canned drinks or soda, or even bottled water, either pour it into a glass or use a straw. This is because the containers may get contaminated in transit or during storage and when you drink from them, the eggs or larvae on the rim can be ingested, infecting you.14
6. Travel Safe
When you are visiting places prone to tapeworm infestations, like some places in developing countries, you should be extra cautious. Drinking water from the tap may not always be contaminant-free and sewage disposal may be less than ideal, creating prime conditions for tapeworms to thrive and spread. Here are some things you could do to stay safe15:
- Always drink bottled water or boil water before drinking.
- Always wash fruit and vegetables yourself before consuming.
- Avoid raw fruit and vegetables in any form; raw meat is a strict no-no.
- Ensure the meat and fish you consume is properly cooked.
When To See Your Doctor
These home remedies are designed to purge your system of tapeworm and their larvae and can even help prevent your being infected in the first place. But if you do not see results in a few days or if you experience more severe symptoms of infection, you should seek medical help immediately. With the risk of more serious illnesses like stroke and even of blockage of the intestine or ducts in the body, it is important to deal with the problem as soon as possible.
Tips To Prevent Tapeworm Infection Via Your Dog
Besides taking precautions to prevent a tapeworm infestation, you should also take your dog to the vet for deworming. It is easy to overlook these four-legged family members, but they share your life too and can just as easily pass on an infection like anyone else in the family. Giving them anti-tapeworm medication regularly as per schedule can protect you from catching hydatid disease from dog feces infested with eggs. This infection can cause cysts to form in your body’s vital organs, including the liver, making it potentially life-threatening, so do take it seriously. While cat feces too may have tapeworms, it is believed to be less easily transmitted to humans.
Here are some precautions you can take if you have a pet16:
- Always use rubber gloves to dispose of dog feces.
- If your dog is infected, don’t simply toss the feces into the trash. You should either incinerate it or deeply bury the poop.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after you handle the dog’s feces, whether your dog is infected or undiagnosed.
- Avoid any kind of raw meat or offal for your pet’s meals. Use known brands of dog food.
- Don’t allow your dogs to defecate anywhere near your gardens or vegetable patch.
|↑1||Buttle, David J., Jerzy M. Behnke, Yvonne Bartley, Hany M. Elsheikha, David J. Bartley, Martin C. Garnett, Alison A. Donnan, Frank Jackson, Ann Lowe, and Ian R. Duce. “Oral dosing with papaya latex is an effective anthelmintic treatment for sheep infected with Haemonchus contortus.” Parasites & vectors 4, no. 1 (2011): 36.|
|↑2||Aravind, G., Debjit Bhowmik, S. Duraivel, and G. Harish. “Traditional and medicinal uses of Carica papaya.” Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies 1, no. 1 (2013): 7-15.|
|↑3||Krishna, K. L., M. Paridhavi, and Jagruti A. Patel. “Review on nutritional, medicinal and pharmacological properties of Papaya (Carica papaya Linn.).” (2008).|
|↑4||Stepek, Gillian, Jerzy M. Behnke, David J. Buttle, and Ian R. Duce. “Natural plant cysteine proteinases as anthelmintics?.” TRENDS in Parasitology 20, no. 7 (2004): 322-327.|
|↑5||Tesfaye, Azene, and Worku Mengesha. “Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Properties of Garlic (Allium Sativum) and its Biological Active Compounds.” (2015).|
|↑6||BONE, KERRY, and MICHELLE MORGAN. “Herbal Treatment for Intestinal Parasites.” Modern Phytotherapist: 13.|
|↑7||Li, Tiaoying, Akira Ito, Xingwang Chen, Changping Long, Munehiro Okamoto, Francis Raoul, Patrick Giraudoux et al. “Usefulness of pumpkin seeds combined with areca nut extract in community-based treatment of human taeniasis in northwest Sichuan Province, China.” Acta tropica 124, no. 2 (2012): 152-157.|
|↑8, ↑10, ↑15||Tapeworm infections – Prevention. National Health Service.|
|↑9||Parasites – Taeniasis Prevention & Control. Centers for Disease Control And Prevention.|
|↑11||Gilman, Robert H., Armando E. Gonzalez, Fernando Llanos-Zavalaga, Victor CW Tsang, and Hector H. Garcia. “Prevention and control of Taenia solium taeniasis/cysticercosis in Peru.” Pathogens and global health 106, no. 5 (2012): 312-318.|
|↑12, ↑14||Tapeworm. The Nemours Foundation.|
|↑13||How to Treat Tapeworm Infections Naturally During Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association.|
|↑16||Tapeworms and hydatid disease. Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia.|