A parasite cleanse is any diet, supplement, or other detox product that aims to remove parasites from the body. However, it is best for a person to consult a healthcare professional before trying any parasite cleanse.

Many companies go so far as to recommend these cleanses for just about anyone, without a doctor ever diagnosing a parasitic infection.

This article examines parasite cleanses and whether or not they are effective.

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Parasite cleanses, or parasite detoxes, are dietary supplements that aim to naturally rid the body of parasites.

Parasite cleanses often contain natural ingredients that manufacturers claim have anti-parasite properties, including:

Learn more about parasite infections in humans and how to treat them.

There is little research on whether commercial parasite cleanses are useful.

A 2018 study found that wormwood reduced dwarf tapeworm levels in a similar way as a leading antiparasitic medication in animal studies.

These results are promising, but the researchers call for more tests before recommending wormwood as a treatment for parasites in humans.

However, there is no research that proves that any other of the aforementioned ingredients can help cleanse the body of parasites.

Instead of doing a parasite cleanse, it is best to contact a doctor if someone suspects they may have a parasitic infection. The doctor can prescribe anti-parasite medications that will rid the body of the parasite.

Additionally, many makers of parasite cleanse products might go so far as to say everyone should do a parasite cleanse once or twice a year, with or without evidence of them having a parasite.

Although it is true that a person can have a parasite and not realize it, a person should not attempt any parasite cleansing or detox regime without a diagnosis and recommendation from a medical professional.

Cleansing diets or programs will often recommend a person eat a supportive diet while taking the product. This diet may include avoiding greasy, processed foods and eating natural, whole foods.

Some parasite-cleansing diets ask the person to avoid specific types of foods, such as gluten, dairy, or pork. Diets may also include the use of anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, such as garlic, turmeric, and ginger.

There is no evidence to suggest that following a specific diet will get rid of parasites from the body.

However, many so-called “parasite cleanse diets” may make a person feel better simply by removing processed and greasy foods and introducing healthy probiotics and antioxidants.

Although eating a varied and balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, will benefit a person’s overall health, it is always best to consult a doctor before following a specific diet.

Signs and symptoms of a parasite may differ depending on the type of parasite and the problems it causes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are a few types of parasite-related diseases that are health concerns in the United States.

These include Chagas disease, cyclosporiasis, cysticercosis, toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis, and trichomoniasis.

The following table provides more information about these parasitic conditions.

Disease Parasite responsible LocationTransmissionSymptoms Treatment
Chagas diseaseTrypanosoma cruziSouth and Central America, southern United Statescontact with a triatomine or “kissing bug” can cause no symptoms, but initial symptoms may include:
body aches
loss of appetite
diarrhea and vomiting

later signs include cardiac and gastrointestinal complications
treatment includes antiparasitic treatment with benznidazole and nifurtimox

complications in the later stage may need specific management techniques
cyclosporiasisCyclospora cayetanensismost common in tropical and subtropical regionsingesting food or liquid contaminated with poopsymptoms occur around 1 week after exposure and include:
• watery diarrhea
• frequent bowel movements
weight loss
a combination of two antibiotics, trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim)
toxocariasisToxocara canis or Toxocara cati, roundworms commonly present in dogs and catsfound in pets across the United States ingesting dirt contaminated with pet poop that contains Toxocara eggsToxocara does not cause symptoms in many cases; it may cause vision problems or fever, fatigue, and abdominal painantiparasitic drugs
toxoplasmosisToxoplasma gondiifound across the United States ingesting the parasite through undercooked, contaminated meat or any substance contaminated with cat poopcan cause no symptoms, but some may experience flu-like symptoms and muscle aches lasting for 1 month or moretreatment may not be necessary if the body can clear the parasite on its own, but doctors may prescribe anti-parasite medication
trichomoniasis (trich)Trichomonas vaginaliscommon in the United States having sex without a condom or a barrier method with a person who has trichcan cause no symptoms, but some may experience genital itching, discomfort when peeing, and unusual genital discharge oral antibiotics metronidazole or tinidazole

In some cases, parasites clear up on their own, especially in a person with a healthy immune system.

If the parasite causes concerning symptoms or may cause complications, doctors will likely order an antiparasitic medication that kills the parasite.

If a person suspects a parasite infection, they should avoid attempting to treat the issue themselves and contact a doctor instead.

While individual ingredients may show promise in laboratory studies, there is little proof that commercial cleansing products kill parasites.

A person can have a parasitic infection, even if they do not experience symptoms. However, there is no evidence that people who self-diagnose and use parasite cleanses get any benefit from these products if no parasite is present.

The methods behind many cleansing programs typically involve the person switching to a whole foods diet, eating supportive herbs, and improving their digestive health.

Switching to a more balanced diet may give a person similar benefits to those they would expect from using parasite cleanses.

If a person is concerned about parasites or that they may have a parasitic infection, it’s best to contact a doctor.