Since the average person I consult with has about 6 parasites, the most common question I hear is “how did I get these things”?
“Well,” I ask, “have you ever had food poisoning?”
Everybody has had food poisoning at least once. Some people have had it 5 or more times over the course of their lives. What I’m proposing is that each time you have food poisoning, you pick up a parasite. If you have had it 5x, that’s probably 5 different parasites. You can pick up a parasite without getting sick, but if you did get food poisoning, you certainly got a parasite.
The impact of the word poison carries over from the Italian Renaissance, when there may have been actual poison in your food. The term “food poisoning” is therefore extremely misleading – it no longer means that a rival is trying to eliminate you. It now means that a rival is setting up shop in your stomach. Everyone who has had food poisoning in fact has a parasite they need to get rid of.
The hope is that the symptoms of food poisoning (vomiting and diarrhea) will expel the parasite. This is unlikely. Most parasites originated 450-250 million years ago. Don’t you think that’s enough time for them to hold a meeting and discuss ways around the vomiting problem? I can picture the meeting now.
Somehow I think Entamoeba Histolytica would have chaired the meeting, he’s the smart one of the group and probably the oldest:
International Parasite Conference: 250 million B.C.
Meeting Minutes: On the Vomiting Problem
Entamoeba Histolytica: Okay, guys, listen up. Roundworms over there, pay attention! Flukes, quieten down… Numerous field agents are reporting a new development in the autonomic nervous systems of various land reptiles and mammals where chemical triggers in the stomach cause a system wide evacuation response characterized by vomiting and diarrhea. Initial reports indicate that this will quickly lead to severe job loss and unemployment in all sectors of the population. What plans do each species have in place to minimize this risk? Agent number one? (here E. Histolytica turns to the second oldest parasite in the group, Giardia).
Giardia’s reply: Yea, we have diversified into almost all drinking water. We have also recently developed an adaption to lodge in the kidneys where the vomiting response won’t get us. We can now also soak directly into the throat and thyroid so we can’t be vomited out. Finally, some of us are working on being resistant to chlorine. One day we hope to live in public swimming pools and have identified chlorine as a long-term risk.
Blood Fluke’s reply: (always the one with the bad attitude). As you know, we live in fresh water snails and swim out during daylight to find a host. We infect the host by penetrating their skin and going directly into the blood stream. The nervous system doesn’t see is coming so we’re not concerned about the vomiting issue.
At this point, I imagine E. Histolytica shaking his head, thinking “there’s always someone at the meeting who just doesn’t get it…”
Intestinal Fluke’s reply: Well, I’m speaking for all 45 species of us. We’ve developed a way to hatch in stomach acid and immediately burrow down through the mucosal lining so the first wave of vomiting doesn’t sweep us out. Then we burrow deeper and attach onto the stomach tissue wall. The host can vomit all they want, we’re not going anywhere.
Tapeworm’s reply: Um, what he said (copying the intestinal fluke’s strategy). The tapeworm, although microscopic at birth quickly grows into the biggest parasite at the table and considers himself beneath all this petty microscopic maneuvering.
Hookworm’s reply: We’re going to move straight in through the skin and lodge in the organ tissue, but we’re also open to inhabiting the bloodstream. If the blood fluke has no objections to sharing the veins with us? (the blood fluke has no objections…)
Roundworm’s reply: The guys in our genetics department are working on a new way of manufacturing proteins on our external membrane that mimic the host’s blood type. They might vomit for a few hours but eventually their nervous system will think we’re part of the host and leave us alone for the next 50 years. If this works out we’ll try to share the technology with the rest of you.
E. Histolytica nods in approval.
“Okay, good”, says the Amoeba. “The last order of business is to promote a campaign of misinformation. One day there will be humans on the planet and I see a lot of market potential there. I want to have everything prepared so when they come along, they waste about 3000 years pretending autoimmune is the cause of medical conditions… Any other ideas?”
Intestinal Fluke: “Hey. let’s call this vomiting response ‘Food Poisoning’, that’ll mislead ’em.”
And here are the clever, misleading ideas the group came up with to deal with this so-called food poisoning… Things that sound wonderfully effective but couldn’t possible help. Perhaps you’ve tried some of these things after getting food poisoning…
(The Very Ineffective) Home Remedies for Food Poisoning
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
2. Peppermint Tea
3. Chicken Broth
5. Fenugreek Seeds
12. Herbal Tea
I imagine this fictitious meeting would have finished on a positive note:
Entamoeba Histolytica: Thank you everyone for your contributions, keep up the great worm, I mean work. As you’re all leaving the meeting today, please remember there is another mass extinction coming up soon (I think they’re going to call this one The Permian Extinction). Make sure you’re all inside a host when it hits, that’s your best chance of survival.
And Here We Are
And here we are. Pretending food poisoning is real, pretending parasites are not important, pretending the immune system causes medical conditions, or that they cause themselves. If you’ve had food poisoning, or for that matter a medical condition, here’s a quick checklist of what you’re probably hosting:
May I suggest that it might be beneficial to get screened for these things before one of them turns itself into a medical condition you spend years trying to manage? While stool identification has accuracy problems, a scientific muscle testing analysis of heavy metals compared with specific antiparasitic medications can provide an accurate description of which parasites you’re hosting.