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Nutritionist: Energy Vampires Are Real — And Likely Living In Your Gut Right Now

80% of women have intestinal parasites that are making them bloated and tired — read on for the easy fix

If feeling fatigued, foggy and bloated has become your new normal, purging your body of parasites could be the cure you need. “Parasites act like ‘energy vampires’ in the body,” notes Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, who estimates up to 80% of women over 40 harbor them. “They damage the gut lining, steal nutrients from their human hosts and pump out toxins that sabotage the immune system, producing GI distress, brain fog, persistent fatigue and more.”

The intestinal invaders, which thrive on sugar, can make it almost impossible to lose weight. How? They lower levels of the appetite-suppressing brain chemical serotonin, she notes. This creates sugar cravings that can trigger a downward spiral of draining symptoms. Fortunately, natural remedies like black walnut and wormwood may be the key to ridding your body of these troublemakers.

How do you get parasites?

Most people think of parasites as unwelcome invaders they pick up on vacation. But parasites aren’t just a problem for travelers to exotic places, notes integrative physician Gordon Crozier DO. “Because they’re spread by pets, contaminated water and improperly-handled food, they’re becoming an increasingly-common health threat in the United States,” he says.

Once the organisms take up residence in your body, they can sap the nutrients you need to feel your best. But CDC experts say many healthcare providers aren’t familiar with parasitic infections, and may not diagnose or treat them properly. Taz Bhatia, MD, agrees, saying “Parasitic worm infections are misdiagnosed about 60% of the time.”

Intestinal parasites
Once parasites enter your intestines, they can sap your body of the nutrients you need to feel energizedChristoph Burgstedt/Shutterstock

How to know if you’re harboring parasites

Stool tests are typically used to diagnose parasitic infections. But the tests are far from perfect. In fact, a University of Albany study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene found that stool tests missed as many infections as they identified. Luckily, red-flag symptoms can yield valuable clues:

  • Fatigue
  • Bloat
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Mental fog
  • Anxiety
  • Sugar cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Insomnia
  • Skin rashes
  • Hair loss

If you’re regularly experiencing one or more of these symptoms, parasites could be the culprit.

How black walnut and wormwood can help

To flush these pesky invaders naturally, it’s black walnut and wormwood to the rescue. Black walnut is a traditional Native American remedy for parasites. And modern science confirms its effectiveness. “Black walnut contains antimicrobial agents that destroy parasites, their larvae and eggs,” Gittleman explains. Indeed, research reveals a black walnut compound called juglone has a powerful antiparasitic action. In research conducted at Howard University, it killed intestinal worms within 24 hours. What’s more, a British study determined juglone significantly inhibited growth of toxoplasma gondi, a microscopic parasite that infects more than 6 billion people worldwide.

Black walnut
Black walnutJohn A. Anderson/Shutterstock

As effective as black walnut is, Gittleman advises pairing it with wormwood. Another time-honored treatment, the herb has been used to eradicate parasites since ancient Egyptian times. A report in Parasitology Research found the sesquiterpiniods it contains destroyed plasmodium, the parasite responsible for malaria, within four days. Plus, a study in the Journal of Helminthology notes that wormwood’s activity against parasites was comparable to the prescription drug praziquantel.

WormwoodMadeleine Steinbach/Shutterstock

Supplements that deliver black walnut and wormwood (alone or in combination) are available in drugstores and online. But Gittleman recommends her own tincture Unikey Verma-Plus (Buy from, $48.50), noting, “It also contains centaury, an herb that’s effective against parasites with hooks and suckers such as tapeworms, flukes, pinworms and threadworms.” Prefer capsules? Carlyle Black Walnut Wormwood (Buy from Amazon, $9.99) is highly rated on Amazon and an affordable choice.

More natural ways to outsmart parasites

For added protection against parasites, check out these simple, natural remedies.

Swap sugary sweets for poultry and beef

Avoiding sugar helps starve parasites, so Gittleman advises cutting out sugary foods and drinks. Instead, enjoy poultry and beef, which are rich in the mineral zinc. “Parasites can’t hold on to the gut when the body has an adequate supply of zinc,” she explains. And since vitamin A works in tandem with zinc to deter parasites, she also recommends eating vitamin A–rich foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, squash and cantaloupe. But foods themselves can harbor parasites, so wash produce thoroughly and use a meat thermometer to make sure beef, chicken and fish are cooked to proper internal temperatures. (Click through to find out the best way to clean your leafy greens before eating.)

Cook with coconut oil

Boosting your fat intake enhances the immune system’s ability to fend off parasitic infections, recent British research in the journal Mucosal Immunity suggests. But for best benefits, use coconut oil in cooking (or stir a tablespoon into your morning coffee). It’s jam-packed with lauric acid, a fatty acid with powerful antiparasitic activity. In fact, a study published in the journal Parasitology Research found lauric acid was as effective at killing parasites as prescription meds. Tip: Opt for virgin coconut oil whenever possible. Indonesian research reveals it’s up to 1,821% higher in lauric acid than refined coconut oil.

Coffee with coconut oil
Adding coconut oil to your coffee fends off parasitic invadersNatasha Breen/Shutterstock

Season your meals with garlic and ginger

Findings in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases reveal the flavorful food additions help destroy parasites. “Garlic is one of Mother Nature’s greatest weapons against harmful parasites says Michelle Schoffro-Cook, PhD,” who advises enjoying 2 cloves per day. Credit goes to a compound in garlic called allicin. “Allicin has been found to attack parasites at all stages of development,” she explains. And since ginger compounds such as gingerols and shagoals also have an anti-parasitic action, Dr. Crozier suggests enjoying one to two teaspoons daily, opting for fresh ginger root when possible. (Click through to find out more ways ginger can boost your health.)

Rebalance your stomach acid

Production of stomach acid drops naturally over time. In fact, a study in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that 45% of folks over 50 suffered from low stomach acid levels. That’s a problem when it comes to parasites, since acid helps keep the invaders in check. And though it seems counterintuitive, low levels of stomach acid can also cause heartburn, Gittleman notes. The good news: “Supplementing with hydrochloric acid (HCl) can restore stomach acid, helping to eliminate 90% of heartburn and fatigue and boost the body’s ability to fight parasites, “ she says. (Click through to our sister site to learn four easy ways to relieve heartburn naturally.)

To get the benefits, Gittleman advises taking 650 mg. of betaine HCl with your biggest meal of the day. One to try: Solaray Betaine HCI with Pepsin (Buy from, $15.99). If you don’t feel a warming sensation in your belly within five hours, your acid levels are low. Double your dose the next day and continue to increase it by 650 mg. a day (to a max of 6,500 mg.) until you feel the warming, which indicates adequate levels of stomach acid. Next, reverse the process: Reduce your next day’s dose by 650 mg. and stay there until the warming returns, then drop down another 650 mg., repeating until you no longer need it. Note: HCl isn’t advised if you have ulcers or take certain medications.

For more on intestinal parasites, click through CDC: 60+ Million Americans Are Infected With Sneaky Parasites — And They’re Making 80% of Women Over 50 Tired

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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