Could You Fight Off Worms? Depends on Your Gut Microbes: Goats and Soda: NPR

Could You Fight Off Worms? Depends On Your Gut Microbes

Nadia M. Whitehead

Photomicrograph of human hookworm rhabditiform larva in its early noninfectious stage, 1979. Image courtesy CDC. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images hide caption

Photomicrograph of human hookworm rhabditiform larva in its early noninfectious stage, 1979. Image courtesy CDC.

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Our tummies are teeming with trillions of bacteria — tiny microbes that help with little things, like digesting food, and big things, like warding off disease.

Those same microbes may have another purpose: waging war against worms.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis made the discovery after studying the microbiomes of individuals from Liberia and Indonesia. They found that the guts of individuals infected with parasites share common microbes — even if they live in completely different geographic locations. Similarly, healthy individuals whose bodies can clear out parasites without treatment seem to share a common gut bacteria.

This suggests the gut microbiome can be altered to protect people from becoming infected with parasitic worms, says Makedonka Mitreva, the lead researcher on the study and a specialist in infectious diseases and the microbiome.

«It may be wishful thinking, but maybe we could implement a control strategy after deworming where we strengthen or alter the microbiomes of individuals who are prone to infection,» Mitreva says.

Nearly 25 percent of the world’s population is currently infected with parasitic worms like hookworm, whipworm or roundworm, according to the World Health Organization. The worms are a disease of the developing world, for the most part. They spread when an infected individual defecates outside, leaving behind stool that’s contaminated with eggs. When the eggs hatch, wriggling microscopic worms can latch on to the ankles or bare feet of individuals who walk by.

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The U.S. Thought It Was Rid Of Hookworm. Wrong

Once on board, the worms burrow into skin and travel to the gut to feed on blood or other tissues. Symptoms can vary, depending on the number of worms inside a person. In cases of severe infection, people can experience anemia, nutritional deficiencies and impaired growth.

Despite decades of deworming efforts to rid the world of worms, people in developing countries get reinfected often, according to Mitreva.

«Even if the [drug] therapy works and the infection is cleared, the exposure to contaminated soil is so pervasive that new infections are extremely common,» she says.

Mitreva and her team recently analyzed hundreds of fecal samples from infected and uninfected people in Indonesia and Liberia. Samples were obtained once from some individuals, but other participants were followed long-term to see how their microbiome changed over time with or without drug treatment.

Participants’ fecal samples were first tested for the presence of parasites. Then they were studied for their microbes.

Twelve strains of bacteria were significantly associated with parasitic infection in both countries. These included Olsenella, a bacterium that has been shown to reduce gut inflammation when administered as a probiotic. It is also associated with lean versus obese individuals.

In worm-free individuals, the researchers identified a high presence of Lachnospiracae. The same genus was found in individuals that had parasites and were able to clear the infection naturally. Lachnospiracae has been associated with modulating gut inflammation during infections and has also been linked to obesity and protection from cancer.

What does it all mean?

«When the body is infected with worms, it tries to do worm expulsion with an inflammatory reaction,» Mitreva says. «Worms have to fight back to remain in the gut; that’s why worms are known to secrete anti-inflammatory molecules to reduce inflammation.»

Mitreva adds, «Our interpretation is that parasites need a healthy environment for long-term survival. Good bacteria may facilitate parasitic survival, so a bacterium like Olsenella that decreases gut inflammation is helpful.»

P’ng Loke, a parasitologist at New York University who was not involved in the study, says it’s especially interesting that the research found that Lachnospiracae is associated with individuals who can clear our worms naturally.

But that’s just it; it’s just an association, Loke says. The researchers now need to demonstrate that these bacteria actually hurt or help worms.

«Whether the bacterial associations that are identified really do directly affect worm colonization efficiency hasn’t been demonstrated yet,» he says.

Mitreva agrees that more work is needed, but she’s not giving up. In the future, she hopes to use fermented foods to plant worm-defending microbes inside of individuals to build their defense against worms.

That may be easier said than done.

«I don’t think anyone knows how to really alter the microbiome at the moment. That’s probably the ‘dream’ rather than a near-term possibility,» Loke says.

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Correction April 7, 2018

A previous version of this story incorrectly said nearly 25 percent of the world’s population is infected with parasitic worms like hookworm, ringworm or roundworm. In fact, the examples are hookworm, roundworm and whipworm.

The Fight Against AIDS, Then and Now

In this Article

In this Article

In this Article

Dec. 1 marks World AIDS Day, which was started in 1988 to raise awareness, show support for those living with the condition, and remember those who have died from it. Fortunately, much has changed since the early days of HIV/AIDS. Today, thanks to advances in medicine, it’s possible to live a healthy and full life with a disease that used to mean a death sentence. Here’s a look at the progress we’ve made in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

There’s still a lot of work to be done. In the U.S., HIV disproportionately affects men who have sex with men, young adults, racial and ethnic minorities, and people in the Southern states. There are 1.2 million Americans living with HIV, and 1 in 8 people don’t know they’re infected. Globally, about 36.7 million people are living with HIV (including 1.8 million children). About 25.5 million are in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

See also:  Wormwood from parasites

How to Take Action

Get tested and encourage your loved ones to do the same. Find an HIV testing site here.

Raise awareness. Find posters, images, and banners that you can download and share on social media here.

Wear a red ribbon — the internationally recognized symbol for AIDS awareness — to show support and solidarity.

10 Antiviral Herbs to Naturally Fight Infection & How to Use Them

There’s no need to explain the dread and exhaustion that comes with fighting a virus. Whether it be the common cold or the flu — the nausea, congestion, and other symptoms, can almost be too much to bear.

These symptoms usually result in fleeing to your doctor, in search of a pill, to make it all go away as fast as possible. And while there is definitely a time and place for prescription medications, have you paused for a moment to consider a prescription from nature?

Why Use Herbs to Fight Viruses?

Unlike prescription medicines, whose list of potential side effects are often longer than their list of benefits, antiviral herbs often have little to no side effects. These herbs can be traced back to as early as Ancient Egypt and China, where they were also used as natural remedies.

Many, like licorice root, are also so effective that they are being considered for use as broad-spectrum, non-prescription antivirals (1).

By sticking with these antiviral herbs, you can stop viruses in their tracks, boost your immune system, and avoid the chemical toxins found in prescription drugs.

Top 10 Antiviral Herbs

1. Oregano

It turns out that this fragrant herb offers far more than a zesty flavor. Oregano, and specifically oregano oil that has been extracted from the plant, contains significant antiviral properties. Studies show its active component, carvacrol, can inactivate viruses like human norovirus (sometimes referred to as the “vomit bug”) within one hour of contact (2).

Oregano has the power to “inactivate” the human norovirus within an hour of contact.

In addition, Mexican oregano oil has been shown to be effective against viruses like acyclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus type 1 and human respiratory syncytial virus (3).

Keep in mind, that while it’s great to cook with oregano, you might need to go the oil route to get the most antiviral benefits.

2. Echinacea

Echinacea is one of the most popular antiviral herbs on the market when it comes to fighting viruses and bacteria, and for good reason. Not only does it have the ability to boost your immune system by stimulating the production of cells to help fight infections, but it also contains phytochemicals that fight and help reduce infections once they occur (4).

3. Garlic

From ancient India to the medieval streets of Europe, garlic has a long history of use when it comes to infections. Some of these uses included using garlic as a treatment for leprosy, parasitic infections, and as an antibiotic for infectious diseases (5).

Today, garlic’s reputation as a potent antimicrobial is well-known. Studies have shown that it has the ability to combat the flu virus, the common head cold virus, HIV, and pneumonia, to name a few (6).

4. Elderberry

If you’re suffering from the flu, elderberry should be your go-to for relief. Studies have shown that people infected with influenza virus A and B experience 91 percent improvement after taking elderberry for seven days, while also reducing their fevers and increasing their feelings of improvement (7).

If you’ve got the flu, reach for some elderberry. It’ll boost your immune system while eradicating the virus.

Elderberry is commonly taken alongside echinacea to boost your immune system, while at the same time eradicating the flu virus.

5. Astragalus Root

Astragalus root is more well-known as an adaptogen herb whose role is to help improve your body’s reaction to stress. However, research has shown this root also contains powerful antiviral properties.

One study revealed that astragalus root is effective at inhibiting the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), while another showed that it inhibits RNA replication in some virus strains (8, 9). In simple terms, astragalus root could be your best friend whenever you’re looking to stop a virus from multiplying and getting worse.

6. Olive Leaf

Olive leaf, which indeed hails from the olive tree, is another fantastic antiviral. It’s main compound, oleuropein, has been shown to inhibit the spreading of viruses by not allowing them to attach to healthy cells. In addition, studies have shown that exposing certain viruses to oleuropein in their early stages reduced their infection potential by 10 to 30 percent (10).

Other studies have even shown that olive leaf can inhibit certain antiviral effects on HIV by inhibiting replication (11).

7. Ginger

Not only is ginger an excellent remedy for the nausea and stomach upset you might feel when fighting a virus, but it also wages war against the virus itself. It does this by blocking the attachment of viruses to areas that are commonly infected first, like your airways (12).

Keep in mind that many of the studies showing ginger’s effectiveness use fresh ginger rather than dried.

8. Licorice Root

Licorice root has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its antiviral effects. Modern studies have caught up, and now conclude that compounds in the root called triterpenoids are extremely effective when it comes to viral immunity. It has been shown to have antiviral effects against viruses like the herpes virus, SARS, HIV, and influenza, and is being recognized as a potential broad-spectrum antiviral (13).

9. Cat’s Claw

Cat’s claw, hailing from a woody vine in the Amazon rainforest, is another herb with spectacular antiviral properties. Specifically, cat’s claw works to supercharge your immune system, while simultaneously repairing damaged DNA and boosting your virus-fighting white blood cells (14).

10. Calendula

Calendula, also called pot marigold, is mainly used throughout the Western world as an ornamental plant. However, calendula’s flowers have been shown to fight viruses like rhinovirus and vesicular stomatitis by reducing their multiplication (15).

Calendula, aka pot marigold, is more than just a pretty flower. It can heal infections, ulcers and ear infections!

Calendula is also recognized as a cleansing herb that helps treat chronic infections and reduces inflammation, as well as helping heal ulcers and eradicate ear infections (16).

How to Use Antiviral Herbs

Try steeping any of these antiviral herbs into a tea. Add 1 tablespoon of your favorite herb to 1 cup of hot water, and let it steep for 10 to 15 minutes. To naturally sweeten your tea and boost its nourishing properties, add a bit of honey (we like to use 100% raw honey by Beekeeper’s Naturals).

See also:  Tick Identification, Control And Prevention

Alternatively, you can purchase pre-packaged teas such as ginger, licorice, or elderberry.

Combine 1 to 2 drops of antiviral essential oils with a carrier oil (like coconut oil or jojoba oil), and rub them onto your chest or feet, or add 2 to 3 drops to a warm bath.

Diffusers and Steams

Another way to use antiviral herbs, in their essential oil form, is to add around 7 drops to an essential oil diffuser, if you have one.

Alternatively, you can make an antiviral steam treatment by adding an oil to just-boiled water and inhaling the steam. This method is great for head colds and upper respiratory viruses.


If you’re short on time, purchasing these antiviral herbs in supplement form might be your next best option. Many of these can be found in your local heath food shop in standalone capsules, or in combination as part of an antiviral blend.


Try upping the amount of garlic and oregano in your recipes when you’re suffering from a virus. Roast garlic in the oven with chicken and veggies, add sautéed garlic and oregano to eggs for a Mediterranean twist, or add chopped garlic and oregano to spaghetti squash “pasta.” Or make a batch of these easy, slow-cooker garlic and oregano mushrooms!


While it may be tempting to down as many antiviral herbs as you can to get rid of your virus, keep in mind that while most have little to no negative side effects to date, that doesn’t mean that you should take an unreasonable amount. Use them, but avoid going overboard. And as always, consult with your doctor first, especially if you are pregnant or taking other medications.

(Read This Next: How to Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden)

You’ve probably heard that turmeric
is one of the healthiest spices on the
planet. Well did you know you can
boost its effectiveness with a simple,
natural mixture?

You’ve probably heard that
turmeric is one of the healthiest
spices on the planet. Well did
you know you can boost its
effectiveness with a simple,
natural mixture?

About Megan Patiry

Megan is an inquisitive nutrition and wellness writer harboring an editorial love affair with the decadent and the nutritious. She is a dedicated researcher in all areas of ancestral health, a certified specialist in fitness nutrition, personal trainer, and professional almond milk latte addict.

7 Herbs That Kill Internal Parasites FAST!

Can you believe this? It is estimated that 85% of Americans have an internal parasite problem! (1)

Parasites are organisms that live in or on a host organism. They gain an advantage at the expense of the host. Internal parasites live inside the body and feed off of food or blood. Worms, coccidia, and blood parasites are all types of internal parasites. They come in many different shapes and sizes and can cause numerous health problems when left untreated. For example, some consume your food, leaving you hungry and unable to gain weight. Others feed off of your red blood cells and cause anemia. Some lay eggs and cause itching, irritability, and insomnia. (2)

What Causes Parasites?

Your risk for getting intestinal parasites can become greater due to these certain factors:

  • International travel
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Visiting or living in an area known to have parasites
  • Having a weak immune system
  • Poor local sanitation

What Are The Symptoms?

Unfortunately, parasites can live in the intestines for years without causing symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can appear as any one of these: (3)

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Gas or bloating
  • Stomach pain or tenderness
  • Feeling tired
  • Weight loss
  • Passing a worm in your stool

Natural Treatment For Parasites

Yes, internal parasites can trigger multiple health problems. Fortunately, herbs are one way to strengthen the body and treat intestinal parasites; however, they should be used under the supervision of a health care professional. These are the seven best herbs for treating parasites naturally. (4)

1. Black Walnuts

Both the hull and nut “meat” of black walnuts have the ability to cleanse the blood and the intestines. In fact, black walnut hull is an excellent natural remedy for fungal infections. Simply juice black walnut hulls and use the liquid to kill off internal parasites. (5)

2. Clove

Cloves have powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Clove essential oil kills internal parasites by destroying the eggs that worms lay in the intestinal tract. It’s the only herb that can destroy parasite eggs completely. Clove is even more powerful when combined with black walnuts and wormwood. (6)

3. Thyme

Thyme is one of the best herbs you can use in order to stimulate your thymus gland. It awakens the body’s natural defensive system while hindering the growth of parasites. It works by destroying intestinal microorganisms. Thyme is a natural antibacterial that inhibits the growth of bacteria in the body. (7)

4. Wormwood

This perennial shrub has bright yellow-green flowers. Those who practice herbal medicine use the leaves and flowers for stomach issues. While wormwood is not recommended for pregnant women or nursing mothers, it does work well for treating intestinal worms. It also has antimicrobial properties that help clear up infections.

5. Garlic

Garlic can do wonders for internal parasites, thanks to its powerful anti-fungal properties. Furthermore, it’s able to destroy dangerous microorganisms and stimulate the elimination of heavy metals from the body. Garlic also repels ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes. (8)

6. Oregano Oil

Oregano oil is loaded with antioxidants that prevent damage from free radicals. It is not only anti-parasitic, but also anti-fungal, antiviral, and antibacterial. Wow! This powerhouse essential oil works by resetting the the microbial environment in the intestinal tract.

7. Diatomaceous Earth

Food-grade diatomaceous earth can absorb methyl mercury, E. Coli, viruses, and endotoxins. It also has the ability to destroy intestinal parasites, balance intestinal flora, and absorb harmful toxins. (9)

China Showers Europe With Virus Aid While Sparring With Trump



Last month, Beijing’s ambassador to Estonia accused the Baltic nation’s intelligence service of having a “Cold War mindset” for labeling China a threat, warning that its “distorted” conclusions damaged bilateral relations.

Four weeks later, Estonian officials took part in a video conference hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which the Asian country’s health officials shared their experience in fighting the novel coronavirus.

The Estonians found the materials “very professional and targeted” and sought to distribute them widely, according to an account of the call posted by China’s embassy in Tallinn. “Estonia hopes to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with China to fight against Covid-19,” it said.

Estonia, a member of the European Union, is far from alone in its conflicted relations with China — nor in becoming a sudden target of Chinese largess. As Europe becomes the epicenter of the virus that first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, Beijing is stepping up its outreach to individual governments there.

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That’s coming at the very moment that the U.S. — and in some cases the EU — is seen to be turning away. The result is a battle for hearts and minds that China seems to be winning, at least for the moment.

“It’s great that China has this availability and that it is currently in a position to offer this kind of help,” said Lucrezia Poggetti, an analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin. Aid is much needed, she said, but in supplying it, China is consciously exercising its soft power. “There is a major propaganda push at play on the side of the Chinese with some willing enablers on the European side,” Poggetti said.

For China, the outreach to Europe is part of an effort to claw back an international leadership role after early cover-ups helped the virus spread well beyond its borders. President Xi Jinping’s government has sought to silence critics, including reporters and online commentators, and also spread conspiracy theories about where the virus originated.

Geopolitically, China’s move to brand itself as Europe’s savior aims to improve its standing on a global stage as both spar with the Trump administration. China and the U.S. have continued a wider fight for global influence — Beijing kicked out more than a dozen American journalists this week — while also seeking to deflect blame for their handling of the disease.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to Covid-19 as a “Chinese virus,” and insisted Wednesday that the term wasn’t racist. He has also angered Europe, barring all travel from the continent without consulting U.S. allies.

This week, Xi described China’s mass deployment of medical aid to Europe as an effort to further a “Health Silk Road,” stretching his Belt and Road trade-and-infrastructure initiative. Along with well-publicized state help for stricken countries such as Italy, aid is being channeled across the continent by private companies in the name of Beijing, helping to burnish China’s image from France to Ukraine.

On Wednesday, China’s ambassador in Athens delivered more than 50,000 protective masks to the Greek health minister. The Chinese embassy in Paris has said help was coming to France, while Bulgaria and Slovenia were also getting aid.

Xi told Spainish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in a call Tuesday that China would provide support to combat the epidemic. That same day, an aircraft carrying medical aid from China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and billionaire Jack Ma’s foundation arrived at Spain’s Zaragoza Airport, the Chinese embassy said on Twitter.

Aterriza en el aeropuerto de #Zaragoza un avión con material médico de la Fundación @AlibabaGroup y la @foundation_ma para ayudar a #España a combatir el #COVID19

— Embajada de China en España (@ChinaEmbEsp) March 17, 2020

Alibaba and the Jack Ma Foundation have also been involved in airlifting aid to Belgium and to Ukraine, which needs express tests to detect the coronavirus. “We agreed with China and we are grateful to them, especially grateful to Jack Ma as he helped us by financing the $80 million ” cost of the medical kit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said late Monday.

Others are turning to China out of desperation. Cyprus, Luxembourg and even Norway, which has the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, have called on Beijing for support or are considering doing so.

In Lithuania — another Baltic state that fell out with China over a critical security assessment — Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said his government was reaching out to China to buy “several hundred” lung ventilators. “We don’t want to wait” for joint EU medical supply purchases, Veryga said Wednesday.

That kind of dependence on China is a warning sign for some.

‘Exposed’ to China

“This crisis has showed how exposed we in Romania and in Europe are to imports from China,” Romanian Economic Minister Virgil Popescu said this week, adding that the government in Bucharest aims to encourage domestic production of health-care products as a result.

China’s offers of donations to the EU centrally and to individual member states is “highly appreciated,” an EU spokesperson said in an emailed response to questions. Still, the bloc regarded the help as reciprocal for when China was in need and “we were doing our utmost” to support them.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted that the EU had donated 50 tons of equipment to China in January as she tweeted China’s announcement on Wednesday it would provide 2 million surgical masks, 200,000 N95 masks and 50,000 testing kits for Europe.

Not all aid is without strings. Some is in the form of purchase contracts that serve to help Chinese manufacturers striving to restore production after China’s weeks-long lockdown, said Poggetti at Merics. Other support serves a domestic political agenda in Europe.

‘Not Alone’

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who was instrumental in Italy becoming the first Group of Seven nation to sign up to the Belt and Road Initiative last year, staged a live Facebook video last week to show the arrival of medical equipment and a team of Chinese doctors. “We are not alone, there are people in the world who want to help Italy,” he said.

In a speech Sunday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic praised China effusively for its support in helping his country battle the virus, and contrasted China’s provision of medical aid to the “fairy tale” of solidarity from Europe. Serbia is a recipient of Chinese investments whose bid to join the EU remains far in the future.

For Gao Zhikai, a former Chinese diplomat and translator to late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, China’s aid for Europe is a matter of vital international cooperation, since “in the fight against Covid-19, mankind is in the same boat.”

“Europe does not need to be charmed,” he said in an interview. “Many European countries need assistance and solidarity. For China, helping Italy and other European countries in these difficult times is the right thing to do.”

It is too soon to say whether China’s European outreach will have a lasting impact, said Poggetti. China’s one-party state and record on human rights is generally viewed negatively in Europe, but its actions during the current crisis may help win over some.

In certain sections of society, “the image of China as savior while the U.S. and Europe leave us alone is really resonating,” she said.

— With assistance by Mikael Holter, Andrea Dudik, Peter Laca, Alex Morales, Slav Okov, Laura Millan Lombrana, John Follain, Gordana Filipovic, Misha Savic, Kati Pohjanpalo, Ania Nussbaum, Sotiris Nikas, Paul Tugwell, Georgios Georgiou, Aoife White, Jan Bratanic, Milda Seputyte, Irina Vilcu, Daryna Krasnolutska, Arne Delfs, Ott Ummelas, and Stephanie Bodoni

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