Could Parasites Be Contributing to Your Autoimmune Issues?

August 12, 2020
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Cracking the code of these complex mystery diseases means digging deep into all of their root causes – and with over half of all Americans experiencing a parasitic infection in their lifetime, it may be a contributing factor to your autoimmune issues.

Parasites may seem like a “third world,” poor hygiene, lack of clean water issue, but I assure you they are much more widespread that this. Almost every type of parasitic disease has been documented in the US – from microscopic water-borne diseases like cryptosporidium to tapeworms more than a foot long – and they originated here. When you also consider the rise in parasitic diseases passed from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, I’m convinced that the numbers infected are climbing far past the estimated half of all Americans being infected at some point in their lives.

American medical journals first started reporting on parasitic infections that were happening here as early as 1963, yet we rarely hear anything about them. The reality is that we are being exposed through our favorite salad bar or sushi place, our municipal water supply, our pets (we worm them but not ourselves), our favorite places to swim, and so much more. Our health care providers are poorly educated on the signs and symptoms of parasitic diseases and rarely screen for them. So if they aren’t spotting the short-term effects of these infections, then they surely don’t see the long-term consequences of missing them, either. And studies very clearly show that autoimmune problems can be linked to increased intestinal permeability from parasitic infections.

What Happens to Your Body When You Contract a Parasite

Parasites wreak havoc on your body in a variety of ways. That fatigue you’ve had since your camping trip, joint pains since that tick bite, digestive symptoms that haven’t gone away since that presumed bout of food poisoning, repeated urinary tract infections since you swam in that river, and that autoimmune disease that’s popped up since the unexplained fevers, headaches, and digestive symptoms appeared. Each of these represents different ways a parasitic infection can manifest in your body, but here’s what’s going on behind the scenes.

  1. Just the presence of that parasite is irritating to your body, causing inflammation and triggering a variety of immune responses.
  2. Typically, parasites enter through either the mouth or skin. Skin reactions to them burrowing in include local inflammatory reactions, dermatitis, and rashes – before they reach the bloodstream. When you eat or drink a parasite, they cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which increases the permeability of the intestinal walls and allows them to travel anywhere in the body. This is often referred to as “leaky gut” and is directly linked to autoimmune disease. They can also penetrate into the lining of the intestines, causing damage and even perforation.
  3. Once the parasites reach your organs, especially the brain, spinal cord, heart, eyes, and bones, the sheer size or weight of the protective cysts they form around themselves can cause damage just from the pressure. If these cysts travel into the bile ducts, intestines, pancreatic ducts, or other small locations in the digestive tract, they can cause obstruction.
  4. Parasites can destroy cells faster than your body can rebuild or repair the cells, tissues, and organs. Perforation, ulceration, or anemia can be the result.
  5. Not only do parasites produce toxins, but your body also does in response to their presence. Your body can produce such large numbers of white blood cells called eosinophils that they can cause tissue damage, pain, and inflammation by themselves. If you get a Complete Blood Count (CBC) with Differential done and eosinophils are elevated, parasitic infection needs to be considered and tested for.
  6. Parasites can suppress immune system function while simultaneously activating the immune system response. This is believed to be another cause of autoimmune issues.

Problems with Parasite Testing

If you walked into your healthcare provider’s office tomorrow with a convincing history of parasite exposure, you would likely be sent home with a cup for a stool sample, so they could test for “ova and parasites.” The sad truth is that even when people are infected, it’s rare for this test to come back positive. Most of the parasites that cause problems aren’t residing in the intestines – they’ve moved on to other organs. So a stool test isn’t likely to detect them.

You get a false-negative parasite test when they’re lodged in your organs, including your liver, gallbladder, pancreas, brain, and more. Unless you are actively flushing them out with a parasite protocol, they won’t be detectable in your stool. Common blood tests like the CBC already mentioned, liver function testing, vitamin and mineral levels, and urine and vaginal cultures can show signs of parasitic infection, but unless your clinician is specifically looking for them, they might get missed.

I typically recommend an herbal parasite cleanse, both when you have symptoms and twice yearly as a preventative, rather than testing. But, if feeling better and having symptoms diminish after cleansing aren’t enough proof for you and you need a test, then I recommend taking UNI KEY Health’s Verma-Plus for 2 weeks prior, to help your body naturally eliminate parasites and start pulling them into the colon. Then use a more comprehensive and detailed test like the Expanded GI Panel that does a thorough analysis of both stool and saliva, for parasite detection, markers of inflammation and autoimmunity, and compromised digestive function. You are much less likely to get a false negative using this protocol.

Effective and Gentle Parasite Cleansing with Autoimmune Concerns

If you’ve ever planted a garden or even a houseplant, then you know that the quality of the soil makes all the difference. Human health is no different  – parasites, fungus, and other infections grow when gut health is poor, and this can cause or aggravate existing autoimmune issues. Over time, these infections can wear down your body’s natural defenses.

Acid reflux, food intolerances, allergies, constipation, diarrhea, undigested food in your stool, gas, bloating, gallbladder issues, sugar cravings and repeated yeast infections are all signs that your gut health is compromised and a cleanse could be just what you need for relief. But anyone who has suffered with autoimmune issues for any length of time knows that you can really be poking at the proverbial hornets nest by cleansing. Even a healthy person can experience cramping and fatigue with many of the products you find at a natural health store that claim to eliminate parasites.

This is why UNI KEY Health’s My Colon Cleansing Kit is the only product I will use with my clients who have potential autoimmune issues – and I’ve consistently seen good results for more than a decade. This combination of ph balanced, gentle herbs and probiotics is soothing while being highly effective. This 30-day cleanse helps target everything from microscopic parasites to large worms, while supporting your intestinal microbiome with healthy bacteria that help boost your immune system.

It’s essential that when you start a cleanse, you see it all the way through and don’t stop before the 30 days is over. Parasites may not entirely be gone when you are feeling better; there could be eggs waiting to hatch or you may be between their life cycles. And it’s important that everyone in the household – including pets – cleanses at the same time. Parasites can be passed easily from person-to-person or pets through food prep, kissing, sleeping together, or even toilet seats. Wash hands and use those cleansers you’ve had on hand during this pandemic to keep surfaces clean.

You can get more information about parasites and cleansing from my YouTube channel. I have two videos that I think would be very helpful: Intestinal Parasites 101: Inside a Hidden Epidemic – Do You Need Parasite Cleansing? and Parasite Cleansing and Colon Cleansing — Flush Them Out Fast, Naturally. Go take a look!

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Sally

    This is very alarming! I am motivated to take the test you recommend.

  2. Don Bryant

    How long do you take the cleanse?

    • Web Admin

      One kit is for 30 days, but in some cases we do recommend doing several rounds.


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