“…taking probiotics might increase the diversity of your gut microbiota, which in turn might suppress the inhibition and multiplication of parasites in your gut. Basically, it means that some probiotics might contain worm-defending microbes. Taking probiotics might not kill parasites, but depending on the strain, it might suppress the growth of probiotics….”
My grandmother used to refer to the “good worms/parasites” that help you digest food. I am inclined to believe that she was talking about probiotics. Like parasites, probiotics are also alive, and they feed off you. The only difference is that one is parasitic, and the other is beneficial. Now, having two kinds of “worms” in your body raises the question of whether probiotics can fight or kill worms. Scientific information on the capacity of probiotics’ parasitic eviction is very limited. Given that probiotics are renowned for suppressing the bad bacteria in your gut, could they also have the capacity to suppress or destroy parasites?
How Parasites Thrive in Your Gut
According to WHO, about a quarter of the world’s population, or about 1.5 billion people, are infected with parasites, especially worms such as hookworm, tapeworm, and roundworms. Most parasitic infections occur via soil-transmitted helminth, whereby eggs from human feces contaminate the soil.
One class of parasites is unicellular protozoa, which can multiply in the human body such as Giardia intestinalis, Cyclospora cayetanenensis, Entamoeba histolytica, and Cryptosporidium spp.
The most common parasitic infections are helminths, or worms that contain many cells. Helminthes such as tapeworms, flatworms, and roundworms often reside in the human gut. For the most part, parasites cause gastrointestinal infections. Other common conditions that are associated with parasitic infections include amoebiasis, giardiasis, cyclosporiasis, and cryptosporidiosis.
Parasites will inevitably affect the nutritional status and overall health of the host. A parasite will depend on its human host for survival and might be a disease-spreading agent.
The Connection Between Parasites and Probiotics
According to research, there is a tangible connection between parasites and microbes that are found in the human gut. In one research, it was discovered that the guts of people who had parasites had a common microbial composition, even though the individuals lived in completely different locations. On the other hand, people whose bodies can clear out parasites without requiring treatment have similarities in their gut microbiota composition.
This research points to the possibility that altering an individual’s gut microbiota would eventually impact how the person gets rid of parasites in their body. Another study in Cameroon found that “the presence of gut parasites is strongly associated with gut microbiome structure, which suggests that modulating the microbiome may reduce the risk of parasitic infections” (Source). In the past, researchers have also found that an analysis of an individual’s gut microbiome can be used to predict parasitic infections, with an accuracy rate of about 80%.
So, Do Probiotics Kill Parasites
It is highly unlikely that probiotics kill parasites. Some notable researchers have gone as far as saying that even though there is an association between parasites and gut microbiota, it is not conclusive as to whether these bacteria hurt or help these parasitic worms.
However, and this is the most important part of this research, having a certain microbiota composition means having fewer parasites.
Therefore, taking probiotics might increase the diversity of your gut microbiota, which in turn might suppress the inhibition and multiplication of parasites in your gut. Basically, it means that some probiotics might contain worm-defending microbes. Taking probiotics might not kill parasites, but depending on the strain, it might suppress the growth of probiotics.
Another important thing to note is that the microbes that might fight off parasites are the ones that are attached to the gut epithelium. This means you need a good probiotic to stand a chance of suppressing worms. In fact, an earlier research study found that only three out of the five studied probiotic strains reduced the worm burden on test subjects (Source). The other two did not impact worm burden, leaving the researchers to theorize that the L. fermentum and the L. plantarum 17L/1 did not have good adhesive capacity compared with enterococci.
What You Should Know About the Connection Between Probiotics and Parasites
One thing you should know about parasitic infections is that your body is equipped with a natural worm expulsion mechanism. At times, this results in an inflammatory reaction. In turn, the worms fight back and secrete anti-inflammatory substances to ensure their survival.
The implication is that parasites still need a healthy gut environment for survival. Using probiotics as an anti-parasite regimen only reduces the risks but does not eliminate them. Much more research is required to enhance the understanding of probiotic therapy on anti-parasite defenses.
Finally, parasites negatively affect the intestinal environment, while probiotics positively impact it. The impact of probiotics on surrounding microorganisms extends to modulating the competitive nature of parasites. Probiotics might also facilitate better nutrient absorption, thereby suppressing the impact of parasites on the host’s body.
The idea that probiotics can be used to control parasites is relatively new. With time, more research will help shed light on the matter. Probiotic therapy is an area that is mostly in its infancy, even in its other applications, such as GI and neurological conditions. However, My Probiotic Lifestyle mainly exists to hasten the research on probiotics and their capacity to improve lives. From my personal experiences with probiotics, I highly suspect that taking probiotics would eventually suppress parasites.
Until the research catches up, do not sleep on the opportunity to experiment. Keep taking probiotics and see what happens. I did, and I have never regretted my Probiotic Journey!!