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The Emotional Effects of a Parasite Cleanse

Saturday, July 2nd 2022 10:00am 8 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

If you have decided to go on a parasite cleanse, you may experience unexpected emotional symptoms that are confusing or embarrassing to discuss with your functional medicine practitioner. Parasites can trigger emotional issues, and it is called “parasite manipulation.” Parasites may modify the host’s behavior to gain greater protection in the body.

Parasites can cause significant responses in your body when you take action to force them out. They are prone to resist, and this process can wreak emotional strain on you. With holistic healing, you sometimes feel worse before getting better because the objective is to address the root cause of your health issues rather than masking symptoms with drugs. The objective is to get you back to long-term, sustainable good health that supports your immune system’s natural defenses.

Before you embark on a parasite cleanse, understand what parasites may do to your body and have some natural strategies planned to address the challenges.

Parasite activity in the body

Parasites change the environment of your body including the neurotransmitters of your brain. This is a survival mechanism. Your brain’s neurotransmitters affect parasites because they have receptors that can read the chemical signals.

The body’s neurotransmitters may disrupt the parasites’:

  • Ability to attach themselves
  • Ease of feeding
  • Muscular coordination
  • Reproduction

To protect themselves, parasites try to decrease and subvert neurotransmitters that inhibit their activity. This can impact the way you think and feel. For instance, researchers are beginning to investigate conditions that could lead to depression. Growing evidence points to parasites by possibly disrupting mechanisms in the body in ways that could lead to depression.

These include:

  • Creating a large amount of inflammation
  • Depleting nutrients needed for a healthy emotional state
  • Interfering with neurotransmitter levels

Parasites can trigger intense feelings like aggression towards yourself or others and explosive anger. They may provoke impulsive conduct. As you do a parasite cleanse, the parasites will double their self-protective efforts, which can temporarily worsen emotional symptoms. Keep in mind that it is not your fault, and your neurotransmitter activity will return to normal once the parasites have been eliminated.

Parasites and neurotransmitters

Parasites either alter, inhibit, or steal several neurotransmitters to get what they want. These include acetylcholine, dopamine, GABA, and serotonin. Acetylcholine This is the main neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system. It’s also known as the “rest and digest” branch of the system and functions without conscious control. It can increase gut motility, relax blood vessels, and slow heart rate. Acetylcholine, or ACh, also plays an essential role in many brain functions. These include memory and learning.

Parasites and dopamine

Dopamine affects reward-seeking behavior and motivation. It is associated with the pleasure system in your brain that provides feelings of exhilaration and enjoyment. It reduces the activity of lymphocytes and slows the intestines.

Parasites typically increase dopamine levels, which calms the immune system so it’s less likely to recognize that there’s a threat. Then parasites can infiltrate the immune cells undetected. This enables them to enter the brain by passing the blood-brain barrier. In addition, it prevents your immune system from fighting back and delays stomach emptying. By slowing down the stomach action and gut movement, it is less likely that your intestines will eliminate the parasites.

Symptoms of excess dopamine

Although you need dopamine, too much dopamine can cause some serious issues. Excessive dopamine may result in:

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression and agitation
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased stress
  • Insomnia

How excessive dopamine affects you depends on which part of the brain has the increased amount. It may lead to depression or trigger agitation depending on the area of the brain. Genetics can impact how increased levels of dopamine affect you as well. Too much dopamine is associated with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in some people.

Parasites and acetylcholine

Parasites break down acetylcholine and use it as nourishment. In addition, this action prevents the stimulation of your immune system to eliminate the parasites. Inhibiting acetylcholine causes blood to become a bit thinner, which makes it easier for blood-feeding parasites to sustain themselves. Acetylcholine helps move your bowels, which help remove the parasites. It also makes it harder for pathogens to create a biofilm in the body.

Symptoms of low acetylcholine

If you are low in acetylcholine, you may experience:

  • Brain fog and memory issues
  • Increased inflammation, especially in the gut
  • Less rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
  • Muscle weakness

Poor sleep may leave you feeling moody and drained. It also contributes to poor learning and memory issues.

Parasites and GABA

Gamma-aminobutyric acid helps you feel calm. GABA relaxes your mind and reduces anxiety while promoting good digestion, gut motility, and reducing brain inflammation. Parasites have a unique relationship with GABA. While GABA may provide calm, if it attaches to parasites’ GABA receptors, it paralyzes them. So, the parasites release chemicals to prevent GABA from attaching. However, research shows that parasites also use GABA as a food source, most specifically this is true with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite will use this neurotransmitter to help increase its own metabolism. Unfortunately, that damages some receptors in your brain that could result in seizures in certain patients.

Decreasing GABA can affect gut motility making it more difficult for the intestines to expel the parasites. Parasites will respond to a parasite cleanse by attacking the GABA neurotransmitter and damaging more of these receptors.

Symptoms of low GABA

Low GABA levels may contribute to many issues, particularly mental health challenges. A shortage of GABA changes your brain chemistry and wires it for anxiety and depression. A shortage of this neurotransmitter may result in anger because GABA regulates these emotions in the brain. Other potential effects of low GABA include:

  • Addictive behavior
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADD or ADHD
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Inflammation and chronic pain
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of empathy
  • Low stomach acid
  • Panic attacks

Parasites and serotonin

Serotonin helps you feel happy and mitigates anxiety. Your body produces 90% of this neurotransmitter in the gut. It also helps control appetite, promote good intestinal flow, and regulate sleep, plus aids learning and memory creation.

Parasites have receptors for serotonin. In parasites, serotonin:

  • Enhances their ability to eat
  • Helps them reproduce and spread in the body
  • Stimulates muscles, allowing them to move more

When parasites use your body’s serotonin, your body will sense a serotonin deficit, which then signals the brain to eat to create more of the neurotransmitter. Parasites attempt to inhibit serotonin because of its role for autocrine, endocrine, hormonal, and paracrine actions in the gut. When the body senses a gut irritant or pathogen, it gives the intestines a quick burst of serotonin to speed up gut motility. As mentioned before, slowing of the gut lessens that likelihood of expelling parasites out of the body in stools.

As you do a parasite cleanse, the parasites will try to use up more serotonin. It will help keep them feeding, moving, and reproducing. This will increase the symptoms related to low serotonin.

Symptoms of low serotonin

The most frequent symptoms of low serotonin are anxiety and depression. In addition, low serotonin may cause:

  • Anger and aggression
  • Extreme carbohydrate cravings
  • Increased pain
  • Insomnia
  • Low self-esteem
  • Panic attacks
  • Pessimism

A sudden, large drop in serotonin levels can make you feel emotionally out of control. Reassure yourself that it’s due to the action of the parasites resisting the cleanse.

Strategies for managing increased emotions during a parasite cleanse

Remind yourself that parasites will resist a cleanse and that resistance can cause increased emotions. Here are several effective strategies to use during a parasite cleanse.

1. Eliminate sugar

It’s important that clients eliminate sugary foods as much as possible. Remember that parasites can influence those sugar cravings. Though sugar can temporarily increase your neurotransmitter levels, a crash ultimately follows. This crash may deepen symptoms of anxiety and depression. Satisfy your sweet tooth with whole, unprocessed fruits like apples or berries. You can try stevia, a natural sugar substitute. This will help with cravings while limiting fuel for the parasites.

2. Encourage gut motility

Parasites influence neurotransmitters to slow gut motility. If you don’t move your bowels, the parasites remain in the gut and interfere with neurotransmitter levels. This can increase inflammation, which promotes anxiety and depression.

3. Seek emotional support resources

Seek out trusted family members or friends in advance to discuss the emotional impact a cleanse may have on you. They can help support you during the process. You may find support groups online. This is a good route. Others who have experienced a parasite cleanse will help you more successfully navigate the impact. They may have tips to push through the tough moments. By learning more about parasites and natural parasite treatments, you can know what you need to get through difficult times of a detox. Emotions are not easy to get through, so be assured this is normal during the healing process.

4. Support liver function

As mentioned previously, parasites significantly reduce your serotonin levels, which causes major stress on their liver. Serotonin helps the liver regenerate, so if you are deficient in this neurotransmitter, the health of their liver cells will suffer. Serotonin deficiency also reduces blood flow to the liver, which impairs the ability to detox. Low serotonin impacts the bile duct system and reduces the flow of bile, which is important for digestion and detox. Without good bile flow, the liver cannot expel toxins extracted from the blood.

Final thoughts

Parasites can cause die-off symptoms that may increase emotional symptoms temporarily. You may feel like giving up because you feel worse before feeling better. Keep an open communication with your doctor. The parasites are trying to fight back and are interfering with your neurotransmitters’ normal functions, which in turn are affecting your emotions. Hang in there and push through. It will be worth it in the end. These natural strategies and other supportive supplements can help in the meantime while you experience the temporary emotional side effects of parasite cleansing.

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