…By Using Our Bodies As Hosts?
I don’t know about you, but just the thought of this concept gives me the heebie jeebies. Are the parasites that are so commonly found within our bodies capable of influencing our thoughts and thereby our actions, too? This is no doubt a scary thought that you might want to dismiss outright, but consider an obvious way they could be controlling us on some level: causing food cravings. Often, when people have parasites in their gut, they are eating many foods that are for the parasite, and what the parasite wants, not what they actually want. This is one subtler example of how a parasite can influence our thoughts and actions.
At least one third of the world’s population may have a parasitic infection that scientists believe to have an impact on human behaviour. The protozoan parasite, called Toxoplasma gondii, has been long considered to be an “asymptomatic” parasite in humans. However, lab tests and a new report suggest that it may actually cause and/or intensify severe forms of schizophrenia, impact how human hormones are secreted in the brain, and even instigate personality changes.
This parasite specifically thrives in rats and reproduces in house cats, tricking rats into putting themselves into harm’s way.
“The parasite grows in a rodent, but it needs to get into a cat somehow to reproduce,” says Shelley Adamo, a biologist who studies neuroparasitology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. “When a rat becomes infected, the parasite somehow makes rats become attracted to cat urine, when it would normally avoid it.”
Estimates from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) suggest that more than 60 million Americans carry the single-celled parasite, most often obtained through ingesting undercooked meat or interacting with cats. The CDC claims that “of those who are infected very few have symptoms because a healthy person’s immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.” This new information may force scientists to reconsider that statement, however.
New Research on Parasites
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology by Jaroslav Flegr, a scientist at Charles University in Prague, suggests that people who are infected with this parasite have slower reaction times and are often “less altruistic” than uninfected people.
Flegr acknowledges that they “cannot distinguish whether the observed changes are manifestations of the manipulative activity or only symptoms of the chronic disease” often caused by Toxoplasma, but Toxoplasma infection’s prevalence, nevertheless, makes it an ideal “model for studying manipulative activity in humans.” There are a “large number of parasitic organisms … that may influence the human host even more than the Taxoplasma,” he continues.
Food for Thought
Perhaps it is too soon to tell how much parasites actually affect our thoughts and actions, but it is definitely something worth considering. While doing a fairly strict fast for three weeks, I noticed that periods of dry fasting — complete fasting, with no food or liquids — were the only times I felt like giving up or questioning the fast. It was during these times that the parasites were actually being starved and therefore dying. From talking with other fasting friends, I have found that it is during these times that you really begin to question the fast, think about giving up, and wonder why you’re doing it in the first place. The next day, which breaks the dry part of the fast with an enema, is usually when you can actually see the parasites come out. I started to wonder if it was the parasites themselves that were doing what they could to put stress on my brain and make it feel as though I no longer needed to do the fast; as if they were weakening my resolve to continue because they knew their survival was at stake. Perhaps that is a bit of a stretch, but it was very common among many of us who have done this fast, so I have to wonder.
If you would like to read more about my fasting experience, please click here.
Do Feel Like You Might Have Parasites?
Not to alarm you, but you probably do. Most of us do, in fact. Many people believe they are only contracted when travelling to foreign countries, but that is simply untrue — these are just the ones we hear about the most, because they cause such severe reactions. However, the reality is that many parasites can live within us, undetected, for years.
There are numerous parasite cleanses that you can take to starve and kill the parasites in order to flush them out of your system. You can talk to your naturopath to find a treatment that is best suited for you, but one that many people I know have had great success with is Organic Olivia’s ParaPro Formula. She has written extensively about this topic, motivated to raise awareness after her own experience with ridding parasites from her body was so positive.
If this subject interests you, I also highly recommend the book This Is Your Brain On Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society.
All the best to you on your journey toward optimal health!