Walking Barefoot During Parasite Season
Could you be putting your health at risk by walking barefoot?
Grounding, also known as earthing, has brought the practice of walking barefoot back into popularity, and the soil-borne parasites couldn’t be more thrilled! Every time you sink your feet into that grassy or sandy soil, you could be giving unwanted hitchhikers a free ride in through your skin. And depending on which invader it is, the results can be as mild as a skin rash or as severe as permanent blindness.
There is no phrase I’ve uttered that has garnered as much shock as when I tell people “I think you have parasites.” Even though generations before ours were familiar with these unseen invaders, ours seems to think that superior hygiene has rendered us immune. The truth is, parasites are not limited to underdeveloped countries with unsanitary practices – they are alive and well here in the United States, too. In fact, more than 2 decades ago, I devoted an entire book to this silent epidemic, entitled Guess What Came to Dinner? to alert the public to this growing problem.
Get to Know Your Enemy
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are the first to admit that the prevalence of parasites in the United States is not well studied, and has come up with a targeted plan for what they call the five Neglected Parasitic Infections (NPIs), to educate both health care providers and the general public about their widespread prevalence and severity. Based on the data available, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.5 billion people worldwide are infected with at least one parasitic soil-based worm.
When it comes to parasites, the best defense is a good offense – get to know your enemy. Here are my Top Five to be aware of when you are barefoot or gardening.
- Ascaris lumbrocoides, also known as roundworm, is a common parasites in dogs, cats, raccoons, and skunks. Roundworm eggs can survive in the soil for years, waiting for a host to come along. Pet owners routinely deworm their animals, because all it takes for a dog or cat needs to become infected is to lick a paw that has infected soil on it. Similarly, all you have to do is walk on infected soil, get the dirt under your nails, or be licked by your beloved pet, then ingest even the smallest amount to become infected.
Once these eggs hatch inside your body, they travel to organs like the liver, lungs, eyes, or brain, and cause problems ranging from gastrointestinal upset to blindness or even brain damage. Fortunately, this is a parasite that can be washed off with soap and friction. The best defense is to wash hands (including nail beds) and feet thoroughly after walking barefoot or gardening, and do not let pets lick your face.
- Hookworms have been found widespread throughout the United States, but are more common in the humid climates of the southeast. Their eggs hatch in the soil, which isn’t a problem for us, but their first stage larvae, which are too small to see with the naked eye, can penetrate right through your skin. Walking barefoot is the main route this parasite is acquired.
Once inside the body, it can stay as a skin infection, which we’ve seen on the news in recent months from people walking barefoot on infected sandy beaches. It can also travel to your digestive system, causing diarrhea, and in severe cases, anemia from blood loss and protein loss. The best way to prevent infection is to wear shoes.
- It is estimated almost 800 million people worldwide are infected with whipworm. This infection is easily transmitted through soil, because it lives in the large intestine of its host, and eggs are released with every elimination. When infected feces reaches the soil, the eggs are easily transmitted by contact with this “fertilized” soil the same way roundworms are.
Many people infected with whipworm have no symptoms, which is why it’s so easily spread. A heavy infection will cause frequent, painful, bloody bowel movements, and can be severe enough to cause growth problems in children. Wash hands and feet thoroughly, especially before eating, to prevent this disease.
- Strongyloides stercoralis, also known as threadworm, is a common infection in the rural areas of the southern US, especially in children. Like hookworm, it’s the larvae of the threadworm that burrow into your skin to infect you, and is most commonly acquired through walking barefoot or gardening. But unlike hookworm, threadworm doesn’t stay in the skin.
Threadworm migrates to the blood stream and travels to the lungs, where they cause a cough and wheezing. From there, they travel to the small intestine where they mature into their adult worm form, causing abdominal pain and diarrhea. They then lay eggs and start their life cycle all over again. Some of those eggs stay inside your body to infect you all over again, creating an ongoing cycle, causing IBS-type symptoms.
- It isn’t just worms you have to worry about when walking barefoot or gardening. Toxoplasma is a single-celled protozoa that can come from eating undercooked, infected meat, drinking infected water, cleaning a cat’s litter box, or ingesting even a very small amount of contaminated soil. According to the CDC, more than 40 million men, women, and children in the US already carry this parasite, so washing your hands may not be enough – but it’s still worth doing.
Most people with a strong immune system aren’t even aware they have the infection because it’s often asymptomatic. Initially, it can cause flu-like symptoms that last for a month or more and include swollen lymph nodes. Severe infections can travel to the brain, eyes, or other organs, and can be from a reactivated infection that previously caused no symptoms at all, or can be acquired from the mother while in the womb.
Cleanse Your Body of Parasites Naturally
Just like your beloved pets, humans can be dewormed as well. In fact, generations before ours routinely dewormed the whole family every Spring and Fall, and additionally when they saw behavior changes in their children. It is especially important to cleanse your body of parasites before pregnancy, because all of these soil-borne parasites I mentioned can travel to the baby in utero or through breastfeeding.
Herbal cleansing was used effectively for centuries before anti-parasitic and anti-helminthic medications were developed. Whether used alone or together, the side effects of these regimens can be intensely unpleasant, including severe cramping and unrelenting headaches. This is why it’s so important to consult a knowledgeable professional before undertaking any parasite elimination.
No one knows this better than James Templeton, the founder of UNI KEY Health. As he recounts in his new book, I Used to Have Cancer, he and I met at a seminar I was giving about parasitic infections, where I uttered my famous phrase to him, “I think you have parasites.” I later accompanied him on a visit to a world-renowned parasitologist, Dr. Hermann Bueno, where it was confirmed under microscopic examination that he indeed had roundworm and other parasites. The protocol he was given to follow resulted in such severe symptoms he felt like he couldn’t complete it.
I shared with James the protocol I use for parasite cleansing, and he found it to be gentle and effective, resulting in the “all clear” from parasites when he returned to Dr. Bueno for a follow-up visit just a few months later. He felt so strongly about this herbal parasitic cleanse and its effectiveness that it became the first products UNI KEY Health ever sold. Today, these products are known as Para-Key and Verma-Plus, and along with Flora-Key make up My Colon Cleansing Kit, which is what I recommend for regular parasite cleansing.
Practice Safe Grounding
Connecting to the earth’s energy by grounding, or earthing, has many benefits to your health, both physically and spiritually. Fortunately, there are ways to reap the benefits of this practice without exposure to parasites. Earthing shoes can be worn that allow the electrons and electrical fields from the earth to flow freely into your body.
Soft-soled moccasins, made entirely of leather – without foam or plastic soles or insoles – are the best shoes to wear for grounding or earthing. Leather itself isn’t a conductive material, but when moisture passes through the leather – either from foot perspiration or wet ground – it allows the transmission of energy. Some brands, like Itasca Leathergoods or Minnetonka Moccasins, offer soft-soled moccasins for the whole family to wear that are lined only with leather.
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