Do you feel reckless or sociable at times? Then you may be down with toxoplasmosis. This is an infection credited to Toxoplasma gondii, a microscopic parasite affecting at least 22.5 percent of Americans above 12 years of age. Research has shown that this and other parasites have the ability to alter the human mood.
Unwanted presence of microorganisms such as fungi, parasites, and bacteria are referred to as an infection. Some infections do not cause much harm to a person’s health. Others, on the other hand, can cause severe illnesses, or in extreme cases, death. According to a 2013 publication in JAMA Psychiatry, the chances of a person developing a mood disorder is heightened by the presence of infections in the body.
The body serves as a natural habitat for a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. As a matter of fact, bacteria and other microbes reside in the human body by default. They are also present in environments created by humans. As a rule, biological systems do make attempts to eradicate the harmful forms of these organisms, hence protecting and keeping us in health. However, when these protective systems fail, or perform below capacity, then infections occur, and these microbes gain a stronghold in the human body. Symptoms associated with a specific infection include depending on the nature of the virus, bacterium, fungus or parasite responsible for that infection. The location of the infection is also a key determinant of the symptoms. However, infectious processes are indicated by factors such as high body temperature, muscle aches, loss of normal appetite, and unusual fatigue.
Certain symptoms related to an infection serves as an indicator of some sort of medical care, including:
- a headache,
- fever (accompanied by episodes of seizure),
- difficulties in breathing,
- skin swelling,
- and rashes.
Some infections can result in harmful consequences inside the brain. This happens when the presence of a micro-organism results in the Compromisation of the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier contains a group of specialized vascular tissues. This barrier limits the substances that cross into the brain from the general circulation. However, when the blood-brain barrier is damaged, it leads to the penetration of the brain by unwanted materials or micro-organisms. Certain autoimmune diseases can also cause damage to the barrier, thus exposing the brain to invaders.
About mood disorders
Mood disorder is a term that describes various depressive illnesses, and various forms of bipolar disorder. These conditions are grouped together by mental health professionals because they exhibit some major symptoms centered on deviations from the normal range of everyday emotions and moods. Depressive illnesses placed in the category of mood disorder include persistent depressive disorder, major depressive disorder, disruptive mood regulation disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and other specified depressive disorder. This category also features bipolar-related illnesses such as bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder.
In a study published in the JAMA Psychiatry, the connection between risks of mood disorder, and infection was examined by a team of Danish and American researchers. At least 3 million Danish citizens were examined over a period of 30 years. At least 32 percent of this population developed a serious infection that required urgent medical attention during the course of the study. Also, the autoimmune disorder was observed in another 5 percent of the population – this also required medical attention. 91, 637 of the study participants requested treatment for either a bipolar mood disorder or depressive mood disorder.
After a thorough analysis of the findings, the authors agreed that people who are infected by microbes do experience a 62 % increase in their risk of being affected by a mood disorder. It is believed that a malfunction of the human immune system forms the link between infectious diseases and mood disorders. Obviously, this malfunction happens when the blood-brain barrier is damaged and the brain is left susceptible to infection-related disorders that are normally confined to other regions of the body.
Natural ways to fight parasites
Parasites can be combated through the following natural ways:
Berberine: Berberine is a compound present in many herbs such as Berberis vulgaris. Research has shown that berberine fights intestinal parasites. A 2014 study published in the Iranian Journal of Parasitology has found that berberine gotten from barberry proves effective against tapeworm infection.
Papaya seeds: Another study, conducted in 2007 and published in the Journal of Medicinal Food has found that papaya seeds are effective against microbial infections and parasite. 60 children participated in the study. They were all afflicted with intestinal parasites. They received doses of either papaya seeds mixed in honey or just honey. A week later, those who were given the papaya and honey elixir witnessed a significant reduction of honey in their stools.
Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds have proven to be a natural remedy to parasite infestation. The seeds contain fatty acids, amino acids, and berberine, Palatine and cucurbitine. A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences has confirmed that pumpkin seed does have some anti-parasitic properties.
Diet: This is a very important natural way to combat parasites. Certain strategies recommended by practitioners of natural medicine to help treat intestinal parasites include:
- Avoiding refined sugar, coffee, refined grains, and alcohol.
- Adding garlic to meals
- More intake of carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and foods that have a high content of beta-carotene.
- Intake of probiotic-rich foods to help rebuild beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Consuming foods rich in B vitamins and vitamin C.
A detox or an intestinal cleanse has also been suggested by some practitioners. This involves combining a high-fiber diet with supplements to help clear out parasites from the intestines.
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