This is the catch all term for the small parasites that live in our gastrointestinal tract. There are different types of worms, but in New Zealand we are fortunate that usually it is only Threadworm (aka pinworm) we have to deal with.
The main symptom in children is itching around the anus that is worse at night. For some it can cause irritability, difficulty sleeping or changes in appetite – an increase or a decrease in appetite. For girls there can be worms that migrate to the vulva and vagina causing itching and discharge.
Adults are less prone to threadworm infestations (or more likely to be asymptomatic), but in general when one member of the family has confirmed threadworms it is a good idea to treat everyone.
Sometimes you may be able to see the small white worms, that are 3-10mm long. The itch is caused by the female worm moving to the outside of the anus to lay eggs.
First, to dispel a common myth: you cannot catch threadworms from animals- the intestinal worms that affect pets and farm animals are different to those that colonise humans.
In addition to treatment it is a good idea to wash all bed linen, towels, underwear and night clothes when you are treating for worms. Infection comes from ingesting the eggs, so washing hands after toileting and before meals is important. For children trying to stop them putting their hands in the mouth is helpful, but not always possible. A shower or bath in the morning may also help remove any eggs laid overnight.
Non homeopathic treatment of worms:
Mebendazole (De-worm or Vermox) is for use in children over 2 years old, but contraindicated in pregnancy. It is usually a single dose once, however for repeated infestations it can be taken daily for 3 days, and then repeated a fortnight later. Mebendazole stops the worms ability to absorb nutrients so they slowly die. It is poorly absorbed by humans and because of this is well tolerated with few if any side effects for most people.
Pyrantel ( Combantrin worm chocolate) works by paralysing the worms so they no longer cling to the intestinal tract. It is weight dependent, so younger children have a lower dose than older children and adults.
There are herbal extracts that are often used for parasites. Harker’s Herbals Intestinal Cleanse Verm-ez is one over the counter Herbal remedy for worms. The recommended dose is three to four times daily for 7-14 days.
If you have a medical herbalist or naturopath they may prescribe herbs for this purpose also.
Homeobotanicals are herbal remedies prepared homeopathically, and the combination W is specifically for worms. It has Black Walnut, Butternut, Cinnamon, Cloves, Garlic, Sheep Sorrell and Wormwood. You take it twice daily for one week, recommended starting the few days leading up to the full moon. It is also contraindicated in pregnancy.
Diatomaceous Earth (food grade only!) is a white powder that is sometimes recommended for parasites. Usually mixed with water to a slurry, or added to a smoothie or food, it desiccates the body of the worms (and any insects if using it in the house). It can also be dusted around the anus before bed to kill worms that do come out in the night. Some people find it effective, but it is not easy for children to take.
Pumpkin seeds may not treat a worm infestation, but may be useful to add to your diet to reduce reoccurrence.
Now let’s look at Homeopathy:
Cina is often said to be “the” homeopathic remedy for worms. However if we are applying homeopathic principles then it is not this remedy for that condition, but matching the symptoms of the individual to the remedy. So let’s compare some homeopathic remedies for worms.
Homeopathic remedies for worms: there are 127 in Complete repertory, of which 23 are as well indicated as Cina for worms- so you can see why it bugs me a little that that is the only remedy suggested!
With recurrent infestations it can be helpful to see a Homeopath and treat constitutionally. Some of our best worm remedies are polychrests, and with the right remedy it will increase resilience not only to worms but to everything physically and emotionally. Some of these polychrests are Baryta Carb, Calc Carb, Nat Mur and Sulphur.
For an acute work infestation here are some of the remedies to consider:
Cina is irritable, can have a pale face with dark rings around their eyes. They grind their teeth at night, are restless and cry out at night. They have a ravenous or variable appetite.
Allium Sativum is garlic, and can be either ravenous, or have an empty stomach without being hungry. They can be thirsty or have a weight in their stomach which stops them sleeping.
Cicuta has colicky pains in the abdomen with worms. They may grind their teeth and lack an appetite.
Ignatia is for children who are excitable and have tickling or creeping sensations around the anus. Their symptoms are changeable and may go from laughing to crying. They don’t have much of an appetite.
Scirrhinum is a cancer nosode, and Burnett noticed that when using this intestinal worms would be expelled. This also suggests that recurrent worms is part of the cancer miasm.
Teucrium is a remedy for pin worms with a lot of irritation in the rectum. They are restless, and there can be tingling and itching from worms in the anus after bowel motions.
If trying to figure out which single remedy would be best sounds hard, you can use Naturopharm’s combination Worm-med remedy. It contains Cina, Filix Mas, Natrum Phos, Sabadilla and Teucrium Mar.
If you are dealing with recurrent worms and would like to make an appointment, please contact me and we can work on resilience as well as treat the immediate problem.