Gag alert: According to Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop magazine contributing naturopath, Dr. Linda Lancaster, 60 million of us Americans are infected with parasites. The doc says most of us aren’t even aware we’re hosts to these hideous pests (she says her more than fifty percent of her clients have at least one type). Her recommendation to eliminate them? Consume lots and lots of goat milk and (unnamed) anti-parasitic herbs for eight days straight.
Paltrow tried this cleanse and “felt so good after,” she told Shape.com. “The theory is that we all have parasites, and they love the milk protein. So if you eat nothing else, they all come out of the intestinal wall and then you kill them with the herbs.”
According to Lancaster, her treatment prescribes goat milk specifically because the pH is most similar to mother’s milk and doesn’t cause as many allergies. “Goat milk also has healing qualities not found in other types of milk, like high levels of vitamin A and plenty of fatty acids,” she wrote on goop, adding that her protocol is inspired by a biblical community who placed infected people in tubs of milk to bait the parasites out of the body. (I'm not puking, you're puking!)
If you’re skeptical, as many are of Paltrow's health habits, you’re not alone. First of all, if you think you have parasites, your first step of action is to get a stool test by a doctor—not go on a cleanse, according to Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD. “Plus, consuming only one food or beverage for eight days may lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies," she adds.
Sveltana Kogan, MD isn’t a fan of this cleanse either, as there are no guarantees it will work. "I consider myself a very holistic person but if my patients have stool studies positive for a particular type of parasite, I will definitely treat it with an appropriate FDA-approved antibiotic. There are no large randomized studies of goat milk anti-parasitic effect—only anecdotal observations,” she tells Organic Authority.
So, if you were completely opposed to drinking goat milk, you can now breathe a sigh of relief. But wait, now you’re probably wondering if you need to worry about parasites in the first place.
OMG, Do You Have Parasites?!
Parasites, which can multiply inside the human body, are organisms that typically infect people when they come in contact with infected feces. Two of the more well-known types of parasites include tapeworms and roundworms.
The most common symptoms of parasite infection include pain in the abdominal area, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, loose and bloody stools, discomfort around the rectum, unexplained weight loss and fatigue, writes Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD on the University of Maryland Medical Center website. These symptoms can be caused by a number of other reasons, but you might be more vulnerable to parasites if you’ve recently traveled (especially internationally) and came across poorly sanitized food or water. Poor hygiene and a compromised immune system can do it too, and it’s more common among children and the elderly.
Potential Ways to Eliminate Parasites
After you’ve confirmed an infection with a doctor, Ehrlich says there are various avenues of treatment depending on what type of parasite you have.
As Kogan mentioned, you could be prescribed a drug to target the parasites. But on the more natural front, you may be also be encouraged to amp up your intake of healthy foods, particularly those traditionally known to eradicate parasites such as garlic, pumpkin seeds, and beets, according to Ehrlich. There are also supplements known to act as vermifuges, such as barberry, Oregon grape, and wormwood. Again, it depends on your specific state of health and what your problem is.
Gwynnie is a celebrity who always appears to glow with health and vibrancy, and clearly has resources at her disposal to make sure she isn't doing anything harmful or dangerous. (And side note: She also doesn't care if you think her lifestyle is weird, per an interview she did with Instyle.com, and we love her for that.) Whatever works for her, more power!
But for you, considering parasites involve another organism living inside of you, it’s best to work collaboratively with a professional to help clear your body. It’s one thing to drink green juice to shed a few stubborn pounds, but a cleanse to expel parasites might simply delay your trip to your trusted medical professional, whether that’s a naturopath or a conventional MD.
But if you happen to love goat milk, go for it (just not only goat milk)! Reisdorf says, “There is some research about potentially beneficial probiotics found in goat's milk. And goats are cheaper and more environmentally friendlier than cows!"
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