The Herb Lady
When I was a little girl, Dr. Abernathy and Miss Peek (his nurse) were the Pike County health officers. Every so often, they visited the schoolhouses for various reasons. Occasionally they distributed small containers to us students. These containers were to be returned with a small sample of our stool (waste matter from the bowels). This specimen was sent in turn to the Alabama state laboratory and tested for parasites.
My specimen never tested positive, but Mother gave me a treatment anyway – "To be on the safe side," she said. Well that treatment smelled horrible and made me as sick as a dog. Forever after, as I passed the patch of Jerusalem Oak which grew behind our house I remarked, "That smells like that old hookworm treatment."
After I became involved in herbs, I learned that Mexicans and others in Texas added epazote to their dried beans in order to avoid excessive intestinal gas. When told this I ordered and planted epazote seed. When the young plants were several inches high I pinched them and smelled. Once again I stated, "That smells like that old hookworm treatment." Further research revealed that they were one and the same – Epazote/Jerusalem Oak (Chenopodium ambrosioides), the herb from which my worm treatment was created. In fact, at one time this herb was grown commercially for this purpose.
A parasite is a plant or animal which lives on or at the expense of another organism or host. We generally refer to those which find homes in our bodies as worms. Humans can play host to a large number of parasites. Sometimes we get them from improperly cleansed salad materials and often from pets. Pin worms, which are probably our most common parasite in this area, emerge from the body to lay their eggs. These eggs float freely around in the air which we breathe. Naturally we inhale and ingest these eggs and the cycle starts over. (This I learned as a nurse long before I became "THE HERB LADY.")
I have enough parasite stories to fill a book. I’ll only write about a few though due to space.
One night, when my son was a toddler, I let him go to sleep in bed with me. I tried to read while we awaited the sandman. He wiggled. I said, "Be still." He said, "Dey’s sumpin wrong wif my fanny". I said "No, there’s not." He said, "Yes, dey is. Dey’s sumpin hen it." I looked and the evidence was clear. He was infested with pin worms. I felt like the lowest form of mother. The whole family was treated with prescription medication. Our linens were washed and rewashed. The whole house had a through cleaning. Today I would treat the family with black walnut.
One woman took an herbal parasite treatment. She told me about this at a very busy event and I’m sorry I didn’t get her name. Anyway, she knows she passed many because she saw them wiggling. Following this treatment she no longer had the "spare tire" which had been prominent at her waist line.
Another woman continued to have the same health problems following the removal of her gall bladder. She’s an old friend of mine and came to talk to me. I told her that I suspected that she had parasites. She carried her health records to a specialist in Birmingham. Without any examination he remarked, "You have parasites." She took the prescribed medication and has had no similar symptoms since.
In my youth there was a woman who made a candy from Jerusalem Oak each spring and fed it to her children. This was considered a cleanse. Her daughter tells me this did cleanse. The parasites could be seen with the naked eye. I don’t advise this today because this herb is actually poisonous when consumed in large amounts.
I don’t know what doctors prescribe for parasites today. I’m almost positive it’s not made from Jerusalem Oak though. I myself try to keep a supply of this herb in dried form on hand. Whenever I cook a pot of dried beans I add a heaping teaspoon of this in order to prevent intestinal gas pains. Used in this proportion it is not poisonous.
If you should take an herbal remedy for parasites it will probably contain some of the following - black walnut, garlic, artemisia, papaya, and tumeric.
Our media has recently been pushing what is generally referred to as "a cleanse." This usually consists of a mixture of herbs which cleanse the whole body. Adults would probably benefit from taking this at least once a year. But, of course, I advise you to check with your doctor before taking this or any other herbal remedy.