Amebiasis (also known as Amebic dysentery and Amebic colitisis) is an infection of the intestines that is caused by a one-celled parasite: Entamoeba histolytica (1). While anyone is susceptible, amebiasis is most common in populations inhabiting tropical regions with poor sanitary conditions (3). Travelers from developed countries may be infected by the parasite by consuming food or water that has been contaminated with stools from infected individuals, fertilizer made from human waste, and direct contact with the mouth or rectal region of an infected individual (4). If you have the symptoms of amebiasis, there are home remedies for amebiasis listed below that will get you back on your feet.
Symptoms of amebiasis
E.histolytica can thrive within the large intestine or colon without damaging the intestine; many people who become infected do not suffer from the infection.
However, mild symptoms can include loose stools (diarrhea), stomach pains, cramping, and weight loss (5). Other possible symptoms include fatigue, excessive gas, and rectal pain during bowel movements. It should not be confused with leptospirosis which has similar symptoms.
In severe cases, the parasite invades the colon wall, resulting in colitis, acute dysentery or long-term, chronic diarrhea. Severe symptoms can include abdominal tenderness, bloody stools, the passing of 10-20 stools per day, fever, and vomiting. This infection can also spread to the liver, lungs, brains and other organs via the bloodstream (6).
Symptoms typically appear between 2 to 4 weeks after the infection occurs, but the onset can range from a few days to over a year (7).
Diagnosis and treatment of amebiasis
Doctors typically diagnose amebiasis by performing a physical exam and inquiring if patients have traveled overseas recently (8). Amebiasis can be diagnosed by examining the abdomen for signs of liver enlargement or tenderness, by conducting a blood test or a stool test, and by examining the inside of the lower large bowel (sigmoidoscopy) (9)
The course of treatment that is prescribed hinges on the severity of the infection and the range of symptoms involved. Antibiotics are usually prescribed, and they may be injected intravenously if the patient is vomiting (10). The efficacy of the treatment method can be determined by examining the patient’s stools after the treatment course.
At HomeRemedyHacks, we believe that antibiotics should only ever be used as a last resort as the destruction that antibiotics cause on your gut flora can lead to further complications. If you would rather alleviate the symptoms of amebiasis with natural home remedies, here are some possible options that will help reduce the discomfort:
- Stay hydrated
Amebiasis can cause dehydration if symptoms of diarrhea and watery stools persist. As such, it is crucial to consume plenty of fluids on a daily basis while recovering from the infection. Be sure to drink boiled or purified water, so as to eliminate the possibility of becoming infected with other microorganisms. You can also stay hydrated by consuming black tea or herbal tea.
To replace the sodium lost via diarrhea, you can consume an oral rehydration solution (ORS) of your own making. An ORS typically consists of slightly sweetened and salty water – you can drink a mixture of ½ of a small spoon of salt, 6 small spoons of sugar and 4 cups of clean water, or opt for salted rice water, salted yogurt drinks or vegetable and chicken soups with salt.
Oregano is a great home remedy for amebiasis as it has potent antioxidant and antibiotic properties and has been proven to be effective in inhibiting enteric parasites (13). A 2000 study in Phytotherapy Research noted that it improved gastrointestinal symptoms and eliminated various enteric parasites within a period of 6 weeks after 600 mg of emulsified oil of oregano was administered daily.
To access its beneficial properties, mix two to three drops of oregano oil and the juice of one lemon in a glass of water. Drink the mixture three times a day until the symptoms are alleviated. You can also add fresh or dried oregano to your daily meals.
3. Rosemary oil
Rosemary is a close relative of the oregano family and shares its antibacterial qualities with oregano. The active ingredient is thought to be eugenol, present in both oregano and rosemary oil. Studies on the oil also show that the oil is effective against a range of bacteria types and so should be added to cooking wherever possible. (19)
It also happens to be delicious.
Probiotic foods that contain lactic acid bacteria (lactobacilli) can suppress the germs causing diarrhea in the bowel, thus helping your immune system combat them (14). Natural probiotics can be readily accessed in yogurt, which also provides the protein and sugar you need to maintain the strength of your immune system.
5. Coconut water
Coconuts are another fantastic home remedy for amebiasis. They are cultivated in various tropical regions for its nutritional and medicinal properties. Coconut kernel and tender coconut water have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, hepatoprotective, and immunostimulant medical properties, making them a traditional feature in many communities (15).
To benefit from its antiparasitic properties, you can consume both the fruit and coconut water on a daily basis (this will also help to replace all the liquids lost via diarrhea).
Turmeric also boasts of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, immunostimulant, antiseptic, and antimutagenic qualities which can your body in fighting off the infection (15). Besides incorporating turmeric into your cooking, you can also consume a teaspoon of raw turmeric juice (with a pinch of salt) on a daily basis for one to two weeks.
Garlic oil has broad-spectrum antiparasitic activity against a range of parasites and can be used as an unconventional antiparasitic therapy (16). To benefit, you can add garlic to your daily cooking or even consume it raw (two to three cloves per day) for a few weeks, as your body recovers from the infection.
8. Black Walnut
Black walnut is a herb that, taken in tincture form, is effective at treating parasites and microbial infections of the gut such as amebiasis. Black walnut contains juglone, a chemical that is antibacterial that kills will amebiasis bacteria as well as other parasites, yeast and fungus, making it a good treatment for a number of conditions. (17)
Black Walnut also contains a high number of antioxidants. It was widely used by native American for centuries. They used the husk and bark of the walnut tree for a variety of topical and digestive problems. Black walnut is, however, is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
9. Neem oil or Indian Lilac
Neem oil is another essential oil, widely used on the in Indian subcontinent due to its many bioactive properties. Its active ingredient, Azadirachtin, is naturally antibacterial and a natural insecticide. The oil is used for many different microbial stomach upsets as well keeping insects at bay from commercial crops.
It is best to add a few drops to a carrier solution such as coconut milk for best effect.
Neem oil in large quantities is mildly toxic to humans and although neem oil poisoning is very rare, cases have been reported(18) and so caution is warranted.
10. Clove oil
Cloves have a multitude of different active compounds but as with other anti-bacterial essential oils, the active ingredient that is relevant for amebiasis is eugenol. Cloves have been tested for anti bacterial properties versus different bacterial types and have found to be effective. (19) Eugenol works by suppressing the amebiasis bug in your gut and combined with an anti-inflammatory food like pumpkin (see below), gives an effective treatment against the disease.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, vitamin B and C. It has anti-fungal and anti bacterial properties, high acetic acid content, and rich amount of calcium, potassium, iron, and copper. Not only will apple cider vinegar help replcae lost minreal through diarrhea, moreover, ACV also acts as a good cleansing agent for the gut. (20)
It can be drunk directly in diluted form, but for many the taste is too much. Added to food and dressings, it is quite delicious.
Pumpkin is one of the best home remedies for amebiasis. The plant has various important medicinal properties, but for particular relevance to amebiasis, it is anti-inflammatory.
If you are sick with amebiasis, the bacteria will put immense strain on your gut causing inflammation and internal swelling. While pumpkin is not antibacterial in itself, the plant will soothe your intestinal wall. To give the treatment a further boost, add drops of an antibacterial essential oil to your pumpkin cooking. Rosemary and oregano are by far the best tasting. (21)
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot running water before eating, and after using the washroom
- Remember to ‘cook it, peel it or leave it’ when eating in developing countries (i.e. do not eat fresh fruit or vegetables that you did not peel yourself)
- Thoroughly wash and cook all vegetables
- Drink bottled, boiled, filtered and treated water
- Ensure that all human waste is disposed of in a sanitary manner
- Do not share towels or face washers
- Do not attend school, children’s services or your workplace until the symptoms have ceased
- Do not engage in sexual practices that can facilitate faecal-oral transmission
- Avoid drinking fountain drinks or drinks that contain ice
- Do not drink with a straw
- Do not drink alcohol or coffee, which can exacerbate diarrhea
- Do not consume milk, cheese or other dairy products that have not been pasteurized
- Avoid food and drinks sold by street vendors