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delusional parasitosis

Gerald L. McLaughlin, Ph.D gmclaugh at IUPUI.EDU
Mon Mar 23 17:48:29 EST 1998

At 07:28 PM 3/19/98 -0600, Lance C. Russell wrote:
>Just out of curiosity, what "parasite(s)" do most of these people think
they are infected with?

Mostly, the arthropods; indeed, sometimes a flea or louse or dandruff or
even scrapie is found.  Most often, the concept of Dutch housewife cleanness
goes a bit overboard, as the patient does; now that I've seen "As Good as it
Gets", I wonder about obscessive compulsive disorder's relationship to this
complex of syndromes.

Among the quacks who claim parasites cause cancers, etc, it runs the gamut,
often liver flukes like Fasciola, it seems.  This does seem to be a
deliberate set of hoaxes.  I do find the effects of magnetism and
electricity under-studied by modern science, and I'd like to see more data.
I regard herbalists with even more uncertainty, and really wish we had more
controlled trials.  People of most primitive cultures (even the
glacier-frozen iceman of Europe), carried a bag of herbs, many similar to
those suggested by herbalists.  A high-fiber diet and "clean" colon, one of
Dr. Kellogg's mantras, indeed seems to extend partial gut protection for
Giardia in animals.  Since talking to some very modern toxicologists, I've
been thinking seriously about drinking green tea and other anti-oxidants;
the neurobiologists say that data compiled by the Germans suggest that St.
John's wort is as good as Prozac; the immunologists say several nutrients
promote immunity (I've forgotten which); two malaria drug families were from
a tea and a chewed bark; and Linus Pauling, one of the century's great
minds, apparently promoted not only vitamin C, but a line of herbs offered
at your local Apothecary.  Since the FDA requires billion-dollar research
efforts to approve drugs, companies will not do this for non-patentable
drugs and herbs.  Defined drugs are safer and more effective than herbs for
parasite treatment, and this should be clearly stated.  However, for overall
health including cancer prevention, the jury is out about many of the
natural health store "food supplements" (coenzyme Q, omega-3 fatty acids,
melatonin) and herbs (ginger, garlic, Wort, tea), and we don't have the data
to tell people that these are useless or quack remedies, just that they are
not proven ones by our very high US FDA standards.

Gerald McLaughlin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Dept Pathology and Lab Med
635  Barnhill Dr., MS A128
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5120
317-274-2651; gmclaugh at iupui.edu

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