Organisms that live off the cells or fluids to the detriment of another organism are known as parasites. Those that feed off or within a host but do not do harm are known as commensals. Some commensals actually benefit their host and are known as symbionts.

A common example of a symbiont is the bowel bacteria, a commensal is Candida and a parasite is malaria. The human being benefits so much from bowel flora that without them we would actually die. We provide food and shelter, they provide essential nutrients and digestive processes. Candida is a yeast that generally lives in small colonies in many of us, doing little good, but relatively little harm. An excessive growth of Candida will lead to a problem and this is often the case in those who are immunocompromised through conditions such as AIDS, or in people who are forced to use steroids. Parasites actually do harm. Theoretically they may kill. Generally, parasites are single-celled organisms that have a lifecycle, such as malaria and amoeba, but they may also be complex organisms such as a tapeworm which may grow up to several feet in the intestine of those infected.

Parasitic infections may be asymptomatic or create reactions in the area that is affected. Bowel infections frequently create diarrhoea, liver infestation may cause jaundice, but most will cause malaise and fatigue. A tapeworm may eat vital nutrients and leave an individual deficient.

As an interesting philosophical discussion point, try to place a foetus during pregnancy into one of these categories!

Diagnosis of a parasite, commensal or symbiont is by discovery following investigations for any number of symptoms.

High magnification blood analysis, known as the Humoral Pathological Laboratory Test, may show up parasitic infestations within the system either by isolating an organism in the bloodstream or by showing changes that are reflected by the blood cells caused by the chemicals produced by the parasite. This is not a fully accepted orthodox test but it is available and, in my opinion, accurate.

Parasitic infection is best dealt with by a suitable orthodox drug with concurrent protective alternative treatments prescribed by a complementary practitioner.

For those who are reluctant to use orthodox medicine, herbalists with experience in this field may be able to offer a treatment. There are hundreds of years of reported success of treatment through botanical means.

Orthodox treatment for parasites in the gut is generally effective and rarely produces side effects. Treatment against parasites in the bloodstream or organs, such as malaria or amoeba, often requires courses of antibiotics