People are ‘de-worming’ themselves using digestive supplements, but experts say they’re just flushing out good bacteria

Person on toilet

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  • TikTokers are using digestive supplements to de-worm their gut.

  • Some users report finding dead worms in their poop after using ParaGuard to flush out their system.

  • Experts say there is no hard evidence ParaGuard can de-worm you, and using it could damage your gut microbiome.

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TikTok users are using herbal supplements, like ParaGuard, to de-worm themselves.

ParaGuard is an herbal supplement that contains wormwood, pumpkin seed, and garlic bulb and is intended to help with digestion, according to the Zahler product website.

Some people, who say they used the supplement to de-worm their guts, say they found worm carcasses in their poop and felt less groggy after taking it.

TikTok user @pengken007 told her followers to her knowledge she had never had intestinal worms. After taking ParaGuard for seven days, she said she realized this was not the case.

“So, I have worms. And you know what that means? You have worms; everybody has worms. We need to de-worm ourselves, everybody, get something,” she said in a TikTok video.

But some experts say DIY de-worming with ParaGuard is harmful and could damage your gut microbiome.

Taking supplements without your doctor’s advice can hurt your gut

Taking ParaGuard and other de-worming supplements isn’t just ineffective, according to experts, it can be dangerous.

Gastroenterologist Dr. Sabine Hazan told BuzzFeed some of the things supplements flush out are crucial to gut health.

“It’s a part of our microbiome. Your stools are supposed to be composed of bacteria, fungus, parasites, etc.,” Hazan said.

“They may be removing good microbes in their gut, which is detrimental, because once they are destroyed you can’t get them back.”

Even if you suspect you have worms that need to be removed, Hazan said it’s important to consult a medical professional before ordering any supplements or medications online.

Most people don’t need to get de-wormed

Most adults do not need to de-worm themselves. Despite what social media says, it’s rare to find tapeworms and roundworms after a cleanse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s unlikely that the average person is walking around with active parasites in their gut,” gastroenterologist Dr. Peter Mannon told Nebraska Medicine.

“I would question the usefulness of these parasite cleanses.”

Pediatric emergency doctor Dr. Meghan Martin told her followers the most common worms people in the US need to be concerned about are pin worms, which are common in young children, not in adults.

“If you’re drinking fresh water and eating appropriately cooked meats, you don’t need to be de-wormed,” Martin said on TikTok.

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