EcuadorVisas.com

Being a Bad Host: Treating Parasites & Amoebas

Posted in: Living in Ecuador

antiparasite-medicationAre you concerned about parasites and amoebas?

When we first moved, we were too. And since then we’ve been sick many times.

But don’t worry – it wasn’t as bad as it sounds.

We have used a number of different concoctions – including some super strong anti-parasite meds. They were brutally strong; we were exhausted for a full week. And it felt like our mouth was lined with tin foil.

On the recommendation of our good friend, who is also a medical doctor, we regularly take some softer meds every six months – whether we are feeling sick or not.

Large Print Disclaimer

Before you go any further, you need to acknowledge this: I am not a doctor (not even close) and I don’t really know what I am talking about. All I am sharing is my personal experience and some hearsay mixed with a bit of gossip. For real advice, go see a doctor.

Great, with that out of the way, lets proceed.

Here is the kind that we use every six months:

Pazidol 1/2 Tratamiento Antiparasitario Completo 

  • Vermilife 400mg / 1 pill (albendazol)
  • Pazidol 1 g / 2 pills (secnidazol)

The Pazidol (Complete Anti-Parasite Treatment) comes in a package with three pills – each clearly noted. Each package costs $3.39.

  1. Day 1: Vermilife (400mg) is clearly noted by a large yellow arrow indicating to take it on the primer día (first day).
  2. Day 2: Pazidol (1g) is noted by the large orange arrow and the text: segundo día (second day). There are two pills.

We like this treatment because of how simple it is. The large arrows make it pretty hard to mess up. Oh – and it works too.

The package warnings (see image below) note not to take this if you are pregnant. You also can’t drink alcohol while taking this. Children under 12 year of age need another type of medication – it came in liquid form for Drew. Best to see a doctor about this.

pazidol-1-2-life

Risks of Taking Them In the Wrong Order

Our doctor explained that if the medication is taken in the wrong order it can make things a lot worse. The amoeba medication won’t kill parasites – but it does affect them. Apparently there is a risk of driving them deeper into your organs, causing more damage and making them harder to treat.

Pazidol is available at most pharmacies in Ecuador. Some chains don’t sell this brand and they will offer an alternative. We keep looking until we find this brand – because we are sure that there will be no mix-ups.

complete-antiparasite-treatment

Symptoms of Amoebas

While images of parasitic worms bursting out of the skin on your arms is pretty exciting, the symptoms we have had were much less spectacular.

We’ve learned that drooling at night and trouble sleeping are common symptoms of having amoebas. As are a lack of energy and stomach/digestive problems. When we had parasites we had severe stomach problems and noticeable weight loss. Although the strong parasite medication was brutal, it did fix the problem.

When we were planning our move to Ecuador we took a full set of vaccinations. While these vaccinations don’t address typical stomach bugs (aside from the typhoid vaccine) they do give peace of mind in other areas. Do needles scare you? Here is how to take a needle like a superhero.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutubeinstagramFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutubeinstagram

Recommended For You

Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is editor of GringosAbroad - one of the largest English language sites about Ecuador. Work with GringosAbroad. He is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands).

57 comments… add one
  • isabel currey Mar 3, 2017, 2:57 pm

    Hi Bryan, I live in Nicaragua and get diagnosed with quiste de amebas. Do you know if this helps with that? I usually have to do flagyl and that kills me!! Nodik (allinia) doesn’t get rid of them.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 3, 2017, 6:02 pm

      I’m not sure. It’s best to ask a doctor to confirm. It can be bad to treat with the wrong meds.

      All the best!

  • isabel currey Mar 3, 2017, 1:28 pm

    Hi Bryan,
    I live in Nicaragua and get quiste de amebas. The doctor always suggests flaygel but that is so strong and kills me. Will this two treatment take care of it. I have tried nodik but it doesn’t do the trick for quistes.

  • anne tyrkalo Feb 21, 2016, 1:44 pm

    I know that i am infected with parasites. I have finally convinced my doctor to give me wormox i took it for 2 weeks 2 times a day, nothing happened, but it almost did me in. In fact i think its worse.
    i have tried firstly tried to convince my doctors that that was my biggest problem,
    the stool samples showed nothing, but i know i have them i can feel them crawling. This had been years, but i am at a point that If i don’t find a solution they will take over. I feel like i have a tape worm and ascaris.
    i will try the papaya seeds. But i desperately need help. Any suggestions?

    • Andre Nov 4, 2016, 11:18 am

      I did this medication when I ate banana bread from a vendor in Ambato last year. It fixed me right up, it wasn’t brutal for me, by the third day I was fine.

  • Daniela May 21, 2015, 9:17 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    I have been struggling with an intestinal amoeba for nearly two years! I’ve been given paromomycin and flagyl but the parasite infection keeps coming back every few months. I don’t know what to do anymore, the doctors in the States seem clueless. I’m desperate for help, could I get in contact with the doctor that helped you abroad? I live in NY and no one seems to be able to help me.

    Thank you in advance,
    Daniela

    • Betty Apr 30, 2016, 3:55 am

      Simon Yu, MD in St. Louis, MO is one. He takes patients from all over the US. Experienced with treating parasites with standard meds in combination with herbal & homeopathic meds. Doesn’t take insurance, so it’s expensive but worth it.

  • Alvin Croll Dec 26, 2014, 1:06 pm

    Will the Vermilife/Pazidol treatment get rid of the parasites once you have symptoms or are they just a preventative measure? I’ve only been in Ecuador a month and I’m pretty sure I’m already infected. I’ve been experiencing diarrhea, stomach ache and really bad gas. I took the above treatment yesterday and today and am already feeling much better.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 26, 2014, 5:01 pm

      These are anti-parasite medication. You would take these when you need to get rid of parasites. Some people take them just-in-case they are infected.

  • imla Oct 21, 2014, 6:53 am

    great information thanks so much.

  • Andrew Jordan Oct 20, 2014, 9:54 pm

    Thanks for the great article. Having tried very hard in Mexico to avoid the bad water I went to a Restaurant and had a salad. Bingo by 7 am I was checking out the hotel plumbing! Taking a pill to avoid that, seems a great idea.
    I can’t seem to find this in the States does it have another name.
    Thanks again

    • Bryan Haines Oct 21, 2014, 6:19 am

      I don’t know. I expect that the same or an equivalent will be available but you might need a prescription in the US.

  • BEH Oct 20, 2014, 5:15 am

    We are accustomed to pinworms from home, so we expected that when you can get those in a country with good hygiene, it would be a large chance of getting something when living in a local home in the countryside of a country where hygiene might not be as good.

    We brought some medication from home, but when we went to the local pharmacy to try and get some more, they offered us another brand. When I looked it up online, I found that in Norway it was only approved for veterinary use…

    Now I know what to ask for next time. Thanks 🙂

  • Mcooks Oct 19, 2014, 2:45 pm

    Great information! I’ll think about doing this. For those who’d like to try something more natural, here is a link to a papaya seed smoothie that is made from easy -to-find ingredients, at least here is Ecuador. A tip: you can find frozen, already ground up, coconut in the freezer at Coral, Supermaxi and Gran Aki, which is what I’ll be using in place of coconut oil, since this also contains the fiber:

    http://superfoodprofiles.com/papaya-seeds-parasites

    I think doing a parasite cleanse every 6 months is a good idea, since, we can’t always be sure of what has made its way into our digestive systems. Thanks again for all the great research. 🙂

  • Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac. Oct 18, 2014, 1:40 pm

    Due caution of course, use common sense. But for a “sense of proportion” about this check this link

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-humans-carry-more-bacterial-cells-than-human-ones/
    Humans Carry More Bacterial Cells than Human Ones
    You are more bacteria than you are you, according to the latest body census

    Bottom line is that only about 10% of the cells in your body are human! The rest are mostly bacteria of one sort or another plus all sorts of other beasties, some friendly some not so much. All held more or less in balance most of the time by “mysterious forces” HAH! A case could be made that that other 90% are all parasites.

    Fun, huh?

  • Ron Watral Oct 18, 2014, 9:44 am

    Holy crap! Literally!!!! I had never heard of this as being a problem and so common. We were all ready to move to Salinas next year but after reading all this, I’m not so sure now. How can you prevent catching them? Don’t eat, don’t drink water, don’t walk barefoot or sit on the beach? Is this really that common? Thanking you inadvance.

    • Bryan Haines Oct 18, 2014, 12:53 pm

      No, they aren’t really that big of a problem. Food / water borne parasites are most common but are easily avoided. And if you get them, a quick treatment usually takes care of them.

  • Rick Oct 18, 2014, 6:57 am

    I have traveled back and forth many times over the years and on several occasions, which went untreated, I contracted what I thought was a parasite. I then became very cautious whet I would eat and drink and avoid.

    We are also in the process of building a house and will be installing a water filtration system called a Berkey Water Filter which filters out parasites as well as bacteria.

    Just a thought to pass on to your readers.

  • tanya reiff Sep 12, 2014, 2:50 pm

    Im confused about the above information – if one has amoebas, which medication should be taken?
    Should it be taken alone or before or after the other medication?

    • Bryan Haines Sep 17, 2014, 8:57 am

      From what we understand, medication for amoebas (if taken alone) could cause a parasite problem to get worse. While you could get tests each time – we have decided to take the meds on a maintenance schedule. Tests are not 100% – if performed just once. They need to be done a few times, each a few days apart.

      If you are unsure, you should speak with a doctor. We aren’t doctors and are only sharing what we’ve learned.

  • B. DAVID TURCOTTE Apr 26, 2014, 8:20 am

    HI BRYAN, Can I use PAZIDOL to get rid of parasites. And if so how often should I take it? THANK YOU. DAVID

    • Bryan Haines Apr 27, 2014, 7:49 am

      Yes, it is for parasites. You should speak with a doctor about frequency. We have been told that its good to take this treatment every six months – but every person should confirm with a doctor for themselves. We didn’t see any note about frequency on the package.

  • Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac. Oct 22, 2013, 2:25 pm

    http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/intestinal-parasites

    ” In one study, researchers found that a mixture of honey and papaya seeds cleared stools of parasites in 23 out of 30 subjects. Drink a lot of water to help flush out your system.”

  • Andrea Oct 19, 2013, 12:23 pm

    Bryan, When we moved to Panama and had parasites/digestive issues, the one thing that worked like a charm for us is Papaya seeds. Yep. We have a ton of Papaya trees here, so we definitely utilize them.

    The inside of one Papaya has as much as a cup or more of seeds. Take about 1/4 cup of seeds and blend them in a smoothie. Do it twice a day, morning and evening and within a few days……those blasted parasites are gone. It works for us. I really hate taking antibiotics as it messes up the good bacteria, so this is a win-win.

  • Maureen Sayre Aug 31, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Hello Bryan & Dena,
    Thank you so much for your balanced, intelligent & well-rounded approach to dealing with parasites & Amoeba. My husband & I have retired to southern Ecuador. I worked as an R.N. for almost 30 years until I became disabled with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I had to quit work in my later 50’s, & my dear husband had to retire in his early 60’s in order to be my primary care giver. I am blessed to have a supportive mate. Anyway, I have been battling pain & fatigue since childhood; & I am finding information more than interesting suggesting a possible link between my symptoms & internal “bad bugs”! We see an M.D. who comes to our town, & she is skilled in alternative & traditional medicine. My husband & I have made an appointment with her for early next week as we have been quite ill for over a month. If you’d be interested in what our doctora has to say, just let me know. And thank you both so much for sharing information & caring about others!…My neighbor who shared your link with me is originally from Canada. It’s amazing how far just a little bit of caring can take us!!! Maureen Sayre, R.N.

    • cindy Nov 27, 2013, 8:03 pm

      I am coming to Ecuador this next spring. I was diagnosed with chronic Lymes which I have had for at least 10-12 yrs…so after a several month pulsed treatment of antibiotics (5 types) I am slowly gaining strength and energy. I have been working with an integrative doctor (alternative). I want to hear more about papaya seeds and traditional local treatments…this would help prevent infection and speed up clearing out the Lymes.

    • jessica Sep 5, 2015, 6:22 pm

      i am interested, i am finding links between parasites and my fibromyalgia as well, getting slowly better, did three cleanses last fall, one month long one this summer, trying not to eat wheat, dairy, pork.

  • Robert Steele Aug 30, 2013, 1:48 pm

    Had amoebic Dysentery while in the middle east some years ago. Lost 21 pounds in 10 days. Not a good diet!!!!! Took a shot of Lomitil (sp) or as we referred t o liquid cork. It contains arsenic and is available in the states. Worked great but does knock you down for awhile.

  • ml king Aug 28, 2013, 9:57 pm

    I guess this is a stupid question but how do you get parasites or amoebas, through drinking water? Thanks for your information.
    ml king

    • Bryan Haines Aug 29, 2013, 6:01 am

      Yes, it can be though food or water. Some parasites come through insect bites or even enter your skin from the ground. The only kind we’ve had trouble with are food based ones. We have friends in Cuenca who had parasites in their feet by walking on the ground in their back yard. I don’t think this is very common, but it happened to them a number of times. The parasites weren’t dangerous – they just removed them themselves.

  • Carole Aug 28, 2013, 11:44 am

    Hello and thank you for addressing this. People need to realize there are also parasites that invade your immune system and kill it off, and they are not in the intestines, and getting rid of them is a nightmare. We got Leishmaniasis in Belize this Spring, and it is a nightmare. It comes from sandflies…search Leishmaniasis on Youtube to watch the TV episode, Monsters Inside Me: Leishmania to get an idea what this is. That is just the beginning, as there are 3 types or levels of this disease…I wish to the high heavens we had never got this, it sure ruined my idea of retiring in “Paradise”. The more we all become educated and understand the treatments that are or are not available for all the types of parasites in the various countries we go to, the better off everyone will be, including the locals who have had to deal with it for a long time. (Some locals do have immunity; most “Foreigners” do not and will not get immunity to these diseases and parasites). These are things that are just not in our everyday thoughts–until you are stricken with them. At least with intestinal parasites, one has a variety of treatment options readily available. Thank you for bringing up a touchy subject, I enjoy reading all your articles and the video clips too. Carole.

    • Bryan Haines Aug 28, 2013, 12:14 pm

      Thanks Carol. Sorry to hear about your bad experience. We haven’t had trouble with any parasites other than the digestive kind – well, not yet…

      There is an idea among new expats that it won’t happen to them, and that anyone who is worried about it is just “overreacting”. I guess we all learn with time, don’t we?

      Were you living in Belize or just visiting?

      • Carole Aug 28, 2013, 1:49 pm

        Hi, Bryan, we moved to Ambergris Caye for a 6 month “trial”, thinking it would be a great place to retire later this year. Unfortunately, with the hundreds and hundreds of bites and the subsequent weeping and open wounds for several months that nothing stopped, we had to move back to the US; so sad, really, as the locals are such wonderful people and it is incredibly beautiful there. It never occurred to me that the most popular and pricy area would have this trouble; it would certainly have an impact on tourism around the world if people realized how prevalent some things are–this sandfly disease is in 88 countries that we know of, so it is fairly widespread. Thank you for commenting! Carole

        • Bryan Haines Aug 28, 2013, 2:31 pm

          Wow, so sorry to hear that it didn’t work out. Belize was on our list of possibilities before we decided to move to Ecuador.

          Thanks for sharing your experience.

          Bryan

  • Linda K Aug 28, 2013, 11:12 am

    Thank you for the information. You say you contracted parasites through food and water. Was this in Cuenca? From a restaurant or street vendor? Are amoebas contracted the same way?

    • Bryan Haines Aug 28, 2013, 11:19 am

      I don’t think that there is any way to actually trace the origin. But it was while we were living in Cuenca. Of course, we have traveled to other parts of the country so I can’t accurately identify the source. Yes, amoebas can be through food and water as well.

  • Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac. Aug 28, 2013, 9:29 am

    re: Manta Ray stings

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingray

    Manta’s do not have stingers! They are huge, peaceful, vegetarians. Sting rays have stings; ask Crocodile Steve!

    (Old surfer here, been much too close to sting ray if you know what I mean and also very very close to manta w/ 5 foot wing span…very impressive)

    • Jakob Aug 29, 2013, 12:46 am

      I asked Crocodile Steve, but he remained silent. Maybe that is why I still cannot tell them apart 😉

  • Antoinette Jackson Aug 28, 2013, 4:56 am

    I am happy to have read this information-hope we are able to find this product in Panama when we go in a couple of months. Glad I am on your mailing list. Thank you Antoinete

  • Jakub Aug 27, 2013, 9:48 pm

    I used to go through vomiting and crazy fever the first week in Ecuador after longer absences after eating the wrong kind of street food, not anymore. It seems the body adapts. My treatment was to wait until it goes away.

    On the coast I found that earlier or later you would have an encounter with one of the following:
    1. Jellyfish
    These will make you look like from a horror movie, especially when they pass across your face. If you do not do anything it won’t just go away as the poison stays in the skin for a long time. The wounds will actually open up over and over again causing burning sensations. I scrape the infected skin off with a credit card. The skin will become soft enough, so that you can do that, then let it bruise and heal itself.

    2. Manta Ray stings
    A grown Manta Ray sting to your torso can kill you, but what is more likely is that you will step on a young Manta Ray when walking through shallow water on the beach and it stings you in he foot or lower leg. You will then instantly lose the ability to walk and it will hurt like heck. Either you drag yourself or someone carries you off the beach. I have repeatedly carried stung people and it is not easy. Make sure you work out 🙂 The local nurse or doctor have shots they can apply that ease the pain and speed up recovery. You will recover in about 2 weeks.

    • Stewart Aug 28, 2013, 8:30 am

      Good information especially about the manta ray. While at the beach my son accidentally stepped on a manta ray and it stung his foot. As you said instantly he was in sharp pain and couldn’t walk. Our local friend tried to suck the venom out (I let him do it because he lives on the beach and knows) then we took him to a clinic in Rio Verde where they gave him a shot.

      I can’t say about other beaches, but where we were (Camarones – about 10 miles north of Esmeradas) the beach is wide with a slight slope. At low tide it’s out about 1/4 mile it seems. There’s a jet stream here and many fish and manta rays apparently. Now we know to only go in the water at high tide and wear beach shoes for water if possible.

  • David Aug 27, 2013, 9:04 pm

    Thank you for the enlightenment. The only parasites I am familiar with in North America are politicians, tax authorities and trade unions.

    • LINDAROSE RICHARDSON Aug 28, 2013, 9:33 am

      I´ve lived in Mexico 22 yrs. I know when I have a parasite or amoeba but will not use any of the prophylactic measures or the pills stated in the article. It is much better to take a specimen in to a lab, find out exactly what TYPE of parasite or amoeba you have and ask the pharmacist for the fix….otherwise, you may still carry these pesky critters in your system which can cause plenty of problems later. I was having problems in Peru, as well as my traveling partner. We took specimens to a lab, actually, twice, as our symptoms took a long time to clear up…..we were NEGATIVE both times! So had we taken one of the above meds, would have been needless…don’t need any meds in your system that are unnecessary!

      • Bryan Haines Aug 28, 2013, 11:22 am

        I agree that while it is better to get a test, they don’t always identify the amoeba or parasite. This happened to us and the doctor recommended we take the anti-parasite meds because of our symptoms. When we did, the symptoms went away.

  • Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac. Aug 27, 2013, 9:03 pm

    I don’t know if such is available in Ecuador (Brian?) but in US there are excellent labs (I know of one anyway, in Tempe, AZ) that all they do is test stool for parasites and they are quite good at it. Point is, they also test any “bugs” they find for weaknesses/sensitivity, then as part of the report they send they include recommendations of most effective pharma drug and also effective herbs. One of the big problems w/ treating parasites is many times they will turn out to be at least partially immune to the drugs or herbs used and so you might get better for a short time an then relapse your symptoms.

    Anyone know what indigenous tribes use to treat parasites? I know ayahuasca tends to scrub a lot of them out but it is soooooooo INTENSE!!!!! and just sort of scrubs everything, including your mind so not really a first line treatment to me…

    • Bryan Haines Aug 28, 2013, 7:13 am

      It’s a good point. There are lots of labs here that will test for parasites as well. From what I understand, not all will show up in tests. Because parasites are so common, it is the custom here for doctors to prescribe a treatment first – because it works in a majority of cases.

  • Renate Heygster Aug 27, 2013, 8:08 pm

    My experience with parasites is enough to write a book. I advise caution, research details on the 1st drug
    http://www.drugs.com/cons/albendazole.html and the other. My worst nightmare was taking Flagyl. Once clear
    of giardia, all mucus lining was stripped from my digestive system. Baby food came out 1/2 hr. later undigested.
    Acupuncture brought me back. For info. on vaccines and other health issues, I read mercola.com. I am keeping
    free of parasites + with MMS (Miracle mineral suppl.) and Diatomateous Earth daily, totally harmless to my
    sensitive body. Worst: Flagyl does not kill the eggs! Found out 15 years later with a relapse from inside. I then healed with Hulda Clarks program, which I still do at times. I will need to be on maintenance til I pass on, since I was so heavily infested with so many diff. parasites. Too much to write about. Looking forward to visit Ecuador
    in Jan., Cotacachi N of Quito. Blessings, Renate

  • Jill Aug 27, 2013, 7:38 pm

    Thanks for this post Dena. We take the same medication but I never knew it came in a handy little fool-proof package. I’ll have to look for this brand next time. Does Drew take the same brand?

  • David Aug 27, 2013, 7:17 pm

    Excuse my ignorance but amoebas and parasites contracted how?

    • Bryan Haines Aug 27, 2013, 7:37 pm

      In our case, through food and water. Parasites can be contracted lots of ways, but we only had digestive tract ones.

  • David Aug 27, 2013, 7:14 pm

    Pardon my ignorance. Amoebas and parasites contracted how?

  • Jon Aug 27, 2013, 7:00 pm

    Bryan, Dena,

    When you first arrived – before you began taking the meds for parasites – did you drink only bottled water and did you get sick with “stomach issues” and/or fever and sweats? I’m coming in April and trying to gauge how to prepare for drinking/not drinking water that is not bottled. I really would appreciate a general gauge on if its safe for an American with a sensitive stomach to eat and drink at restaurants and street vendors. Ps, When I go to Mexico I get deathly sick if I drink any tap water by accident (like ice in drinks, salsa, etc.) Ho would you compare Cuenca tap water to say, Playa Del Carmen?

    • Bryan Haines Aug 27, 2013, 8:16 pm

      We did drink only bottled water at home – but at restaurants and friends homes we drank what we were served.

      I can’t compare tap water in Mexico – I’ve never been there. Many expats drink the water in Cuenca and swear that it is safe.

Leave a Comment

What Other Expats Are Buying (Before Moving to Ecuador)


Easy Spanish Phrase Book NEW EDITION: Over 700 Phrases for Everyday Use (Dover Language Guides Spanish)
$2.94