Taeniasis (Tapeworm): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What are Tapeworms?

Tapeworms are flat, parasitic worms shaped like ribbons that get into your gut when you ingest their eggs or larvae. (x) Taeniasis is the parasitic infection that tapeworms cause. Humans most commonly contract tapeworms when they consume raw or undercooked food. (x

Tapeworms are a parasite and cannot survive on their own. They do not have a digestive tract, so they consume nutrients straight from the small bowel of their host and grow inside them. (x)

The parasites exist worldwide, but the infection mostly shows up in countries in eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia. (x) (x)

Usually, people with tapeworms in their systems are unaware of the worms in their bodies because the symptoms can be mild or even non-existent. But taeniasis can lead to a rare infectious disease called cysticercosis if the tapeworms form cysts, which affect tissue in the brain or muscles. (x) (x) (x)

Taeniasis comes from three different types of tapeworms: 

Taenia saginata (T. saginata), Taenia solium (T. solium) and Taenia asiatica (T. asiatica). (x) (x) (x

T. saginata is the beef tapeworm, and T. solium is in pork. T. asiatica comes from pork as well. Still limited to Asian countries, mainly in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea and India.

How Does Tapeworm Spread to Humans?

Tapeworms move through three stages in their life cycle — eggs, larvae and adults. (x) When the tapeworm reaches adulthood, it can live in the human intestines until it dies, and the human either passes it or it absorbs into the intestines. (x

First, the eggs or worms live in the host’s intestines until they pass into the environment through their feces, where they can survive for months. Cows and pigs then consume the eggs or vegetation that the eggs contaminate, and the animals become their host.

The eggs hatch, and the larvae develop in the animal. Then they pass through the host’s intestinal wall and move to the muscle, where they can live for years.

Then, the parasite spreads to humans if they eat raw or undercooked meat from the infected animal host. The adult tapeworm then develops in the human’s small intestine. Tapeworms can grow as long as 12 feet and can live in the small intestine for years undetected.

The tapeworm produces segments called proglottids, which have complete male and female reproductive systems. The proglottids grow, become pregnant and detach from the tapeworm so that they can move to the human’s anus or pass through their stool, along with its eggs. Then the eggs release back into the environment, and another host consumes them, and the cycle starts all over again. (x)

Risk Factors of Taeniasis

The most common risk factor for taeniasis is consuming raw or undercooked pork, beef or contaminated water exposed to tapeworm in the environment. Contaminated food is more common in certain parts of the world with poor sanitation practices or free-ranging animals, such as Latin America, Asia, Africa and parts of Europe. (x) (x) (x)

Humans can also contract it by interacting with animals, especially if the animals’ feces remain around the area without properly disposing of excrements. (x)

Poor hygiene can also spread tapeworm. If people contact particles of contaminated feces and fail to wash their hands, they can transfer the parasite to their mouths. (x)

Symptoms of a Tapeworm

Tapeworms rarely trigger symptoms because they adapt to the human body very well. (x) When they do, they are usually mild and non-specific.

About eight weeks after the person ingests the tapeworm, it matures to adulthood in the intestine and may cause symptoms:

It may also cause the patient to pass eggs or pieces of the tapeworm in their stool. (x) (x) Beef tapeworms usually cause more symptoms than pork tapeworms because they are more prominent in size. (x)

Tapeworms that have not entirely matured may cause different symptoms than adult tapeworms because they can move to other parts of the body. They can cause pain in the lungs, headaches, fever or jaundice. (x)The symptoms continue until the infected individual treats the infection to kill the parasite. But without treatment, it can live for years. (x)

Tapeworm Symptoms

Complications of Having Tapeworms

Pork tapeworms can cause cysticercosis, which is a tissue infection. The tapeworm can form cysts in the tissue in the muscles, eyes, brain and spinal cord. The cysts grow and cause inflammation. In the brain or spinal cord, it causes headaches, seizures, swelling in the brain, stroke or death. In the muscles, lumps may develop under the skin. But sometimes, the condition doesn’t cause any symptoms at all. If the cysts become infected with bacteria, they may burst and cause anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening.

Neurocysticercosis is the most severe form of cysticercosis, causing chronic headaches, blindness, meningitis, dementia, hydrocephalus, seizures and epilepsy — recurrent seizures. (x) (x

Treating a Tapeworm

The only way to diagnose infection is a stool examination because the patient will either pass eggs or segments of the tapeworm in their feces. (x

After diagnosis, there are oral medications to treat a tapeworm infection. It is easily treatable, and usually, the patient only needs one dose of either praziquantel or niclosamide. (x) (x) (x) A doctor may also recommend a laxative to help pass the tapeworm in the stool.

If the parasite travels outside of the intestine, anti-inflammatory steroids can reduce swelling from cysts. In other cases, if a cyst forms in vital organs, the patient may need surgery to remove it. (x)

Neurocysticercosis Treatment

Treatment for neurocysticercosis may be more extensive because destroying the cysts can cause an inflammatory response. Dosage and treatment duration depends on how many cysts there are, where they form, how far they have developed and how acute the symptoms are. (x)

Adult vs. Larvae Treatment

Treating adult tapeworms is more manageable than treating larvae because they can move around the body, but adult tapeworms stay in the small intestine. By the time the larva triggers symptoms, it may have already lived in the body for years. (x)

Preventing a Tapeworm

Even though they are generally harmless, tapeworms can cause damage. Rather than spending time getting rid of a tapeworm, it’s best to prevent the infection in the first place. To lower the risk of contracting a tapeworm: (x) (x)

Cook meat thoroughly at the correct temperatures to destroy tapeworm eggs

  • Wash fruit and vegetables
  • Avoid freezing meat for a long time
  • Make sure animals deworm regularly
  • Avoid intermediate hosts — fleas, grain beetles and rodents
  • Inspect meat before you eat it
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before touching food and in the bathroom

Common Areas to Contact a Tapeworm

In areas where tapeworm is common, only use water that you know is safe to wash fruit and vegetables. Avoid raw or undercooked food, including raw vegetables, unless you peel it yourself. Only drink bottled or canned beverages and boiled water for at least one minute. (x)

Supplements for a Tapeworm

Taking supplements may help prevent or relieve symptoms of having a tapeworm. Contact your doctor when you believe you have a tapeworm and check with the doctor before taking any new supplement. Some supplements for treating parasitic tapeworm include:

  1. Berberine HCL Powder

An extracted from the bark of the phellodendron plant, berberine promotes heart health and keeps a healthy cholesterol level. It can also improve digestion and relieve diarrhea from infections in the intestine, such as tapeworm. The recommended dose is 500 mg twice daily for no more than three months without a clear directive from a doctor.

  1. Grapefruit Seed Extract

Grapefruit is renowned for its antioxidant properties. Its seed contains molecular components, including flavonoids, which support cellular health. It can help maintain overall health by supplementing the daily values of vitamin C and vitamin E. The recommended dosage is 500 mg to 1,000 mg up to three times a day, especially before a workout.

  1. Bearberry Leaf Extract (Uva Ursi) Powder

This supplement comes from the bearberry leaf, a type of shrub that grows perennially in Asia, Europe and certain parts of North America. It has a substance called arbutin that helps treat urinary tract infections and provides Vitamin A. Take 760 mg once or twice a day with a meal. This supplement is only for short-term use.

  1. Omega-3-6-9 Softgels

Fatty acids may improve certain risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. (x) They also reduce inflammation, which is beneficial in some cases of tapeworm. The recommended dosage is three softgels per day.

  1. Galla Chinensis Powder

This supplement contains tannic acid, which improves gastrointestinal health. Galla chinensis is a plant with therapeutic properties, including reducing blood pressure to improve heart health and modulating immune responses so the body can fight infection (x). The recommended dosage is 1,500 mg per day.

  1. Pomegranate Extract Powder (40% Ellagic Acid)

In grapes, nuts, pomegranates, cranberries and strawberries, ellagic acid helps protect the liver and fights free radicals. It also helps with inflammation and treats artery hypertension. (x) Ellagic acid may also have anti-cancer properties and keeps cancer cells from multiplying. (x) As a dietary supplement, take 750 mg of pomegranate extract twice a day.

  1. Olive Leaf Extract

Traditionally, Mediterranean cultures use olive leaf extract as a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It promotes heart, immune and cognitive health and fights infections. The recommended dose is 750 mg daily with food.

  1. Pumpkin Seed Extract 

An extract from pumpkin seeds, this supplement is rich in nutrients and fiber. They also contain essential fatty acids, antioxidants and tryptophan. This supplement also helps promote heart, urinary tract and immune health.

A study performed in Sichuan Province, China proved the usefulness of pumpkin seeds with areca nut for treating human taeniasis. Areca nut is a highly addictive food like tobacco, caffeine and alcohol — considered “fruit of divine origin” in Hindu religious practices. (x) The study reports the pumpkin seed and areca combination discharged whole tapeworms (Taenia saginata) from the upper small intestine. (x

CABI database platform reports of an effective tapeworm treatment using pumpkin seeds with a saline purge. (x) The recommended dose of the supplement is 550 mg a day or as directed by a doctor.

Where to Buy Supplements for Taeniasis (Tapeworms)?

You can purchase these supplements for taeniasis infection caused by tapeworms at BulkSupplements.com. The company is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor of pure dietary supplements. 

BulkSupplements.com is not just a consumer brand. It also supplies pure ingredients to other food and supplement brands to make their products. All products at BulkSupplements.com are manufactured and tested according to current and proper manufacturing practices.

Are you interested in trying any of these supplements mentioned in this article as a possible solution to helping you with your taeniasis infection (tapeworms)? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.

The Bottom Line

Taeniasis is an infection caused by tapeworms, which are parasites that develop in the digestive system and live off of a host. Humans contract tapeworms by ingesting contaminated water, beef or pork or coming in contact with infected feces.

The parasites exist worldwide, but the taeniasis infection mostly shows up in eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia.

They are generally harmless to the body, and a fully developed tapeworm can live for years in the intestines undetected. They rarely trigger symptoms because they adapt to the human body.

However, sometimes they can cause immense and possibly irreversible damage. You can treat, but it is best to prevent tapeworm in the first place by avoiding raw or undercooked meat, practicing good hygiene, and deworming animals regularly.

Some supplements like pumpkin seed extract, berberine HCL powder and pomegranate extract may help treat and discharge the parasites.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Author: BulkSupplements Staff