The Tapeworm Diet

The Tapeworm Diet – Myth Or Reality

There is no doubt that many people would do almost anything to lose those extra pounds, perhaps even going as far as to knowingly infecting themselves with worms. Just google and you'll see many pleas on forums and posting boards asking where people  can buy tapeworms! 

Believe it or not there has been and continues to be a small group of individuals, including some scientists and researchers, that promote and actually support the use of a variety of worms for treatment of many different health conditions commonly found in the human body. Helminth therapy, or the controlled use of worms in treatment, has been around for hundreds of years but has recently surfaced again as a possible option for those wishing to lose weight quickly and without having to change their lifestyle or diet.

Hoaxes and Scams

There are actual advertisements from the early 1900s that marketed different types weight loss products, specifically a diet pill, that was reported to contain eggs of the tapeworm although whether or not the capsules actually contained what they claimed is still very much uncertain.

Full story here.

There are still many different tapeworm diet pills marketed, some on the internet and some in shady types of "health food" or "holistic" stores, which tends to sully the repuation of the very good health food and holistic stores. In reality those researchers and "scientists" that do advocate the use of tapeworms indicate that beef tapeworm cysts cannot live long outside of a host, so capsules would not contain viable cysts, even if you were to consume the pills.

Those that advocate the use of tapeworms as a form of weight loss recommend the consumption of live, viable cysts that are only available in countries where tapeworms are common in cattle. Since the cysts cannot be imported into the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom and many other countries, this means the person must go to the source. The cysts are treated and processed to attempt to avoid any other types of contaminants, then are swallowed by the person in food or alone. Needless to say this does take some courage, not to mention a very strong stomach.

Celebrities and Tapeworms

There have been several claims of different celebrities intentionally consuming tapeworm cysts in order to lose weight. In reality there are no substantiated claims, although the most famous case of tapeworm infestation is likely that of the opera singer, Maria Callas who lived from 1923-1977. There is no doubt that Ms. Callas did in fact have tapeworms, but it was due to consuming raw meat in such dishes as steak and liver tartare, rather than any intentional consumption that caused her weight loss and subsequent tapeworm infestation. Many nutritionalists and medical experts also believe that she likely had many different types of worms, not just one tapeworm to cause her extreme weight loss.

There continues to be speculation in the media and in gossip columns about the rather astounding weight loss of different celebrities, and while there is always the possibility of a tapeworm there is also the much more likely and probable cases of using amphetamines and surgical procedures. If any current celebrities are using tapeworms in weight loss, they certainly aren't advertising the fact.

Full story here.

Travel Tip: When in the Washington area, be sure to check out the United States National Parasite Collection. This is located at the Department of Agriculture in Beltsville Maryland.

Introducing the Star of the Show - The Tapeworm

In order to evaluate the validity of the claims from those individuals promoting the intentional consumption of worms as part of a healthy dieting program it is important to understand just what a tapeworm is and what it is going to be doing inside of your body.

The tapeworm that is used in weight loss programs is a very specific tapeworm, known as the beef tapeworm. Taenia saginata, also known as Taeniarhynchus saginata, is the actual classification of the worm and it can only be found in cattle or humans.

There are other tapeworms in different species but these should not be used in any type of human diet or for human ingestion. Generally in most countries including Western and Southern Europe, the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and Canada the beef is routinely treated for worms and kept in good health, meaning that tapeworms are not a problem. There are still tapeworms in some cattle, however through inspections, carefully food storage and preparation the incidence of accidental tapeworm infection is very low.

Carcasses at slaughter facilities that are found to contain tapeworms are not used for human consumption, which prevents the spread of the parasite. In undeveloped countries such as South America, the Philipines and Africa and occasionally in far Eastern Europe beef may be infected with the cycts from the tapeworm, which can result in human infection if the beef is not fully cooked, stored properly or is not frozen prior to human consumption. Since there is less rigerous testing and home slaughtering without inspections are common in these areas there is a greater chance that the viable cycts will be injested if the meat is not properly cooked and stored.

The tapeworm is a parasite and lives in the digestive tract, more specifically in the intestines. The worm can be very small when young, less than one millimetre up to the huge mature tapeworms that can be over 20 metres in length. The larger the tapeworm gets the more likely it is that the host, in this case the human, will exhibit the side effects of having a worm. In addition to just having one worm, this worm is constantly releasing small cysts, very small tapeworms, or eggs that are expelled from the body.

It is actually relatively easy to get rid of a tapeworm. The person simply takes a medication, usually Praziquantel, which is a worming drug. This causes the worm to be sedated and release its grip on the lining of the digestive tract, allowing the natural movement of the intestines to move the worm out of the body with the feces.

NOT likely!

Side Effects of Tapeworms

The individuals that advocate the use of tapeworms in treating obesity and aiding in weight loss indicate that there are few side effects if the cyct (baby tapeworm) is properly treated. In reality there are any number of side effects that can occur as each person reacts differently to the parasite. The most common side effects are abdominal pain and diahrrea, dizziness, vomiting, headaches, dehydration and loss of apetite. On the positive side there is weight loss, however it is not the dramatic amount that may be reported on some of the sites claiming to sell tapeworm pills. In reality most people will only lose a few pounds in total and will often have many of the side effects listed above.

In rare cases where the worm is left untreated inside the person too long, there can be life threatening intestinal blockages that require surgery to remove the worm. Some individuals may also develop mild to severe allergic reactions to the anitgens that are produced in the worm's digestive sucretions. It is always important to inform your doctor if you have traveled to a country where tapeworms are a problem or if you have knowing injested one, especially if the symptoms you exhibit are the ones mentioned above.

The weight loss component comes in as the worm actually consumes some or all of the nutrients that you consume. Since the worm takes what it wants there is less for the body to absorb and use resulting in weight loss, or so the theory goes. Of course the worm also consumes the vitamins and minerals that you need to keep your body functioning correctly and you will actually eat more, not less, as your body tries to balance things out. Most people that accidentally get tapeworms will quickly gain the weight back once the worm is expelled from the body since it is no longer consuming the excess food.

The Reality

There is little if any research on the benefits to weight loss of consuming and hosting a tapeworm. While there are some anecdotal statements, there is no scientific documentation to back up the claims that tapeworms can and will help in weight loss for all individuals. Even those the promote the use of tapeworms indicate that the average amount of weight loss after the consumption of a tapeworm is 1 to 1 1/2 pounds a week, not much different than a traditional weight loss program that includes careful meal planning, exercise and general lifestyle changes.

Since most people aren't going to travel to a country such as Africa, Latin America or the Philippines to get a viable tapeworm cyst, and even fewer are willing to take the risk of possibly become seriously ill from ingesting the worm, it is not likely that a tapeworm diet is the answer to most individual's weight loss goals.

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20 comments

Pete Maida profile image

Pete Maida 7 years ago

I think I would rather use exercise to control my weight. I'm not surprised Maria Callas had a tapeworm; she was always so darn skinny.


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 7 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

Would I go for a Tapeworm Diet ? No way!


Kenton S. 7 years ago

I thought you'd come here looking how to get rid of tape worms. Heh, heh, heh.

Remember, heat needs moisture to condense.


michelle.dragon99 profile image

michelle.dragon99 7 years ago

Hi Julie...thanks for your info....however,that's pretty crazy with tape worm diet...i think i agreed with Pete, i rather than exercise or diet comparing to practice this kind of diet...dangerous...


shae 6 years ago

give it here.. just went to mexico n puertorico couldn't find one.. tried 2 get it here by eating tons of raw meat.. no luck.. try ingesting fleas..bought at local pet stores.. they are a big carrier of tapeworm larvae


Sandra 6 years ago

hello i want ask from where i can get this tapeworms and what would the cost. Please can you answere to my email?

Thank you


vvsjon profile image

vvsjon 6 years ago from Ahmedabad

really true facts

Google


Mathi 5 years ago

Sandra, did you get an answer? I am looking for tapeworms as well! Thank you


ish 5 years ago

I would like to take my chances on the tapeworm. can you please reply to where i can buy the product from. Thanx


Michele 5 years ago

Okay folks. I had WLS (the whole slice and dice), and worked fantastically for 7 years. One day my doc said due to excess weight, I was nowq below what I should, and put a few pounds on. Lost my job around that time, and I didn't realize that it was at all physical, but must have been. Now I am over 60 lbs overweight. GIVE ME THE WORM! The diet and exercise bit isn't cutting it. Seriously, I need a place to buy some of these cycsts in pill form. Anyone got ideas? Getting desperately depressed over this whole thing, and that is just NOT a good place for me to be. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!


Cyrus 4 years ago

Dude, gross. Get a gym membership and use an elliptical. Or try using the stairs instead of the escalator. It's a life style choice. Boom.


Sarah 4 years ago

I am completely supportive of this idea. I'm 22 years old 230lbs and 5'8. I am unable to exercise due to joint problems and severe asthma, and I don't eat a lot- but too much for the little amount of exercise I do.

I've been in a very deep depression for years because of my self image and would literally do anything to lose it. I don't care if it's unhealthy; living over a decade with hating my self image has ruined my life.

If anyone can find a place to get these, please PLEASE let me know- you will literally be my hero.

Also, people who aren't overweight- eff off. You have no room to say any criticism to those who want to do this. It is their choice and their choice only.


Alan 4 years ago

Go and talk to a doctor. Seriously. Nobody 'can't' exercise.

Nice article though Julie-Ann, thanks, but please can I just remind everybody that Africa is a continent, not just a country: it has over 40 countries.


Nobody Important 4 years ago

I would totally take the tape worm.. if I could find a place that actually sold them.. I would so do it.. in a minute. I'm with all of you who are willing to go to these extremes to lose this damn weight! I work out 45 minutes a day.. every damn day and can't lose a pound. I eat less than 1200 calories a day and drink over 32 oz of water a day.. and I still can't lose a pound :( it sux and I feel for all of you out there who have to struggle with this issue .. and as for the rest of you who don't have this problem.. don't judge until you've walked a mile in the shoes of someone who has to live this mysery


She 4 years ago

Blech, I'd much rather just not eat at all!! I've got some issues with food, but that's way too extreme. I'm sayin this & I've gone for 12 days without eating! At least that didn't have a giant risk of horrible awful diseases!! -_-


Nina 4 years ago

No big deal! Just swallow the worm and wait until I get to the weight I wanted then get rid of it. Simple!


Anonymous 4 years ago

People should consider doing the HCG Diet if you're that desperate. It's legal and actually works. Can make you loose 1-2lbs a day. Hcgasap.com


Catarina 4 years ago

Whether someone have found where to buy those tapeworm egg pills?

Please let me know?


laila 4 years ago

everyone says Don't use the tapeworm diet yet .i still want to try it. I don't care! it's my body and i want to know where to buy tapeworm eggs,if theres no "safe" sellers then i'll get them from china or Vietnam.


gail641 profile image

gail641 4 years ago from Mason City

Tapeworms are gross. They are very unhealthy and diseases. I wouldn't want worms that are diseases to be a cure for anything like weight loss, or anything else-because they're just creepy.

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