The tapeworm is one of the nastiest parasites out there. It has a weird looking body, lives inside you and steals all of your nutrients. Not to mention that it lays millions of eggs all the time and they can reach up to 20 feet in length. Having one inside sounds revolting, doesn’t it? Well, then knowing the fact that at one point in time they were prescribed for weight loss is going to make your skin crawl. Thankfully, these days we know to diet and do workouts to lose weight. We have 10 facts about tapeworms, myths and legends. Enjoy the read!
10. Tapeworms are Parasites
The first thing you need to know about a tapeworm is that they are a parasite. The tape worm receives all of its nutrients from the digestive system of its host. It is a simple creature that doesn’t even have a digestive system of its own. It simply absorbs the nutrients that have been broken down by the host’s digestive system.
9. They Live Inside Intestines
Tapeworms do not live inside the stomach. Instead, they live inside the intestines of their host (be it man, pig, cow or dog). Their head is called a scolex and it has hooks which it uses to attach to the wall of the intestine. Without the hooks, the digestive tract of the host animal would simply push the worm out.
8. Strobila and Proglottid
No, they’re not swear words. The strobila and proglottid are names of the tapeworm body parts. After the scolex, or the head, comes the body which is called the strobila. It is made up of smaller segments called the proglottid. This is where things become interesting: each of these proglottids are either male or female and they usually break off and are passed off along with feces. The proglottids closer to the head are male which carry the sperm and the ones closer to the tail are female which carry the eggs. This way the tapeworm fertilizes itself. That’s pretty far out, right?!
After reading about cysticercosis you’ll think that having a parasite in your intestine is a piece of cake. This is a horrible disease happens when cysts of the tapeworm enter the blood stream and end up in the brain or eyes. Once there, they grow and inflame the tissue around them causing blindness, brain damage and even death.
What you can do to prevent tapeworm infection is to thoroughly cook meat or freeze it for 10 days to make sure you’ve killed any parasites. Try avoiding eating raw meat if you want to stay healthy. If you do contract the parasite, a single dose medication will help you get rid of it. It does this by permanently contracting the muscles of the tapeworm.
5. Milk and Cookies
Now that we’re talking about facts about tapeworms, let’s deal with a very common myth about tapeworms. There’s this legend out there that says that if you place a plate of cookies and a glass of milk on the close proximity of the mouth of a person infected with tapeworm, the worm will sense this and it will leave the body through the mouth. Nonsense! The worm can’t smell or see. It is a very simple creature. Pills are the only way to get rid of tapeworms. So, save your milk and cookies for Santa!
4. Did Maria Callas Lose Weight with Tapeworms?
Opera singer Maria Callas used to be a heavy girl, and then in less than a year she lost 60 pounds. Also, at one point on her life, she did have a tapeworm. People put two and two together and started saying that she used a tapeworm to lose the weight. In fact, it may be just a myth or it may be real. Nobody really knows.
3. Tapeworms for Weight Loss
The picture above is evidence that sanitized tapeworms were indeed used to lose weight. The sanitized bit is funny, because it really means that the tapeworms weren’t dirty themselves. The pills would contain a cyst that would then hatch and infect the victim. Needless to say that it was probably one of the worse ideas in the history of the world!
2. What Happens to Your Body When You Have a Tapeworm
Well, if you have a tapeworm then you’re most likely to become malnourished, as the worm is going to absorb all your nutrients. Also, many hosts suffer diarrhea and intestinal discomfort, which is quite natural considering you’ve got a 20 foot worm inside your intestines. Other, more dangerous conditions may occur, such as the cysticercosis we’ve discussed earlier.
Ascites is a condition caused by the human’s immune system in reaction to a parasitic infection. Fluid builds up in the abdominal cavity, causing a distended stomach. The occurrence of this condition is quite rare, but it should act as a warning to everyone who has a parasitic infection: get treatment as soon as possible!
What are your thoughts on these facts about tapeworms? Care to share any more facts that haven’t been mentioned in this article? Drop us a line in the comment section below, we would love to hear from our readers.