Tapeworms infest the intestines of most mammals, including humans. They may grow up to 50 feet long and live for nearly two decades. Sometimes, an infested person may be asymptomatic and the infestation will go unnoticed. Frequently, however, a person may experience vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite and weakness. As the infestation progresses, weight loss occurs, and tapeworm segments may appear in the stool. In severe cases, tapeworms may interfere with normal bowel movements or cause abdominal pain.

People contract tapeworm eggs through poorly cooked meat, particularly beef, pork and fish. These eggs travel through the digestive tract until they settle in the intestine. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the nutrients consumed by the host and grow.

Many types of treatments are available for a tapeworm infestation ranging from prescription medications to alternative medicine. These treatments, however, should not be used in conjunction with one another due to the possibility of interaction.

Prescription Medication

Tapeworms can be treated effectively in humans through the use of prescription medications. There are no over-the-counter drugs, as the treatment varies on the tapeworm species. Medication is given orally, as it will need to make direct contact with the tapeworm in the intestine. These drugs are designed to destroy the protective coating on the tapeworm’s body, allowing the intestine to digest and expel it. However, this method has one downside in that it targets only adult worms, not larvae or eggs. A person may become reinfected when the next cycle of eggs hatches.

It’s important to remember that tapeworms are not a bacteria, so taking antibiotics is useless. Antibiotics can cause more harm than good by weakening the presence of benevolent bacteria of the intestine, which help the immune system fight other infections.

Diet Adjustments

A strict diet may rob a tapeworm of the nutrients it needs to survive, but this is tricky and should be done in conjunction with another treatment. This diet should include plenty of raw carrots and pumpkin seeds in as many meals as can be managed. These foods are anti-parasitic and will both prevent the tapeworm from getting nutrients as well as damage its outer skin and weaken it.

Leafy green vegetables also help. Cut out all refined sugars, flour and processed foods completely as tapeworms thrive on these. Be careful when eating fruits as they contain natural sugars that will feed the tapeworm. Additionally, avoid iced drinks and cold foods as the cold will cause intestinal contractions, resulting in pain and the withholding of toxins.

Herbal Remedies

Many herbs can expel tapeworms from the body. The most famous of these, wormwood, derives its name from its ability to fight worm infestations. The usual methods of taking wormwood include tinctures, though a simple tea can also be made from its leaves. To brew this, use two tablespoons of fresh or one tablespoon of dried wormwood per each cup of boiling water. Let it sit for five to 10 minutes. Also consider mixing other herbs, such as cinnamon or ginger for flavoring.

Other herbs such as garlic, oregano, black walnut, thyme, cloves and grapefruit seed may also be used. These can be added to any meal, though the garlic must be raw to have any medicinal effects. Using these herbs in combination will help rid the body of warms, larvae and eggs.


Homeopathy may be employed for certain tapeworms, such as those coming from beef or pork. Sabadilla works for tapeworms when persistent itching, nausea, vomiting and instances of delirium where the patient experiences hallucinations of imaginary symptoms. Granatum also expels tapeworms when there is stomach pain, and Kuosso is employed when there is a slow and irregular pulse. Other homeopathic formulas may treat tapeworms, however, an extensive examination by a homeopath is necessary to properly use this method.


Surgery for tapeworms is rare; however, in severe cases it may be necessary. A tapeworm may grow large enough that its extra weight may damage organs or block up the intestines. This may cause serious complications and even prove fatal. Many doctors reserve surgery as an absolute last resort.


Most of the time, tapeworms aren’t life-threatening or dangerous. Once noticed, they can often be treated at home with little or no difficulty. However, never assume that any home treatment will be perfectly effective, especially in the case of children. Always make sure that the infestation is removed, either through a doctor’s appointment or by seeking the advice of a licensed naturopath.