The Tapeworm Diet: Does It Really Work?

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There are hundreds if not thousands of diets out there – some of them weirder than others. The tapeworm diet is one of those particularly strange ones because it’s not a euphemism. If you successfully start the diet, then there really is a tapeworm involved in helping you lose weight.What is the tapeworm diet, and is it safe? And does it even work? Keep reading to learn more about why people are swallowing tapeworm diet pills to shed weight.What is the Tapeworm Diet?The tapeworm diet is a fad diet that involves swallowing a pill that contains a tapeworm egg.In theory, the egg hatches in your digestive system and then does what tapeworms do: eats what you eat and absorbs the calories on your behalf. You, therefore, struggle to get the calories and nutrients you need before the tapeworm eats them, and you lose weight rapidly.The Tapeworm Diet is a Tapeworm InfectionDiet pill makers slap the word “diet” on it, but in reality, what you try to achieve by taking the pill is a tapeworm infection, which is a parasite infection (as described on you have a tapeworm infection that you didn’t get from a pill, you likely swallowed contaminated water or ate food contaminated with tapeworm larvae or eggs.The larvae then hang around in your intestines and grow into adults. These infections come with complications. If the worm gets too big, it can block your digestive system, including your pancreatic ducts and appendix. The blockage can reduce your organ’s blood supply and function, and even put your organs at risk.However, if you swallow the eggs, you risk the eggs migrating outside your intestines and becoming cysts in other parts of your body (called an invasive infection or cysticercosis). Invasive infections cause serious complications, mainly if they infect the brain or heart tissue. You can even experience fluid buildup in your brain, which requires a shunt to drain.Because the diet pills allegedly contain eggs, you’re at an even higher risk of complications with no so-called reward. The eggs could quickly leave your intestines before you lose any weight.What Are the Symptoms of a Tapeworm Infection?Eating a tapeworm is supposed to be an easy way to lose weight. But in reality, you will probably feel very sick, mainly if you leave it to grow for a long time.Some people don’t experience any symptoms, but when you do, you might feel:

  • nauseous
  • dizzy
  • weak
  • faint

You’ll also struggle to eat and will have abdominal pain, which means you won’t be able to “eat what you want and still lose weight.” You might not eat at all.If you have an invasive infection, you’ll likely experience headaches and seizures. These infections need treatment immediately.Who First Started the Tapeworm Diet?Who had the clever idea to swallow a tapeworm to lose weight in the first place?The idea allegedly dates back to Victorian England, where women were desperate to conform to the beauty standards of the era. If there was one thing Victorians didn’t like, it was a “stout” girl or woman.However, it’s unclear whether anyone actually managed to ingest a tapeworm and use the “diet” successfully. As with today, the pills and devices used to give women tapeworms could have been both a fad and a trick.How Do You Begin the Tapeworm Diet?Because parasite infections are something you typically don’t want, getting started with the tapeworm diet involves another element of risk.The FDA banned these pills, so you won’t find them in your local health food store. Doctors won’t give them to you either. The medical community regularly goes on the record to say that taking these pills is risky and can even lead to rare deaths.If you do buy tapeworm pills, you need to get them online. Some Asian sites may be a good resource. Dieters in Hong Kong recently went through a tapeworm diet phase.If you’re willing to travel outside the FDA’s jurisdiction, you might also find some rather dubious clinics ready to help. There were previously some rather infamous clinics in Mexico willing to sell you tapeworms for a few grand.How the Tapeworm Diet EndsThere are all kinds of issues with the tapeworm diet. First, you never know if you’re getting a real product; it’s illegal to possess a tapeworm on purpose. Then, you can’t control the tapeworm eggs or larvae once inside your body. A tapeworm is a parasite, but it’s a living thing, too.In a best-case scenario, the tapeworm stays in your intestine and attaches itself to your organ to siphon off your nutrients. And in this case, the best case is still an infection that requires treatment at some point.But when you finish with the worm – whether you lost weight or not – you then need to get rid of it. De-worming yourself is where the fun really starts.If you have an intestinal tapeworm, your doctor will try to figure out where you got it (to report it to the CDC) and then prescribe you a medication. However, treatment depends on the type of tapeworm and infection you have as well as any complications that popped up.In some cases, your tapeworm will leave your body on its own: yes, that way.Your doctor will then ask for periodic stool samples to make sure the medication worked. It’s essential to be very careful after using the toilet to wash your hands as tapeworm eggs live in your stool, and you can reinfect yourself if you don’t clean your hands properly.Tape Worms for Weight Loss: It’s Not Worth ItThere are a lot of interesting ways to lose weight out there, but the tapeworm diet is probably one of the strangest. Not only are you purposely infecting yourself with a parasite, but there’s a good chance of getting scammed along the way.Doctors say that you should stay far, far away from the tapeworm diet. If you’re struggling to lose weight with diet and exercise alone, talk to your general physician about safer and more effective ways to shed pounds.Are you looking for real ways to stay healthy? Make sure you check out our Food archive for more great content.

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