The use of antiparasitic medications is the primary therapy for roundworm infections; the medication prescribed depends on the specific roundworm identified. Surgical procedures may be necessary under certain circumstances; such procedures are not always readily available, however, in areas where roundworm infections are prevalent. Roundworm infections can inflame the lining of the gut and limit the absorption of and/or compete with many essential nutrients, including vitamins A and B6. Vitamin A deficiencies are believed to increase the risk of parasitic infections, so some researchers speculate that vitamin A supplementation may help prevent or reduce symptoms associated with roundworm infections. In addition, some herbal remedies, particularly fig, have been shown to limit roundworm egg production or destroy roundworms altogether. Some other studies suggest that Traditional Chinese Medicine may prove more effective than placebo in improving the symptoms of roundworm infection
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements
Malnutrition is associated with roundworm infection, so maintaining optimal nutritional status may be helpful in preventing and treating roundworm infection. The following nutrients may be particularly useful in this regard:
Some studies have suggested that vitamin A deficiency may be associated with roundworm infection. Parasites may deplete stores of vitamin A, leaving the infected individual with inadequate levels to fight off infection. Parasites may also impair an individual's ability to absorb fat, thereby interfering with the intestinal absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A. At this time, however, there is not enough scientific evidence to suggest that vitamin A supplementation is effective at preventing or treating malnutrition associated with roundworm infection.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Animal studies have suggested that vitamin B6-deficient rats recover from trichinosis significantly slower than rats with normal vitamin B6 status. No studies have investigated whether vitamin B6 is effective at preventing or treating roundworm infection in humans, however.
Some herbal remedies have properties that are destructive to parasites such as roundworm. While many of these herbal remedies have been used traditionally by certain cultures, few have been scientifically tested for their safety and effectiveness. These herbal remedies include:
Fig (Ficus glabrata)
Studies of individuals with roundworm infections, including ascariasis, threadworm, whipworm, and hookworm, have suggested that daily doses of Ficus glabrata (an extract from a species of fig tree) may reduce roundworm egg production by up to 85 percent.
Andrographis root (Andrographis paniculata)
Animal studies indicate that this herb may reduce the presence of Wucheria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, or Brugia timori (lymphatic filariasis infections) by 84% to 93% in infected dogs. The safety and effectiveness of this herb has yet to be investigated in humans, however.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Laboratory studies suggest that large quantities of fresh, raw garlic may have antiparasitic properties against the roundworm, Ascaris lumbricoides; this herbal remedy has not yet been tested clinically in humans.
Wormseed (Chenopodium ambrosioides)�
Although wormseed has not gone through rigorous scientific testing, this herb is used throughout the world as an effective antiparasitic agent against hookworm and whipworm.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)�
Various species of wormwood are reported to have antiparasitic properties and have been used traditionally to treat parasites. The safety and efficacy of this herb, however, has not been established in clinical trials.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)�
Laboratory studies suggest that curcuminoids, the active components of turmeric, may work together with wormwood to reduce the destructive activity of parasites. Clinical trials with humans are warranted.
Rangoon creeper (Quisqualis indica)�
The seeds of this tropical vine are frequently used throughout Southeast Asia for treating infections associated with roundworms, particularly ascariasis and pinworm. Results of clinical studies suggest that this herb may eliminate between 30% and 86% of roundworms in infected individuals.
Other herbs with a substantial history of treating roundworms include pumpkin seeds and husks (Curcubita pepo), Punica granatum (Pomegranate bark), and quassia (Picraena excelsa). The clinical safety and effectiveness of these herbs have not been scientifically studied, however.
One randomized, controlled study of 92 individuals infected with the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides demonstrated that people treated with acupuncture combined with traditional Chinese herbs had significantly greater improvement in symptoms compared with people who were treated with conventional medication.