Tapeworms can be transmitted in infected meat or fish which has not been properly cooked. The embryonic parasite of the tapeworm develops a head which fastens itself into the wall of the small intestine, and then grows into a long, segmented worm which feeds on the pre-digested contents. Segments of the tapeworm which contain thousands of embryos occasionally break off and appear in the faeces.

The symptoms of tapeworms are itching around the anus and occasional abdominal pain. There is also likely to be some weight loss, but not undue hunger, unless the person is already suffering from malnutrition. Sometimes tapeworms can cause a complete blockage of the intestine, in which case Chinese herbal medicine would be used to calm the tapeworms before killing and expelling them.

Afterwards – or sometimes even before – a Chinese Medicine practitioner will attempt to tonify the energy of the spleen, to strengthen the body, repair the damage and prevent reinfection. There are many Chinese medicines which can be used. Among the most common are pumpkin seeds, followed by betel nut, followed by a purgative medicine such as rhubarb.

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