Tapeworm Diet: History, Methods, and Dangers

weight-loss-tapewormsIt is undeniable that people will resort to extreme measures in a desperate attempt to shed those extra pounds, but ingesting tapeworms in order to lose weight is not only a radical fad diet method but also an extremely dangerous one.

Thankfully the use of tapeworms as a diet aid is illegal in the US and for good reason.

Tapeworm infestation can result in:

  • The formation of cysts in the liver, eyes, brain, and spinal cord with potentially lethal consequences.
  • Intestinal Blockages
  • Malnutrition

Tapeworm Diet Basics

Although it is not possible to attempt the tapeworm diet in most countries, it is being offered at some places in Mexico. When you arrive at the treatment location you are given beef tapeworm cysts that have been identified microscopically. This is vitally important because some cows may host pig tapeworms, which are very dangerous.

The tapeworm interferes with your digestion and absorption of nutrients, which means that you can consume more calories and still lose weight. However, the parasite also competes for vitamins and other important nutrients, which may result in a nutritional deficiency.

According to some scientists, tapeworm infestation can result in a loss of one to two pounds per week. Once the target weight loss is reached, a deworming agent is given, which kills the tapeworm so it can be expelled.

Costs and Expenses

It appears that the treatment is only available in Mexico at the time of this review and the approximate cost is $1500.

Pros of the Tapeworm Diet

  • Weight loss is very likely.
  • Some scientists believe that tapeworms can also help to alleviate allergies such as hay fever.

Cons

  • Extremely dangerous, can cause unpleasant side effects and in some cases can be lethal.
  • Does not appear to be adequate protection for consumers in regard to regulation and safety analysis.
  • Rebound weight gain is most likely once the tapeworm is expelled.
  • Tapeworms can cause a swollen stomach which is not physically attractive and goes against the desired result.
  • Not available in most countries.
  • Treatment is expensive and will also need to include travel expenses.

sanitized Tapeworms

History of Tapeworms for Weight Loss

In the early 1900s, a “nutrient absorption” product appeared. Call it an early version of Xenical…

“No diet, no baths, no exercise. FAT – the enemy that is shortening your life – BANISHED. How? With sanitized tapeworms – jar-packed”

No baths? What?

The product appears to be legitimate and was referenced in a 1999 diabetes journal (PDF)

Approaches to decreasing nutrient absorption date from the early 1900s, when diet treatment with “sanitized tapeworms” was widely advertised.

Weight Loss Tapeworms Today?

Unfortunately, this fad is still around and people are desperate to get their hands on these cute little parasites.

Here are a few comments made from people who are desperate to try this method. This shows just how obsessed people are to lose weight and will try anything… even to the extent of putting a deadly parasite inside their bodies.

Here’s a Few

From Nikita:

First I want to say I tried everything under the sun to lose weight, from the gym to eating less, to not eating after 8, to cutting cals, to having a trainer who yelled at me in the gym, I really want to try this. SOMEONE, please help me!
Thank you!

How about Josh:

I hate all those sanctimonious scumbags, who think that all you need is a ‘little exercise’ and we will lose weight. I’ve tried for years to lose 3 stone and it just won’t come off. Do you people think we WANT to put parasites in our bodies for pleasure??? It’s a last resort to lose weight and to become healthy. To be able to lose enough weight so we can go out and maybe feel good about ourselves, so keep your disgusted opinions to yourself and put yourself in a fat person’s shoes. I WANT TO KNOW WHERE TO BUY TAPEWORM EGGS SO I CAN LOSE WEIGHT.

And then there’s Amber who will order them from Mexico if she has to:

ANYONE have any idea on where to get these tapeworm pills. I’ve found a couple different sites that offered them but they have not replied to my emails.. “extractotape” and “weight-b-gone” and “w8bgone” are what I have come up with so far and I am still searching. “Megaslim” seems like a scam. Also, you could try googling “tapeworm pills order online weight loss” or something like that in Spanish because it is legal and offered in Mexico. I’d love to get some of these and I’m willing to pay good money. It’s just a super challenge trying to find them.

Dangers With This Approach

It goes without saying that the Tapeworm Diet is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects including death. In addition to this, dieters will probably regain all the weight that is lost if they continue with the same eating habits after the tapeworm is expelled.

Dieters are advised to stick with proven weight loss methods such as consuming fewer calories and increasing physical activity, rather than risking their lives with a technique that is harmful and unlikely to yield positive long-term results by trying the tapeworm diet.

Tapeworms are flatworm parasites that have adapted to surviving in animals by feeding on the digested food of their hosts.

This means they can grow and grow until dangerous blockages occur.

They also produce larvae that burrow through the intestines and travel the blood stream until they eventually embed themselves into muscles where they form cysts. These cysts cause pain and even death if the larvae embed in the heart muscle.

This is absolutely one of the worst ways to try to lose weight and it shouldn’t be attempted.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
    References
  • Hoberg, E. P., Alkire, N. L., Queiroz, A. D., & Jones, A. (2001). Out of Africa: origins of the Taenia tapeworms in humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 268(1469), 781-787. link
  • Schultz, M. G., Hermos, J. A., & Steele, J. H. (1970). Epidemiology of beef tapeworm infection in the United States. Public health reports, 85(2), 169. link
  • Schantz, P. M., & McAuley, J. (1991). Current status of food-borne parasitic zoonoses in the United States. The Southeast Asian journal of tropical medicine and public health, 22, 65-71. link
  • Flickr | See also on Museum of Quackery

126 Comments

  1. sammy

    eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

    Reply
  2. jenna

    so would you just swallow the apeworm whole?would it be big enough to see?gross

    Reply
    • Elaine

      It’s in pill form and a tiny egg

      Reply
  3. A Jackson

    I would just like to say, that our world has become way to sanitized lol.

    I think we probably DO have worms, at least some and it’s a little naive to think we don’t lol.

    That being said, where do you get one lol.

    I personally am ok with being a little fat, doesn’t bother me.

    Reply
  4. kandice

    i am on this site looking to see if i can buy tapeworm…yeah it sounds nasty, but heck yes, lose weight AND eat all the crap i want!!!! ok!!!!!!!!! sign me up!!

    Reply
  5. nancy

    nancy said:
    where do you buy the tape wormpills …i will do it[…]

    Reply
  6. nancy

    where do you buy the tape worm pills …i will do it

    Reply
  7. Tray

    If I set aside my initial repulsion I’m pretty sure I would prefer a medically supervised course of treatment that included a tapeworm to a lap band and more so a gastric bypass. Presumably, it would be less painful and less dangerous. (Anybody else watch Big Medicine?) I’m wondering if there’s information about a tapeworm’s effects on diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

    Reply
  8. Libby Juice

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/5252370.stm

    Libby Juice said:
    Scientists are looking at parasites to treat allergic conditions such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.[…]

    Reply
  9. Libby Juice

    Scientists are looking at parasites to treat allergic conditions such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.

    It is one of a range of issues to be examined by 2,000 delegates from 88 countries at the six-day conference on parasitology and tropical disease.

    Reply
  10. Chloe

    Amy said:
    Women used to douche with LYSOL in the 1920’s too!
    The FDA and Surgion General couldn’t let these products back on the market. To find out more about Lysol search Lysol for feminine hygiene, there are a ton of sites on it…… really weird![…]

    woah.

    ouch.

    Reply
  11. Chloe

    Pmel said:
    God is always fair. You chose to be poor, you’ll be stronger despite the misgivings.And you will not last long. You chose to be rich, you’ll be weak despite the luxery you lavish. And you will live long.[…]

    What an incredibly ignorant thing to say. Nobody chooses to live in such extreme poverty. If that’s you’re God’s sick, twisted brand of “fairness”, I shudder to think what kind of person YOU are to put such reverence in something to cruel.

    Reply
  12. Amy

    Women used to douche with LYSOL in the 1920’s too!
    The FDA and Surgion General couldn’t let these products back on the market. To find out more about Lysol search Lysol for feminine hygiene, there are a ton of sites on it…… really weird!

    Reply
  13. Rose Peitsch

    tape worm endorsement:

    Since modern medicine is using leeches, and maguts in treatments now, why not use the tape worm. It is far more natural and makes way more sense to me. If one of my loved ones would be obese I would certainly be happy to go with the tape worm than gastric by pass surgery. That would really upset the weight loss companies who would loose their billion dollar business to this treatment. When the worm has done its job in conjunction with learning better eating habits. It is simple enough to get rid of; with a parsite treatment. My little japanese chin had them and I got rid of them. When I seen how thin she was getting I checked her poo. That is why it has been burning in my mind to share this with people. But lo and behold I found it being disgussed on the internet. I am a true beleiver in alternative medicine and I think this one is great!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  14. Jan

    Pmel said:
    God is always fair. You chose to be poor, you’ll be stronger despite the misgivings.And you will not last long. You chose to be rich, you’ll be weak despite the luxery you lavish. And you will live long.

    Except nobody chooses to be poor.

    Reply
  15. Pmel

    Sorry… I mispelled inhabitants… 😛

    Reply
  16. Pmel

    ruthling said:
    One of the theories as to why there’s more allergies, asthma and other immune problems is that we don’t have *enough* parasites. Humans throughout the ages have lived with all sorts of parasites. They can make people sick, but it’s possible that not having any can make people sick, too, since the immune system doesn’t have enough to do. I think […]

    My friend is a nurse and I remember him telling me his doctor’s personal observation on the impoverished habitants of the Filipino slums. According to the doctor, the poor people have a stronger immunity systems as compared with the middle class and the rich people. However, they have a shorter life span.

    God is always fair. You chose to be poor, you’ll be stronger despite the misgivings.And you will not last long. You chose to be rich, you’ll be weak despite the luxery you lavish. And you will live long.

    Reply
  17. andy

    Easy to swallow? EURGH

    Reply
  18. andy

    I’m pretty sure that if you were to market it out today plenty of Americans would try it (:

    Reply
  19. mimi7

    I think a lot of people are desperate for something to help, and probably because of much more complicated matters than willpower. and hey, not one person can say that they would not want to be effortlessly thin while still be able to eat what they want. it’s living the dream. and who the hell cares? it’s just a worm, that we can see. we have tons of microscopic lifeforms all over our skin, and just because you can’t see them, it doesn’t gross you out? the worm doesn’t cause harm, if you’re competent. it only causes harm if you’re unaware it’s in you, and it progresses to an undesirable point. in fact, everyone here, right after they bashed the idea, probably went to ebay and sought a bottle of these.

    Reply
  20. Alex

    I think that only desperate people will have the guts to try this kind of people. Any decent person will surely disagree with this diet. Not only that it will be disgusting but also embarrassing for your friends and family to know.

    Reply
  21. Amy

    EW EW EW this whole thread is giving me the heebie-jeebies! The whole idea of worms creeps me out beyond belief. That said, I too know people who would go for it as a weight-loss option!

    Reply
  22. lina

    Didn’t they use dead tapeworms? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

    Reply
  23. Chicken Girl

    Crabby McSlacker said:
    Quite a feat: that’s both cute and disgusting at the same time!

    So… what would you name it?

    Hermie the Wormie?

    Hermie is in ur intestines, eatin ur food! (I think I see a new lolcat meme…)

    Reply
  24. Chicken Girl

    Goober McOuchy said:
    Maybe that’s why we have an obesity epedimic! Nobody wants to do what they need to do to lose weight.

    O.o

    I’m pretty sure any wacky quick-weight-loss effort taken due to desperation is doomed to either damage you or just not work. Or both.

    What people need to do to lose weight is basically go against everything society has programmed them to do and everything everyone else is doing. I think that’s why most people can’t manage it.

    Reply
  25. Goober McOuchy

    In the book Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand, jockies that were desparate to lose weight (or maintain an emaciated state), ate tapeworms. They would also sweat the pounds off by sitting neck-deep in horse manure. Maybe that’s why we have an obesity epedimic! Nobody wants to do what they need to do to lose weight.

    Reply
  26. Marsha

    My world history teacher talked about this. He said to get rid of it, they would boil cabbage and the worms would crawl out the nose. I don’t care how they come out, it’s disgusting. Yeeech!

    Reply
  27. ruthling

    One of the theories as to why there’s more allergies, asthma and other immune problems is that we don’t have *enough* parasites. Humans throughout the ages have lived with all sorts of parasites. They can make people sick, but it’s possible that not having any can make people sick, too, since the immune system doesn’t have enough to do. I think a lot of people would be willing to live with tapeworms if it made them less allergic as well as thinner. It’s probably better than some of the drugs 🙂

    Reply
  28. Jan

    Teresa said:
    I agree with Chicken girl. Both of them deprive your body of nutrients, but at least you can get rid of the worm. People don’t realize that when you have one of these things, they have segments that break off and crawl out of the nearest opening. Guess where that is. I’ve seen it with my cats before treatment. YUK![…]

    That only happens when you grow it so long it has no more room in the intestines. But usually, you can notice the child has one cause it will eat non-stop and lose weight, and also sleep poorly (obviously, as he/she has a worm wiggling about in your gut ), so you get rid of it before sections break off.

    Spectra, other worms give more of a bloated appearance than tapeworm, tapeworm just makes you look run down.

    I take a multi-purpose deworming pill every 6 months just in case, I don’t even bother being tested for parasites anymore.

    Reply
  29. Spectra

    Yeah, people would totally still buy those, unfortunately…just like they buy liquid juice fasts, flavor spray diets, etc. Anything to lose weight, I suppose. They don’t mention the bloated appearance your stomach gets from having parasites in it though. At least, that’s what I often saw in El Salvador when I went there to visit isolated villages to help provide medical care.

    Reply
  30. Kathy

    Eww gross! I was diagnosed with parsites about six weeks ago it’s not good! I’ve been taking some herbal remideis for it and checking in with my doctor. Seems to be pretty much cleared.
    Trust me, not the way to go!

    Reply
  31. Crabby McSlacker

    Hi chicken girl!

    Quite a feat: that’s both cute and disgusting at the same time!

    So… what would you name it?

    Hermie the Wormie?

    But as Teresa points out, you might need to have a few extra names picked out for the, um, offspring.

    Reply
  32. Teresa

    I agree with Chicken girl. Both of them deprive your body of nutrients, but at least you can get rid of the worm. People don’t realize that when you have one of these things, they have segments that break off and crawl out of the nearest opening. Guess where that is. I’ve seen it with my cats before treatment. YUK!

    Reply
  33. Chicken Girl

    Crabby McSlacker said:
    But you folks are right–I bet people would buy them now if they were still for sale. And who knows, if the choice was a tapeworm or a gastric bypass, which would be the more intrusive way to lose weight?

    Hell, I would take the tapeworm. It’s effective and fully reversible! I would give it a name and everything…

    Reply
  34. Crabby McSlacker

    Oh my goodness. This whole discussion is so gross I had to read every comment.

    But you folks are right–I bet people would buy them now if they were still for sale. And who knows, if the choice was a tapeworm or a gastric bypass, which would be the more intrusive way to lose weight?

    Reply
  35. Jan

    Robyn said:
    Actually, I have seen a tapeworm removed by holding a glass of warm milk at the mouth after a day of fasting so it’s not all rumour. While that is probably not the correct medical procedure I know that it does work. […]

    We do it like that here in the developing world, but we get it out “from the other end”. When we suspect a child has a tapeworm, we boil a bottle of milk, pour it in a bedpan, and make the child sit over it for a while. The tapeworm will come out enticed by the warm milk, no need to starve the child or anything.

    Reply
  36. mia

    Lose Weight With Me said:
    What’s sad is that this product could be reintroduced into the market today, and as long as it was fast, effortless weight loss, people would line up to buy it.[…]

    so true.

    Reply
  37. Robyn

    Kailash said:
    And you believed that?
    http://www.snopes.com/horrors/vanities/tapeworm.asp[…]

    Actually, I have seen a tapeworm removed by holding a glass of warm milk at the mouth after a day of fasting so it’s not all rumour. While that is probably not the correct medical procedure I know that it does work.

    Reply
  38. Kailash

    psychsarah said:
    Ewwwwwww! I have grossed out by tapeworms ever since my high school biology teacher explained how they used to get rid of them back in the day (they would starve the person for a few days and then hold food up to the mouth until the tapeworm came to get it and then they would pull it out-it still makes me queasy just thinking of her description, wh[…]

    And you believed that?
    http://www.snopes.com/horrors/vanities/tapeworm.asp

    Reply
  39. psychsarah

    Ewwwwwww! I have grossed out by tapeworms ever since my high school biology teacher explained how they used to get rid of them back in the day (they would starve the person for a few days and then hold food up to the mouth until the tapeworm came to get it and then they would pull it out-it still makes me queasy just thinking of her description, which was much more graphic-I’ll spare you the gory details!) What I’m wondering is, how did people who bought this lovely parasite get it into their systems…did you just swallow it while it was small? I saw a tapeworm on Oprah the other day, and they can grow up to 30 feet long. I repeat ewwwwwwwwwwww!!

    Reply
  40. Kery

    …This is too appropriate for me to not share it:
    http://www.ifilm.com/video/2852621/channel/comedy

    Yes, sorry. Had to. ^^;

    Reply
  41. Kailash

    “Invite some new friends home for dinner tonight.”

    Reply
  42. Jan

    What I like the best is they are *sanitized* tapeworms. Cause god forbid you put a dirty tapeworm in your gut, no siree. You wanna make sure that tapeworm is clean.

    Reply
  43. Heather

    I’m pretty sure I know people who’d buy this product today…
    🙁

    Reply
  44. Angie

    I like where it says “no ill effects!”

    Did you know that the tapeworm’s nervous system is advanced enough that they can learn? Admittedly, it’s learning not to smash into things that hurt them, but still!

    Reply
  45. Jan

    staci said:
    so, wait, i’m confused… why wouldn’t you have to bathe?[…]

    I think they mean you don’t have to sit in a bath full of [insert early “detox” component]. You see, just like now we have people drinking only maple syrup for days thinking it will help get rid of “toxins” that are making them fat, back then they’d sit in a bath full of herbs and whatnot to get rid of the “toxins” making them fat.

    We have Xenical, they had tapeworms, as Jim said. We have maple syrup fasts, they had baths. As the French say, “the more it changes, the more it stays the same”.

    Reply
  46. Quito

    I think that the baths referred by the ad are steam baths.

    Hey! We could start that idea again!

    Reply
  47. staci

    so, wait, i’m confused… why wouldn’t you have to bathe?

    Reply
  48. cg

    “Fat the enemy that is shortening your life”. I wonder if that pun was intended, cos it’s funny:)
    However, the whole thing is nasty, ick!

    Reply
  49. Lose Weight With Me

    What’s sad is that this product could be reintroduced into the market today, and as long as it was fast, effortless weight loss, people would line up to buy it.

    Brian

    Reply
  50. Owen

    Hah, I’ll stick to the healthy diet and exercise thanks!

    Reply
Last Reviewed: January 18, 2018