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Chronic Headaches and Pork Parasites

Neurocysticercosis is the name for an infection of the human central nervous system by pork tapeworm larvae. The invasion of baby pork tapeworms in the brain has become an increasingly important emerging infection in the United States, and is the #1 cause of epilepsy in the world. It is the most common parasitic disease of the human brain and used to be found throughout only the developing world (with the exception of Muslim countries, since less pork is consumed there). That all changed about 30 years ago, and now it’s increasingly found throughout North America.

Besides seizures, the pork parasites may actually trigger brain tumors or cause an aneurism or psychiatric manifestation like depression. It can also result in dementia, but with deworming drugs this is often reversible. (Only rarely do surgeons have to surgically remove the larvae.)

I’ve talked about pork tapeworms before (see my videos Pork Tapeworms on the Brain, Avoiding Epilepsy Through Diet, and Not So Delusional Parasitosis). What’s new is that we now know that they may present as chronic headaches—either migraines or so-called “tension-headaches”—even when the worms in our head are dead. What researchers think is happening is that as our body tries to chip away at the worms’ calcified bodies, bits of them may be released into the rest of our brain causing inflammation that could be contributing to headaches.

This condition is rare even in endemic areas, but we can avoid getting infested with an adult tapeworm in the first place by cooking pork thoroughly. It’s found in some parts of pig carcasses more than others (watch the above video for the diagram), and the worms can be frozen to death no matter how infested the muscles are by storing pork (cut up into small pieces) for a month at subzero temperatures. Then to ensure the larvae are dead the meat is recommended to be cooked for more than two hours. That’s one well-done pork chop!

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death and More Than an Apple a Day.

Pork Tapeworms in the Brain
Bugs & Drugs in Pork: Yersinia and Ractopamine
Why Is Selling Salmonella-Tainted Chicken Still Legal?

Read more: Health, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, General Health, Headaches, Men's Health, Natural Remedies, Videos, Women's Health, , , , , ,

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Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at


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1:09PM PDT on May 10, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

5:27AM PDT on Mar 14, 2014


11:34PM PDT on Mar 13, 2014

I have read that pork needs to be turned to charcoal to completely kill trichina worms, but who wants to eat dead worms - or eat meat turned to charcoal?

10:25PM PDT on Mar 13, 2014

it's rare..and because pork is cured, it doesn't happen. Just cook the food all the way through and you won't have any issues.

6:40PM PDT on Mar 13, 2014


2:30PM PST on Mar 7, 2014


11:48AM PST on Mar 7, 2014

If you eat pork, make sure it is well done. Our ancestors knew what they were talking about. They might not have had a scientific name but...

8:45AM PST on Mar 7, 2014

With my low stomach acid...I'm sure I've got all sorts of yummy parasites exiting inside of me but thankfully this is one less one I have to worry about. What coconut oil, oregano and garlic hasn't expelled I'm hoping to get my hands on some pumpkin seed oil which I heard also helps in ridding the body of nasty little critters :O) TYFS

4:44AM PST on Mar 7, 2014

Thanks for sharing :)

5:14PM PST on Mar 6, 2014


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