The Tapeworm Diet

The Arizona Republic has raised an interesting question. Is it possible to use tapeworms as a diet aid? Won't the tape worm just sit in your stomach and consume all the extra food you eat, and after a while you can pull out the thing? The basic answer is no. This would not be a good idea. They go into some more details:

While a tapeworm might take in some of the food you do, it would at the same time be taking in a lot of vitamins and other nutrients you need to stay healthy. Do you know what ascites are? A big pool of fluid in your tummy caused by an immune response to something in your guts. Something like a tapeworm. It gives you a big potbelly, which runs kind of counter to the look you might be wishing for. And a tapeworm might not necessarily just set up camp in your innards. It can also cause cysts in your muscles, liver and eyes. Your eyes! So don't you think it might be easier instead to just eat a bit less and exercise a bit more?

Body Manipulation Food

Posted on Fri Apr 22, 2005


I have often heard and read that before patent medicines began to be regulated (circa 1910), there were several weight-loss pills on the market that were in fact capsules containing tapeworm segments. How well or badly this worked out, I don't know.

When I or somebody else was eating large amounts of food, my Mom used to say facetiously, "You must have a tapeworm." I always assumed this was an old saying, but maybe Mom made it up herself.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Fri Apr 22, 2005  at  07:03 AM
Actually it does work. A friend of mine used to be lil on the chunky side. He got tapeworm and now he's skinny. But that was an unexpected outcome. However it is still dangerous, consuming a lot of nutrients in its wake.
Posted by Lady Bug  on  Fri Apr 22, 2005  at  07:30 AM
Yeah, old time jockeys used to use them to stay at ridiculously low weights. Apparently it was a last resort uncomfortable kind of method.
Posted by J. Nolan  on  Fri Apr 22, 2005  at  09:30 AM
Damn. I actually considered that as a diet thing, you can order them from mexico.
Posted by Ang  on  Fri Apr 22, 2005  at  10:30 AM
I've heard people say that you must have a worm, if you're eating a lot, but look particularly skinny.

I've heard though, that when they come out it's not so fun.
Posted by Maegan  on  Fri Apr 22, 2005  at  06:42 PM
>>>Won't the tape worm just sit in your stomach and consume all the extra food you eat, and after a while you can pull out the thing? <<<

Your stomach? No. Too much acid. Try your small intestine. Much harder to "pull something out" of your small intestine.

Someone is really stupid enough to think a tapeworm is a little worm that sits in your tummy and eats your food, kinda sad. The reality is, it's a huge (tiny circumference, but can be many yards long) parasite that coils in your bowels, leaching vital nutrients and inflicting loathsome discomfort and disease.

Another urban legend based on ignorance and immaturity. You know what I blame? Too much church, not enough school, that's what's wrong with America....
Posted by Barghest  on  Fri Apr 22, 2005  at  07:08 PM
I bet nobody who's ever had experience with free-range cats would even consider this particular idiocy. Thank goodness, the medicine that's now used for cat tapeworm breaks up the worm as well as getting it out of the body. I'm told that the medicine they used to use detached it, but it wasn't really a pleasant experience for whoever scooped the litter.
Posted by Ledasmom  on  Sat Apr 23, 2005  at  06:46 AM
I remember a story from the old Jack Palance version of the "Ripley's" tv show. A man going to India or Asia in general deliberately ingested a tapeworm because he believed it would somehow protect him from any ill effects from the food and water. He supposedly ate anything he wanted, and even drank from the notoriously polluted Ganges river, and never suffered anything. Just before he went home, he took some medicine and flushed the worm out. Quite a few feet of it.
Posted by Frederick J. Barnett  on  Sat Apr 23, 2005  at  09:36 AM
Frederick, I can't see how having tapeworms would protect you from any other illnesses.

Yes, Ledasmom, one of my cats had tapeworms when I first got him (he was the orphan kitten of a feral mother). It took several rounds of the worm medicine to get rid of them. I'll resist describing all the signs of the infestation, but I agree, it wasn't pleasant.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Sat Apr 23, 2005  at  03:37 PM
Tapeworms aren't usually used therapeutically this way, except in black marketeering/non-professional "doctors". You'd have to very carefully monitor your diet to ensure you were getting enough vitamins etc. Its about as clever as using bulimia, but it doesn't mean it doesn't work.

However I saw a BBC doco ("Bodysnatchers") where they have been using miscellaneous gutworms as immunosuppressant symbiotes in hypersensitivity diseases. Apparently because your body is busy attacking worms, it doesn't get so stimulated by allergens etc.
Posted by zayzayem  on  Sun Apr 24, 2005  at  12:44 AM
Big Gary C: Well, like they said on the show, "Believe it, or not." 😊
This story just reminded me of that one.
Posted by Frederick J. Barnett  on  Sun Apr 24, 2005  at  09:14 AM
I remember hearing about a study where internal parasites were used to treat inflammatory bowel disease. Apparently one side effect of modern hygiene and water treatment might be an increase in immune system diseases like inflammatory bowel, since our immune systems aren't fighting parasites.

Tapeworms (and other worms) can also cause cysts in your brain or spinal cord. As a sidenote, I've also seen dogs and cats vomit up worms if they have a severe infestation. And tapeworms also release their segments into the feces, so the first clue that your pet has a tapeworm is the presence of the segments stuck to its tail area. Doesn't sound to me like that's worth a little weight loss.
Posted by hippievet  on  Sun Apr 24, 2005  at  12:52 PM
>> Too much church, not enough school, that's what's wrong with America....

Amen brother. (Pun intended, but I really am agreeing with you.)
Posted by Bill B.  on  Mon Apr 25, 2005  at  11:50 AM
Man, I just remembered how much I miss the old Jack Palance "Believe It Or Not".

Of course, it was mostly the way he said it...that raspy voice of his could make anything sound scary and interesting.

Nothing like sitting down to Sunday dinner as a ten-year-old and learning about the New Orleans Axe Murderer.

I wonder if it's out on DVD yet?
Posted by Barghest  on  Mon Apr 25, 2005  at  07:41 PM
where can i buy tapeworm..can i order from a website? my friend got it and is now so thin..can u help?
Posted by rachel  on  Sun May 15, 2005  at  06:56 AM
>> Too much church, not enough school, that's what's wrong with America<<
shut the fuck up know it all shit face -- (excuse the language) but number one you can say one thing without having to make other people feel uncomfortable and youre an ass for acting like you know everything and making fun of what she said. sorry that you feel so bad about youself that you have to get on this website and make someone else feel stupid -- what a douche
Posted by tyler  on  Fri May 20, 2005  at  05:30 PM

Don't be silly!

PS - Tyler, around here we prefer the term "faggity douche bag" if you don't mind!

Posted by Mark-N-Isa  on  Fri May 20, 2005  at  06:08 PM
Just for the record, I have never, nor do I ever intend to, use the term "faggity douche-bag" in any of my posts here on MOH. I'm sure MarkNjen uses the term "We" with a great deal of literary license, but I do not consider myself part of any "We" that uses such infantile, vulgar slurs. I have been known however, to refer to Stephen as a "boner-ignorant twit", for my own reasons... Check the Joker Boner thread if you wanna know more. ty
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri May 20, 2005  at  06:46 PM
Actually, you only get the tapeworm cysts in the muscles if you ingest the eggs, in other words your feces would have to get in your mouth.
Posted by dima  on  Sun May 22, 2005  at  09:22 PM
I want to know where to get the tapeworm. you may think I'm crazy, but I really want to try it. if any one knows please let me know.
Posted by melissa  on  Sun Nov 13, 2005  at  06:05 PM
"I want to know where to get the tapeworm. you may think I'm crazy, but I really want to try it. if any one knows please let me know.
Posted by melissa on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 05:05 PM"

why would you be interested where to get it. its disgusting. a tapeworm.. inside your intestines. if you need to diet and you think thats the way to do it, stop being lazy and get off your ass and excersise.. don't put a worm inside yourself.
Posted by krysta  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  06:52 PM
for your information I am very active it is just that I have shin splints so bad that I have multiple hairline fractures, which i have been going to physical therapy for 4 years to help fix it. it makes it very painful to many high impact exercises so i'm stuck with swimming( which i hate) and rollerblading when there isn't snow on the ground( 8 months of the year where i'm from). so if you do know where to get a tape worm then i would be delighted to know where because i still want to get one.
Posted by melissa  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  08:42 PM
i've got tapeworm and i am not thin, i do not have a flat stomach or skinny anything else, i am not kidding so don't bother getting a tapeworm it's not nice, believe me.
Posted by carrie  on  Fri Nov 25, 2005  at  09:32 AM
I'm an Arizonan, and I wanted to point out that the article you've referenced is a hilarious column written by a man who would really love this site... The content comes from readers who write in with off-the-wall questions about topics ranging from the weather to, apparently, tapeworms... Mr. Thompson then does "research" either on the Interwebs or by calling a friend in the field and publishes the question and answer in his column. I read the column faithfully, sometimes even before I get to the comics...
Posted by andrew  on  Thu Dec 29, 2005  at  03:46 PM
Cant you get a tapeworm from eating raw meat?
Posted by Leah  on  Wed Jan 11, 2006  at  12:05 PM
I really want to find these tapeworm pills. I have been dieting and exercising for a year now and can't lose the weight. If anyone knows how and where to purchase these pills, please let me know. I'm tired of being overweight, and I'm tired of trying every diet out there with no results.
Posted by Jenn  on  Wed Jan 11, 2006  at  04:48 PM
please ! please ! help me ! I don't find tapeworm pills on the web !
where ?
Posted by carole  on  Thu Jan 26, 2006  at  10:17 AM
If you morons really want to lose weight you should try contracting cancer. It's a wonder diet.
Posted by Charybdis  on  Thu Jan 26, 2006  at  10:31 AM
thanks ! but .....I want no cancer ....I want juste diet !
Posted by carole  on  Thu Jan 26, 2006  at  10:36 AM
Hey Charybdis, If it's such a bad idea, then why are you on this page anyway? This is talk about tapeworm pills. What did you type in to get you here? You have cancer to know? If you don't like it, shut the hell up about it.
Posted by Jenn  on  Thu Jan 26, 2006  at  11:44 AM
Willingly giving yourself a parasite in order to lose weight is a pretty stupid idea. How do you plan on getting rid of the tapeworm afterward? Are you aware of the complications, including death, that can result from a tapeworm? It's staggering how vanity can lead people to do such amazingly stupid things.
Posted by Charybdis  on  Thu Jan 26, 2006  at  11:55 AM
Additionally, for those of you incapable of figuring this out on your own, tapeworm pills are a hoax. That's the point of this site, after all.
Posted by Charybdis  on  Thu Jan 26, 2006  at  12:03 PM
Just let them Chary. Let them take a tapeworm and then let Natural Selection do its job by taking out the idiots from our gene pool...
Posted by LaMa  on  Thu Jan 26, 2006  at  01:19 PM
if a parasite forms a cyst in certain parts of your body, for example your heart or your brain, it may not cause immediate problems. However, a few years in the future, when the worm begins to die, you will begin experiencing seizures, loss of speach, and other stroke like symptoms before you die painfully. Also, you must remember that one tape worm will quickly become many. this is the stupidest plan i've ever heard...
Posted by nope  on  Sat Feb 04, 2006  at  11:32 PM
Hi all

I accidentaly found this site and just wanted to say that although people can live with certain types of tapeworm for many years without too big problems, they can eventually duplicate in large numbers and basically eat you alive. If you go to a party and accidentaly throw up at night there is a big chance the larvae might spread to organs such as brain, eyes and heart and it will give you various symptoms such as migraines, lethargy, depression, sight problems and even seizures. It's the most common reason for seizures actually. Also it carries lots of bad bacteria such as streptococks(spelling?) which acts like a virus in the body and can shut down the immunesystem completely by attacking the t-cells and is a large problem in most AIDS patients. Actually most AIDS patients have tapeworm infestations among with various other chemicals and infections, so it's pretty serious. Please don't buy that product.
Posted by Maria  on  Sun Feb 05, 2006  at  04:50 PM
When I lived in Loas many (upperclass) people ingested tapeworm eggs as a weight loss procedure. There is a specific lizard native to the country that is supposed to be fried and served with rice to "flush" the worm out.

It worked, but passing the worm was very disconcerting. It moves out in your sleep and lays between your legs. So not worth loosing 15 pounds.
Posted by Stephanie  on  Sun Feb 05, 2006  at  06:26 PM
Ok, the whole tape worm diet is not a "hoax", unfortunately it is real. BUT it is the dumbest thing a person could put into their body.
Now about that parasite you want to put into your body...dont do it. If your friend is in fact skinny from the tapeworm dont forget she has a completely different genetic makeup than you, it could have no effect on you or even kill you, is that a risk worth taking for vanity?
It's not like they just have a little mouth that eats the food, the entire surface area of their tegument absorbs your needed NUTRIENTS. They can self-fertilize so you no matter what pass your "diet" to intermediate hosts who really do not want it, then they pass it to other humans! Beef tapeworms can reach a length of 10 metres or more! Basically the worms are like a sidewalk with the blocks attatching to each other, they just continue to make new "blocks" (proglottids) daily, they even crawl out of the anus because so many are made...wouldn't that be nice, something crawling out of your ass while you are at work.
Pork tapeworms are very dangerous because the eggs migrate to any of several organs and form cysticerci which results in cysticercosis usually occuring in the brain or eyes and result in blindness, serious neurological symptoms or DEATH! A cross-section of the brain actually has holes in it, that is so good for losing a few pounds.
Fish tapeworms can be 20 m long and can cause anemia.
The dog tapeworm (which humans can also get) can grow in you for 20 years and cause a cyst the size of a basketball in an unrestricted site like the liver but in a restricted site like the heart or CNS which will kill you, the only way to get rid of these tapeworms is by surgery.

Hopefully now that you are more informed you will at least have second thoughts.
If you want to lose weight get off your rear and jog, you have shin splints...then go swimming. Eat healthy, don't follow the national food guide because it is based on days when everyone was farming and a lot more active. That is too much food. Just monitor your calorie intake, eat less, don't eat after 7PM (do the math for shift work what 7PM would be considered to be), and exercise damnit. It takes a long time to lose weight, don't be discouraged. Some people are genetically predisposed to be a bit thick and have to work a lot harder but stick with a routine. If you feel you NEED to diet I have studied them and I feel that "The Zone" is the best for your body. But you have to stick with that too, no cheating, no junk food. You still get to eat fats, carbs, and protein, just in the proper proportions.

If you are wondering why I am even on this site , one of my Prof's offered us bonus marks for finding a site that sells tapeworms. It honestly used to be sold as a diet pill, I have seen the ads. And as I have been by my still is.
Posted by Samantha  on  Thu Feb 09, 2006  at  02:16 AM
My great grandma ordered 'diet pills' back in the day when they didn't have restrictions on mail order. They were tapeworm eggs. She found this out herself. Exactly.. not pleasant. Why do people want to lose weight? Get a healthy body.. muscles weigh more than fat, and some muscle builders weight more than you can imagine, but they are happy and fit and healthy. Weight is not the issue, self-image is.
Also interesting note, she ordered something that was supposed to remove leg hair long time ago, and her hair never grew back. It terrifies me to think about what might have been in that concoction.
Posted by anonymous  on  Sun Feb 12, 2006  at  09:31 PM
Its not just a self image thing. Don't get me wrong, I would love to look like the girls in all the magazines. I would love to walk down the street and have people not look at me, smerk, then walk away talking about how I look. But most importantly, I want to lose weight for health reasons. I have had a bad back and knee for years now. I can't walk up a flight of stairs with have to try to catch my breath. Forget about running, with my size and my "chest", it's painful. I get heartburn 3-4 times a week. I want to lose weight, so that in the years to come, I don't have high blood presure or something else. I have tried every diet pill and exercise, and nothing has been sucessful. I've gotten off the idea of "tapeworm pills", I was just willing to try anything. I am know looking into gastric bypass. The doctor says I'm a perfect canidate. I really hope my insurance will cover it.
Posted by Jenn  on  Mon Feb 13, 2006  at  10:43 AM
Wow, if you people are that desperate to lose weight, you ought to try what I did a few years ago: break your jaw and eat only as many tiny, tasteless bits of food that you can stand before the pain hits. It's a wonderful way to lose weight and as a bonus you'll get medical leave from school/work (you know, in case the fake doctor notes don't come through).
Posted by Iria  on  Mon Feb 13, 2006  at  06:30 PM
You all are dumb, I mean it. Your moralizing obesity. It is a medical affliction which WILL cause early death. People are desperate to avoid this, they will use speed, throw up, work out till they get a heart attack. Instead of embracing a 'not so perfect' solution, you want to tell people how dumb they are to want to try this. This can only come out of thin people's mouths, or people who have TEMPORARILY lost the weight. WAKE UP, if people could lose the wieght they would have. They don't want to die early, they don't want to be excluded from society, they don't want diabetes or joint problems.
What we should be saying is...ok there are some side effects, can we manage these? How do we manage these? Stop moralizing this problem as some sort of lack of will power. People spend thier lives in the gym and on a diet and get no where.
I used to be thin, but hurt myself and gained a lot wieght. I CANT work out like I used to especially not at my wieght. I would love to find a tapeworm, and if the doctors would stop looking at us as if we were winers and actually try to help us manage the side effects...genetically altered/attenuated worms....GOSH. You all are seeming to say that a worm is riskier then gastric bypass surgery, or any of a number of these horendous drugs. Remember Terry Shribo? Smell the coffee, people are DYING of this.
I heard that you can order them from mexico, but I am still looking, anyone know more. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Posted by ran  on  Tue Mar 07, 2006  at  01:31 AM
I have bulimia, and I started about three months ago. The last time I threw up, though, I saw something that I thought was a tapeworm. It was long, pale, and had lines around it that were just a little darker than the rest in bands. Could this be? Could I have tapeworms in my stomach, not just my lower intestines? I'd really like to know, so I can get rid of it.

((Oh, and, just so you know, I hadn't eaten spaghetti or anything of that sort.))
Posted by Eryn  on  Wed Mar 29, 2006  at  04:07 PM
yo... seriously.. wtf.
check out the wikiepedia entry on tapeworms...
okay, u may not get to the worst extent. But an 80 foot tape worm in my stomach is more than enuf to turn me completely off even thinkin about this crazy idea. Good luck to any of u that have the insane idea to try it!
Posted by julian  on  Thu Apr 06, 2006  at  10:24 AM
If you're obese, you need to lose weight before your size comprimises your health to the point of no return. Diet and excersize are interchangeable -- each will make you lose weight individually, and together they work more effectively -- but there is no magic diet pill to make you lose weight without any effort - if you're looking for this, you're an idiot, and if you really have absoultely no self control than you can by all means ingest a tapeworm but don't think that you won't gain all of the weight back once you shit out your foot-long swollen worm. If you stuff your face and don't think of the consequences, YOU ARE GOING TO BE UNHEALTHY AND OVERWEIGHT. It is a fact. Last year I thought I was so brilliant when I, too, started having bulimic tendencies so that I could eat whatever I wanted and "lose weight." News flash: bulimia doesn't make you lose weight ... it just makes you feel miserable and constantly hungry, as well as hating yourself for having no self control. Make permanent changes in your lifestyle and eating habits. Don't ingest a fucking tapeworm. The thought of it makes me not want to eat ever again, jesus christ.
Posted by Lia  on  Mon May 15, 2006  at  05:05 PM
hay Ang,
Posted by hannes  on  Tue May 16, 2006  at  02:00 PM
:blank: well fokes i am 33 yrs old and very much over 14stone look out of shape tryedall types od diets atkins ect to no avail so i thought i would try tape worms can they kill you ? any help would be most greatfull leon from england
Posted by leon  on  Tue May 23, 2006  at  09:59 AM
>> Too much church, not enough school, that's what's wrong with America....

How about not enough school, not enough church, and entirely too much Hollywood?
Posted by Lynn  on  Tue May 23, 2006  at  11:12 AM
I would like to point out to some of the people on this website that there are many people out their who can't just stop eating junk and exercise and miraculously lose the 20lbs they wanted to. I have been exercising regularly for about 3 years now and monitoring my food intake, I lost a good 30lbs, but I still have 20lbs more to go and my weight has only stayed the same for the past year. For me this is mainly due to genetics and hypothyroidism. Some people just can't lose weight easily, whether it is because of medical or genetic reasons.
I considered the tapeworm myself, but the more I read, the more stupid it does start to sound. Now they have so many surgeries you can take (gastric bypasses, tummy tucks, liposuction) I don't know how much the bypass is but the others are about $5000 where I am. I would rather spend $5000 and have a qualified licensed professional cut me open take out my fat and stitch me back up, then order a random pill (that could have anything in it) from Mexico, probably pay at least $100 for it, so it can give me a 10m long parasite that will eat my insides. Just a thought!
Posted by Sarah  on  Wed May 31, 2006  at  03:22 PM
Dear Chabrydis from Hell,
>>"It's staggering how VANITY can lead people to do such amazingly stupid things."<<
clearly the girls who are trying to diet with tapeworms have loss touch with rationality. They are likely suffering from an eating disorder which is a SERIOUS MEDICAL ILLNESS. they need professional help, not some ignoramus chiding them for having a DISEASE. Heroin addicts go on the black market to try to find cheap highs. Likewise, these girls are trying to find easy wt loss. I wouldn't be surprised if you girls are actually UNDERWEIGHT or normal weight, yet still feel the compulsive drive to lose more. Or, perhaps you feel *addicted* to bingeing (and perhaps, purging) and you see the tapeworm as a 'glorious' solution---you can binge all you want and not have to purge anymore and STILL maintain weight! nope, doesn't work that way.
So yes, Charbrydis from Hell, perhaps vanity can make one do stupid things. unfortunately, this is a moot point for this thread. why don't you try re-phrasing your insult into something quasi-credible . . . Try this instead: ADDICTION and MENTAL ILLNESS can make one do seemingly (to the rest of the world) IRRATIONAL things.

oh, and why i'm on this site? well, i'm a recovered anorexic and tried the tape worm thing once myself. i nearly died from a heart attack as the worm through off my already imbalance electrolytes and leached the sparse reserve of nutrients i had left in my body.

just wanted to save others from going through the same.

much love,
Posted by eli  on  Tue Jun 20, 2006  at  10:20 AM
I refuse to accept the label 'ignoramous' from someone who can't capitalize or spell properly, and who admits to having tried something as suicidally dangerous (and STUPID) as the tapeworm diet. 😉
Posted by Charybdis  on  Tue Jun 20, 2006  at  12:30 PM
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