Delusional parasitosis, or Ekbom syndrome, is a fixed false belief of being infested by parasites [Bellanger 2009]. With easy accessibility of the internet, serving as a vital tool in acquiring myriad information, these delusions typically arise and can be fueled by external sources as self-research [Bell2005]. For instance, garlic (allium sativum) has been reported to exhibit anthelmintic activity against cestodes (tapeworms), proving to be a natural treatmentoption [Abdel-Ghaffar 2010]. Without proper instructions, guidelines, or control of such information, psychopathological manifestations may be derived.
A young adult male presented with severe psychosis. He reports responding to an internal stimuli, non-command auditory hallucinations, and paranoid ideations specifically in regards to his body and health for several weeks. Prior to presentation, he experienced abdominal pain and constipation for five days, but attributed it to the belief of having tapeworms. He stated that he researched cures for several days using the internet and found garlic as a treatment option. He attempted to alleviate his symptoms by ingested 197 pills of 1,000 milligram (mg) garlic supplements, two 100mg bisacodyl laxatives, and five 100mg docusate stool softeners in one day. He denies any suicidal/homicidal ideations, illicit substance abuse, deja-vu, and jamais-vu.
Psychiatric examination is as follows: Mental Status Examination: awake, alert, and oriented x3. General Appearance: disheveled. Speech: soft, mumbling, and minimally non-responsive. Psychomotor Activity: moderately sedated. Eye Contact: poor. Mood: dysphoric. Affect: flat. Thought Process: flight of ideas. Thought Content: preoccupied. Judgement/Insight: poor. Immediate/Recent Recall: poor. Remote Memory: poor.
Delusional parasitosis and somatic parasitic infestation has dire consequences in which one's health can become compromised. For those suffering from parasitosis, addition of garlic in food as well as garlic supplements of 50mg/kg body weight has been reported as a possible naturopathic treatment option in Cryptosporidiosis and Schistosoma mansoni [Gaafar 2012; Nahed 2009]. In addition, it was found that a dose of 1.2mg for three days was efficient, safe, and shortens the duration of treatment for parasites [Soffar 1991]. However, this patient ingested 197,000mg of garlic supplements without experiencing symptoms of overdose. This may include burning sensation of the mouth or stomach, flatulence, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, thrombocytopenia, and anaphylaxis [Bayan 2014]. The efficacy of garlic for treatment of true parasitosis is unknown, but can be found in common practice especially those who practice naturopathic medicine. In this case, it is unlikely to have a positive effect, especially when delusional in nature. The use of homeopathic medication in those with true parasitosis and delusional parasitosis should be queried.
Funding Acknowledgements: Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation