Top 10 Facts about Hookworms and Autoimmune Disease: Incredible Facts About How Hookworms & Parasites Are Being Developed to Treat Autoimmune Disorders, Asthma, Lupus, Crohn’s disease and more
10. Helminthic Therapy Requires People to Give Themselves Worm
Helminthic therapy is an alternative medicine being developed in medical laboratories. It is an experimental type of immunotherapy. There are no helminthic treatments that have yet been evaluated by the FDA, but helminthic therapy works with parasitic worms like hookworms, whipworms and threadworms. Helminthic therapy requires that patients infect themselves with parasitic worms to try to move into remission from their autoimmune diseases. The idea is that the worms, who live in your intestine, can remain in your body even while being attacked by your immune system. The worms are able to live inside your body for years without being destroyed,though they remain the rightful targets of the body’s immune system, not the body itself. So far, much of the evidence of the effectiveness of this therapy has come from studies conducted on mice and rats.
Helminthic therapy is said to have very little pathogenic potential. The worms do not multiply in the host, so the amount of worms that are administered for treatment do not reproduce so the patient is not overrun with worms. These worms cannot be spread, either, so there is no risk of spreading the worms to those around you. Unlike other parasites, these worms do not alter the patient’s behavior. Instead, helminthic therapy worms can be easily introduced into the patient’s body, and they can be removed from the body very quickly with a de-worming medication.
9. The Worms Combat Autoimmune Disorders
Autoimmune disorders produce abnormal immune system responses in the body. People with autoimmune diseases suffer from an immune system that responds against the body’s own systems trying to remove them as if they were foreign agents. This can result in inflammation and even damage to your body’s tissue. Autoimmune diseases are poorly understood by both doctors and those who suffer from them. Some people suffer serious symptoms for many years before they are finally diagnosed properly and receive treatment. There are more than eighty diagnosable autoimmune diseases. Some of them are mild but some are also life threatening. Some of the more well-known diagnoses include rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis and Type-one diabetes. Autoimmune disease have seen a surge in western countries, and some scientists blame this on an increased focus on cleanliness and hygiene in western society because people are no longer exposed to a broad range of infections and bacteria. The incidence rate of autoimmune disease in the west is high but they barely exist in developing countries.
Many autoimmune disorders are lifelong diseases that require serious medical treatment. As a result, people who suffer from them work to pioneer alternative treatments, such as the use of parasites. Many people with autoimmune disease eat an altered diet called Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) which restricts grains, dairy, legumes, nightshades and other food groups in order to move naturally into remission. In some cases, a vaccine can be made to prevent the trigger of the disease in those unaffected.
8. Jasper Lawrence: A Case Study or Worms Do a Body Good
Jasper Lawrence, a British biologist, treated more than 180 people who suffered from autoimmune diseases with parasites. He even treated himself at one point. Lawrence rationalized that giving an infection to people with over active immune systems would restore a natural balance. He says that parasites used to be a normal part of a person’s life throughout the existence of human beings and that living in super-clean environments has led to confused immune systems. Lawrence suffered from severe allergies and lived his life on antihistamines. After watching a BBC documentary about asthma, he spent hours researching parasites on the Internet before trying to use his research on himself.
Lawrence trawled through 30 outdoor latrine areas in Cameroon in an attempt to contract hookworm. His allergies were so bad that he willingly walked barefoot through excrement in order to try this new therapy. He was successful in contracting hookworms, whose larvae enter the body through skin, and after a few months he realized his asthma had disappeared. Though his asthma was not cured, it did go into remission. Of the 180 people he has treated with parasites, 80 percent of the patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are now in remission. Lawrence says that the patients he has treated with MS have all gone into remission within six months. Lawrence’s patients suffer nausea, fatigue and diarrhea for a few days after treatment, but all side effects disappear within four or five weeks and do not leave a trace.
Unsurprisingly, the FDA is not as enthusiastic about Lawrence’s experiments. The FDA are requiring that he go through the process for FDA approval, which is both long and costly. Lawrence does not have the funds and some of his patients do not have the time, so Lawrence has moved his practice to Mexico and the United Kingdom to continue helping patients out with the oversight of the Food and Drug Administration.
7. The Human Body Needs Worms: The Too Clean/Too Much Hygiene Hypothesis
The Hygiene Hypothesis was proposed in 1989 by Professor David Strachan who said that because children were no longer exposed to germs and infections, their immune systems may have begun to overreact. This is a characteristic of autoimmune disease. While no amount of cleaning can rid your home or body of all germs, the hypothesis suggests that in the western world, we have become too clean. However, there is a difference between being exposed to good germs and being exposed to bad germs. The hypothesis does not suggest that we should no longer wash our hands after we use the toilet or touch raw meat. Yet, it is still important for our bodies to be exposed to both good and bad germs, including some parasites, especially in the early years of life. Being exposed to germs helps the body learn how to fight the bad germs and how to tell the difference between the harmful and harmless substances in our bodies. The
The Hygiene Hypothesis has been hotly debated but one thing is certain, allergies and autoimmune diseases are on the rise and no one is certain why.
There is also evidence that changes in diet have become to blame for the increase in allergies and autoimmune disorders. There is a theory that if a mother introduces known allergens like dairy or peanuts to their child, this can reduce the number of allergies later in childhood. However, this has not been proven and like many therapies surrounding autoimmune diseases and allergies, doctors must legally tell their patients to stick with the tried and true, FDA approved methods of preventing and treating disease.
6. Loke Study: The Proof is in the Mucus
When immunologist P’ng Loke published his case study on the use of parasites as treatment for ulcerative colitis, there were only five studies that had investigated the use of helminthic therapy on people. Loke studied the medical records of a man who suffered from severe ulcerative colitis, and who had self-infected with whipworms. Ulcerative colitis left the subject with severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. His colon was inflamed and was full of open sores. The subject ingested 500 whipworm eggs in 2004 and then three months later, he ingested another 1,000 eggs. By midway through the year in 2005, the subject saw a massive reduction in symptoms and he was no longer on the many pharmaceutical treatments, though he did occasionally take anti-inflammatory drugs to stop flare-ups. However, by 2008 the number of whipworm eggs in the man’s body began to drop by almost half. As the eggs disappeared, his symptoms began to return and he again felt the painful effects of his ulcerative colitis. Once again, he drank another 2,000 whipworms and his painful symptoms vanished. But, the worms did not only relieve his abdominal pain and nausea. Ulcerative colitis is also known to be associated with decreased mucus production. This mucus protects the gut from bacteria that cause inflammation. The worms produced an inflammatory molecule that possibly restored the man’s mucus production. Loke says that mucus is important because the body produces it as a defense against the parasites and the extra mucus may help work against an aggressive immune system. Loke says that it hasn’t been proven that this mucus production is the direct result of worms, but the drastically positive results for one man make way for more clinical trials and tests. Loke looks forward to larger sample sizes of patients so that the compelling evidence produced by this test may be proven for more than just one lucky man.
5. Worms Used to Fight Crohn’s Disease & Multiple Sclerosis
Scientist David Pritchard, a researcher at the University of Nottingham, has been researching the effects of hookworms on patients who suffer from Crohn’s disease. He says that he has no problems in his controlled experiments because the worms are introduced in small numbers. His results showed that his patients had lower amounts of inflammation in the intestines. The subjects also noted that their allergy symptoms began to disappear. Dr. Pritchard’s goal is to figure out why hookworms and other parasites are so effective in treating some of these disorders.
In 2012, the University began to recruit those who suffer from multiple sclerosis. The hope was that the presence of hookworms in the patient’s body would turn off the part of the immune system that leads to abnormal reactions. They hope that the use of worms will reduce not only the symptoms but also prevent patients from relapsing. Professor Pritchard admits that infecting those who are already sick with parasites seems counter-intuitive. However in a controlled environment, it could provide serious relief for patients who suffer from MS. For some patients, conventional medicine either do not work or result in crippling side effects.
Before the researchers were allowed to begin the study, they have to test to establish that the worms were indeed safe to use. The researchers all volunteered to be infected themselves and saw that there were no side effects.
4. The Transparent Dr. James Logan Shows How Worms Enter & Live in the Body
Another doctor, Dr. James Logan of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was searching for new ways to stop the spread of malaria and other tropical diseases when he agreed to infect himself with hookworms for the British TV show, “Embarrassing Bodies,” in 2012. Dr. Logan had a personal stake in the results of the experiment because he has a serious food allergy to bread and cannot eat it without becoming very ill. Dr. Logan thought that by infecting himself with parasites, his body would attack the parasites and reduce the abnormal effects of his immune system which cause his allergy.
Dr. Logan wanted to do this experiment with a twist. He wanted to use state of the art imaging to show how worms get into the body. The team were able to see the exact moment that the hookworms entered Dr Logan’s skin through his arm. The scientists watched over two months as the worms traveled to his heart and lungs. After being coughed up and swallowed, the hookworms finally arrived in Dr Logan’s intestines. He developed an infection which cause some pain, but he was able to eat bread without becoming very ill. The experiment ended after 60 days, and Dr Logan used the anti-worming drug albendazole to remove the worms from his body. The experiment provided some insight into how the worms may work to improve disease.
3. US Patients Cannot Experience Helminthic Therapy…Unless They Cross Borders
Despite the case studies provided by respected doctors for multiple countries, the FDA has resolved that intestinal worms should be classified as a drug. Any drug that does not pass the FDA’s review process is not allowed to be sold in the United States. In some cases, if there is no comparable drug for a patient’s disease, the FDA will allow a personal importation of the drug. But, because many autoimmune diseases are treated with FDA approved pharmaceuticals, this is not the case with helminthic therapies. Some organizations have continued to attempt to their life changing therapies to the United States and they were shut down by the FDA.
2. Hippocrates Said That ‘all Disease Begin in the Gut’
The study of parasites in the body has been going on for a long time. In fact, Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, wrote that all disease begins in the gut nearly 2,500 years ago in 400 BC. Modern research on the bacteria that are either living in or missing from our intestines has suggested that this is true. There are actually more nerve cells in the digestive system than in the peripheral nervous system, with over one million nerve cells in the digestive tract. Neurotransmitters found in your brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, are also found in your intestines. The bacteria in your gut have a direct effect on the development of the systemic immune system.
The digestive system needs to fulfill two functions: it must be tolerant of the good bacteria, but it also needs to control the bad bacteria and prevent its overgrowth. The digestive system is far more important to the body than many people give it credit for. That is why many naturalists stress that it is important to take good care of your digestive system in terms of what you consume. This would explain the success of those who are on the AIP diet, who restrict inflammatory allergens in their diets but it may also contribute to the success of the clinical trials in helminthic therapy.
Indeed, a “leaky gut” is often found in patients who suffer from autoimmune disease. The intestinal inflammation and a lack of a strong mucus barrier leads to malabsorption of important nutrients. It can also lead to things like food particles, drugs, toxins and pathogens leaving your gut and moving into the rest of the body through your bloodstream. Some doctors claim that “leaky gut” syndrome is the condition that is the underlying factor in diseases like MS. There is no conclusive evidence that the cause of this is a “leaky gut” but it is not disputed that gastrointestinal problems like these exist in an overwhelming number of autoimmune disease sufferers.
1. Parasites Are Not the First Creepy-crawlies to Be Used in Medicine
In fact, doctors have been using maggots and leeches as medicine possibly since 3,500 years ago. These treatments found real popularity in the Middle Ages, and then again in the 19th century. Military surgeons abroad on campaigns noted that soldiers whose wounds were infested with maggots healed more quickly with less infection. The maggots ingest bacteria and also secrete an enzyme that not only disinfects but dissolves dead tissue which helps the wound heal. Maggots have recently been proven to be effective against MRSA, one of the most dangerous conditions a person could get after having an operation because it is almost entirely resistant to antibiotics. More popular in Europe than the US, more than 400 centers in the United Kingdom and 140 centers in Germany offer this therapy as an option for those with a strong stomach. Only 50 centers in North American offer this treatment, although their interest in the medieval practice is growing.
The leech is another old-as-time medical treatment. Leeches let a wound bleed for hours while simultaneously anesthetizing it and increasing blood flow. Like maggots, leeches aren’t the first thought of a medical professional when something goes wrong, but they have their uses,especially in preventing blood clotting after reattachment or transplant surgeries of fingers, toes and particularly ears which are notoriously hard to reattach.
Both maggots and leeches have been approved by the FDA as a medical device. However, the FDA wants to classify worms as an actual drug, like the ones produced by pharmaceutical companies. This requires years of rigorous and expensive testing. For some people who have chronic and painful autoimmune disease, they are willing to ingest worms regardless of which class the FDA wants to put them in. The scientists performing these clinical trials across the word are so confident of their safety and effectiveness that nearly all of them try it themselves.
Autoimmune diseases often take years to diagnose and still in many cases, those who suffer from them are told that there is nothing that modern medicine can do from them except make them a little bit more comfortable. The treatment for endometriosis, a possible autoimmune contender, is a 30-year old treatment that induces menopause, sucks the calcium out of the patient’s bones and reduces their fertility by nearly one third. This treatment has all these side effects but it is only allowed for short term relief and when the treatment is over, the symptoms come back. Autoimmune diseases are poorly understood, no one knows exactly what causes them or why they happen to certain people. However, we do know that they are on the rise in western countries and that appropriate measures should be taken to both learn why they appear and how to treat them. The limited research into parasitic worms has shown huge promise both in the relief of symptoms of crippling disease but also in the relief from side effects of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat them. Scientists are confident that further tests will conclusively show that helminthic therapies are good treatments for autoimmune disease. In fact, they are so confident that they are willing to take the worms themselves.