Helminths as prophylactics

Even people who don’t have an overt disease can benefit from replenishing their intestinal macrobiome.

While our ancestors hosted helminths for many millions of years, almost all who are living in industrialised countries, today, are helminth-deficient.

Correcting this deficiency could potentially help to prevent a whole slew of conditions related to the silent, chronic, low-grade, systemic inflammation from which many apparently well people in the West are unwittingly suffering.

This pernicious inflammation exacts a relentless toll on our tissues, eventually causing diseases that may well be prevented by hosting a small colony of inflammation-busting, benign helminths.

There is already evidence suggesting just such a role for helminths in the prevention of a number of conditions.

A multimodal Darwinian strategy for alleviating the atherosclerosis pandemic

Chronic Opisthorchis felineus infection attenuates atherosclerosis – An autopsy study

Inhibition of Autoimmune Type 1 Diabetes by Gastrointestinal Helminth Infection

Osteoarthritis as an inflammatory disease

Helminths and their implication in sepsis – a new branch of their immunomodulatory behaviour?

The bifacial role of helminths in cancer: involvement of immune and non-immune mechanisms

Chronic Inflammation Linked to High-Grade Prostate Cancer

The Depression-Inflammation Connection

Brain Inflammation Speeds Dementia

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Let’s hear it for the helminthic therapy old-timers!

Comments are occasionally posted online suggesting that helminthic therapy loses efficacy after a couple of years, but the following testimonials show that this is not the case.

Crohn’s still in remission after 2½ years

Anxiety and other problems, still in remission after 2-3 years

MS and allergies still in complete remission after 3 years

Sjogren’s Syndrome still in remission after 3½ years

MS still in remission after almost 4 years

Crohn’s disease still in remission after 4 years

It’s now 5 1/2 years since I got my own first therapeutic dose of hookworms and I’m still enjoying remission from the slew of conditions that I suffered from previously: Crohn’s disease, severe food intolerance, food and environmental allergies, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, nasal congestion and sinusitis, and Restless Leg Syndrome.

Someone else who has used helminthic therapy successfully for over 6 years, told me:

“I have used TSO, human whipworm and hookworm. If it didn’t work I wouldn’t continue using helminthic therapy.”

Jasper Lawrence has hosted hookworms for over 8 years, and is today still free from the asthma and allergies that had previously blighted his life.

I think the reason for the occasional claim that helminthic therapy doesn’t provide long-term remission is the notion held by some that one dose of helminths is enough to set a person right for life. When symptoms return, they hold up their hands in horror and assume that the therapy has failed, instead of obtaining another dose of worms.

A colony of helminths needs active management and, while some people can go for years without needing to supplement their colony, others may need to add more worms as often as every six months. So, when the therapy appears to fail, this is more likely to be a failure in the management of the therapy than of the therapy itself.

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Could electromagnetic radiation interfere with helminthic therapy?

It appears that helminthic therapy is effective in around 80% of cases of autoimmune, inflammatory and allergic conditions, but, while this is an astonishing statistic that any drug manufacturer would give their right arm for, it does leave around one in every five who try HT disappointed.

There are also some for whom the therapy is only a partial success, and, while this can be due to those affected hosting an insufficient number of helminths, or failing to maintain their colony at a viable level over time, it may be that some other factor is reducing the effectiveness of the therapy, either maintaining the disease or directly affecting the health of the worms.

There are many possible reasons why helminthic therapy might fail, or not deliver complete remission of disease, including both known and unknown factors. One possibility that is rarely considered is electromagnetic radiation.

The weak electromagnetic fields emitted by wireless technologies such as cell phones, DECT phones and Wi-Fi have been shown to increase blood/brain barrier permeability in rats and it has been suggested recently that a similar effect may compromise the blood/gut barrier.

If this is the case, then we may have a clue to another factor in the aetiology of autoimmune disease, because there is already data suggesting that increased gut permeability is a constant and early feature in the development of several autoimmune conditions.

It is possible, therefore, that exposure to emissions from wireless technologies might undermine the efforts of helminths by continuing to exacerbate autoimmune disease.

The idea that electromagnetic radiation might affect health faces huge resistance from governments who are raking in vast sums of money in licence fees for cell phone services and other microwave frequency technologies, and industry unsurprisingly refuses to even consider that there might be a risk from the use of their products.

But the evidence has been mounting for years and this process continues unabated.

Some authorities have already seen enough to encourage them to apply the precautionary principle and, last year, the French National Assembly banned Wi-Fi in their schools until it’s proven to be safe.

Also, the French Health Agency, ANSES, has warned French citizens to reduce their radio-frequency exposure.

In Israel, the Supreme Court has issued a Conditional Injunction against WiFi in schools and Belgium has banned the sale of mobile phones specifically designed for children under 7 years.

So, if someone is not getting the benefits they expected from helminthic therapy, one possible reason for this may be unseen electromagnetic forces.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce our exposure to radio-frequency/microwave radiation, including from cell phones.

Further reading:

Eliminate Electromagnetic Pollution to Eliminate Disease

Related posts:

We’re still suckers for a Trojan horse

Cell phones and their threat to health

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Sepsis: is this modern scourge the result of a helminth deficiency?

Sepsis is hard to spot and treat and is killing many thousands of people each year in developed countries.

It’s now the ninth leading cause of disease-related deaths in US hospitals, and also currently the most expensive condition treated, so a huge drain on healthcare resources.

Although a rapid blood test to diagnose sepsis at the bedside may be on the horizon, the available treatments are rapidly diminishing, and some are no longer working at all.

Sepsis is of particular concern because it’s an increasing cause of complications and death among women in the West, where rates of severe and fatal sepsis during labor and delivery are rising sharply, such that sepsis is now the leading cause of direct maternal death in the UK.

While certain conditions are known to increase the risk of severe and fatal sepsis, many cases occur in women with no recognised risk factors, so what is causing sepsis in these cases? Could it be a helminth deficiency?

We know that the exacerbated pro-inflammatory immune responses that occur during sepsis might be effectively countered, and prevented, if patients were hosting helminths.

Perhaps many lives, as well as scarce healthcare resources, could be saved by restoring modest numbers of symbiotic helminths to depleted Western microbiomes, in particular those of pregnant women.

Unfortunately, researchers seeking to establish the best way to treat sepsis are apparently not considering this possibility.

For information about helminthic therapy, see here.

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Worm pills v live worms

Like many other researchers who are scrambling to create a convenient worm-derived medicine that will make them a shed load of money, this scientist is in no doubt that “worm pills” are the way to go.

“The next step will be to see if we can develop this into a pill that could dampen the immune system in people with an autoimmune disease. That’s a whole lot cleaner than putting a worm in your body.”
(‘Worm pill’ could ease autoimmune disease symptoms)

However, while a pill might be “cleaner”, single molecule drugs are notorious for producing significant, and in some cases very serious, side effects, and they will likely fall short of the effects created by a living helminth.

“When you give someone a live worm, it’s like giving them the factory that makes the products and letting the factory do what it needs to do… Evolution has already created this thing.”
(David Elliott, research colleague of Joel Weinstock, University of Iowa.)

“The learned thinking pattern for medical professionals and biomedical researchers is to envision isolation and characterization of the individual components produced by helminths, with the goal of creating new helminth-inspired drugs to treat disease. On the one hand, this approach is consistent with the general practice of modern medicine and the common approach used to find new drugs today. On the other hand, recapitulating the effects of an integral member or members of the biome using a single or even a handful of pharmaceuticals may prove extremely difficult. Indeed, given the complex and continuous nature of the interactions between host and helminth that have evolved over hundreds of millions of years, the design of therapeutics to entirely and effectively recapitulate this interaction may prove impossible.”
(William Parker, Reconstituting the depleted biome to prevent immune disorders)

“…it is difficult to imagine a single pharmaceutical or even a collection of pharmaceuticals that could recapitulate the vast complexity of the interaction between helminths and the host immune system. While pharmaceuticals are generally directed at one component in the immune apparatus, a single helminth species produces dozens if not more molecules that each target specific components of host immunity. The likely possibility that more than one species may be required to effectively reconstitute the biome adds a level of complexity that seems staggering to anyone interested in replicating the natural state using pharmaceuticals. Perhaps more importantly, our understanding of helminth immunoregulation is far from complete, with many gaps in our knowledge. For example, many proteins secreted by helminths in low abundance may not have been identified, but yet may have important biological activity. Further, the biological role of some proteins secreted by helminths in high abundance, such as the glycolytic enzyme triose phosphate isomerase, remains poorly understood. Thus, our present level of understanding of the vastly complex interactions between helminths and their hosts potentially adds a substantial hurdle to the design of therapeutics which will mimic those interactions. Not only is the helminth/host interface vastly complex, it requires continuous input from the helminth.”
(Staci Bilbo, et. al., Reconstitution of the human biome as the most reasonable solution for epidemics of allergic and autoimmune diseases.)

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Might hosting helminths prevent atherosclerosis?

This is looking increasingly likely.

“Reviewing evolution-linked risk factors suggests that there are four aspects to the etiology of atherosclerosis namely, decreased intestinal parasitism, oversensitivity of evolutionarily redundant mast cells, chronic underactivation of AMPK (cellular energy sensor) and a deficiency of vitamin D.” Read more

G.A. Rook has suggested that there are good reasons for extending the ‘Hygiene’/‘Old Friends’ hypothesis to atherosclerosis.

Chronic helminthic infections may attenuate the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Parasitic infection found to be associated with lower blood cholesterol and significantly reduced atherosclerosis.

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Thoughts on helminthic therapy and pregnancy

Approximately 44 million pregnancies occur globally each year in women infected by helminths (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19370621) and there is no indication that either human hookworm or human whipworm can harm a developing foetus.

Studies have found that, where good, general antenatal care is provided, the de-worming of pregnant women produces no benefits in respect of anaemia, birth weight, perinatal mortality, infant mortality or infant response to immunisation.

However, if a woman were to fall pregnant while hosting therapeutic helminths and wished to terminate the infection, it is not recommended that she do this by taking mebendazole tablets. A few lungfuls of nitrous oxide would arguably be better, inhaled from a whipped cream or other pressurised food dispenser.

Current epidemiological findings suggest that pre-natal exposure to helminth infection may have an important effect on the development of the foetal immune response and that this might help prevent the development of inflammatory conditions such as allergy.

There is also evidence from a study in mice that helminth infection during pregnancy may reduce the susceptibility of the offspring to allergic airway inflammation.

Sepsis, a condition that is hard to recognise and treat, is an increasing cause of complications and death among women in the West, and rates of severe and fatal sepsis during labor and delivery are rising sharply, such that sepsis is now the leading cause of direct maternal death in the UK.

As a helminth infection counterbalances the exacerbated pro-inflammatory immune responses that occur during sepsis, thus improving survival, it is arguable that the presence of a small colony of therapeutic helminths might actually prevent a woman developing sepsis.

Hosting helminths may also help women with ulcerative colitis stay healthy during pregnancy.

One woman who examined all the available evidence on the risks and benefits of hosting helminths during pregnancy came to the following conclusion.

“I got hookworm (and a just a couple whipworms) actually to help keep my immune system in check during my next pregnancy, since my first kid is on the autism spectrum. Went to the high risk ObGyn and they said I am in excellent shape. My iron, ferritin, hemoglobin, etc. are all normal. From my research it seems safe in low doses and can prevent allergy in offspring, another reason I decided to go for this. Not pregnant yet, just planning.”

Someone else, who had previously had two children with severe eosinophilic esophagitis-related food intolerances, maintained a hookworm colony throughout her next pregnancy and delivered a healthy, allergy-free baby.

Notwithstanding the potential benefits of establishing a helminth colony before becoming pregnant, the possible risks of commencing helminthic therapy for the first time DURING pregnancy are unknown. Therefore, if a woman wishes to initiate treatment during her pregnancy, it would be advisable to do this under the supervision of a physician.

If a woman were to start therapy while pregnant, without medical supervision, and were to have a miscarriage, or encounter a problem with the new born baby, she might blame the helminths and seek to take action against whoever supplied them. Therefore, providers of therapeutic helminths must act with caution, and they will usually recommend waiting until after the pregnancy before starting therapy.

Helminthic therapy in pregnancy was discussed at length in the 13 messages in this thread (‘Pregnancy and hookworms’) in Sept 2010

and in 10 messages in this thread (‘Thinking of inoculating while pregnant’) in Aug/Sept 2011.

The topic was also discussed in the Facebook HT Support group in Sept 2013.

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Last updated on 3 Aug 2014.