Autoimmune therapies: helminth worm therapy

by admin on November 23, 2012

Worm therapy fascinates me.  Not only because I have an autoimmune disorder myself (Type 1 diabetes), but because it is related tremendously to the rewilding philosophy.  The whole idea of worm therapy (or helminth induced immune modulation) is very similar to the concept of probiotic nutrition.  Our gut flora is extremely important to our health.  The “good bacteria” found in probiotics, such as kefir, kombucha and other fermented foods, work on modulating our immune system- they WANT to create an ideal gut environment for themselves to thrive in.  They are our parasitic allies in making us healthy..  So, similarly, the introduction of small amounts of intestinal worms may be effective in the treatment of asthma, allergies, and some autoimmune conditions.

Humans have evolved with worms, and it has been just fairly recently that our western culture has decided to rid ourselves of them.   Hookworm “infections” in the United States are quite rare because of the modern sanitation that our society has come to enjoy.  This is the crux of the “hygene hypothesis”.   As our society sanitizes itself, we are also cleansed of important bacteria and other parasites that have evolved along with us.  These creatures have been helping us modulate our immune systems over thousands of years.  Thus, when they are eliminated, suddenly the incidents of autoimmune disorders increase….  Coincidence?  I think not!  This website is a great resource for research reports and articles on the subject.

Autoimmune Disease and Developed Countries

When I was Googling, I came across a man named Jasper Lawrence.  He has an amazing story!  He had been troubled with many allergies and had been looking into alternative treatments for this condition:

“The research that so excited Lawrence was a development of the so-called “hygiene hypothesis”. This theory, first developed by David P Strachan in the British Medical Journal in 1989, suggests that many of the “modern” illnesses that have grown exponentially in industrialised western countries – allergies, asthma, type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis and possibly rheumatoid arthritis and autism, and others – are the result of inappropriate autoimmune responses. The development of chlorinated drinking water, vaccines, antibiotics, and the sterile environment of early childhood have, the argument goes, as well as preventing infection also upset the balance of the body’s internal ecology. Inflammatory responses that evolved through millions of years in the certain presence of “old friends” – parasites and bacteria – have been thrown wildly out of kilter in their absence, causing autoimmune illnesses, in which the body’s immune system turns on itself, and oversensitivity to harmless antigens such as pollen, or dust, or cats, or particular food groups.”

Further research showed that hookworm, in small numbers, seemed able to regulate inflammatory immune responses in their hosts.  This research was conducted by Dr Rick Maizels, at Edinburgh University.  He has subsequently identified the process, which involves the white T-cells in the blood that regulate immunity.

So, being that it is very difficult to get infected with hookworm in the western world, he traveled to Cameroon, Africa with the goal of infecting himself with hookworm.  Long story short, he was successful and he cured himself of the allergies.  He has since left the United States and re-established himself in Australia:  Check out his website here if you are interested: Autoimmune Therapies.   However, be advised that they cannot ship to USA.  Alternatively, it appears that one can also travel to Mexico to achieve a hookworm infection: Worm Therapy.

These types of alternative/experimental therapies hold much promise and are affordable.  As Americans, the FDA has decided to not allow us the freedom to choose this for ourselves.  But, thankfully, we can still make good use of probiotics, kefir, kombucha, etc.   As Hippocrates said over 2000 years ago: “All disease begins in the gut”.   Would you be willing to try worm therapy?   I would love to!  Until then, I will keep drinking my kefir, apple cider vinegar and kombucha.

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