I wanted to introduce you to something fascinating (but slightly stomach-churning!) that you may want to investigate further as it shows some promise for helping those with autoimmune disease.
Helminth replacement is a form of probiotic therapy also known as worm therapy, helminth therapy and, more commonly, helminthic therapy. It shows potential as a therapy to help those living with autoimmune disease as well as allergies and inflammatory conditions.
Solid scientific evidence shows that millions of years of co-evolution have created a symbiotic relationship between humans and helminths that provides us with essential immune regulation.
Although some helminths are known to cause disease and have been labeled parasites, it is now clear that some exposure to this class of organisms is necessary for human health.
All immunocompetent humans need regular exposure to helminths in order to maintain optimal immune function and avoid risk for inflammation-associated disease.
In the past fifteen years, four safe, mutualistic helminth species have been domesticated and made available commercially so that we are now able to enjoy the benefits of hosting a few of these important macro-organisms without the risk of disease.
“Twenty years from now everybody is going to have a helminth, and no insurance company will begin to cover you if you don’t have your helminths. We’re very confident in the science, that every single human being needs a helminth. It’s part of our biology.” (Prof William Parker, Duke University, 2016)
Below you can download and read a selection of scientific papers discussing the potential of helminth therapy for treating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases if you are interested in learning more.
- Helminth Immunomodulation in Autoimmune Disease
- Practices and outcomes of self-treatment with helminths
- Helminth Therapy
- Helminth therapy to treat inflammatory disorders
The best source of information is the Helminthic Therapy Wiki which is an incredibly well researched and thorough website.
What is Helminthic Therapy?
Many things have changed during the development of our species. Some recent changes, however, especially in our modern world, have happened really quickly, from an evolutionary perspective. These changes have been more extreme in more developed regions of the world.
Some of these changes are:
- A general movement away from a natural way of life, and many of the organisms, that we have always been in regular contact with.
- The frequent use of antibiotics. While fantastically useful in extending our life-expectancy, antibiotics negatively affect our gut-bacteria. We now make an effort to replace these with probiotics but our gut flora is still negatively affected.
- Helminths have been largely eradicated by the use of anti-helminthic medicine and other sanitary practices. These are wonderful in as much as they rid us of parasitic worms, but the commensal helminths that have always been a part of our biome, have also been removed from humans and our domestic animals .
Science is now recognising these as having a part to play in reducing auto-immune inflammation, as well as in improving both the diversity, and the ratio of good to bad bacteria in our gut. More and more scientific studies are being done linking these changes to many diseases, especially chronic inflammatory ones.
“Allergies and auto- immune diseases are caused by a Loss of Immune Tolerance” Dr Sidney Baker.
The use of helminths for the control of allergies was first recorded around 50 years ago when a British parasitologist, JA Turton, inoculated himself with human helminths, and received relief from his seasonal allergies.He noted that he remained allergy-free as long as he maintained a healthy helminth colony in his gut (Turton, Lancet, 1976, 686).
His theory was that the increasing prevalence of certain conditions in the modern world (and not shared by populations in less advanced areas), might have been caused by the eradication of certain commensal organisms that have always been a part of the human biome.
The human biome is the huge number (around a hundred trillion) of mostly micro-organisms, that share our bodies with each of us. There are more non-human cells than there are human cells, in the human body. We are an environment and cannot survive without the help of the biome that we in turn support.
What has now become known as the “Old Friends Theory” has gained traction in the academic community around the world, and a huge number of scientific papers have been written on furthering our understanding of how our gut fauna and flora interact with the rest of our body.
It has been sugested that “the most influential organ that directly affects our brain, our heart, our digestion, our mood, our weight, our immunity and our overall health, is in fact not actually human…It’s the microbiome.”
Many links have been found between the gut flora and a large number of inflammatory diseases of the body, from allergies to mental issues such as depression and anxiety.
Recent scientific papers report how, many auto-immune diseases that medicine has not found cures for, such as Lupus, Multiple-sclerosis and Rheumatoid arthritis have been successfully controlled by patients reintroducing helminths.
Doctors specialising in functional medicine around the world, have used helminths to treat patients suffering from a large range of chronic inflammatory ailments, with substantial success in autistic children.
An ever increasing community around the world use helminths with or without the help of their doctors, to treat their chronic inflammatory and auto-immune conditions.
As Zaccone and colleagues put it in their 2006 paper, “In some not too distant future, there may come a day when we all take ‘helminth supplements’ along with our Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, and whatever else goes to make up a modern balanced diet (Zaccone, et al., Parasite Immunology, 2006,515).”
Please note that HDC’s are not a medical treatment prescribed for the treatment of any disease. It is a supplement to a healthy lifestyle that many people around the modern world have found very beneficial for their chronic ailments and allergies.
Hello, I’m Chloe. I’m a nutrition and health coach and I’m on a mission to inspire & support women so they can go from feeling fatigued to feeling fabulous!
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