There's a promising new allergy treatment on the horizon, but it's a bit yucky, to be perfectly frank (though not exactly scientific!). It seems that gutworms, or more specifically, hookworms, which are intestinal parasites, may offer protection from allergies, asthma, and other immune system disorders, including diabetes and MS.
I know what you're thinking, I've got to be kidding, right? Well, the truth is, researchers have been looking at why data gathered over the past 30 years shows that people infected with tropical hookworms hardly ever have allergies or asthma.
One theory is that hookworms may cause their host's immune system to be less active. Since overactive immune systems are at play in people with asthma and allergies, this possibility could be significant.
Scientists at the University of Nottingham in the UK are studying whether hookworms offer any kind of protection against immune system disorders. That's the possible good news.
The bad news is that hookworms can cause a number of health problems of their own. This includes anemia and retardation. They also damage intestinal linings, which leads to chronic blood loss.
The research is being sponsored by sponsored by TheWellcome Trust, The National Asthma Campaign (UK) and the Medical Research Council. On the good news side, again, researchers say that the infection with only 10 hookworms is not enough to cause any of the problems mentioned above and can be cured with medication at any time.
So, it should be interesting to see what develops over the coming months with this study. Could hookworms offer an alternative to medication? Tell me what you think about this idea? Would you go for it, given the chance?
Published On: January 01, 2008