Bugs & Worms, Revisited - They Really May Help Fight IBD and Other Diseases

Elizabeth Roberts Health Guide
  • It was Nov 2008 when I wrote this Sharpost about bugs and worms being a potentially viable treatment for people with IBD -http://www.healthcentral.com/ibd/c/2623/47391/bugs-worms-answer


    Here we are more than three years later and this possibility is now being seen as a truly viable option for treating those of us with Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, Multiple  Sclerosis, and possibly rheumatoid arthritis and some allergies.


    The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has an article in the Feb. 14, 2012 edition titled, "In a Squeaky-Clean World, a Worm Might Help Fight Disease." This article discusses the new clinical trials and tests that are being conducted by researches as several universities  and biotechnology companies using pig whipworms to modulate the immune system.

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    As we know by now, living in a super clean, germ-free environment may actually be harmful to our health. Why? Because, our immune systems are built by necessity of fighting off germy intruders. But when we use bleach and anti-bacterial soaps to sanitize everything we touch that also means that we are no longer coming into contact with the exact germs that we need to build our immune systems.


    According to the WSJ article, researchers are calling this the "hygiene hypothesis." It was researchers at the University of Iowa who searched out the right parasite that could introduce a rebalancing of the immune system without causing other problems. Called the helminthic treatment, whipworms fit the bill. According to the researchers, many autoimmune diseases cause immune cells called T1 cell cytokines to proliferate and fight against the body's own system. The whipworms seem to produce a different type of cell called the T2 helper cytokines which appear to counteract the inflammatory response.


    As gross as it may sound, the pig whipworms could be an answer for many of us who live with autoimmune diseases. The whipworms are preferred because they 1. don't naturally infect humans; 2. they don't reproduce in humans; 3. once the eggs pass through the stomach and intestines the worms hatch, latch on, produce the modulating effect and die in about two weeks. 


    What remains to be seen is if the eggs need to be continually taken or will the immune system remodulate itself for good after a certain number of treatments.


    So far, I am having great success treating my colitis with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. But, I do intend to continue to monitor the studies of whipworms and their success in treating IBD. As I said in my first post, I'm not against using a worm if it can be proven to be effective in long-term remission of IBD. 

Published On: February 14, 2012