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How Could Helminth Infections Actually Help Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Adam iHaveUC colitisFOR ANYBODY WHO ALREADY KNOWS about “Helminthic Therapy”, I’m guessing your first thoughts were somewhere along the lines of, “Oh HELL NO!”.  Could anybody blame you?  Of course not.

For crying out loud helminths are little parasitic worms.  And who wants to be messing with those right?  Disgusting, nasty, full on ridiculous…well maybe.  But the reality is that there is some pretty top notch research going on right now on this exact topic and this type of therapy has actually been around for quite some time.  If you do some of your own research, you’ll see that there have been studies on this topic/treatment for over ten years now.  So if you are new to this term and idea, why were you left in the dark up until now?  Well, research on these little buggers take time, money and some DAMN SMART SCIENTISTS.

Over the weekend, I started receiving some emails from followers of this site about some recent news articles that had surfaced surrounding some recent research.  And sure enough, that same day on my google news homepage there was a link to one of these exact articles.  It turns out that a rockstar in the microbiology and immunology research area is moving forward with a pretty incredible study that hit the wire recently. One of the lead researchers is named P’ng Loke, Ph.D., and he was involved in a study titled: “Therapeutic Helminth Infection of Macaques with Idiopathic Chronic Diarrhea Alters the Inflammatory Signature and Mucosal Microbiota of the Colon”.

The website which has this study as well as many others on various topics is: www.plospathogens.org

So, without trying to act like I know too much about this alternative treatment idea, I’ll try to boil down some of the facts/theories behind why people are spending so much time, effort, and money researching helminthic therapy:

  • Industrialized and developed nations have much higher occurrences of autoimmune disorders compared to less developed parts of the world
  • The people in these developed nations typically have a lower exposure to parasites (such as helminths) compared to people in undeveloped countries
  • Because of this much reduced exposure to these parasites in developed nations, this may be a/the reason for higher percentages of the population with autoimmune disorders such as ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, and many others autoimmune diseases

That is a very simplified view on this complex topic, but I would encourage all of you who are interested in it to research more.  Here are a few website links that you can look at and review:

  • Dr. P’ng Loke’s Lab homepage with lots of information about what his team is currently researching (it’s super fascinating!  and who know’s these guys might be the one who cracks the code to UC someday!!)

I’d also encourage everyone with UC who is interested in this topic to bring it up with your Gastro doctors the next time you meet with them.  Although they might not be as excited about the topic as you/I might be, I’m hoping that they at least read the current publications on colitis related science.  If they don’t…well, that’s always interesting to know as well, right?

Best of luck to all of you this week coming up.  For those of you who are going to be carving up the turkey, make sure you keep all your fingers.  If you haven’t already, feel free to press your luck with the Colitis Quiz.  The last I looked, there were only 3 people who scored 100% correct on the six questions, and since there were well over 100 of you who took it so far, I think that means I got a little to crazy with some more difficult than expected questions.  My bad you guys.  Next one won’t be so crazy, I promise.

Warm regards,

Adam Scheuer

helminth worms, helminthic therapy

10 Responses to How Could Helminth Infections Actually Help Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  1. Paul Willoughby November 19, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    Nice article, Adam. I’ve actually talked to a couple of my doctors about this. Some seem open to it and others say there is no proven efficacy and the companies carrying out the research are just doing it for money just like any other pharmaceutical company. We shall have to wait and see. A company called Coronado Bio sciences is trying to get whipworm therapy through human trials and eventually approval through the FDA.

    • Adam
      Adam November 20, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

      Hey Paul,

      That’s interesting about Coronado. That would for sure be a huge milestone for this type of treatment, and would probably allow the greater UC population to get much more patient data on the efficacy (quicker). I hope you and your family is doing well, and great to hear from you.


  2. bev November 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Thanks Adam!

    Yet another interesting possible treatment.


    • Adam
      Adam November 20, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

      For sure Bev, I’m trying to some more research currently on this, for some crazy reason (well maybe not soo crazy) I’m pretty interested in this compared to other stuff that flies across the screen. If I get some more interesting news, you’ll be the first to know. Take care (up there:) Adam

  3. Maggie November 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I would actually be brave enough to try it but it’s expensive, like about $1000.00. I heard about it on another site and researched it a couple months ago. Sounds very plausible. If doctors could prescribe it, maybe the little buggers could be covered by insurance eventually.

    • Adam
      Adam November 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

      Hey Maggie,

      Yeah, its not a cheap fix for sure. I’ve seen it listed for as much as $10,000 from a German company yesterday. Yikes right? Well, I guess if you compare it to the out-of-pocket costs of treatments such as remicade, its not to expensive though…

      Happy holidays to you Maggie,


  4. shelly in maine November 21, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    Very interesting…hopefully promising….but still gives me the heebie jeebies!! :-) I really dislike cooties! Hopefully there wouldn’t be an over population like when they introduced pigs to Hawaii and now they are crazy wildly overpopulated! Will you need a de-wormer like your dog?! :-)
    Hopefully the testing will continue. Definitely promising for c-diff. Still question its longevity…but I guess you just add more :-) the
    Q & A will be very interesting. I’m still hopeful in the continued research of gut flora/probiotics, etc and adding more strains to the probiotics.
    :-) Shelly

    • Adam
      Adam November 21, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      I thought my father was the only one who used the “heebie jeebies” word:)))

      I’m for sure hoping to see some more research about probiotic strains in the future too Shelly! On a side note, i met a woman in San Francisco today who’s husband she says was put into remission directly from using VSL#3 They swear by it in her family, so tally another point for the probiotics team:)
      take care and have a great Thanksgiving up in ME!

      • shelly in maine November 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

        :-) thanks and back at ya!

  5. Didem November 28, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    Hmm I should take a look at those papers. I have a bit of an immunology background as well, maybe I’ll be able to understand something. One day one research is gonna fix everything so maybe it’s this one :)

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