Monday, April 14, 2014

First Reader

­I found the article “Good for the Gut” interesting because I was aware of individuals purposely infecting themselves with parasites such as tapeworms for aesthetic reasons, but never heard of such a symbiotic relationship for medical reasons. The subject of P’ng Loke’s study suffered from ulcerative colitis and would intentionally infect himself with hundreds to thousands of whipworm eggs and allow them to burrow in his intestinal tract. Within months, the pain and inflammation from his ulcers would subside, but over time as the worms were evacuated, symptoms would resume. It turns out, the worms’ presence in the body caused immune cells to produce more mucus than regular, which in turn provided a barrier between E.coli and other beneficial bacteria in the stomach, keeping them from stimulating inflammation of the tract. Further tests have been done in which patients with similar autoimmune diseases ingested worms, where an overwhelming 72.4% showed improvement. What was once thought to be a parasitic relationship has become a symbiotic one in special circumstances such as these. Despite the disturbing nature of this treatment, it may very well prove to be a promising and available form of therapy in the future.


  1. I cannot imagine undergoing something quite like this. (Even more so for aesthetic reasons - but to each their own!). However, the evidence of its benefits left me shocked. Normally, one cringes at the idea of injecting his/her body with parasitic creatures. At least I do. But one cannot dismiss the improvements it demonstrates on some people, as you state above. Even more important, in my opinion, is for mothers to receive the right information concerning vaccinations and what sort of environment their children should be exposed to. Like the parasitic worm therapy, raising a child in a less than spotlessly clean environment sounds daunting to some. As well as not getting them vaccinated for fear that they'll contract something instead. I was not completely aware that people still have trouble believing universally understood facts. But more awareness on this subject - for the prevention of autoimmune diseases and the like - would be great.

  2. I found the article by Ferris Jabr, “For the Good of the Gut: Can Parasitic Worms Treat Autoimmune Diseases?” to be really interesting. I have heard of people using tapeworms for weight loss purposes, but I didn’t know that parasitic worms could also be used for medical purposes. When I usually think of helminthes, infections come to mind because they can cause serious infections that can lead to abdominal pains and diarrhea when taken in large quantities. In certain developing countries where it’s hard to obtain clean drinking water helminthes infections are more prevalent. A few years ago when I visited family members in Bangladesh, one of my little cousins got infected with helminthes, and he had bloody diarrhea. Since he was just a little baby, everyone was really worried, but he’s all right now. Because of that incident it amazes me that taking in helminthes helped reduce abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and vomiting for the individual who has ulcerative colitis, since those are some of the symptoms that my little cousin had when he was infected with the worms. Ulcerative colitis reduces the production of mucus and when he took in a larger amount of the worms, he produced more mucus and his symptoms disappeared. What I thought was also interesting is that infecting rodents with helminthes keeps them from getting certain food allergies, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and colitis. It would be interesting to see more research on this in the future.