Worm Therapy for Autoimmune Disorders
Alternative therapy with hookworms or helmintic therapy is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, this therapy is widely used in various parts of the world.
In America, the type of worm used is Necator Americanus a kind of hookworm. As a parasite, thisworm is quite dangerous because it can penetrate the intestinal mucosa and suck blood so that it can cause anemia.
How to use it as a therapy is attaching the worm larvae in the patient’s arm using a bandage. Within a few hours, the larvae will enter the patient through the skin layer.
Usually the patient will feel some side effects when the larva begins to infect. Among the most common is itching, which can be solved with anti-allergy.
Reflecting on the past when people are not familiar with sanitation and hygiene, autoimmune diseases was not much found. When people rarely bathe and wash their hands, immunity is stronger because it is often exposed to parasites including hookworm.
Is that true? Dr Joel Weinstock, a professor of gastroenterology from Tufts Medical Center spoke about using worms to treat autoimmune diseases.
Weinstock studied this type of alternative therapy since the 1990s and concluded that the worms are able to provide a calming effect on the human immune system. When tested in mice, this therapy was powerful to relieve symptoms of asthma, type-1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.
When tested in humans in 2005, 23 of 29 patients of Chorn’s disesase experienced improved conditions. The types of worm which was used was Trichuris suis, parasitic worms commonly found in pigs.
But problems arise when the worms still lives in the human body until several months later. In the long run, the worms will again become parasites so that he concluded that the effect of worm therapy is only effective for short-term.
Weinstock warned that there is a risk that must be paid when to many worms enters the body. The most common risk is anemia resulting in death, especially if using hookworms.
“Most people use worm therapy as a last resort, when other ways are not able to cope with an autoimmune disorder they suffer,” said Weinstock.