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Using Parasitic Worms To Treat Autoimmune Disease
∞ Using parasitic worms to treat autoimmune disease is one of the more fascinating and controversial treatments I have shared with you. Many people have self-treated with various types of parasitic worms as a therapy for a variety of autoimmune diseases, allergies and other inflammatory conditions. Some practitioners have been brave enough to use this worm therapy with their patients also. Surprising as it might seem, there have been some great outcomes. Reaserch on a variety of autoimmune illness additionally looks quite promising. Many people find this shocking or at least unusual. I have been quite intrigued as I have watched this therapy evolve over the recent years and decided it was time to share this compelling information with my readers. I will update you with additional information as I learn more abotu this interesting treatment.
Why Use Parasitic Worms To Treat Autoimmune Disease?
Helminth (a type of worm-like parasite) therapy has been quietly studied and used for many years to treat a variety of inflammatory and allergic diseases, with a recent focus now on autoimmune illness. The increased sanitation and hygiene that helped remove parasites from many people’s lives has been implicated in the increasing cases of hypersensitivity to the environment and autoimmunity that are on the rise in the USA and other developed countries. This idea led to scientists examining the role parasites have in modulating our immune systems and on our digestive tract flora. It has also led to some practitioners using specific types of parasites as a therapy, and some people have turned to self-treatment with helminths when nothing else has worked for them, and they have been unable to get helminthic therapy through their health care system. This is not a therapy that has been fully studied and there is much for us to learn about it. I suggest individuals interested in this therapy seek guidance from an experienced practitioner.
Parasites May Have a Role in Our Immune System's Evolution
Historically, humans have spent much more of our existance with various helminths on board than we have lived wtihout them. It is more recently that their presense has decreased. Autoimmunity has at the same time increased significantly. Some scientists think there is a relationship between the decreasing helminths and the increasing autoimmunity. Is it possible that these helminths were important in our evolution to keep our innate immune system and adaptive immune system from over-reacting? The research is indeed supporting this idea that helminths are able to regulate our immune system. Additionally, it appears some people are predisposed to a hyper-reactive immune system since eradicating helminths, especially those of Northern European descent.
There are those in the medical field who feel the scurge of modern inflammatory diseases are associated with the loss of helminths and other eukaryotic residents that once were more common in our digestive tracts. The immune system needs regulation and researchers are finding helminths do just that. These helminths are looked at as part of the intestinal biome by some researchers and practitioners, in the same way our friendly gut bacteria is. Do we need a eukaryome to decrease oversensitivity to foods, molds, salicylates, chemical sensitivities, microbes, and other environmental reactions that are now much more common place? As much as I don't like the idea, I have to admit they may be onto something. Helminths have been shown to modulate multiple and distinct immune pathways within their hosts. This ability probably evolved over a long period of time. The host and some parasites appear to have a beneficial relationship, that for the host is apparent in limiting autoimmunity.
Science is now trying to differentiate the true parasites from those that are commnesals or mutualists. We certainly want to share our digestive tract with those that are true pathogens, but what about the ones that benefit us? It has indeed been shown that populations of people who have more helminths have lower levels of certain types of chronic illness. Some scientists and practitioners think that humans with a competent immune system need to have exposure to helminths to have optimal immune function and to keep inflammatory disease in check. This has lead to the interest in using parasitic worms to treat autoimmune disease as well as allergies and other hard to treat inflammatory diseases.
Some Background Information on Using Parasitic Worms To Treat Autoimmune Disease and Allergies
I first heard about the use of parasites as a treatment when a colleague named Dr. Steve Nenninger began using them for his family and patients. He wrote a cute and informative book on the use of hookworms that is worth reading. He has had a lot of success using hookworms and uses one specific subspecies. This is an important factor. Don't try just any hookworm as some are not so friendly. Everyone in his family has autoimmune disease, and when none of the other available treatments were effective he turned to hookworms and now calls them a miracle. His phone and email are in his book, and if you are curious as to if this therapy could benefit you, I suggest calling him.
I never pursued using parasitic worms as a viable treatment in the past due to a lack of enough information for me to feel comfortable using them. I was espeically concerned about them ending up outside of the digestive tract. I don't like the idea of them wandering out into adjacent body organs even if this is less likely with particular types of helminths and specific strains. Additionally, there is a big ick factor to get past. Just as you are probably feeling a little squeamish about using parasites as a medicine and find it hard to accept, it has been a little odd to me too. I was not ready to recommend hookworms or pig whipworms or rat tape worms to patients as a serous treatment, even though specific strains of these parasites have indeed been used with success. As time has passed however, these little parasites are starting to look like an answer to what ails some people.
Some people are worried about the semipermanence of hookworms, so some individuals use other types of worms such as the pig whipworm or the rat tape worm. These only stay in the digestive tract for a few weeks before the body expels them. However, if you want to continue the therapy this makes it necessary to repurchase them every few weeks. No matter which of these worms are used, the most important factor comes down to picking the correct subspecies or strain of worm, and if there are side effects, simply evaluate how much side effect exists compared to the benefits received. Your practitioner should be able to help you with this decision. For many it has been worthwhile.
How The Worms Decrease Autoimmune and Inflammatory Response
Three main mechanisms have been identified.
- They activate regulatory T cells that dampen immune responses
- They stimulate cytokine release that dampens effector T cell activity. (effector T cell activity normally leads to inflammation and disease)
- The alter intestinal flora in a manner that increases the level of good gut bacteria.
There are two types of hookworms; Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus. Ancylostoma duodenale is not used. It is a nasty, no good hookworm that will cause a lot of grief. The one that is used is Necator americanus. However, even when using Necator americanus, you can't just use any of them. Research has turned up a subspecies of hookworm called NA457, named after its genetic code. (has to be identified by DNA analysis as microscopic analysis is not accurate) Dr. Nenninger makes the following claims for the subspecies NA457:
- Can't reproduce in your body
- Does not create many side effects as they are getting settled (most side effects come in the initiail period of use)
- They are effective in many situations
- Can only live in the small intestine
- Does not cause anemia
- Can live as long as wanted up to 15 years
- Balances body bacteria and increases gut bacterial diversity
- Controls inflammation
- Calms anxiety
- Improves sleep
- Is easily killed by anti-worm drugs
- Can be used with conventional medicine
- Controls reactions to vaccines
- Can help decrease the over-reactions some individuals have to other pathogens
Details of this is all in his lovely free book. In the section below where I provide links to research articles, I also provide this book link again, and list a few specific health conditions, or symptoms that have been improved or usually disappeared by the use of hookworms. The corresponding pages are listed so you can eaisly find the data. This was necessary as there is no find feature in the ebook and the book is 341 pages long. There is an index at the end but it is a little hard to use also.
To find the appropriate subspecies of hookworm, I suggest you contact Dr. Steven Nenninger by using his email or phone as provided in his book. If you are a patient, you can have your practitioner contact Dr. Nenninger to get the worms or you can become Dr. Nenninger's patient. I am going to move on to the whipworm and rat tape worm, but I do want to let you know that Dr. Nenninger has tried using the rat tape worm and finds it does not do as thorough of a job as the hookworm. This makes sense as it coevolved with us over time, whereas the rat tape worm coevolved with the rat. Still, there is a lot of data on the rat tape worm and it is easier to purchase. For many it becomes the first experience with using worms if they decide to cell treat their autoimmune conditions. He also mentions the pig whipworm and says it is best to start with the hookworm and if needed add the pig whipworm latter.
Trichuris suis, has received “Good Manufacturing Procedure” approval from the United States FDA and the European EMEA, and is now considered a pharmaceutical. Whipworms have undergone extensive testing in large doubleblind, multi-centered clinical trials in Europe and the USA. Whipworm therapy consists of swallowing microscopic live pig whipworm eggs which hatch in the host. Normally they colonize pigs, but they can also colonize humans, however only for a couple of months. The life cycle of this agent is restricted to the gastrointestinal track. The larvae that emerge from the eggs can mature into adult worms in some of the human hosts, but they remain quite small.
Whipworms Have Been Beneficial In Studies When Used For:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel disease
- Celiac disease
- Multiple scerosis
Dr. Joel Weinstock, who has been the cheerleader behind using whipworms for inflammatory digestive tract disorders chose to use whipworms for the following reasons.
- They can be produced in pathogen-free pigs under ultra-clean conditions. The worms are removed from the pig and grown in test tubes where they produce eggs and it is these eggs which are consumed by the host. The eggs are stable and will last a year in a refrigerator.
- Whipworms live in the gastrointestinal tract and don't go into the blood stream, the liver or other organs. They tend to colonize the ileum and colon.
- They are eliminated in a few weeks from the human host.
- They never reach adulthood or produce eggs. There are no eggs to spread to others.
- You can take a drug to get rid of them if wished.
- Many pig farms have pigs herds with this worm and it has never been an issue for farmers who have been exposed to pig whipworms for a long time.
- During the time they have treated people, they have not seen any ill effects from chronic use.
The Rat Tape Worm – Hymenolepis diminuta cystercercoids
- What is known about the rat tape worm, Hymenolepsis diminuta and Hymenolepis diminuta cystercercoids (HDCs):
- Researchers claim adverse risks to be low with these HDCs. This helminth has lower risk of negative side effects than the whip worm and hookworm.
- They stay in the lumen (tube) of the intestines while whipworms and hookworms do not. (with the exception of hookworm NA457)
- The Hymenolepis diminuta cystercercoids (HDCs) are used and the claim is that they do not become worms. There is only this one life stage of Hymenolepis diminuta.
- When we ingest them they don’t survive long inside the human digestive tract and they are not known to be transmitted from one human to another. This is great if you have any concern about permanant worms inside you. The downside is the cost of repetatively replacing these HDCs.
They have been found to be effective in treatment of a variety of conditions that include:
- Autoimmune conditions
- Meuropsychiatric conditions
- Inflammatory bowel issues
- Many allergic conditions
Life Cycle And Production of the Rat Tape Worm in the Lab
The rat tapeworm is raised in grain beetles. These are the beetles that you might find in your flour.
The grain beetles are non-toxic to humans.
The production of the organisms and medical use of them are not patented so anyone can raise them and sell them that is set up appropriately. There are some producers that have created their own style of raising them and those methods are proprietary.
How HDCs Are Raised
The production of the tape worm and HDCs is easier than the other parasites, although it does have to be reproduced under specific conditions. However, they are conditions that any medical center with an animal laboratory can reproduce.
The basic process being used is that the rat serves as a primary host for the tape worm, and the grain beetle (Tenebrio molitor) is the secondary host. The rat is given the worms and while in the rat, they make eggs that are introduced to the grain beetle through rat feces containing the eggs to the beetles. The beetles return to their usual food and Cystercercoid of Hymenolepis diminuta develops in the grain beetle.
Hymenolepis diminuta Cysticercoids (HDCs) are now living in the extraintestinal space of the grain beetles. The beetles are dissected and the HDCs are removed. The HDCs often go through a cleaning process that removes bits of beetle parts and bacteria. The suppliers are following a strict protocol to raise the beetles and HDCs as they have found changing this process and trying to enhance it in any way or to decrease the time it takes results in less effective HDCs.
Some HDCs are cleaned and stored in antibiotics to retard bacterial growth during shipping but they are 30-50% less active than fresh HDCs. The fresher the better for effectiveness it appears. Many of the current suppliers are not using this cleaning and antibiotic treatment and claim it offers no advantage. They have said the bacteria is benign. The individuals using them are therefore getting them in what is called the “fresh” form.
Additionally, manual separation of HDCs from bacteria can result in a 10-fold or more increase in labor costs.
How do you feel about eating HDCs that may have bacteria or some microscopic beetle parts. I have to say once you get past the idea of eating a parasite, the rest of it does not bother many people. I did think about the fact that these beetles are in grains all over the world and I have never heard of them causing any type of health issue.
Where Practitioners Get The HDCs
They are available currently for individuals to purchase either through a physician or in some cases, on the internet for self-treatment. Although an indivdiual can purchase them directly from sellers and self-treat, I suggest using a practitioner who is adept in picking the correct helminth and knows the best dosing for you.
Most companies purchase stock from Carolina Biological Supply and then use this stock to raise their own tapeworms with protocols that ensure sanitary production to have a product that may be used for therapeutic use. This data can be read in detail in the Jouranl of Clinical Medicine article called Production and Use of Hymenolepis diminuta Cysticercoids as Anti-Inflammatory Therapeutics This same article reviewed the current use of these helminths by 707 individuals who were self-treating. More on this below.
What Can Damage HDCs And Decrease Their Efficacy
There are a few things known to cause issues with the efficacy of the HDCs that I thought would be important to remember should I ever decide to use them in the future. They are as follows.
- The longer the shipment time the more loss of activity.
- Cleaning and preserving in antibiotics before shipment
- Drinking hot liquids immediately after ingesting the HDCs
- Ingesting alcohol over 7% immediately after ingesting the HDCs
Use Of Fresh HDCs – Research Data
All of the people who used HDCs in the following information were using fresh HDCs. This means they were not cleaned of the bacteria and minute beetle parts as mentioned above.
According to the research article “Production and Use of Hymenolepis diminuta Cysticercoids as Anti-Inflammatory Therapeutics “ the average dose for an adolescent or adult is 5-30 HDCs every 3 weeks, but could be as much as every 6 weeks depending on need.
For a pre-adolescent it was 1-10 HDCs every 3 weeks, but could be as much as every 6 weeks depending on need.
Although the researchers said there is a low rate of harmful side effects, for those who did have a severe adverse reaction the treatment was discontinued and an antiparasitic was used to remove the helminth. If there was mild intestinal irritation they would decrease the dose by half. If the intestinal distress continued they would further decrease the dose unless the benefit was greater than the distress then they would attempt to adjust the dose to a level that was tolerable but still gave results. They may have added other treatments to help decrease the mild intestinal distress also, but it was not mentioned.
If there are no side effects and the person gets full symptom relief, they simply maintain the therapy as is. If the don’t have side effects, but they don’t have full symptom relief, then they increased the dose by about 20% if there was no gastrointestinal irritation. There is a nice little chart of this that you can find in the research article.
The dosing needed to be increased in those who used this therapy long term for over 6-12 months. For many of them the dose needed to be increased by about 2-3 times for use over the period of many years. The adults ended up taking from 10 HDCs per week to 100 HDCs per 3 weeks when used long term, and the pediatric population used from 3 HDCs every 3 weeks to 20 HDCs every 3 weeks. Some of the pediatric individuals used the HDCs weekly also, but not too many and the researchers thought this could have even been due to cost.
Some Illness/Symptoms That Improved With HDC Use In The Study
- Inflammatory illness
- anxiety disorders
- migraine headaches
- Tourette’s syndrome
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- major depressive disorder
- Autoimmune conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease
- varicose veins
There were varied results treating allergies and arthritis.
Side Effects Noted In The Study
In pediatric population there was a transient increase in hyperactivity after self-treatment
When Do Practitioners Think of Using Parasitic Worms To Treat Autoimmune Conditions
There are many alternative approaches to treating autoimmune disease, allergies, and other inflammatory conditions. So, when might a practitioner think about using this worm therapy?
- An individual who has an inflammatory condition, is not getting better and you have tried all the usual treatments.
- An individual who has an inflammatory condition, and who keeps relapsing easily and often.
- It is more likely they need worms if they have a Northern European heritage.
- If the persons inflammatory rissues run in their family it is more likely that they need worms.
Scientists Trying to Replicate Worm Actitivity
Some scientists have attempted to identify exact mechanisms and signaling molecules the worms use to manipulate host immunity, and then adminster them therapeutically. A variety of helminth-derived proteins have been identified and found to be protective in rodent research of multiple sclerosis. It is felt by these scientists that using such proteins may provide safer and more presisely trageted treatments. However, other researchers and practitioners feel long term, the low-level helminth infection might provide longer lasting, less expeinsive and more efficient methods of therapy. Dr. Nenninger feels the worms act like an orchastra conductor to the immune system. If so, there is no way a single protein or group of them can provide that kind of immunoregulation.
The Take Home On Using Parasites As A Therapy
- Helminths in general have been found to help with a variety of inflammatory conditions, allergies and various autoimmune disease.
- They have been shown to have specific mechanisms by which they modulate immunity of the host.
- It has been theorized that some of our immune inherited genes may make us more prone to needing helminth association. Therefore, certain individuals would be more helped by helminths. It is not as if everyone needs them. Northern Europeans appear to have a more robust immune system and often in this case do well with worms.
- Using worms that stay in the lumen of the digestive tract make this type of therapy look safer and more appealing in my opinion.
- When using hookworms for treatment there is a specific subspecies, NA457 that is used.
- Many people with autoimmune diseases are using drugs that they find cause them a lot of side effects that are hard to live with. I think we should further investigate the use of parasitic worms to treat autoimmune diseases and spare individuals these terrible side effects.
- Helminths may have a future treating a number of afflictions from histamine over-expression and SIBO to multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. They may change the entire face of autoimmune treatment and other inflammatory disease in the near future.
- Safety concerns about using helminths are being addressed by use of specific Genus, species and even subspecies as well as controlling dose. Using those parasites that do not reproduce in the host has been key to choosing the specific types of worms used.
Although you can find parasitic worms for sale on the internet, I suggest you seek out a practitioner to work with. If you do decide to self-treat, at least be sure you are purchasing them from a company that is well known and that others have used with succsess.
Send a link to this article to family and friends who may benefit from reading it.
For Additional Reading on This Subject
- For more data on HDCs, how they are grown in labs etc. contact Biomerestoration.com
- The Hookworm Miracle
- Dr. Nenninger's personal family story and his patient stories of Hookworm use. Explanations on how they work. Great book and free to read.
- For those of you with a tick borne bacteria you are dealing with, read pp. 230-232
- For those of you with Epstein barr syndrome, read 232 -234
- For those reacting to breast implants, or other surgically implanted items, read pp. 234-235
- For those having a reaction to Cipro, read pp. 238-239.
- For those with gluten intolerance, read pp 206-207.
- For those with joint hypermobility, see pp. 197-199.
- For those with iron deficiency anemia that has been hard to treat, see pp. 285-286.
- For those of you with unrelenting chronic stress reactions, see pp. 286-288.
Dr. Nenninger also has many research articles on the use of worm therapy listed at the end of his book. For additional articles besides what I have listed here, please check out his book link above.
Bohnacker S, Troisi F, de Los Reyes Jiménez M, Esser-von Bieren J.Front Immunol. 2020 Sep 11;11:2106. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.02106. eCollection 2020.PMID: 33013887 Free PMC article. Review.
Asmaa M. et. al, Biomedcentral. 2020, March;14,Parasites & Vectors volume 13, Article number: 136
Wilson MS, Maizels RM.Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2004 Feb;26(1):35-50. doi: 10.1385/CRIAI:26:1:35.PMID: 14755074 Review.
Hymenolepis diminuta Cysticercoids as Anti-Inflammatory Therapeutics. J. Clin. Med. 2017, 6(10), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm6100098Production and Use of
Flohr C, Quinnell RJ, Britton J.Clin Exp Allergy. 2009 Jan;39(1):20-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2008.03134.x.PMID: 19128351 Review.
- Neuroimmunoendocrine modulation in the host by helminth parasites: a novel form of host-parasite coevolution?
Escobedo G, López-Griego L, Morales-Montor J.Neuroimmunomodulation. 2009;16(2):78-87. doi: 10.1159/000180262. Epub 2009 Feb 11.PMID: 19212127 Review.
If you want to learn more about autoimmunity and the thyroid check out: Epstein Barr Virus And Thyroid Diseas