Time to reexamine our slavish devotion to the scientific method

Someone sent me a link to some research on Psoriasis and it got me thinking again about the way science and particularly drug research is conducted, and its limitations with respect to complex systems we do not understand, like the immune system.


The subject of the direction of research in the area of immunological diseases really bothers me. I think science, because of its history and prejudices, has gone in entirely the wrong direction, and that the scientific method is part of the problem.

The scientific method works very well for simple systems like the physics of semiconductors for instance, where all but one variable can be controlled for, where all variables have been identified and understood.

That just is not possible currently for the immune system, we do not even know all of its components, or even the behaviour of any one component in all circumstances. Never mind those we create with modern drugs.

Furthermore the timescale of research required to understand the long term effects of a drug are prohibitive, not possible. Bear that in mind when you read the known side effects for a drug introduced more recently than 30 or 50 years ago. That list may be incomplete.

Given the complexity of the immune system I am convinced that barring a breakthrough in research tools or methodology akin to the discovery and development of PCR technology and techniques, which has played out over the course of 25 years, current drug development methods are not going to produce anything effective and safe except by dumb luck.

Attempting to control disease by targeting specific components of the immune system with knockout drugs will never yield anything more effective or safe than the monoclonals that we have now. They are of course neither safe, nor effective.

Crudely knocking out a major component of the immune system using proteins or other molecules that themselves can become targets of the immune system, seems to me, guarantees bad side effects and a limited period of effectiveness.

So an approach like ours where you step back so that the resolution of what you are looking at and of your thinking is reduced, and the problem and challenge are simplified, presents a more promising approach.

Understanding that immunological diseases and those involving chronic inflammation arise out of damages to the environment defined by our bodies reduces the complexity of the problem and it’s possible solutions.

Another reason why the viewpoint of science and the regulators is skewed and inappropriate, helminthic therapy has been categorised as a drug based on the definition of drugs used by agencies like the FDA. But one has to realise that using their definition of a drug would mean sunlight and food, even a kiss, could be defined as drugs as well. Given how broad and therefore useless that definition is, its use in this case creates an a damaging regulatory posture, as well as an attitude of fear and conservatism amongst the public and regulators, who do not understand all the issues. That limits the development and use of a therapeutic tool that is inherently safe: helminthic therapy.

I think the reason drug and therapeutics development for complex diseases, like cancer, autoimmunity and chronic inflammation, have slowed to a crawl is because of this complexity imposed by the thinking that follows from using the scientific method as our lens, our only lens.

Our inability to spend the decades waiting to work out the consequences of a particular approach using current methods also means that drugs developed under the current system have not been appropriately tested given the potential risks. 

Hence also the lack of movement on helminthic therapy because of categorisation it as a drug. That and the unwillingness of the drug industry to follow any potential route to a product that does not enjoy patent protection and the artificial monopoly that regulation creates. Something that is impossible commercially given the nature of our patent system and the motivation of drug companies by profit ahead of general welfare.

Without an almost complete understanding of the immune system and all its components, as well as a computer model of it that has predictive powers, it is impossible to develop safe effective drugs.

Helminthic therapy may be categorised as a drug by a regulatory system that has clearly not adapted to current knowledge and understanding, and is likely inhibited from doing so by it’s symbiotic relationship with the community of drug companies it regulates.

But it is not a drug.

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I posted this on Facebook here if you are not aware of our Facebook page and a better edited version to the Yahoo forum.

I post small snippets and shorter material to Facebook that does not show up here, and Twitter is linked to that as well, you can follow me @wormtherapy

 

Posted in biome restoration, ecosystem, helminthic therapy research | Leave a comment

More evidence of the power of ecosystems

Just read at the second pass by an interesting article on the Independent.co.uk, a national newspaper in the UK concerning a recent discovery. Scientists claim to have worked out why honey is so good as an antibiotic and it has nothing to do with honey bees directly, but rather the ecosystem formed by their stomachs, as with us and helminths and the hygiene hypothesis/old friends hypothesis. Turns out they believe that bacteria living in honey bee stomachs is what confers the antibiotic properties on honey. I will leave it to your imagination how bacteria in a bee’s stomach transfer that power to the honey you enjoy. But yet another, they are stacking up fast, demonstrating that thinking of ecosystems on any level as separate or distinct from one another is not productive. Although the hippy connotations have always bothered me I think Gaia deserves another look, and hopefully a better name with less mystical associations.

From the Independent:
For millenia, raw unmanufactured honey has been used to treat infections.

Scientists believe its effectiveness could lie in a unique formula comprised of 13 types of lactic acid bacteria found in the stomachs of bees. The bacteria, which are no longer active in shop-bought honey, produce a myriad of active anti-microbial compounds.

….

Honey is an antibiotic because of bacteria in bee's stomachs

Honey has long been known, centuries in fact, to have extraordinary antibiotic properties. It’s the bacteria in the bee’s stomach…


By applying the bacteria to pathogens found in severe human wounds – including MRSA – scientists from Lund University, Sweden, found that the formula from a bee’s stomach successfully counteracted the infections.

Researchers believe that the formula works so potently because it contains a broad spectrum of active substances, unlike conventional man-made antibiotics.

My only sadness was in reading that the active ingredients had been killed by the time it is bought, honey must be pasteurised. Doing so would not just kill any bacteria but denature any ESMs left behind in the honey.

If you want the benefits you would likely have to eat raw honey. But one to store away for after the zombie apocalypse.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/bacteria-found-in-honeybee-stomachs-could-be-used-as-alternative-to-antibiotics-9724292.html

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Things I would do if I was still sick

Or that you can, or use to try and stay healthy.

If I suffered from, any, nasty immunological disorder or any involving inflammation this is what I would do:

1. I would not rely on experts, so-called, who have managed to create a situation where all these diseases are out-of-control and increasing. Clearly “modern medicine” not only does not have the answers for these conditions, it is clear that it is part of the problem. Having said that if you are currently reliant on some modern drug to function you are going to have to continue to rely on it until you can get things under control such that it is possible to discontinue its use.

2. I would systematically make my life as close in its daily routine to that of a hunter-gatherer. This sounds wildly impractical, but if you understand what is important about each difference between modern living and the stone age in terms of health it is very easy.

So what does that mean in terms of practical advice?

These are the changes I would make to my life knowing what I know now, and to a large extent have. The more severe your disorder the more disciplined you need to be with each of these changes:

1. Eliminate carbohydrates, both simple and complex, from your diet, as close to entirely as possible. Eat vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, and flesh of one kind or another. No grains or their products, ever. No sugar, no rice, no bread, no crackers, no cereal, no pizza crust, no pastry, no cake, no pie, you get it. Never eat prepared food, prepare it yourself from fresh ingredients, preferably organic or grown yourself. If you cannot pronounce it, from the label, and have no idea what it is, why the hell are you eating it? If you garden you win thrice, see below.

2. Make your meals smaller and more frequent. No large set meals, snack all day. Subject yourself to periods where you don’t eat at all. Episodic hunger is good. But drink a lot of water.

3. Expose yourself to sunlight, and drop the sunblock. Yes it may increase your odds of developing skin cancer, but be smart about it. When I lived in the tropics I stayed out of the sun from 11 am to 3 or 4 pm, and never burned although I went shirtless most of the time and never wore sunblock. I am blue-eyed and had blond hair as a child. If you have to go out during those hours wear a hat and a long sleeved shirt. Our skin can produce 20,000 IUs of Vitamin D, the right kind, in a few hours of shirtless exposure to sunlight. The RDA is 200 or so IUs? Really? If we evolved to produce that much vitamin D there is a reason for it, and lack of vitamin D is implicated in a host of immunological disorders.

4. Get in the dirt every day, ideally this would mean hikes in the woods, gardening, swimming in unpolluted rivers and lakes. You need to be exposed to the bacteria and other organisms in soil. Be smart, don’t rub dirt into cuts, by exposure I mean some should end up in your digestive tract, on your skin, in your lungs. Every day. Breathing dust is good, in moderation. If this is not practical eat some small amount of dirt from natural source every day. The practice is called Pica, and not just humans, but animals, have and do practice it, and have for millennia. Go to the woods, to areas you know they don’t spread fertiliser or herbicides. Mix it up. You can bring a week’s worth back with you, just store it in an open container and don’t refrigerate it. Quantity is not important, frequency is. If you garden eat tomatoes or carrots with minimal washing out of the garden, for instance.

5. Exercise, a lot. It has an enormous impact on well being, stress, etc., and our forebears were nothing if not active. But again, be smart, walking is vastly underrated as an exercise, but requires more time to produce a given result than something more intensive. Be sure to mix it up, I am not advocating marathon running, which is a modern abomination guaranteed just about to result in damage and injury. Combine walking, running, swimming, climbing, weight lifting, dancing, wrestling, boxing, etc., and do things you enjoy. Be active for 1 hour a day at least, and mix it up. You are not competing, you are doing it for pleasure, I hope. You can make all this stuff more time efficient by combining things whenever possible, so running or walking barefoot in the woods would deal with both exercise and exposure to dirt at the same time.

6. Simplify your life, we are not meant to live in large complex societies, or deal with all these modern distractions and contrivances. The result is stress, implicated in about every immunological disorder there is. Turn off the TV, close the laptop, bring your point of view down to the level of someone living in a social group of a few hundred people, tops, and a geographical limit of fifty miles, and unplug. The world will manage to continue to screw itself up without your active participation, don’t worry about it. Why the hell is the world so upset and angry anyway? Do you really need your share of that action?

7. Stop replacing your skin’s oils and biome with artificial substitutes on a daily basis, or ever. You can shower every day, but don’t use soap or shampoo. Think about it, you strip your skin and hair’s surface of naturally occurring oils, and by extension organisms, every day, and then immediately replace those lost oils with artificial substitutes. Stop using soap and shampoo, and the things that follow their use, and I guarantee you that within a few weeks you will wonder why you ever used either of those things. I still brush my teeth and recommend you do to. No, I don’t have an odour. My skin and hair are in the best shape of my life.

8. Repopulate your intestinal tract with the organisms your modern life, either by lack of exposure or by use of antibiotics, etc., has denied it and that you have evolved to live cooperatively with. See eating dirt above. We used to live in close contact with the soil and the organisms it contains, it was in our food, on our skin, we breathed in dust every day. Food preservation was largely fermentation or drying. Eat natural yoghurt’s, seek out odd fermented foods, if necessary acquire intestinal worms, helminths, for the most important class of organisms for your immune system, helminths or worms.

If you do all those things, if you are sick with a so-called “modern disease”, things will almost certainly radically improve.

This is not a quick fix, you have spent years screwing your body up, you can expect things to improve in a time frame of months and years, and that the changes will be slow but ongoing for a very, very long time.

I originally posted this to a different blog which I am now consolidating here. It was first published in 2010 I think. There is a follow up post coming soon from the same site.

Posted in biome restoration, ecological medicine, ecosystem, helminthic therapy, History of Autoimmune Therapies, History of helminthic therapy, hygiene hypothesis, Jasper Lawrence, paleo, paleo diet, pica, the body as an ecosystem | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Another great result for Crohn’s, this time in an adult

In his words, edited to remove any identifying phrases or words:

“Today marks exactly (Jasper, while it did not take this long for him to respond, he was slow to respond as I recall, and this should be born in mind by anyone on or considering therapy) days (20 months) since I have taken immunosuppressive medication of any kind. I suffer moderate to severe Crohn’s, since 2006. I dosed with hookworm late 2010 (22 months ago), and twice in 2011. After three doses totalling 150 worms, I estimate that the hookworm alone achieves 85% symptom relief for me. I rejoice at the phenomenal benefit to my life. It would be no exaggeration to call my case a small miracle. I hope to continue to experience this degree of relief.”

No drugs, quite a result, and not atypical.

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Only in America! Let’s hope so.

Patent: Further information: Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. United States Patent and Trademark Office, et al.

Methods to isolate and detect BRCA1 and BRCA2 (Breast cancer genes) were patented in the United States by Myriad Genetics. (So just so everyone is clear, this company has effectively patented a part of the human genome, human genes. There are lots of examples of this kind of idiocy, including famously a Texas company patenting Basmati Rice and then seeking to prevent Indian & Pakistani growers from selling their rice under the name Basmati any longer in jurisdictions covered by the patent).

This US patent has been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union. On March 29, 2010, a coalition led by the American Civil Liberties Union ACLU successfully challenged the basis of Myriad’s patents in New York District Court. The patent was invalidated, but the decision was appealed.

On July 29, 2011 the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit made their decision and ruled that Myriads patents are valid.

Effect on Gene Testing
The conditions of Myriad’s BRCA patent require that the only laboratories legally allowed to test and sequence the genes are the ones affiliated with Myriad. This exclusive control over BRCA testing, guaranteed by the patent, has prevented peer-reviewed validation of the tests provided by Myriad.

Since the BRCA test is marketed directly to the consumer, it is not subject to government oversight by agencies like the FDA.

Without this government review, gene tests must be studied and assessed by scientific colleagues in a peer review. However, the kind of studies needed to validate the tests require access to the BRCA genes, which are protected by Myriad’s restrictive patent. (Is this funny, tragicomic, enraging, befuddling, ludicrous, or just the free-market?)

Thus, without access to the genes (meaning you cannot even study them without paying Myriad a patent license fee, assuming they are willing to grant it, in the USA – like I said, you could not make this up) or the methods used to sequence them, peer review of the test’s effectiveness is virtually impossible. (here I have to disagree, it is impossible unless you pay Myriad for the use of their patents to study their methods to determine if they are actually effective. Genius, I wish I had a patent on you.)

However, the patents have yet to be enforced in Europe, where BRCA research and testing is becoming more widely available, and several laboratories are currently offering their own BRCA testing. The UK firm NewGene offers the test at a very competitive price, to the NHS, its owner, only. (Equally surreal and non-sensical, of course. But cheaper…)

Legal decisions surrounding the BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents hold particular bearing on the field of genetic testing, as the field is relatively young. Until legal guidelines can be applied to the practice of gene testing, progress in the field will likely suffer due to uncertainty. Any decision made regarding the BRCA patents will likely become precedent for future disputes over the use of genes for testing.

via BRCA1 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Facebook Page for Helminthic Therapy

Hi, we have long had a well maintained and regularly updated FB page, fed in part via our Twitter account. It gets a lot of activity, daily, with links to news, etc.,

To visit go here, and if you just want the twitter feed the address is @wormtherapy (@helminthictherapy was too long, as much as I dislike the term worm therapy it was that or nothing.).

I hope you find these resources useful.

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Part 4: The Story of “A”

This is, as the title suggests, one in a series of posts, almost entirely derived from emails from her family that they send me periodically to keep us up-to-date.

At the end of this post, and in a few minutes all the others, is a standard block of text with links to each part of the story of this child, as well as some additional information.

———–

From the child’s father:

“It has been over two years now since we began treating Crohn’s disease in our daughter, “A”, using helminthic therapy.

Specifically human whipworm, from Autoimmune Therapies, and she is today doing better then ever. She was around 21 months old when we started helminthic therapy, she had been diagnosed at 14 months of age, and had not responded to any attempted treatment of the disease, except steroids.

She is now over three and a half, and is as happy, healthy, and as beautiful as any parent could want from a child.

Two years ago my wife and I could have only hoped the future should be so bright for her, and us.

A has now taken four doses of the helminths, and each time her condition has only improved.

I can assure you it was not a straight line to good health, but rather a gradual improvement. Like any good, long term investment, there were setbacks along the way. Despite our better judgment, every time there was blood or diarrhea, in the back of our minds, we would wonder if it was the beginning of a major flare, one that would require the drugs we tried so hard to avoid for her.

But the reality was that it never even came close to that. There is no doubt she is doing better now then a year ago, and certainly two years ago. She continues to gain weight, in fact she is 34 pounds, and her stools continue to improve. We have even begun introducing different foods to her diet, with fantastic results.She can play endlessly with her sisters, is as cheerful as could be, and she is even a little chubby, something we’ll take any day of the week over the alternative.

She has not taken any medication for the Crohn’s disease since shortly after she began helminthic therapy.

Suffice to say, treating our little girl with helminthic therapy was the single best decision we could have made, given the circumstance. The treatment has enabled her to live a normal life with Crohn’s disease, rather then one riddled with pain and fatigue, pills, injections, and steroids.

It is not lost on our family, the thought that today we can focus on teaching “A” to read, and swim, and good manners, rarely worrying or even thinking about the fact that she has Crohn’s disease, instead of living in the bleak future we imagined for her, and us, two and a half short years ago.

I’m proud of what we did for her, and we’re thankful to Autoimmune Therapies for the opportunity to do it.”

End of email.

As it happens I am proud too, particularly of those who work with me to do this. I talk a lot, too much perhaps in the past, of the sacrifices my family has made. Far too little has been said about the team working with me.

All, in different ways, are making very considerable sacrifices to be able to make sure people like “A” continue to get the probiotics they need. Our chief scientist, who had a very good career before I came along, has essentially sacrificed that to peruse this. That is just one easy example to identify and explain.

One day soon I hope that it will be possible to acknowledge their courage, the risks and sacrifices they have made, and to do so completely publicly. I am the figurehead for a group of people who are all intelligent, hard-working, dedicated, principled and very high-integrity individuals.

All intelligent enough to not want their name to appear on my blog.

Here’s to hoping that will one day change and their accomplishments and courage can be lauded publicly.

Links to rest of series on “A”

“A” was under 2 years old when diagnosed with Crohn’s Colitis, and the disease appears from the family’s descriptions to have been severe and aggressive. They approached us when the recommendation for treatment from the child’s Gastroenterologist was one of the biologics, either Remicade or Humira, I cannot remember which.

Below are links to each of the four posts, so far, which for the most part are just emails from the child’s dad on “A’s” progress, and his thoughts and observations.

Managing the links between the posts has become cumbersome, so I have created this standard block of links to tie the story together, explain the context if someone happens upon one of the posts and does not realise they are part of a series, and will probably make a static page to aggregate the whole thing.

Part 1: Part 1 of the story of “A”

Part 2: Part 2 of the story of “A”

Part 3: Part 3 of the story of “A”

Part 4: Part 4 of the story of “A”

Posted in Crohn's disease, Jasper Lawrence, juvenile colitis, whipworm | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What a word means

When I still lived in the US and Sani Abacha was the suddenly dead president of Nigeria, and it was therefore discovered he had looted billions for him and his family from the Nigerian treasury, some of my friends in the US were aghast at the scale of his corruption. Apparently they did not read much international news.

At any rate my comment was “At least their leaders get a decent price”. Which perhaps explains this map. This is a map of world corruption based on perception, opinion.

In this case, in the accompanying image, a screenshot from my unsubscibing from WebMD Professional, as in for doctors, I was asked the reasons for my leaving.

Amongst which is the most interesting: “Do you only participate in programs sponsored by pharmaceutical companies when an honorarium is offered”.

Honorarium, far more mellifluous a word than any alternative.

how drug companies bribe doctors

Unsubscribe screen shot composite from WebMD “Professional”.

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The context of helminthic therapy and the environmental diseases it can be used to ameliorate

I want to emphasise that I believe what we are doing exists in a much broader, well-established context.

The diseases we are trying to work with are all environmental in origin. The hygiene hypothesis essentially says that because we have impoverished the environments defined by our bodies by reducing the variety of organisms that populate us, we are getting sick.

Helminthic therapy is an attempt to restore health by remediating the ecosystem formed by the subject’s body. As in the reintroduction of wolves to control deer populations.

I believe that the most important, eventual, outcome of what we are doing will be to get mankind to see that our health is intricately intwined with our environment. That hundreds of millions of people are already sick right now because of anthropogenic environmental change.

That the environment, our ecosystem, is not something up in the sky or separate from us. That it is part of us, and intricately connected with us, our health, our daily lives, that we are component parts of one integrated, dynamic system.

That the ecosystems defined by our bodies and immediate environment, and our daily habits, have been so damaged that hundreds of millions of people are living lives limited by pain, fear and suffering.

If we succeed in that then a profound change in human behaviour towards our planet will occur. Because everyone will be conscious of their direct stake, theirs or their children’s health, in the health of the planet as an immediate phenomena. Not as some distant possibility that we might be able to put off by using the recycling bins.

That there are not ecosystems, except as artificial concepts. There is an ecosystem, and everyone”s health depends on it in profound and immediate ways, because we are all part of it.

We are the ecosystem. I am the ecosystem. You are the ecosystem.

Further, right now, our species in the industrialised and industrialising world, is under enormous selection pressure. Those with MS or Crohn’s, just two instances, will be much less likely to choose to procreate.

Ironically it is likely that many of the diseases we can address with helminthic therapy arise out of genetic adaptation to parasite/microbe rich environments. So in a sense the best adapted specimens, the very latest genetic models of humans, are those experiencing the worst consequences of environmental change.

We are witnessing not just the extinction of various species, but also a strong and rapid change in mankind’s genetic makeup.

I recognise that we should not attempt to “boil the ocean” as a friend used to put it, but I think if we frame this correctly we will find more allies than at first it might appear, and be able to present the concept of what we want to achieve in a more recognisable, and palatable, framework. We can just fit in, perhaps, rather than trying to present something entirely alien. If we are another environmental cause our pool of allies increase, and our messages are easier to understand, fit within a contextual and conceptual framework that is familiar.

That really is it for a while, enjoy your summers. Get outside, get dirt under your fingernails, get some sunshine, and get some river water down your nose.

Posted in ecosystem, helminthic therapy, helminthic therapy research, hookworm, hygiene hypothesis, whipworm | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Story of Autoimmune Therapies Since November, 2009. Part 1

I have read a lot of quite strong worded, and very definite, comments about me or Autoimmune Therapies, often by people who have never met me. I have to admit that I avoid public forums on the subject of helminthic therapy because of this, and because I see a very loud minority expressing viewpoints which do not vary with contradictory information from good sources (not just me). I still find it disturbing to read people, as one for instance, doubting that we were visited by the FDA, that I went to Africa, etc., while saying these were just publicity stunts by me. Most of these people have never met me, and it is this group that seems to hold the strongest opinions. I find this odd.

Because I do not inhabit these forums, nor provide corrective replies, I am growing concerned that some people may give them credence just because I never bother replying.

So, over the next few months, as I get time, I will tell the story, with the help of Marc and Michelle, who were there from very early on, of Autoimmune Therapies.

Also, the story which is probably the best known, my account of going to Africa on Kuro5hin.org, was written without an understanding of how their system worked. Having started writing it on a whim, I stopped at some time in the middle of the night, when I woke up late the next day I found the article locked and being voted on for publication. I had intended to correct various bits by referring back to the basic science again, and was far from finished writing it.

So hopefully this will fulfil the objectives of providing my side of our story, as well as bits of Marc’s and Michelle’s, and a corrective to the incomplete version published on K5.

I am going to break the story up into these parts, with these titles:

Part 2. Developing asthma, going through the medical mill, and learning their might be hope after all.

Part 3. Researching hookworm and other helminths, trying desperately to obtain them from a source that did not require me to travel.

Part 4. Going to Cameroon to obtain hookworm, unfortunately the wrong type.

Part 5. Meeting Garin and my further attempts to obtain the correct species of hookworm.

Part 6. The start of Autoimmune Therapies, and providing therapy from Mexico.

Part 7. The decision to ship from Santa Cruz, CA in the USA to everyone using FedEx.

Part 8. The FDA visit, and the immediate aftermath.

Part 9. Two years, just about, of profound depression and drift.

Part 10. Contact by an inspirational client and the beginning of the end of depression. Contact by the MHRA, what it meant for us and for Helminthic Therapy, current plans and projects.

Part 11. The future, as I see it.

I should have part 2 up and done by January 15th, don’t hesitate to hassle me if it does not show up by that date. I am insanely busy, my work days typically never end before 2 am, and often not before 6 or 7 am. I am gripped by the kind work aholicism which has always possessed me when I am working on something I love.

Yes, I wake up late.

Jasper Lawrence
© 2011

Posted in History of Autoimmune Therapies | Tagged , | 12 Comments