New direction for this blog

I have not had an editorial position for this blog, until now. No consistent direction or unifying theme for what to say except in general terms to speak about helminthic therapy and anything that might, however distantly, relate to the health of those who approach us for hookworm, or for whipworm.

Often I have been embarrassingly guilty of writing self-indulgent garbage I should have known was of interest only to me. Things that in retrospect should not have been of interest to me.  I apologise, it won’t happen again.

I have decided that I am going to concentrate on science for a while, what it is, how it is practiced, how it is funded, who decides what gets funded, what is published and how, and perhaps how elements of that might be improved. Science has not always been like this, or even been at all.

Continue reading New direction for this blog

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.

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.

Why acquiring hookworm the old-fashioned way is a baaaad idea

I was asked about a month or more ago to address the topic of acquiring hookworm as I did the first time, and the dangers inherent in doing so. By which I mean going to Cameroon and walking barefoot in the latrine areas of the locals, as I described shortly after doing so here.

The person who contacted me was rightly concerned at posts he had read of people suggesting that they do just that, to save on the expense of purchasing hookworm.

As I describe in the post linked to above, before I went to Africa to get hookworm I considered the many risks associated with doing so, and I only accepted those risk because I had spent 18 months scouring the internet for sources of hookworm, or any other of the various types of helminths I considered safe.

I could not get the ova or larvae from laboratory supply companies, from universities with parasitology departments studying the organisms, nor by locating the areas in the USA where hookworm infection is still endemic because so many people in the S. Eastern US, and Appalachia in particular, still live as they did before Rockefeller’s eradication program began in the 1920s. What every health department I called, in Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana and I am sure a few others, all said was something like, “I know we do have cases in our State, but it is not a reportable disease, and so we have no idea where you would find people with hookworm infections”.

I contacted the various universities with parasitology program, I lied, cajoled, begged, offered to pay large sums, i tried to enrol in the programs at Nottingham (the only then active study, into allergies, was full).

I emailed or called every laboratory supply company I could find, no dice. The closest I got was a dead adult hookworm mounted on a slide for parasitology classes.

I tried everything to avoid going abroad to acquire hookworm for the following reasons:

The high risk of acquiring mosquito borne diseases like Malaria, Dengue fever, Filariasis (leading to Elephantiasis, incurable). Those borne by other insects, like trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), West Nile Virus (Nasty!!!), Leishmaniasis (avoid the photographs), the Plague and while most forms are treatable pneumonic can be fatal in less than a week and the mortality rate if untreated is 100%.

Obtaining medical care in Africa is not a happy prospect if you really need it. For instance when I visited the hospital in Limbé the regional capital, when I approached the building I thought the hospital must be behind it because this building was clearly intended for keeping animals. I am deadly serious.

Medicines, including clean syringes had to be supplied by the patients, which is why if you to to Africa besides your anti malaria’s, antibiotics for cholera, shots for typhoid, and cholera (not very effective and makes you feel like dog meat), shots for all the hepatitis versions, etc., you have to take a supply of various syringes so you can be sure of not having one reused on you.

After all the official rate of HIV infection in Cameroon is about 20%, and given that life expectancy there is 47 this means that probably about 50% of adults in Cameroon are HIV positive.

Yellow fever of course, but a requirement of entry to countries where it is endemic is proof of inoculation. Which is good because it destroys your liver in a trice. Then there is Typhus fever (interesting thing: “The first reliable description of the disease appears during the Spanish siege of Moorish Granada in 1489. These accounts include descriptions of fever and red spots over arms, back and chest, progressing to delirium, gangrenous sores, and the stink of rotting flesh. During the siege, the Spaniards lost 3,000 men to enemy action but an additional 17,000 died of typhus.”).

Don’t forget TB, much of which is now totally resistant to antibiotics, interesting thing it can affect your bones as well as your lungs, so your bones crumble away.

Getting bored with listing diseases, there are too many more to want to continue, so just going to list the highlights, you can look them up on Wikipedia: Leptospirosis, Lassa Fever, Ebola & Marburg Viruses (your hemorragic fevers), Schistosomiasis, Rabies, Diphtheria, etc., etc., etc.

Then there are the water borne diseases, meaning you have to stay away from fresh water, whether flowing or still. Don’t forget all the large predators, some that live in water that are above you on the food chain in Africa.

My favourite story was of a German tourist who was told not to swim in the lake by the hotel he was staying in, heedless of the advice he did just that, and was a crocodile’s dinner as a result).

Hippos eat people, too.

There are many other diseases, among which are Polio. If memory serves the eradication effort failed because a bunch of religious lunatics in Nigeria refused vaccination at the end of the global eradication program, Cameroon is next door. But I am getting tired of listing them, that last link takes you to the CDC page for travel advisories for Cameroon and I think lists most of the diseases.

Of course the greatest danger to life and limb in Cameroon does not come from disease or predators, although there are tigers on Mount Cameroon, the second highest mountain in Africa, and it’s largest active volcano. I walked up part of it and down to where it had bisected the road to Nigeria, the flow was enormous.

No, the greatest danger to life and limb in the third world comes from the citizens of the country you are visiting most of the time.

The only guide book to Cameroon warned that cars were the greatest risk, I laughed at that given what I had read about the diseases. But so it proved.

In just two weeks in the country I came upon three accidents, shortly after they had happened, involving fatalities. In one memorable case four in one car that had burned. Quite an image, plus countless others, not involving fatalities, one involving a large gravel truck, a minibus, and a motorcycle.

The minibus had been tossed down the slope next to the road and its contents and passengers distributed at random hither, thither, and yon, along with all their possessions. They seemed to be in the worst shape, the motorcyclist seemed fine, but the passengers in the minibus were all moaning and gripping various body parts, heads in particular.

I was once in a taxi that was one of four cars simultaneously overtaking another car while two cars, one overtaking, came at us in the other direction.

Exciting!

There are no driving tests, few seat belts, no visible police outside the capital, no road signs, only one paved road (from the capital to the oil refinery) that I saw outside the capital, no signs, or road markings. There are only a couple of fire stations in the capital, and I doubt even that many in the rest of the country. Both are quite near the presidential palace by some freak of chance.

As to an ambulance, forget it. If you cannot get yourself to the hospital you aren’t going to make it, and even if you do, see description of hospital in Limbé as reference, I would not rate your chances unless your wounds were very superficial.

The drivers all navigate by honking constantly, as if an audible warning, amongst 3-15 all at once is a license to do just about anything.

The taxis are interesting, I and my traveling companion who I took with me so we could take turns sleeping in dodgy situations, and glad I did, got in a taxi, paid our fair, and waited to take off. Bear in mind almost no one owns a private car in Cameroon, most cars on the road are taxis, and almost universally they are Toyota Tercel sized vehicles that are exported from Germany by the container full, after they fail their road worthiness tests and are deemed by their owners not worth fixing.

We were waiting in one such vehicle, and as the morning rush hour, almost all on foot, passed by the taxi driver slowly filled the Tercel up until there were five passengers in the back seat, and two in the front passenger seat, of which I was one. Then we set off.

When we arrived in the country, in the capital Yaoundé, at night, we got a taxi, were greeted by a woman with skirt hiked to mid thigh standing with legs apart pissing in the street immediately we left the airport.

Within five kilometres the taxi had run out of diesel, so the taxi driver took part of his fair in advance, flagged down one of his friends driving by in another taxi and disappeared into the dark to fetch some diesel. He returned with a one litre soda bottle full of diesel about a half an hour later, and off we went to the capital. All dirt roads.

Then there is the issue of wealth, Cameroon and countries like it where the money economy shows an average daily wage of about a dollar fifty US a day and where family sizes are large, means that parents frequently watch their children die for lack of medicine costing a few dollars.

Such people, when confronted by a white man, perhaps the first they have ever seen as was the case with many I met, must know that your pocket change represents one to three months wages. Ask yourself if you would hesitate to rob, or even kill, to get that money living in that situation. I know my children would come before some white asshole from a country so rich, and that cared so little for the world’s poor.

I heard many stories relating to Cameroonians returning from living in America having saved enough money to build a nice house (about $25K for a four or five bedroom mansion of you are interested) being taken for a ride on the Bay by their old friends and ending up as fish bait for the money in their pockets. I was offered almost a kilometre of beach front property outside Limbé for $10K.

Life is cheap in places like Cameroon, and if you go there you can expect to be exhausted from the constant danger, and the tension it causes.

The last night we were there we spent at a deputy chief of police’s house in Yaoundé, the capital. When we woke up, thanks to the Mosque broadcasting the morning call to prayer at dawn and all the roosters crowing their guts out, we found the power was out. We soon realised it was just the house we were in. What had happened was that someone had stolen her electricity meter, while the power was live through it, in the middle of the night.

She was not surprised, apparently it happens quite often, but not always with a successful outcome, of course. That is how poor people are.

Before I went there I reasoned that I was most likely to return without any disease, next most likely to return with the wrong disease, and would be lucky to return with hookworm.

My original plan was to work with the local pathology labs and doctors to identify infected children, collect a stool sample, culture it (easy in its natural environment) and so infect myself that way.

I quickly learned that that level of poverty makes everyone corrupt. It is not just the ruling class, everyone is on the make, and being white you are the best opportunity to come along in a long time. It took me about four, wasted, days to work out that the doctors and labs were just waiting to see how much I was willing to pay, and that there was no guarantee I would get what I paid for at all.

It was only then that I resorted to walking barefoot in latrine areas.

One can consider such a thing and believe it will be easy to do, but when the time came the only thing that made me do it was the thought of returning home to all those who had decided, clearly and often expressing naked derision, that I was a lunatic for considering infecting myself, never mind going to Africa.

The thought of having to tell them that I did not have the balls to do it was all that compelled me to do it in the end.

Then there is the cost, once you add up the price of two plane tickets, one for you and one for your wingman, all the other travel expenses (the vaccinations are a killer), etc., it is certainly far, far cheaper to buy it from one of the providers.

Plus the outcome is certain, there is no guarantee you will come back with any disease, let alone the right one.

So unless you want the adventure, and I have to admit Cameroon made me feel more alive, and more appreciative of living in the West, than anything I have ever done, I suggest you be sensible and just buy it from someone.

Our policy is that no one is turned down for therapy on the basis of the inability to pay.

If you are pissed off with the price and think it should be cheaper, you know, based on cost of the raw material, I suggest you read this post.

I did what I did only because there were no alternatives, if I could have bought it, even at double what we charge, especially given my experiences in Cameroon, I would have.

I was very lucky, I met a cousin of the Prime Minister on the plane there, and her husband who managed a French owned banana plantation. They happened to live in the darkest area of the map provided by the WHO showing the highest rates of hookworm infection in Cameroon, Limbé. They kept me prisoner once we arrived in town, I kid you not, until they had convinced me and my companion of the danger we were in traveling around the country.

To persuade us to stay with them they went so far as to lend us his car and driver for the duration of our stay. I doubt you would be so lucky, and without that I am pretty sure we would likely have been in grave danger.

They employed six or so people around the house, one of which worked from 6 am to 6pm, and another the other twelve hours. The guy who worked during the day walked around the walled grounds all day with a revolver and machete, and the night clerk slept on the bare tile floor in front of the front door with a gun and machete in his hands, all night. No pillow, no blanket, no mattress. A hard man, a serious man, a man without a sense of humour.

The windows were all barred, the doors all locked with multiple locks, and the man of the house had multiple hand guns to back up the guards.

That is the third world, and if you think visiting it is a bargain compared to buying a sterilised dose of helminths from us, go right ahead.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you, and make sure your life insurance is paid up, and that your will is up-to-date.

Part 2: Follow up on progress 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.

———–

I just got a fantastic, cheering follow-up email from the dad of “A” whose experience with severe Crohn’s, as a two year-old, and her response to whipworm for her problems are described in my previous post, and now here:

Here is his follow up email to me:

Quoting: We had the colonoscopy done yesterday with amazing results. The doctors first words to us after completion were “I’m now a believer in this therapy”. “A” had absolutely no signs of Crohn’s anywhere. She said someone else looking at her would think there was not a thing wrong with her. The worms were alive and kicking, and she gave us some pictures. [A’s Mom] and I couldn’t be happier, we wanted to jump and shout. The doctor said we should get more worms, and that the biopsies should be in within two weeks. She seemed very pleased as well.” end quote.

Pretty cool, eh?!

Of course this is remission, not cure, so if she loses her helminths she would get sick again, but I for one could not be happier.

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”

Recent test results for Jasper Lawrence

I am the primary reservoir for production of doses of hookworm and whipworm for AIT’s version of helminthic therapy, and recently there has been some speculation as to my current status re infection with Hepatitis, HIV, etc.

As you can see (you can download the test results here: “Jasper Test Results 10-2010.pdf”) I am negative for everything I was tested for. I had these tests in early October, 2010, they sent the letter at the end of the month. Being slow to post them was simply a matter of losing a letter in a move and then the holidays preventing my getting a replacement copy.

Although I think only a handful of people have ever asked me about such test results (in over three years of being in business providing hookworm and whipworm) those that do are very interested in the results. Perhaps others that are very interested don’t mention it for some reason? As I explain later, I am not sure such concern is appropriate.

Part of the delay posting these results was a desire to combine the Strongyloides results with those just posted in one post, but I have given up waiting for the letter. I have of course called multiple times about getting a copy but I am still waiting. We have also had a lot of problems with mail here for the last month because of the weather, so it is probable it was lost in transit. I will post it as soon as I get it, which will probably be tomorrow now I have relented and put these results up.

The only value in the test is to reassure people, falsely I would argue. Anyone preparing doses of this type for other people has to take steps as if the host is infected with everything, to do otherwise would be irresponsible.

The reasons for this are manifold.

First, you cannot test for every possible pathogen. I doubt I have enough blood for such a comprehensive panel, even if I had the money.

Secondly, a negative test result, unless the disease is an exotic, hard-to-encounter-unless-you-travel-to-some-weird place, organism like Strongyloides, cannot be entirely relied upon because most tests are for antibodies, not for the actual pathogen.

So there is inevitably a period of time, referred to as the Window, in someone recently infected who carries one of these diseases where they are not yet producing any, or sufficient, antibodies to show up on a test.

If you are at all familiar with the HIV test you already know this. The interval between exposure to HIV and being able to test positive is up to six months, and in rare cases say when there is coincident Hepatitis C exposure (or use of prophylactic therapy), even longer. Even if you are being tested monthly, or more frequently, for every human disease going, you still do not know whether or not you have picked up something since your last test, or if they are in the Window period.

Third, some diseases cannot be tested for, although the pathogen has been identified.

Fourth, some diseases clearly have an infectious component, but that vector or agent has yet to be identified.

So the results have no effect on dose preparation, and although it is reassuring to know that your reservoir is not a cesspool of human disease such reassurance is illusory.

What you should really be concerned about is whether the person preparing the dose has the requisite knowledge, skills and experience, and is caring and attentive each and every time they are in the lab.

After all if GlaxoSmithKine can screw it up in a multi-million dollar facility staffed with PhDs and highly trained technicians, who presumably were being inspected by the FDA periodically, then the most important factor has to be the professionalism and care of the person preparing the doses: http://business-ethics.com/2010/10/26/1740-glaxosmithkline-to-pay-750-million-fine-whistleblower-to-get-96-million/

Having said all that if it is important to you I am happy to submit to any test you desire, at any time, so long as you are willing to pay for it if you want me tested outside our normal schedule of once every two months, for the diseases given during organ donation.

Thanks,

Jasper

What is helminthic therapy?

Helminthic therapy: the reason for this site

First, a nit. Helminthic therapy (hell min thick) is the correct term for treatment with helminths, not the term worm therapy (see reasoning here) It is certainly the term used by scientists and those in the know, so if you want to find good information you will have to use the term scientists use. Any research into the epidemiology of various diseases, or human or animal studies will refer to helminths or helminthic. So if, for instance you want to find read the original science about helminthic therapy and your disease you will have to use “helminth + [your disease name here]” to find anything useful.

Pubmed is a great resource for peer-reviewed papers on medical research and is published and maintained by the National Institutes for Health. End of nit.

Because I pioneered the availability of helminthic therapy based on the use of symbionts with humans as their definitive hosts I thought those interested in helminthic therapy might be interested in knowing more about the person responsible for taking it out of the research laboratory and making it available to the public.

So this site, when finished, will provide a short biography so that you can understand my background and how I came to be doing this rather strange business, as well as providing links to other sites and businesses I have been involved in over the years.

Since most people’s interest in me will be in connection helminthic therapy I will concentrate on posting about that.

What is Helminthic therapy

Helminthic therapy involves deliberate infection with or exposure to helminths or their ova.

Here are some useful links for those of you interested in the science:

Autoimmune Therapies website (check out the various pages devoted to particular diseases, as well as the About page, Safety page, Links and News.

Helminthic therapy is a technique for treating the “modern diseases” involving immune dysregulation (including autoimmunity) and chronic inflammation, that increasingly afflict the populations of developed or developing countries and which are rare or unknown in populations living in the kinds of conitions in which humans evolved.

Helminthic therapy is an attempt to restore some of the organisms that we co-evolved with, that shaped our immune system. Briefly, helminths educate our immune system through exposure early in life, and while we host them down regulate our inflammatory response. In the west where helminths are almost unknown the result is large numbers of people with poorly regulated, over active immune systems and an explosion of diseases involving chronic inflammation.

Disease like allergies and asthma, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, and Sjögren’s Syndrome, are almost unknown in the developing world, largely it is now believed because helminth infection, and infection with a much larger variety and frequency of various protozoa and bacteria, is still so common.

Helminths, like any organism that lives in or on us, has to prevent their destruction by our immune system, and have evolved ways to turn our immune systems down. Because helminth infection, with multiple helminths, used to universal throughout our evolutionary history, our immune systems have evolved to account for their anti-inflammatory effect. Remove helminths, or worms, and their affect on our immune systems, and the result is an out-of-control immune system much more prone to chronic inflammatory reactions, causing allergies, asthma, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, etc., etc., etc.

This might sound like a repulsive concept, and it is, but consider that about 90% of the cells in or on you right now are not self tissue. This is possible because bacteria, viruses and moulds are so much smaller than human cells.

In 1976 a researcher called Turton infected himself with  hookworm (a type of helminth) so that he would have a reservoir of hookworm to study, and reported unexpectedly that his lifelong seasonal allergies disappeared so long as he was infected with the hookworms.

But, the seemingly radical idea that helminths (probiotic worms) might be related in some way to asthma predates Turton by sixty-three years. In 1913 Herrick wrote that ‘Common to both bronchial asthma and helminth infection is an increase of the eosinophils (eosinophils in a normal person indicate infection with a helminth) of the blood. One day we’ll ask the significance of this eosinophilia in this association’.

Unfortunately for allergy and asthma sufferers it wasn’t until 1986, almost 75 years later, with the publication of the hygiene hypothesis by Godrey in the Lancet that investigation of this idea got underway.

In 1986 Godfrey proposed that a lack of exposure to infectious organisms in childhood was responsible for the increase in allergies, and demonstrated this with a study of large families. He showed that children in large families were less likely to develop allergies. He reasoned that they were exposed to more childhood diseases and that this was responsible for their reduced rates of allergy. His theory came to be known as the Hygiene Hypothesis.

Of course many immunological disorders can be triggered by various immune insults, including infections or disease. So the Hygiene Hypothesis was later refined based on the work of hundreds of studies to become the Old Friends Hypothesis.

The Old Friends Hypothesis states that by introducing sewers, antibiotics, shoes, clean drinking water and vaccinations, we have reduced by a very large amount the variety and quantitie of benign infectious organisms that we are exposed to. Particularly helminths, or worms, that have been entirely eliminated in the industrialized world.

By elminating worms, bacteria and protozoa from our bodies we have deprived our immune systems of the stimulation and “practice” that it evolved to account for. Infection with worms and protozoa and a much larger variety and quantity of bacteria and viruses used to be universal. Their elimination deprives our immune systems of the kind of stimulation it evolved to account for as a certainty. Without that training and presentation of appropriate targets, ones it evolved to “expect”, our immune system instead attacks our own tissues (this is autoimmunity) or benign pathogens like pollen and cat dander causing tissue damage (this is immune dysregulation).

By these definitions diseases like asthma and allergies are not autoimmune diseases, but most people don’t know, or care (nor should they), about the difference. In fact their is a debate within the scientific community right now about adding another classification to encompass non-autoimmune diseases involving chronic inflammation because these are in fact the most common types of immunological diseases. Very few diseases that are called autoimmune diseases by lay people actually meet the criteria for autoimmunity.

Helminthic therapy works by giving our bodies and immune systems benign, appropriate targets that allow our immune system to fulfill the purpose for which they evolved. Helminthic therapy works by giving the immune system the right targets and “distracting” our immune system from attacking the wrong things: us (autoimmune diseases) and pollen or cat dander (allergies or asthma), or the food we eat (Crohn’s, UC, IBS, Celiac disease), or our nerves (multiple sclerosis), or thyroid (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) or our mucus membranes (Sjogren’s Syndrome), etc.

Helminths also secrete or excrete various immuno modulatory molecules that have profound impacts on the functioning of the immune system. Simply put the immune system of a person infected with hookworm or whipworm appears to be better regulated, produce fewer pro inflammatory components, and more anti inflammatory components.

Although deliberately infecting oneself with parasites is at first a strange and hard to accept concept when one thinks about it not being infected with these organisms is what is strange. We evolved with a much larger variety of organisms, including helminths, inhabiting our bodies throughout our lives. The potential application of worm therapy is incredibly broad. Most of our modern diseases, even things like depression and autism for just two examples, involve inflammation as a causative factor.

The impact of helminthic therapy on inflammation is profound. The most extreme inflammatory reaction is anaphylaxis in which the body’s immune system insulted by something like a bee sting, goes into uncontrolled overdrive and if untreated will kill. Infection with helminths has such a profound effect on the immune system that those hosting helminths do not ever get anaphylaxis, so the impact on the immune system of helminths is profound. Anaphylaxis is an extreme form of allergy, most commonly associated with peanut allergy.

I used to suffer from awful asthma and allergies, to the extent that I could only breath comfortably if using oral prednisone in such high doses that I developed lipomas and became for the first time in my life very obese.

My aunt told me about a documentary she had seen on the BBC about worms and asthma and after investigating it and trying everything I could think of to obtain hookworm (one of the worms used in helminthic therapy) I went first to Cameroon and later to Belize to obtain hookworms.

Since I founded Autoimmmune Therapies in 2006 we have treated dozens of clients with a variety of diseases: allergies (food and airborn), multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and autism. The results have been remarkable, far better than those possible using modern drugs. Why this technique is not more widely available or known is a constant source of wonder for me.

However a small industry has grown up around helminthic therapy, including providers and support groups on Yahoo and Facebook.

More to come later.

Jasper Lawrence