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What is Science? – Part 2 of a Series

Before we start reading scientific papers we should all agree what science is. We all know what science is, right?

So what is it?

From the Oxford English Dictionary (Shorter)

“Theoretical perception of a truth, as contrasted with moral conviction (conscience).”

Sounds a little loose a definition for my purposes, and like it is a derivation of the argument between rationalists and theologians at the beginning of the Enlightenment. Perhaps I should have bought the full OED.

Continue reading What is Science? – Part 2 of a Series

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What is the difference between a cure and remission?

I am posting this because I often find myself telling people that helminthic therapy, though it very likely could make you completely well, cannot cure you. The issue is semantics, but it is important we adhere to strict definitions, even if they cause trouble for some, in the interest of accuracy.

A cure is when a disease or illness is treated and then goes away completely. An example of this is when antibiotics are used to clear up an infection such as tonsillitis.

Continue reading What is the difference between a cure and remission?

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Reading research for non-scientists – Part 1 of a Series

Overview

I taught myself how to read science, even going so far as to dive into statistics so I could understand what “p” meant. I did so originally so that I could understand the hygiene hypothesis, old friends hypothesis, and what came to be known as helminthic therapy. Later I continued to read it so I could do a better job helping clients, but primarily because I had grown to enjoy it.

Reading scientific papers is one of my favourite activities. I even have a “greatest hits” list of my favourite papers, which I reread. I have learned an enormous amount from the activity, and derived even more pleasure. Because of that I wanted to encourage others to do likewise.

Continue reading Reading research for non-scientists – Part 1 of a Series

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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

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Thank You Automattic for the Akismet Anti Spam Plugin

I wanted to thank Automattic, the developers of the Akismet anti comment-spam plugin for writing what is a very helpful tool for blocking comment spam on WordPress blogs.

I forgot to mention that it is free.

If you look at the screenshot below it quarantined 2,574 comments that were spam, this from early this year, around mid March I think, until now, mid September.

Most of it is in Chinese, though I did not get past the second page examining it.

If I deleted your honest post, if you submitted it and it is not published here somewhere then I deleted it, please resubmit it and I will be sure to publish. Please no marketing links, I just burn those comments.

Spam Count
2,574 comments marked as spam in less than six months
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Time to re-examine 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 circumstances we create with modern drugs.

Continue reading Time to re-examine our slavish devotion to the scientific method

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Multiple Sclerosis and helminthic therapy

Every one of our Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis clients who has maintained a therapeutic population of hookworm has reported achieving near or complete remission within twenty-four months, most show an improvement within six to nine months.

Every. Single. One.

I recently spoke with the gentleman who sent me the email quoted below, and he has agreed to write up an account of his experiences with helminthic therapy. I will post that here as soon as I get it.

Nor are our results always entirely subjective, although this one is typical of the emails I get from our MS clients, in this case their response is documented by their neurologist using pre- and post-helminthic therapy MRIs.

Start of email:

Hi Jasper, I just recently had a brain MRI and I wanted to share the great results with you. This is the letter from my neurologist:

“Just a short note to let you know about the results of your recent MRI of the brain done 5/30/10. We were finally able to get it compared to your previous MRI done 6/22/07 done at Kaiser Woodland Hills. Here’s a copy of the report: “Comparison exam dated 6/22/07 from outside institution is now available for review. Compared to this study, a lesion in the lateral aspect of the right thalamus has significantly decreased in size. A previous lesion in the right brachium pontis is not seen. Other white matter lesions are without significant change. Hyperintensity in the left optic nerve was not definitely seen on the prior but this area was not seen clearly given technique. No new lesion has developed.”

So things are actually improved and no new lesions are seen! This is great news! I think we can safely reduce your Copaxone to every other day provided you have an annual MRI. What are your thoughts?”

This is better news than I could have hoped for. It looks like the mild symptoms I was having were not an actual relapse. Some people get these flare ups when they get too hot, but I think that I may get them when I don’t get enough sleep. From what I understand, it is not actually disease activity, but more like a “short circuit” caused by existing scar tissue in the brain when it is exposed to certain stresses. I definitely think that the hookworms are a big part of the reason that I am doing so well. So thank you again for all the sacrifices that you’ve made to make this treatment available.

End of email.

You can read another quite incredible account on our page devoted to Multiple Sclerosis and Helminthic Therapy. The one you want is by “Ric”. He was in the very first cohort of clients, on September 25, 2007. Reading his account just now I realised I need to get him to update it, and have emailed him so we can bring it up-to-date.

If you want more than anecdote there is plenty of research, in particular that of Correale and Farez over the last decade, theirs is some of the best research into helminth’s impact on any disease there is, even now. If what is available here is not sufficient a search of PubMed, the online medical research database maintained by the National Institutes for Health is a great resource.

Correale and Farez’s work is superb(1,2,3), as you can see for yourself below, the full text of one of the papers below is available for free. See link below also.

What their work shows is that just about any infection with a helminth will slow or stop the progress of Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis.

Furthermore, their work examines some of the mechanisms explaining the impact of helminth infection on the immune systems of those with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. Explaining how the improvement of symptoms of those with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis who are infected with helminths is caused by the helminths.

Taken together this has enormous potential to treat, or to eliminate, Multiple Sclerosis.

Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis is about 85% of all cases of Multiple Sclerosis.

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis is what Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis turns into after a few years or decades. Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis forms about 10% of all cases of Multiple Sclerosis.

So, Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis is responsible for about 95% of all cases of Multiple Sclerosis.

Summarising, based on our 100% response rate treating Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis using hookworm alone, supported by powerful results from a series of well-designed and executed studies showing similar results for a variety of helminths, that provide at least part of the reason for the beneficial effects of helminth infection on the course of Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, it appears reasonable to believe that it is possible, using tools and techniques we have right now, to prevent or to “cure” approximately 95% of all cases of Multiple Sclerosis.

But is it safe?

One branch of the United States Federal Government says so. The Centers for Disease Control.

The Centers for Disease Control, a department of the National Institutes for Health in the United States, recommends US doctors not treat light infections of hookworm (see diagnosis and treatment algorithm published by the CDC/NIH here).

Light infections being all that is required to treat Multiple Sclerosis, it is hard to understand why there is so little excitement about all this.

Source: Public Health Image Library, ID#:52454

Unfortunately the CDC is not the portion of the US Government that is concerned with regulating, and deciding what are, drugs. Sadly, for us, that portion of the Federal Government, the FDA, has decided that helminths are a drug.

According to various estimates that can be found on the web, a disease not worth treating according to the CDC is in fact a potentially dangerous drug requiring years, decades, of research likely to cost approximately $800,000,000.00, this according to sources quoted on Wikipedia. It is hard to imagine a drug company undertaking such a task to gain approval for the therapy that it could not patent, and that would supplant some of the most expensive drugs on the market today.

Take Tysabri as an example, a drug used in the USA to treat Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. One estimate I have read on the internet states that the cost of five years treatment with Tysabri costs $140,00.00, that is the drug alone. It does not include the blood tests and doctor’s visits required by use of the drug. The cost of hookworm currently for five years benefit? $3,050.00.

Put another way, treatment with hookworm for Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis is 2.1% of the cost of Tysabri over a five year period.

While I understand why no drug companies are championing this approach for treating Multiple Sclerosis, given that doing so would amount to financial suicide, what i don’t understand is why Multiple Sclerosis sufferers, and the Charities that represent them, are not.

I don’t understand why everyone with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis is not aware of the potential of helminthic therapy to treat Multiple Sclerosis. Why aren’t the charities championing research or promoting the use of this therapy right now?

It’s safe, remember?

Because of the universal response among our Multiple Sclerosis clients, and the excellent science available courtesy of Correale and Farez, we have decided that Multiple Sclerosis is the route to gaining wider acceptance of helminthic therapy. To persuading the medical and scientific establishment to treat the subject with the seriousness and resources it deserves.

If anyone with experience writing grant proposals, for research in particular. Or with experience working with charities wants to help, or to advise us in these efforts, please contact me by leaving a message in the comments section here, or by visiting http://autoimmunetherapies.com/contact.html.

This is absolutely the most important thing we have attempted since starting to sell helminthic therapy in September, 2007.

Success with a study will help us towards our ultimate goal, the transformation of the practice of medicine o include the use of benign infectious organisms to prevent and to treat disease. We might even help accelerate the eradication of Multiple Sclerosis, too.

Jasper Lawrence

References:

(1) The impact of parasite infections on the course of multiple sclerosis.

Correale J, Farez MF.

Abstract: Previously, we demonstrated that helminth-infected MS patients showed significantly lower number of relapses, reduced disability scores, and lower MRI activity compared to uninfected MS subjects. In the current study, 12 patients with diagnosis of relapsing remitting MS presenting parasite infections were prospectively followed during 90months; due to exacerbation of helminth-infection symptoms after 63months of follow-up, 4 patients received anti-parasite treatment. Helminth-infection control was associated with significant increase in clinical and radiological MS activities. Moreover, these patients showed significant increase in the number of IFN-γ and IL-12 producing cells, and a fall in the number of TGF-β and IL-10 secreting cells, as well as CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Treg cells evident 3months after anti-helminth treatment began. These new observations on parasite infections associated to MS indicate that parasite regulation of host immunity can alter the course of MS.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

PMID: 21277637 Link to PubMed Entry

(2) Helminth antigens modulate immune responses in cells from multiple sclerosis patients through TLR2-dependent mechanisms.

Correale J, Farez MF.

Abstract: To better understand the link between parasite infections and the course of multiple sclerosis (MS), we studied the role of TLRs in helminth product recognition by dendritic cells (DCs) and B cells. Baseline expression of TLR2 was significantly higher in infected-MS patients compared with uninfected MS subjects or healthy controls. Moreover, cells exposed to TLR2 agonists or to soluble egg Ag (SEA) from Schistosoma mansoni resulted in significant TLR2 up-regulation. SEA suppressed the LPS-induced DCs production of IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-12, and TNF-alpha and enhanced TGF-beta as well as IL-10 production. Similarly, after exposure to SEA, anti-CD40-activated B cells increased IL-10 production. Both processes were MyD88 dependent. In addition, SEA down-regulated the expression of LPS-induced costimulatory molecules on DCs in a MyD88-independent manner. DCs stimulation by SEA and TLR2 agonists induced increasing phosphorylation of the MAPK ERK1/2. Neither stimulus showed an effect on p38 and JNK1/2 phosphorylation, however. Addition of the ERK1/2 inhibitor U0126 was associated with dose-dependent inhibition of IL-10 and reciprocal enhancement of IL-12. Finally, cytokine effects and changes observed in DCs costimulatory molecule expression after SEA exposure were lost when TLR2 expression was silenced. Overall, these findings indicate that helminth molecules exert potent regulatory effects on both DCs and B cells through TLR2 regulation conducted via different signaling pathways. This knowledge could prove critical in developing novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as MS.

PMID: 19812189 Link to free copy of complete paper.

(3) Helminth infections associated with multiple sclerosis induce regulatory B cells.

Correale J, Farez M, Razzitte G.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To assess the importance of B-cell control during parasite infections in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.

METHODS:

Peripheral blood CD19+ B cells from 12 helminth-infected MS patients, 12 MS patients without infection, 10 patients infected with Trypanosoma cruzi, 8 subjects infected with Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, and 12 healthy control subjects were purified using magnetic cell sorting. Interleukin (IL)-4, IL-6, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, lymphotoxin, transforming growth factor-beta, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and nerve growth factor secretion were evaluated after stimulation with CDw32 L cells and CD40 antibody using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The production of anti-myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein IgG and IgM antibodies was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assays. Cell phenotype was assessed by flow cytometry.

RESULTS:

Helminth infections in MS patients created a B-cell population producing high levels of IL-10, dampening harmful immune responses through a mechanism mediated, at least in part, by the ICOS-B7RP-1 pathway. The IL-10-producing B-cell phenotype detected expressed high levels of CD1d and was similar to the one observed in mature naive B2 cells (namely, CD11b(-), CD5(-), CD27(-), and IgD+). Moreover, B cells isolated from helminth-infected MS patients also produced greater amounts of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and nerve growth factor compared with those of normal subjects, T. cruzi-infected subjects, P. brasiliensis-infected subjects, or uninfected MS patients, raising the possibility that these cells may exert a neuroprotective effect on the central nervous system.

INTERPRETATION:

Increased production of B-cell-derived IL-10 and of neurotrophic factors are part of the parasite’s regulation of host immunity and can alter the course of MS, potentially explaining environmental-related MS suppression observed in areas with low disease prevalence.

PMID: 18655096 Link to PubMed Entry

(4) For those wanting to find the hookworm diagnosis and treatment algorithm image for themselves it is impossible to bookmark, I expect the CDC does not want their servers being used by sites like this one to host their images and to provide their bandwidth. But you can find it at http://phil.cdc.gov/phil/home.asp, use the search field to search on “hookworm” and the image is about halfway down on the right.

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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 that you can use to try and stay healthy.

If I suffered from any nasty immunological disorder, or any involving chronic 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. If that does not suit take a very small one early in the day and a large one late.

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. It also plays a central role in the immune system and the RDA is set with no real idea of how much is required. Again, if we evolved the capacity to produce that much there is a good reason for it.

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.

9. Stop using caffeine, doing so induces a stress response, see above.

10. Lose weight if you are obese, it is implicated in a lot of diseases involving inflammation and even autoimmunity.

11. Avoid antibiotics except when your life is at risk, or there is risk of organ damage or disfigurement.

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.

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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 <b600 (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.