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Update on “A” and her progress

More good news on the progress of “A”.

For those of you who have not read “A’s” story, about how her severe Crohn’s has responded to helminthic therapy, you can read two earlier accounts of her progress since starting helminthic therapy for Crohn’s Disease (whipworm, her disease is active in her colon) about eight months ago here and here. “A” was about 2 years old when she started on therapy, 14 months when diagnosed.

This latest from her father:

Start Quote:

First recent email:
I thought I’d write you on a few things, as the good news on “A” has gotten better. First, we got the shipment (whipworm – Jasper), and everything went well. I realize I have yet to pay for it, but I will fax the credit card information to you early next week. I apologize for the delay. The second thing is that “A’s” GI got the biopsy slides back from her recent colonoscopy and the results were fantastic. They showed only mild inflammation, and no granulomas. Her previous slides from last years colonoscopy had shown bad inflammation, and granulomas everywhere. Her doctor said particularly the granulomas disappearing was “amazing”. I’d like to know to what extent of amazing the disappearing granulomas are, but I can’t find much information on granulomas as it relates to Crohn’s. But none-the-less it is obviously a great thing, and further reinforces the effects of the therapy. I also mentioned to her that you would be interested in talking with her, and she said that was fine. I’ll give you her information again, Dr. Name and contact information redacted – Jasper.

So good luck. She seems very excited about “A”, as are we.
On another note, I found a group on parents of children with IBD on the web. I read some of their stuff, and felt a particular kinship with both them and their kids. Needless to say, much of the subject matter is not pleasant. I was struck by the fact that their experiences could be an alternative for ours, had we not been so fortunate. I plan on posting a little thing about our experience with helminths. Perhaps someone could be moved by the irrefutable facts of “A’s” success. I’m not at all sure of the response I’ll get, if any, but if you don’t mind, and someone is interested, I could pass your information on to them.

Second recent email:

Jasper,

It’s good to hear from you again. You may post what you would like on your blogs, we trust in your discretion. Another good thing on “A”, is that since she got the second dose she has gotten even better. Her stools have been almost completely formed for weeks now, and we have seen absolutely no blood. This is certainly her longest run yet.
We will continue to stay in touch, hopefully with only good news! Thanks again to you and everyone else involved.

End Quote.

Fantastic, isn’t it?

Jasper

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Part 3: Update on “A” and her progress

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.

———–

More good news on the progress of “A”.

This latest from her father:

I thought I’d write you on a few things, as the good news on “A” has gotten better. First, we got the shipment (whipworm – Jasper), and everything went well. I realize I have yet to pay for it, but I will fax the credit card information to you early next week. I apologize for the delay. The second thing is that “A’s” GI got the biopsy slides back from her recent colonoscopy and the results were fantastic. They showed only mild inflammation, and no granulomas. Her previous slides from last years colonoscopy had shown bad inflammation, and granulomas everywhere. Her doctor said particularly the granulomas disappearing was “amazing”. I’d like to know to what extent of amazing the disappearing granulomas are, but I can’t find much information on granulomas as it relates to Crohn’s. But none-the-less it is obviously a great thing, and further reinforces the effects of the therapy. I also mentioned to her that you would be interested in talking with her, and she said that was fine. I’ll give you her information again, Dr. Name and contact information redacted – Jasper.

So good luck. She seems very excited about “A”, as are we.

On another note, I found a group on parents of children with IBD on the web. I read some of their stuff, and felt a particular kinship with both them and their kids. Needless to say, much of the subject matter is not pleasant. I was struck by the fact that their experiences could be an alternative for ours, had we not been so fortunate. I plan on posting a little thing about our experience with helminths. Perhaps someone could be moved by the irrefutable facts of “A’s” success. I’m not at all sure of the response I’ll get, if any, but if you don’t mind, and someone is interested, I could pass your information on to them.

Second recent email:

Jasper,

It’s good to hear from you again. You may post what you would like on your blogs, we trust in your discretion. Another good thing on “A”, is that since she got the second dose she has gotten even better. Her stools have been almost completely formed for weeks now, and we have seen absolutely no blood. This is certainly her longest run yet.

We will continue to stay in touch, hopefully with only good news! Thanks again to you and everyone else involved.

End Quote.

Fantastic, isn’t it?

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”

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Why McMaster ova counts are largely worthless for detecting changes in helminth population

The Argument Against Egg Counts as an Indicator of Helminth Number

  • Parasitology texts note that per day female hookworm and whipworm ova production varies from 2,000 to 20,000 total. For this reason alone any estimate based on an ova count must have a variance of x10. That is the answer can only be expressed as a range, with the higher end of the range being ten times the low end. So a typical answer would be “from 20-200 hookworm”. Fairly useless, particularly if you are trying to detect the loss of one or two hookworm. On this basis alone the test is too crude for the purposes most with deliberate helminth infections are trying to use it for.
  • Egg counts are a measure of density. So any count is going to be affected by things like the speed of material through the intestines (constipation or diarrhoea at the extremes), amount eaten, amount of fluid drunk, fibre content of food, etc. If you think of the extremes one can see this is going to have an enormous impact on density of ova per gram of faeces. Different foods and drugs affect the speed of material through the intestines.
  • Any count depends on extreme precision and replication of methods and precision from test-to-test. Only an experienced lab technician is capable of accurately counting ova in stool, stains are no aid and identifying each and every ova in a gram of faeces is difficult work. In someone producing 100 ova per gram .1 grams will contain 10 ova, so the slightest variation in weight can have a big effect on the number observed, that effect then being amplified by the multipliers used to derive worm population from egg counts.
    Ova production varies tremendously with time. Hookworm ova production falls by an estimated 50% about one year after infection. But there is little information on whether this is invariably 50% or exactly when it happens or how fast.

  • Ova production in all helminths is affected by various drugs, some known, some inevitably unstudied. So, antibiotic use so profoundly reduces ova production that parasitology texts recommend not doing ova tests for two weeks after the subject stops taking the antibiotics. Other drugs almost certainly have various effects as well.
  • McMaster egg counts have been abandoned by doctors of veterinary medicine as being useless as a practical tool for estimating worm numbers. They would know.
  • Most people using helminthic therapy, if using N. americanus or T. trichiura, know how many helminths they received. So the only purpose of ova counts is to monitor infection levels. But given all the other factors noted here the test is not sensitive enough to detect even a relatively large change in numbers.

    Egg counts can be used as a broad indicator of worm burden, but only as an indicator. McMaster egg counts were intended for use to determine whether someone has a heavy, moderate or light infection, so appropriate treatment (as in elimination except in light infections) could be prescribed.

    Researchers use egg density measurements in studies to monitor worm burden in their study subjects, but they have specialised equipment and the training to do so reliably and consistently. Even then they cannot indicate much, and beside most studies continue for far less than one year. So any change they are likely to detect would be gross, that is loss of worms. Which is undoubtedly what they are primarily looking for.

    The only method with any real utility to determine helminth population is endoscopy for hookworm and colonoscopy for whipworm.

Posted on Leave a comment

Why McMaster ova counts are largely worthless for detecting changes in helminth population

The Argument Against Egg Counts as an Indicator of Helminth Number

  • Parasitology texts note that per day female hookworm and whipworm ova production varies from 2,000 to 20,000 total. For this reason alone any estimate based on an ova count must have a variance of x10. That is the answer can only be expressed as a range, with the higher end of the range being ten times the low end. So a typical answer would be “from 20-200 hookworm”. Fairly useless, particularly if you are trying to detect the loss of one or two hookworm. On this basis alone the test is too crude for the purposes most with deliberate helminth infections are trying to use it for.
  • Egg counts are a measure of density. So any count is going to be affected by things like the speed of material through the intestines (constipation or diarrhoea at the extremes), amount eaten, amount of fluid drunk, fibre content of food, etc. If you think of the extremes one can see this is going to have an enormous impact on density of ova per gram of faeces. Different foods and drugs affect the speed of material through the intestines.
  • Any count depends on extreme precision and replication of methods and precision from test-to-test. Only an experienced lab technician is capable of accurately counting ova in stool, stains are no aid and identifying each and every ova in a gram of faeces is difficult work. In someone producing 100 ova per gram .1 grams will contain 10 ova, so the slightest variation in weight can have a big effect on the number observed, that effect then being amplified by the multipliers used to derive worm population from egg counts.
  • Ova production varies tremendously with time. Hookworm ova production falls by an estimated 50% about one year after infection. But there is little information on whether this is invariably 50% or exactly when it happens or how fast.
  • Ova production in all helminths is affected by various drugs, some known, some inevitably unstudied. So, antibiotic use so profoundly reduces ova production that parasitology texts recommend not doing ova tests for two weeks after the subject stops taking the antibiotics. Other drugs almost certainly have various effects as well.
  • McMaster egg counts have been abandoned by doctors of veterinary medicine as being useless as a practical tool for estimating worm numbers. They would know.
  • Most people using helminthic therapy, if using N. americanus or T. trichiura, know how many helminths they received. So the only purpose of ova counts is to monitor infection levels. But given all the other factors noted here the test is not sensitive enough to detect even a relatively large change in numbers.

    Egg counts can be used as a broad indicator of worm burden, but only as an indicator. McMaster egg counts were intended for use to determine whether someone has a heavy, moderate or light infection, so appropriate treatment (as in elimination except in light infections) could be prescribed.

    Researchers use egg density measurements in studies to monitor worm burden in their study subjects, but they have specialised equipment and the training to do so reliably and consistently. Even then they cannot indicate much, and beside most studies continue for far less than one year. So any change they are likely to detect would be gross, that is loss of worms. Which is undoubtedly what they are primarily looking for.

    The only method with any real utility to determine helminth population is endoscopy for hookworm and colonoscopy for whipworm.

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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”

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Follow up on progress of “A”

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 below 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.

Jasper

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The story of how I decided to infect myself with hookworms and the founding of Autoimmune Therapies – Part 1

In late 2000 my company, Words & Images, Inc., was collapsing. First came the event known as the dot bomb collapse, the bursting of the internet bubble. It had a severe impact on my company. Our clients were companies like Cisco, HP, Lucent, Nortel, and numerous technology start-ups in Silicon Valley. By August of 2001 I had stabilised the company, we were profitable again, but the toll on me had been severe. I had had to lay off half our staff (sixteen people), and most were friends. There had also been a lot of conflict with the other large shareholders, I was the largest, and I had had to force out one of them due to incompetence, which also cost money to buy him out. It was a nightmare that lasted for months, that stretched into years.

All this had taken its toll on my health, and my asthma was at it’s worst, probably as a result of stress, and cats (see below). I was suffering from depression, anxiety attacks and insomnia. I was also gaining weight fast, because of the prednisone, the inability to exercise, and on top of that my marriage was crumbling.

Then 9/11 happened, and when it did every client we had in Silicon Valley put a hold on all marketing and advertising projects while they waited to see what was going to happen. Suddenly I was having to lay people off again. Despite this I was able to save the company, in a much smaller form. But it took an enormous toll. Not just on me, and of course everyone I had to lay off, but on my marriage, which was on the rocks anyway because of my wife’s refusal to even keep the cats outside or to help with household expenses from her income working part time.

To give an idea of how rapid and severe the decline in my business was, in November of 2000 our gross sales were $525,000.00. In December of 2001 they were $30,000.00. That is a 94% decline in gross sales in 13 months.

The impact on me was profound, besides declaring personal bankruptcy after struggling on for another few years (a source of enormous shame and embarrassment at the time), I was completely burned-out with respect to running the agency. I no longer found any joy in it, quite the opposite, and the business I had spent almost 15 years building was in ruins. I performed triage and through extreme measures was able to keep the company intact, although now without employees, just freelancers. The result was that I was earning over $100,000 a year again, which given my debt load, even after the personal bankruptcy, was barely enough to get by. But going to work was torture. What had been a joy had become a chore of the worst kind.

On top of that, because I had laid off all my employees, I no longer qualified for group health insurance, one cannot form a group with family members in the US. Not being able to form a group meant that I could be denied coverage for pre existing conditions, asthma of course. I was “offered” a policy that cost over $1600 a month for my family, with my asthma excluded as a pre existing condition, but I could not afford it. So I could not even provide my family with health insurance, and money was now a constant worry. Not being able to provide health insurance for your children is an awful feeling.

In the middle of this my now ex-wife actually managed to save enough money from working 2-3 days a week to get plastic surgery, I kid you not. Refusing to help at all with the mortgage or household expenses, and watching what was going on with me, she decided a facelift was the best use of “her” money. Needless to say home life was not a refuge from work, it was just the opposite.

My asthma was caused by various allergies, primarily to cats. My then wife, for whatever reason, refused to accept this. When our three original cats died of old age all within a year she promptly replaced them, with first three, then four, then five and finally six, more.

I realised that I needed to radically change my life, my relationship, my career and most of all my health.

I had just turned 40, and at that point I was almost 40 pounds overweight, and I am as vain as anyone, for the first time in my life. I was having to visit the ER two or three times a year due to asthma attacks, knew that my wife no longer loved me, and hated every day at work.

At this point I had given up on the idea that modern medicine was ever going to be able to offer me effective therapies for my asthma. The allergies I could put up with. I had had allergies, after all, throughout most of my childhood. There was a period of about five years when I did not, that reinforces the idea of the hygiene hypothesis, that I will describe in a later post. Although they were severe I was used to allergies and could tolerate them.

Asthma was another issue altogether. I had started to develop asthma after being stung by six or seven bees on my abdomen, which caused an anaphylactic reaction. A few months later I developed the first symptoms of asthma. This type of story is very common in those who develop immunological disorders or autoimmune diseases. There is usually a triggering event, it can be almost anything. A case of the flu, a car accident and trauma, bee stings, the death of a relative, etc.

In the years after that my asthma grew progressively worse, but the medications appeared to be useless. I suppose their inhalers and pills kept me alive, but I could not run or even climb a single flight of stairs without having to rest, and the side effects were almost as bad as the asthma. The side effects of longterm use of prednisone are horrible, but prednisone was the only drug that provided real relief when I was having an attack.

In the middle of this, in the summer of 2004, I decided to visit England and take my two daughters to visit my aunt and uncle, who had raised me. I had to get away, and damn the expense. As soon as I walked into their house my aunt’s face told a story: she was shocked at my appearance. Fat, pale and sallow, with dark circles under my eyes, but she was too polite to say anything and quickly regained her composure.

The conversation soon turned to my asthma, and she mentioned a documentary she had recently seen on the BBC about Dr. David Pritchard’s research at the University of Nottingham into the negative relationship between hookworm infection and allergy and asthma.

Despite having given up on ever finding a solution to my asthma this piqued my interest. So I used her computer to go online and find out about this documentary.

What I found instead of the documentary was a few articles about Pritchard’s research, the hygiene hypothesis, and a lot of epidemiological evidence showing that diseases like asthma are almost unknown in the underdeveloped world.

If you are interested you can find some of this research assembled in the Files section of the Yahoo Group I created for Helminthic therapy. Or you can read various sections of Autoimmune Therapies, each disease page includes some of the research available for that disease and helminths.

The hygiene hypothesis, the idea that our immune systems co-evolved with various organisms, most importantly helminths, and that the absence of their immunomodulatory effect on our immune systems

A great resource I found is the online database of medical research maintained by the United States National Institutes of Health called PubMed. The pace of research and publication on the subjects of the hygiene hypothesis and the impact of helminths on the immune system, and with respect to specific diseases, particularly Multiple Sclerosis and IBD, has expanded enormously since I started researching this topic in 2004.

I also researched various helminths, particularly hookworm. When I finally stopped and went to bed, at about 2 or 3 in the morning, I was determined to try self-infection with a helminth or helminths in an attempt to get my asthma under control.

That night I had grey, slithery, wormy nightmares, but in the morning I was still determined to try helminthic therapy as it came to be known.

Little did I realise how difficult it was going to be to obtain hookworm. I was to spend the next 18 months researching helminths in general, hookworm in particular, and trying various methods of obtaining hookworm with which to infect myself.

I will describe the process I went through that lead to my going to Africa, to Cameroon, to obtain hookworm in my next post. As well as the end of my marriage, how I met the woman I love, and whom I married in 2007. How I set up Autoimmune Therapies to provide hookworm to others who like me wanted to try them, and what has happened subsequent to that decision. Including having to leave the United States and being separated from my children, (seven, three of whom are adopted, and two step-children from my second marriage) because of the FDA decision to classify helminths as an Investigational New Drug.

Jasper Lawrence, January, 2011

Posted on 6 Comments

The story of how I decided to infect myself with hookworms and the founding of Autoimmune Therapies – Part 1

In late 2000 my company, Words & Images, Inc., was collapsing. First came the event known as the dot bomb collapse, the bursting of the internet bubble. It had a severe impact on my company. Our clients were companies like Cisco, HP, Lucent, Nortel, and numerous technology start-ups in Silicon Valley. By August of 2001 I had stabilised the company, we were profitable again, but the toll on me had been severe. I had had to lay off half our staff (sixteen people), and most were friends. There had also been a lot of conflict with the other large shareholders, I was the largest, and I had had to force out one of them due to incompetence, which also cost money to buy him out. It was a nightmare that lasted for months, that stretched into years.

All this had taken its toll on my health, and my asthma was at it’s worst, probably as a result of stress, and cats (see below). I was suffering from depression, anxiety attacks and insomnia. I was also gaining weight fast, because of the prednisone, the inability to exercise, and on top of that my marriage was crumbling.

Then 9/11 happened, and when it did every client we had in Silicon Valley put a hold on all marketing and advertising projects while they waited to see what was going to happen. Suddenly I was having to lay people off again. Despite this I was able to save the company, in a much smaller form. But it took an enormous toll. Not just on me, and of course everyone I had to lay off, but on my marriage, which was on the rocks anyway because of my wife’s refusal to even keep the cats outside or to help with household expenses from her income working part time.

To give an idea of how rapid and severe the decline in my business was, in November of 2000 our gross sales were $525,000.00. In December of 2001 they were $30,000.00. That is a 94% decline in gross sales in 13 months.

The impact on me was profound, besides declaring personal bankruptcy after struggling on for another few years (a source of enormous shame and embarrassment at the time), I was completely burned-out with respect to running the agency. I no longer found any joy in it, quite the opposite, and the business I had spent almost 15 years building was in ruins. I performed triage and through extreme measures was able to keep the company intact, although now without employees, just freelancers. The result was that I was earning over $100,000 a year again, which given my debt load, even after the personal bankruptcy, was barely enough to get by. But going to work was torture. What had been a joy had become a chore of the worst kind.

On top of that, because I had laid off all my employees, I no longer qualified for group health insurance, one cannot form a group with family members in the US. Not being able to form a group meant that I could be denied coverage for pre existing conditions, asthma of course. I was “offered” a policy that cost over $1600 a month for my family, with my asthma excluded as a pre existing condition, but I could not afford it. So I could not even provide my family with health insurance, and money was now a constant worry. Not being able to provide health insurance for your children is an awful feeling.

In the middle of this my now ex-wife actually managed to save enough money from working 2-3 days a week to get plastic surgery, I kid you not. Refusing to help at all with the mortgage or household expenses, and watching what was going on with me, she decided a facelift was the best use of “her” money. Needless to say home life was not a refuge from work, it was just the opposite.

My asthma was caused by various allergies, primarily to cats. My then wife, for whatever reason, refused to accept this. When our three original cats died of old age all within a year she promptly replaced them, with first three, then four, then five and finally six, more.

I realised that I needed to radically change my life, my relationship, my career and most of all my health.

I had just turned 40, and at that point I was almost 40 pounds overweight, and I am as vain as anyone, for the first time in my life. I was having to visit the ER two or three times a year due to asthma attacks, knew that my wife no longer loved me, and hated every day at work.

At this point I had given up on the idea that modern medicine was ever going to be able to offer me effective therapies for my asthma. The allergies I could put up with. I had had allergies, after all, throughout most of my childhood. There was a period of about five years when I did not, that reinforces the idea of the hygiene hypothesis, that I will describe in a later post. Although they were severe I was used to allergies and could tolerate them.

Asthma was another issue altogether. I had started to develop asthma after being stung by six or seven bees on my abdomen, which caused an anaphylactic reaction. A few months later I developed the first symptoms of asthma. This type of story is very common in those who develop immunological disorders or autoimmune diseases. There is usually a triggering event, it can be almost anything. A case of the flu, a car accident and trauma, bee stings, the death of a relative, etc.

In the years after that my asthma grew progressively worse, but the medications appeared to be useless. I suppose their inhalers and pills kept me alive, but I could not run or even climb a single flight of stairs without having to rest, and the side effects were almost as bad as the asthma. The side effects of longterm use of prednisone are horrible, but prednisone was the only drug that provided real relief when I was having an attack.

In the middle of this, in the summer of 2004, I decided to visit England and take my two daughters to visit my aunt and uncle, who had raised me. I had to get away, and damn the expense. As soon as I walked into their house my aunt’s face told a story: she was shocked at my appearance. Fat, pale and sallow, with dark circles under my eyes, but she was too polite to say anything and quickly regained her composure.

The conversation soon turned to my asthma, and she mentioned a documentary she had recently seen on the BBC about Dr. David Pritchard’s research at the University of Nottingham into the negative relationship between hookworm infection and allergy and asthma.

Despite having given up on ever finding a solution to my asthma this piqued my interest. So I used her computer to go online and find out about this documentary.

What I found instead of the documentary was a few articles about Pritchard’s research, the hygiene hypothesis, and a lot of epidemiological evidence showing that diseases like asthma are almost unknown in the underdeveloped world.

If you are interested you can find some of this research assembled in the Files section of the Yahoo Group I created for Helminthic therapy. Or you can read various sections of Autoimmune Therapies, each disease page includes some of the research available for that disease and helminths.

The hygiene hypothesis, the idea that our immune systems co-evolved with various organisms, most importantly helminths, and that the absence of their immunomodulatory effect on our immune systems

A great resource I found is the online database of medical research maintained by the United States National Institutes of Health called PubMed. The pace of research and publication on the subjects of the hygiene hypothesis and the impact of helminths on the immune system, and with respect to specific diseases, particularly Multiple Sclerosis and IBD, has expanded enormously since I started researching this topic in 2004.

I also researched various helminths, particularly hookworm. When I finally stopped and went to bed, at about 2 or 3 in the morning, I was determined to try self-infection with a helminth or helminths in an attempt to get my asthma under control.

That night I had grey, slithery, wormy nightmares, but in the morning I was still determined to try helminthic therapy as it came to be known.

Little did I realise how difficult it was going to be to obtain hookworm. I was to spend the next 18 months researching helminths in general, hookworm in particular, and trying various methods of obtaining hookworm with which to infect myself.

I will describe the process I went through that lead to my going to Africa, to Cameroon, to obtain hookworm in my next post. As well as the end of my marriage, how I met the woman I love, and whom I married in 2007. How I set up Autoimmune Therapies to provide hookworm to others who like me wanted to try them, and what has happened subsequent to that decision. Including having to leave the United States and being separated from my children, (seven, three of whom are adopted, and two step-children from my second marriage) because of the FDA decision to classify helminths as an Investigational New Drug.

Jasper Lawrence, January, 2011