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”

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”

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.

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.