Worming my way out of allergy, food intolerance, MCS and more… by John Scott

John Scott

My health problems began in early childhood with allergic asthma, which segued into perennial rhinitis in my teens and sinusitis in my twenties.

Then, in my thirties, I began to experience difficulty tolerating food, at which point I consulted some of the best allergists in the UK.  This led to a diagnosis of food intolerance and multiple IgE-mediated allergies to food as well as to just about everything else.  In fact, the last time I had skin-prick tests, every last one of them proved positive.  I then tried all the treatments that orthodox medicine had to offer, including desensitisation, plus a slew of complementary therapies, but all to no avail.

Eventually, my food intolerance became so overwhelming that it threatened my survival but, just when things were looking really bleak, my luck changed suddenly as a result of being given yet another diagnosis, this time of Crohn’s disease.  This led, fortuitously, to me joining the Hookworm for Crohn’s Disease clinical trial at Nottingham University in late 2007 (1).

This study, which was designed to assess whether it was safe to give Crohn’s patients 10 hookworms each for 12 weeks, rather than to gauge the treatment’s efficacy, nevertheless proved to me that these tiny creatures may in fact be effective against food allergy and food intolerance because, with the help of my ten tiny hookworms, I was once again able to tolerate a few normal foods.

As soon as my involvement with the trial was complete, I began to search for a way to renew my relationship with the hookworm and, eventually, I found a commercial source and inoculated myself with 35 Necator americanus larvae, with astonishing results.  After 12 weeks, I was again able to eat a few normal foods and, by 70 weeks, I was eating a full, normal diet, for the first time in almost thirty years. (2)

In addition to the miraculous reversal of the food allergy and food intolerance, all my environmental allergies have completely disappeared, so that I can now spend all day outdoors during the summer without even the slightest hint of a sniffle, even when the pollen season is at its height, and the catarrh and sinusitis that had been such a bane for many years are also completely gone (3).

My Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is now also sufficiently diminished for me to be able to tolerate perfume, and I have even been able to resume using spirit-based gloss paints (4).

Additionally, the severity of my M.E./CFS has been somewhat reduced, my Crohn’s disease appears to be in remission, my previously daily headaches and regular migraines have been dramatically reduced in both the frequency and severity, and my Restless Leg Syndrome has completely disappeared (5).

Although I was one of the first to try helminthic therapy (6), there are now several hundred of us, spread around the globe, hosting hookworm for therapeutic purposes, and approximately 80% of us are enjoying significant relief from our respective allergic and/or autoimmune conditions.

Whilst those of us who are deriving benefit from hosting helminths had manifested many different diseases, we were clearly all suffering from the same underlying problem – a worm deficiency – brought about by several decades of improved sanitation and a hyper-hygienic lifestyle (7).

Most, if not all members of the previous generation of my own family had intestinal worms at some point in their lives, but I never had any, and the remarkable change in my health since replacing a few helminths suggests to me that this was indeed the problem.

The success of this treatment is really not very surprising when one considers the fact that the allergic response developed during human evolution specifically to control intestinal worms.  When they are present, our immune system is kept fully occupied but, when they are absent, it turns its attention towards innocuous things such as foods, pollen and dust mite droppings, or attacks our own body tissues.

Numerous studies have established that allergy and autoimmune diseases are much less prevalent, if evident at all, in populations where helminths are still endemic, and ongoing trials in several centres around the world are reporting successful outcomes after returning a controlled number of benign helminths to patients with these diseases.

Isolating a molecule

As is usual in modern medicine, the thrust of all this research is eventually to identify and isolate a molecule that can be patented and used to produce drugs, to avoid the need to use the worms themselves, the latter being a practice that would provide no profit for the pharmaceutical industry.  However, the researchers are finding it particularly difficult to establish exactly how the worms work their magic, which is not surprising in the case of an organism that produces many different molecules and orchestrates these moment-by-moment to moderate its hosts’ immune system in order to ensure both its own survival and that of its host.

Recognising this fact, and that treatment using actual worms is simple, cheap, natural and controllable, a few researchers are now advocating the return of limited numbers of helminths to those who are experiencing allergic and/or autoimmune diseases.  One such researcher has thrown down the gauntlet to clinicians by suggesting that reconstituting the human biome in this way is likely to be the only reasonable therapy for a wide range of immune-associated disorders, perhaps including autism (8).

My gastroenterologist has been fully supportive of my own use of helminths, and my GP has taken a keen interest in my progress.  I also know of two other doctors who have recommended that patients with severe food intolerance get infected with helminths, but the vast majority of medics are unable to make the paradigm shift required in order to accept the clinical use of organisms that they still think of, and refer to, as parasites, even though the helminths used for therapy are actually symbionts (partners in a mutually beneficial relationship) and in spite of evidence that humans may have surrendered a number of genes to helminths during evolution and are therefore no longer complete without a few worms (9).

I know of a few doctors who are vehemently opposed to helminthic therapy, and who typically point to the fact that millions around the world are suffering ill health as a result of hosting these same worms, but these guys fail to grasp that this is only because these people have uncontrolled numbers of helminths due to unsanitary conditions (hookworm need faeces-contaminated soil in order to breed), and because, in many cases, they also have other, more dangerous species of worm, as well as invariably being malnourished and without adequate healthcare.

Patients on a Western diet

It is a completely different proposition to reintroduce a small, controlled number of benign helminths, which are incapable of reproducing within their host, into patients who enjoy a typical Western diet and ready access to healthcare.  So much so, that the US Centers for Disease Control recommend that American doctors do not bother to eradicate light infections with these organisms.

In spite of this, doctors are often unable to get past the fact, implanted in medical school, that hookworm feed off their host’s blood.  Yet, in reality, an entire therapeutic colony of 35 Necator americanus only takes a total of approximately one teaspoon of blood each month, an amount that I and many others are more than happy to surrender in exchange for all the benefits with which our little friends provide us.  Taking aspirin would be far more risky than hosting a few hookworms.

When journalists are looking for quotes to add ‘balance’ to their articles on helminthic therapy, they have no difficulty in finding doctors who are eager to denounce those of us who have obtained our worms from a commercial source, and insist that no one should be ‘doing this at home’ until many more trials have been completed.  Clearly, such medics have not read the hundreds of scientific papers that have already been written on this subject and are lying around in medical journals for anyone to read (10), nor are they personally having to live, day-to-day, with serious health conditions that blight the lives of sufferers and demand immediate amelioration.  There is no doubt that this treatment works and I, for one, had no intention of waiting for a decade, or maybe several, until medicine eventually gets its act together on this.

Those of us currently enjoying the benefits of helminthic therapy owe a huge debt of gratitude to the pioneers of this treatment, especially to medical researchers like Nottingham’s Prof Pritchard and Prof Weinstock from Tufts’ University in the US.  But, particularly, we are grateful to the man who first put his own asthma into remission by inoculating himself with Necator americanus (11), then established a company to provide this and another organism – the human whipworm, Trichuris trichiura – to anyone else who is not willing to wait for clinical medicine to catch up with the research.  That man is Jasper Lawrence (12).

Larvae set up home

Jasper’s company, Autoimmune Therapies (13), ships doses of worms directly to customers’ homes for self-inoculation.  Each dose consists of an agreed number of invisible larvae suspended in a tiny amount of liquid, which the client simply puts onto a dressing and applies to their arm.  The microscopic larvae then immediately begin to burrow through the skin and travel, via the blood stream and lungs, to the small intestine, where they set up home and, after 3-4 months maturation, begin to exert their moderating influence on the immune system, a job they continue to do for an average of five years, after which they must be replaced.

The only downsides to this treatment are the possibility of some usually mild, transient side effects in the first three months, and the cost, which, for those in the UKwho are used to having their medicines paid for by the NHS, may initially seem rather steep.  For US patients, however, who are used to paying in the tens of thousands of dollars per year for their treatment, especially if they have an autoimmune disease, $3,000 for 5 years’ therapy with hookworm is a snip.

This treatment is not a cure, in the strict sense of the word, but only provides remission from symptoms, and benefits are dependent on the continuing presence of the worms.  To effect a cure, one would arguably need to be exposed to worms very early in life, while the immune system is still developing, or even while still in the womb(14), and this is something that will, hopefully, one day be addressed by the relevant health authorities.  In the meantime, I can personally vouch for the treatment as a very effective means of relieving the symptoms of allergy and autoimmune disease. I can also recommend Autoimmune Therapies as the ideal source of safe, controlled doses of helminths, with generous guarantees and excellent customer service and support.

In addition to the information which can be found via the links provided here, there is also a helminthic therapy support forum at Yahoo Groups (15), with a rapidly growing membership, currently approaching eight hundred.


(1)( http://www.foodsmatter.com/natural_medicine_comp_therapies/helminthic_therapy/articles/appetite_worms.html )
(2) ( http://www.foodsmatter.com/allergy_intolerance/food_intolerance/articles/worms_for_food_intolerance.html )
(3) ( http://www.foodsmatter.com/asthma_respiratory_conditions/rhinitis/articles/nasal_allergies_nuked_by_worms.html )
(4) ( http://blog.autoimmunetherapies.com/gut_buddies/2010/10/20/helminths-reduce-multiple-chemical-sensitivity/
(5) )( http://blog.autoimmunetherapies.com/gut_buddies/2010/08/17/no-more-restless-legs/ )
(6)) ( http://www.foodsmatter.com/natural_medicine_comp_therapies/helminthic_therapy/articles/helminthic_therapy.html )
(7) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygiene_hypothesis )
(8) ( http://evmedreview.com/?p=457 )
(9) (http://evmedreview.com/?p=103 )
(10) ( https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B6q9LY6tfVZZDk0YzMwZDEtM mI1MS00M2Y2LWI5NmMtMDgwY2U0NjhiYzky&hl=en)
(11) ( http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2006/4/30/91945/8971 )
(12) ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/may/23/parasitic-hookworm-jasper-lawrence-tim-adams )
(13) ( http://autoimmunetherapies.com/)
(14) ( http://autoimmunetherapies.com/)
(15) (( http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/helminthictherapy/ )

This article was first published in Allergy Newsletter No. 101, Spring 2011.
Allergy Newsletter is the journal of Action Against Allergy