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mattbrowne's avatar

Would you swallow the eggs of parasitic worms such as hookworms or whipworms to cure your allergies?

Asked by mattbrowne (31640points) July 17th, 2010

I read about this in a German magazine and found it highly interesting and highly disgusting at the same time. A well-written Wikipedia article explains the idea.

Helminthic therapy, a type of immunotherapy, is the treatment of autoimmune diseases and immune disorders by means of deliberate infestation with a helminth or with the ova of a helminth. Helminths are parasitic worms such as hookworms and whipworms.

Helminthic therapy has emerged as one possible explanation for the low incidence of autoimmune diseases and allergies in less developed countries, together with the significant and sustained increase in autoimmune diseases in industrialized countries. Current research and available therapy is targeted at, or available for, the treatment of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), multiple sclerosis, asthma, eczema, dermatitis, hay fever and food allergies.

Have I whet your appetite or have you just lost your appetite when pig whipworm eggs are being mentioned?

How promising is this idea?

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21 Answers

MissA's avatar

Have you SEEN those things? Not me.

Your_Majesty's avatar

This is just one method from many other alternative methods that can be used to cure allergies . I won’t use this method,however,I will use another alternative for my particular disease. I find this method is far cheaper than other kind of specific medication for allergies and would be well implemented for poor countries. Believe it or not,most people in poor countries have been infected by many kind of parasitic worms during their childhood,and they made no effort to cure it(others claim that they don’t know or it’s not a major problem for them). So I pretty sure that this method would be widely accepted by poor nations.

There’s still a problem that contradict with this worm method,religions,most people in poorer countries are widely devoted their entire life for their religion,and most religion will count this ‘worm method’ as forbidden way.

jca's avatar

no i would not do this. gross. plus the worms have other side effects that i’m sure are not pleasant.

janbb's avatar

It would depend on how much I was suffering and how sure I was that the treatment would work.

tinyfaery's avatar

I suffer a lot from IBS. There are times when I would gladly try this therapy. At times the pain in unbearable. But, when I’m feeling okay, like now, the idea grosses me out. Maybe it would be ok if I was never told about it. Otherwise, I think the idea of being infested would always be on my mind.

Aster's avatar

If I had allergies I’d be tempted to try it after first doing what I did that worked for me: taking excessive bee pollen pills for a month. That worked.
@tinyfaery I am not sure if I have IBS or not. I rarely have a stomachache so manybe I don’t.

HungryGuy's avatar

No. Using such parasites to cure problems (like tapeworms to lose weight) causes more problems than it prevents.

mattbrowne's avatar

@MissA – There were pictures in the magazine, yes.

netgrrl's avatar

If I were given definitive proof it would cure my fibromyalgia and I would get my energy back and live pain free? Sure. The worms don’t reproduce in the body. The life cycle of both worms means that the dose of worms you are given will not increase with time. The side effects are limited and last a short period of time.

Balance that against getting my life back, sure. But there’s just not enough proof yet, so I’m skeptical.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

No thank you!

Austinlad's avatar

NO, though I’ve heard and read that for some people it works. Aside from fast food, I try never to ingest foreign objects.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’d weigh their benefit against the yuck and unknown factor but maybe.

mattbrowne's avatar

@netgrrl – When you search for

you get more than 1.6 million results. For example

I wasn’t aware that this type of therapy is so widespread. Amazing.

But like colonoscopy many people won’t like it, even if the usefulness is clear.

netgrrl's avatar

Thanks. Right now they don’t even have a clear idea of what causes it, let alone treat it. I lean toward the doctors who believe it is an autoimmune condition. I’ve just grown tired of being a guinea pig for everything they want to try and throw at it, hoping something will stick. I’d need a pretty clear indication (reputable studies, etc) it really worked.

helminthictherapy's avatar

There is no yuck factor – the organisms are microscopic and thus invisible to the naked eye. If you have a small # of them, you have no ill side effects. If you go read posts on this forum: you will see that hundreds of people have already tried helminthic therapy and are now in remission from Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. There is a tons of research articles that have been published in medical journals and a lot of medical trials are under way. If you look at the “Links” and the “Studies” section of this website: or read the news articles posted here: – you will see that this therapy can be revolutionary and has virtually no side effects. if worst comes to worst, the organisms can be wiped out with a single dose of albendazole. If you have any other questions after reading the links above, do let me know.

augustlan's avatar

Shilolo and I (and then my doctor and I) were just discussing this! I have a ton of auto-immune issues, and allergies are the least of my problems. If I could take care of all of that, I’d eat just about anything. Seriously.

HungryGuy's avatar

@augustlan – Be careful if you’d seriously consider swallowing parasites to cure what ails you (tapeworms to lose weight is a common “remedy”, etc.) I read that wiki article, but still the health risks of such quackery are enormous.

augustlan's avatar

Oh, I wouldn’t do it until more studies show it’s viable. But after that? Hell yeah.

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CyanoticWasp's avatar

If I knew more about it than a simple Wikipedia entry (I saw it, but didn’t read through it), and if a board certified internist convinced me that it was a likely and effective treatment, then I’d probably do it if it could cure something that I already had, or if it could absolutely prevent something that I was likely to have.

After all, we take fungi in the form of pennicillin and amoxycillin and other antibiotics, and the idea that bread molds, of all things, could cure human ailments must have seemed just as far-fetched 70 years ago.

But I’m not taking that stuff just because someone wrote a Wiki about it.

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