It Sounds Disgusting, But…

Hookworm examination. Picture attributed to Marion Post Wolcott.

You know that I have been studying “gut health” a lot recently. So I want to share a new article that is absolutely fascinating, and somewhat horrifying at the same time.

First though, I want to tell you about a discussion I had with one of my friends a few years ago…

This friend is a professor of parasitology. He travels the world studying mummies from ancient civilizations to see what parasites lived in their gut. From this he can uncover all kinds of things about how the people lived, what they ate, climate and who knows what else.

Once, at a Christmas party, I had an in-depth conversation with him about doing a “parasite detox” regarding worms, etc. (yes, we discussed this at a Christmas party, surrounded by other people who were listening and giving us, “What the hell is wrong with you guys-looks”).

He had his doubts about the benefits of such a treatment, and in fact, he stated that it may cause more harm than good. He said that humans and these worms had co-evolved over the course of hundreds of millions of years, and in fact, there were many benefits that we receive from these worms.

At this point, I thought he was crazy. There is no way that they could be beneficial, because they’re nasty, disgusting, good-for-nothing parasites. Right?!

But then there is this study that apparently shows that the only known “cure” for celiacs disease is to be infected with hookwork. There are studies going on right now in which people are getting great results from injecting themselves with hookworm.

But here’s the article I want you to read. It’s written by William Parker, associate professor of surgery at Duke University in North Carolina. He makes the case that our modern, worm-free existence may be linked to allergies, asthma, depression, MS, and many other first-world problems.

I don’t think he’s suggesting that all parasites are good for you, but maybe our definition of good and bad needs a rework.

Please read the article and tell me what you think in the comment section below.

I think I need to be clear here that, no, I’m not ready to start injecting myself with hookworms, nor am I recommending that you do it. But the article is truly interesting and I do believe that this is going to be a major study in the decades to come. I also think that this will be an area of that drug companies are going to study to come up with new medications.

Please comment below.

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    1. I watched the documentary “Secret Ingredients” recently, and it indicates that glyphosate wreaks havoc on good gut Flora, causing the bad gut bugs to proliferate. The resulting chemical communication between the bad bugs and the brain and endocrine system wrecks the brain.

  1. Article is well worth reading (aside from good info it’s very well written).

    I was fortunate enough to have been raised in a country and place and at a time where and when hygiene wasn’t exaggerated. Washing the hands and other body parts, sure, but no ethanol, lysol, bleach etc.

    When we were kids, we ‘ate’ aged sand and put almost everything available in the countryside into our mouths (I remember a young frog being temporarily trapped in my brother’s mouth.). We had countless snails in our pockets for popular snail razes, and our jackets/coats were rarely washed. We spent lots of time on our neighbor’s farms and on pastures, swam in wild creeks etc. When we spent days in the forest we used leaves to wipe our intimates and once I did eliminate many, many small worms – no big deal, nobody got excited, I think I didn’t even tell our parents, I still remember because it was so peculiar. Of course we were drinking the water in the small creeks.

    We were minimally vaccinated and once I got one round of sulfa antibiotics for a strep throat. But that was it. We got our childhood infectious diseases and came out stronger for it, I think. We had our occasional flu, but we also only heated the kitchen and living room when we used it. We grew up with pets that weren’t vaccinated and were healthy. When we stepped on a glass chard or nail, no big deal, we washed and bandaided it. Did I mention that we ran around barefoot a lot?

    A few decades later, already in the US, I got infected with Lyme and got over it. I’m sure this was thanks to my drug-free upbringing in nature (with naturally clean water and organic real foods), and the addition of herbs, probiotic foods, and supplements which I added to the prescribed 3 week antibiotics. Although some of these Lyme parasites may very well still be in me, I don’t mind as long as we all remain calm and nice to each other.

    As long as there is harmony, my internal critters play well with my body’s cell critters (which all have the same origin anyway). Peace.

    1. Thanks Heidi. It’s funny seeing how science may come around and harmonize with common sense.

  2. Interesting gut/parasite article. I’m of the opinion that everyone has parasites (some beneficial, some not). It’s when the “balance” is disrupted that health and/or behavioral issues become evident. In contrast to the ‘We Need Worms’ article, whereby having enough beneficial parasites cleared up seasonal allergies, there is compelling evidence that autistic children have (too many?) non-beneficial parasites – and that autism is a SYMPTOM of this underlying problem. This is well documented in Kerri Rivera’s book aptly titled ‘Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism.’ In either case, the goal is to maintain a healthy microbiome but that can be difficult today because of preservatives, GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics, glyphosate and even pets!

  3. Hi, Glenn,

    Here’s a little more of a rattler about our microbiomes – the number of bacteria (good & bad) far outnumber the human cells. So are we alien (bacteria) or human? Symbiosis is essential in our bodies, if it’s not there everything is out of whack!!! Here’s a theory – those bacteria, if not in balance, all sorts of issues occur, like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and much, much more. Some parasites are good, but some aren’t! Lots more work to be done on figuring it out!!!

  4. What an interesting and thought provoking article! Western medicine is at it’s best treating emergencies and trauma. Not so much at dealing with ‘wellness’. Instead it is focused on illness, treating illness (and keeping us ill IMHO). It does not delve into the ‘why’ of illness, as the author mentioned.
    While I am not ready to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ of worms/parasites, I do remember when it was ‘discovered’ that maggots were useful in healing wounds (gee, wonder where that idea came from?), as well as research into the actual usefulness of leeches.

  5. I agree with a previous commenter who spoke of the necessary balance in the system. We all have E coli and other “nasties” internally, but they are only a problem when they get out of hand.

    Proper removal protocol of parasites is essential when it is necessary that they be removed. For at least some of them, if they are killed in our intestines, they can cause even more problem then when they were alive. There has to be a system in place for immediate removal. I think it has to be done in stages as well. I find this type of thing fascinating.

    Also, while funding was mentioned in the article, the author didn’t mention something I believe to be true. Studies are usually funded by big pharma and they aren’t going finance something that they won’t be able to make money off of.

    1. Yes, the article mentioned the whole big pharma thing. The point was that while worms can’t be patented, big pharma is probably studying the beneficial proteins and enzymes provided by the worms, and then they may be able to make something from that. Some (many) people may prefer a synthetic solution than intentionally infecting themselves with worms.

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