Saturday, September 4, 2010
Whipworm Can Possibly Treat Crohns Disease?
There are many alternative treatments for Crohn's disease; aloe vera isn't the only remedy out there. In fact, one of the latest studies showing promise for Crohn's disease sufferers is an alternative treatment known as helminthic therapy.
Helminthic therapy is an alternative treatment that uses Trichiuruis suis (pig whipworm) to combat symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. During therapy, a patient is given eggs of the pig whipworm. The eggs hatch within the body, grow and colonize for a limited time and then disappear, so no harm is done.
It may sound bizarre and disgusting to treat Crohn's by causing an infestation of pig whipworm in the intestines, after all, shouldn't we in Western civilization be celebrating that we've eradicated these pests from our systems with our sanitized culture? We're the first people in history to be worm free, so where's the logic behind this therapy? As ridiculous as it seems, when you learn all the facts behind helminthic therapy, you'll find that it's not as crazy as it sounds.
You see, Crohn's disease occurs when the small intestine becomes inflamed. It is believed by many medical researchers that this inflammation is the result of the immune system's improper response to regular gut flora. Thus, by introducing pig worms to the body, the immune system is provided with an actual target and will stop its assault on the natural gut flora in Crohn's sufferers. In short, worms help to regulate the immune system.
It is interesting to note, that many medical researchers believe that there is a link between Crohn's disease and lack of worms within the system. Crohn's is a disease of the 20th century, and primarily develops in people who live in Western industrialized countries were sanitation is high and worms no longer exist. Therefore, it is possible that the lack of worms within the body may be partly or totally responsible for bowel disorders such as Crohn's disease.
Medical studies are being conducted to find out what happens when worms are introduced back into people's bodies. The hope is that worms will re-instruct the immune system on proper response to inflammation and eradicate the disease.
Most Crohn's patients who participate in helminthic therapy studies are given the pig whipworm eggs, which are dissolved in a drink they ingest. As was previously mentioned, the whipworms hatch, develop and colonize, but they only live for a short time period.
So far, the success rate of these studies has been high, as more than two thirds of the patients who participated in the study for a 6 month period, experienced remission, while others who didn't go into remission still found the treatment helpful. Furthermore, researchers are finding that even those who unsuccessfully responded to conventional treatment for Crohn's, are benefiting from helminthic therapy
There appears to be no side effects or complications with this treatment as none have been reported. However, research and studies are still being conducted on pig whipworm infestation as a therapy. Only time will tell if the re-infestation of worms is the cure for Crohn's disease. Nonetheless, the future certainly looks promising.