Wormy Monkeys Have Healthy Digestive Tracts

Picture: Pierre Gayet (CC)

Yet another study suggests that our anti-septic lifestyle may be causing some health problems while preventing others. It turns out that wormy monkeys (Anyone looking for a band name?) have healthier guts than their worm-free peers:

Via Scientific American:

In developed countries, we’ve mostly eliminated freeloaders like parasitic worms from our guts. But we also have the highest rates of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD—when the immune system mistakenly attacks intestinal cells and friendly gut bacteria.

For years, docs suspected there might be a connection between IBD and our worm-free lifestyle. And a handful of studies have actually shown that infecting human patients with worms can reduce symptoms of the disease. But how?

Read more.

10 Comments on "Wormy Monkeys Have Healthy Digestive Tracts"

  1. These kindsa things make me more and more disbelieve the existence of parasites.

  2. “when the immune system mistakenly attacks intestinal cells and friendly gut bacteria”

    That the immune system mistakenly attacks things is an interesting idea. If we alternatively think of it as a “cleanup system” where it cleans up unhealthy/dying cells then we remove the concept of “mistaked” “auto-immune” responses. The standard perspective is that we are perfect healthy super-cells, until some miraculous mistake comes and we start attacking ourselves. Like blaming the cops for the existence of riots.

    That worms would be incentivised to maintain a healthy environment, thus promoting health, recalls that episode of Futurama involving worms (brain worms in this case :-P), and shows that this isn’t exactly a new idea.

  3. InfvoCuernos | Nov 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

    I think ” the Monkey Worms” is a better band name than ” “Wormy Monkeys” IMO

  4. Currently reading a great book on the subject called “The Wildlife of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today” by Rob Dunn. Only about a third of the way through, but he already talked about this case of a guy who had pretty severe asthma who wasn’t getting any better with Western medicine so he took matters into his own hands. Which, in this case, meant taking a trip to Cameroon and walking through human shit (in an effort to contract the hookworm from people whose microbiota was largely untouched). Well, it ended up working (that is, reestablishing healthy gut bacteria…which cured him of his asthma). So he quit his job in California (in advertising) and opened up a clinic in Mexico where he “infects” patients with hookworm who have certain diseases.

    So, this woman who had been on the losing end of an excruciatingly painful battle with Crohn’s disease hears about this guy and his work and, almost out of desperation (since she had nowhere else to turn in Western medicine, and they didn’t and wouldn’t offer anything like it), decides to give this treatment a shot. Turns out to be better than anything her doctors back home had to offer. It didn’t outright “cure” her, but each single treatment is good for roughly six months and it allows her to lead a semblance of a normal life.

    Like I said, great book and well worth checking out (wait until you hear about the appendix and how that’s gotten a bad rap from Western science). It really goes into the details of why and how we got stuck on this anti-septic, nature-fighting lifestyle. Here’s a great article from the author of the book on the same subject:

    Scientists Discover That Antimicrobial Wipes and Soaps May Be Making You (and Society) Sick

    And another good one from an unrelated source:

    Western Lifestyle Disturbing Key Bacterial Balance

    Oh, and about that appendix:

    Your Appendix Could Save Your Life

  5. Fusionism | Nov 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm |

    I have been using Helminthic Therapy – the deliberate inoculation with ‘helminths’ (Hookworm and Whipworm) for about 5 years to treat Crohn’s Disease. After 3 operations in 6 years I realised that western medicine wasn’t ever going to cure me and was fortunate to find out about the therapy on the internet. I had to travel to Mexico to get them but now it is possible to have them shipped to most countries.

    They are seeing good results for many other autoimmune diseases such as MS, allergies and Lupus as well as Asthma, Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. But don’t hold your breath for your doctor to start prescribing it to you. Try as they might (and plenty of money has been thrown at it by drug companies) they can’t isolate the active ingredient, patent it and put in a pill so doctors hardly know about it and generally wouldn’t risk recommending it. The FDA in the US classed Hookworm as a drug(!!!) which made it impossible to offer it there to people who would benefit from the therapy. (Unless they do 100 million dollar double blind testing which is impossible without the backing of a big drug company…)

    I have been pretty much symptom free now for 4 years which is amazing considering since the onset of the illness I would flare at least every few months, then weeks. I have no side effects from the worms and am forever grateful to the people I found this therapy before it was too late.

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