I was treated with hookworm for irritable bowel syndrome in June of 2007 by the founder of Autoimmune Therapies before he formed the company. I was treated at a clinic in Mexico.
As a condition of treatment (which he did not charge me for) he asked that I keep a detailed diary of my experiences and publish them online after at least six months had passed, whatever the results for me were. His only requirement was that I be honest and that I would answer anyone's questions by email for a year after posting my story. He did agree to allow me to remain anonymous if I wished, which I have decided to do because not everyone is comfortable with this therapy and I am worried about the impact it could have on my relations with friends and at work if it became known that I host a human parasite.
This is my account of my experiences after being treated with hookworm since then.
My background and disease, inoculation with hookworm.
Growing up in the UK and suffering from undiagnosed lactose intolerance from childhood, a condition not widely recognized back then, I have always been plagued by stomach pains , extreme trapped gas and diarrhea.
As I grew up the pain I was experiencing as a teenager eventually forced me to see my doctor. The right lower side of my abdomen was especially painful and I was diagnosed with Irritable bowel syndrome, this was in my early twenties.(Whether this condition was exacerbated by the lactose intolerance I don't know) But as I got older my IBS got progressively worse.
By early 2007 the IBS had got so bad that I could not sleep on my right side without waking up in agony, my stools where never solid and I was visiting the bath room at least three times a day. I was also suffering from very bad trapped gas which was incredibly uncomfortable and at times so debilitating all I could do to get any kind of relief was to lie on my back, relax as much as possible and let the gas work its way out naturally, this could take up to an hour or more. And as anyone knows who has grown up experiencing regular pain, one seems to get used to it, learns to live with it and it eventually becomes the norm. This is how I felt.
That is until last year when a friend founded what is now known as Autoimmune Therapies. This treatment, known as helminthic therapy, involves a controlled infection with a relatively benign intestinal parasite called Necator Americanus, commonly known as Hookworm.
Luckily for me he needed a volunteer with some form of autoimmune disorder to prove it worked in someone other than himself, independent of all the research that is easily avaiilable on sites like http://www.pubmed.gov. Having IBS obviously in this instance was quite fortunate. The research and the science all indicating that hosting hookworm would probably put my IBS into remission.
So at the end of June 2007 I was one of the first people to be inoculated with hookworm, at this early stage it was decided that I would host 100 organisms so the side effects of a reasonable large infestation could be monitored.
I was told that the side effects could include:-
A rash at the inoculation site
Stomach pain, craps, bloating and gas
Possible edema developing down from the inoculation site
Although I have no experience of any of these side effects from what I remember being told they are transitory, only lasting for 3 to 12 weeks (I think that is what I remember being told, anyway).
Why I decided to try hookworm therapy and my experiences
When I was offered the chance to try helminthic therapy I felt that the benefits, if it worked for me, would far out way any temporary side effects I might experience-especially given that if things became too uncomfortable all I would need do is take one pill and the worms would be gone.
My treatment started with a thorough medical exam and history to rule out anemia and any other contraindications that would prevent me from hosting the worms. I proved to be an ideal candidate, although there are no guaranties how any individual person is going to react to a hookworm infection when it comes to the side effects. The worms were applied to my arm using a large bandaid type bandage, the larvae themselves are invisible to the naked eye. The bandage was moist. Within ten minutes I felt a mild tickling itch, so mild I was not sure whether it was due to the larvae or the moisture on the bandage.
In my case I have been very fortunate. Initially my itch was very mild even though I had 100 worms. In fact I really wasn't sure that I had the worm until I removed my bandage after 24 hours and saw that I had a very slight rash that was barely visible.
The rash lasted for about 3 weeks, the itch was very mild the whole time except for day 8 when it flared up. I'm not entirely sure way this happened but it is possible that the worms arrived in my intestine on that day and my immune system reacted to their presence.
As for the other possible side effects:-
I had no sickness what so ever.
I may have suffered from very slight fatigue but it was so mild it may have been due to lack of sleep or too much exercise.
I had no stomach pain, craps, bloating or gas out of the ordinary-nothing that I would attribute to my worm infection anyway, and as for diarrhea, far from it. If anything I was slightly constipated.
The one thing I did get was a slight swelling of my ankle below my infection site (i was inoculated on my calf because so many worms were given to me, for this reason a large area of skin was needed). This lasted for 2 days and was mild.
On the 4th week after inoculation I noticed the pain from my IBS had considerably diminished, which was very exciting. I didn't quite believe it at first but as time went on the discomfort lessened considerably.
At week 8-9 my pain returned, not as bad as it had been before the worms but still uncomfortable. What I understand about hookworm is that they migrate through the body maturing as they go and take a while to get established and become mature in one's lower intestine. As this process occurs it would appear that the body responds in different ways as the worms are settling down, which is maybe why my IBS pain came back briefly, for about two weeks.
Then the pain started to diminish until by about week 16-18 all my IBS symptoms disappeared, and ever since I can sleep all night on my right side without a twinge of pain - its fantastic, I had lived with this pain for almost 20 years. It was so bad that I always had to sleep on the right hand side of the bed so that I could lie on my left side and sleep facing my partner. Well, the good looking ones. I want to emphasize this, my IBS is gone, over, cured.
The other benefits that I noticed almost immediately was my visits to the bathroom became very regular, one trip a day, as opposed to three, and my stools have never been so well formed and healthy. The often very painful trapped gas I suffered from has also gone. Without going into too much detail my stools had been loose and almost diarrhea like ever since my late teens. Since the hookworm cured my irritable bowel disease my stools have been solid and well formed. It is probably hard for some one who does not have some kind of bowel disease to understand how exciting this is.
Something else I noticed that was of interest although as there has been no research into this area this is pure speculation, but I used to get terrible ovulation pains which my doctor attributed to an inflammation on my ovary as the egg was being released, since I have hosted my worms this pain has virtually disappeared.
One more positive change I have noticed is I no longer get acne on my back, something I thought I would grow out of after my teens. But no that persisted, but since I've been hosting my new friends my skin has been very healthy and clear. NO MORE ZITS!
My experience with hookworm has been completely positive. I know that I was lucky not to have had any side effects, this cannot be true of everyone. And the impact on my disease, complete cure, is nothing short of miraculous. It even fixed problems I did not even realize could be affected by hookworm, like my ovulation pain and acne. One other thing I have also noticed is a marked improvement in my lactose intolerance. I have no explanation for this except that perhaps by getting rid of the intestinal inflammation that was the cause of my irritable bowel syndrome my intestines are better able to break down and absorb nutrients, meaning less unabsorbed sugars are available to the bacteria that cause gas.
I realize that not everyone is going to be as lucky as me, either in terms of side effects or in achieving a complete cure of their disease. But helminthic therapy has been an absolutely fantastic experience for me.
If you have any questions about my experiences with helminthic therapy and hookworm please feel free to email me.
If you want to contact me you can find my profile associated with this message at Yahoo Support Group for helminthic therapy. The post number is 172, title "My experiences with helminthic therapy since inoculation in June, 20 " (the 07 was truncated when I posted...) and you can find my email address there. Or you can email me from this message, I just figured out that you can enable that here.
I will also receive an email every time someone replies to this message (although not to the thread)