Overcoming Evolutionary Mismatch by Self-Treatment with Helminths: Current Practices and Experience
Author(s): Anna M. Cheng, Darshana Jaint, Steven Thomas, Janet K. Wilson, William Parker
Background. Biome depletion, or loss of biodiversity from the ecosystem of the human body, is a major “evolutionary mismatch” underlying a variety of inflammatory diseases in Western populations. Enhancing biodiversity via exposure to helminths has effectively treated immune diseases in a variety of experimental animal models and in a few published studies involving human subjects. Purpose. This study probes another untapped resource for helminthic therapy: the methods and outcomes reported by individuals currently self-treating with helminths. Procedures. Helminth providers were interviewed, surveys were collected from self-treaters, and publically available information was compiled. Results. More than 250 anecdotal experiences of self-treatment were assessed, and the total number of individuals worldwide currently self-treating was estimated at between 6,000 and 7,000. A wide range of inflammation-related diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, and autoimmunity, were effectively treated. Conclusions. This study finds that the therapy is being refined through experience and is now expanding to treat widespread neuropsychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, bipolar disorder, and perhaps Parkinson's disease.