You’ve heard about the tapeworm diet, right? Besides allowing the host to lose weight, a few rogue scientists also believe that tapeworms may help with allergy symptoms and intestinal diseases. Unfortunately, the possible benefits of playing host to an intestinal parasite come at a very high cost and most doctors highly discourage it.
A man known only to the public as ‘the patient’ was faced with the stark reality that little could be done for his severe ulcerative colitis. There was one treatment left to try, but with only a 50 percent success rate and serious complications, the patient felt that there had to be other options. He began researching alternative therapies and came across a controversial idea about intestinal parasites eliminating colitis. According to CNN, U.S. doctors refused to entertain his wild idea and told him if he pursued it outside of the country than he would be on his own. After much deliberation, he went ahead and found a doctor in Thailand who was willing to help.
The doctor extracted the worms from the stool of an 11-year old girl and told the patient how to clean and care for them until they were mature enough to be ingested. The patient followed all of the doctor’s directions and when it was time, he ingested 500 of the specimens. What’s really shocking is that it worked. His symptoms improved and each time they flare up again, he ingests more of the worms.
For the last several years, “the patient” has been working with a scientist to find out why this method is working, but most health officials think it’s irresponsible of them to publish their findings. Some people think that by eradicating intestinal parasites, developed countries have caused an increase in diseases such as ulcerative colitis.
The majority of U.S. doctors and scientists around the world highly discourage anyone from infecting themselves with parasites. Some are even afraid that by publicizing the information, it creates undue curiosity in others and may spark a rush of desperate patients to other countries. Hanauer, The University of Chicago‘s chief of gastroenterology said that the patient’s experience cannot be expected with others. “We don’t make medical recommendations based on a single case report,” Hanauer explained.
Besides the fact that it’s banned in the U.S., it all seems so extreme and irresponsible to me. People need to know that intestinal parasites are not a safe treatment for anything, whether it be obesity or ulcerative colitis.
December 15th, 2010