Sep
17
2008

Eat up!: Technically, these aren't the right kind of parasitic worms. But it couldn't hurt to have a few, right?
Eat up!: Technically, these aren't the right kind of parasitic worms. But it couldn't hurt to have a few, right?Courtesy Teseum
Finally, folks, we have yet another reason to get infected with parasitic worms!

Don’t get me wrong—there are already reasons that you should look into getting worms, plenty of reasons. The company, for one; you’re never alone when you’ve got worms, after all. And the excuse that you’re eating for two (or two hundred) is always useful at big dinners. And the day that “Hey, I have worms! Let’s kiss!” stops being an effective icebreaker at parties is the day I’m not interested in living any more.

And yet there will always be naysayers. Killjoys and health nuts, for whom no pro-worm argument seems to be adequate. Hey, worm-haters, guess who had worms. Your great grandparents, probably, and were they bad people?

In any case, the obstinate will soon have an even harder time ignoring the cold, hard face of reason.

It has been observed that in tropical regions where infection by a particular type of parasitic worm is common, auto-immune diseases—like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type-1 diabetes—are particularly uncommon. Scientsts, clever devils that they are, have figured out why this is.

Certains type of parasitic nematodes (nematodes are round worms) are capable of causing filariasis in their hosts. Among other things, filariasis causes elephantiasis. Elephantiasis for those of you blocking out memories, elephantiasis (often misheard as “elephantitis”) is characterized by severe “thickening of the skin and underlying tissues,” occurring most often in the legs and genitals. And it’s pretty gross.

It isn’t in the worm’s interest, as it were, to have this massive inflammatory response in its host, so it secretes a large molecule called “ES-62.” ES-62, according to researchers, seems to act like a “thermostat” for inflammation. With no known adverse health effects, ES-62 reduces the inflammatory immune response that causes elephantiasis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, while leaving intact the immune system’s other mechanisms for fighting infections.

Similar research has been done on parasitic schistosomes (blood flukes). Populations with high infection rates of certain schistosomes have a greatly reduced incidence of allergies and asthma, and the thought is that the blood flukes are also able to regulate their host’s immune response so that it ignores some irritants (like the flukes) but still doesn’t allow the body to become too sick.

Wild, huh?

So get yourself some worms, y’all. Foxy boys and girls can tell when you’re sneezing and limping (not attractive), but they can’t see the worms and blood flukes teeming through your system. So you decide.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Candace's picture
Candace says:

eww. grose.

posted on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 9:22pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Check it out: more worm medicine. This article talks about intentionally infecting volunteers suffering from multiple sclerosis with hookworms through an arm patch. The hope is that the worms' natural affect on the immune system (decreasing inflammation) will reduce symptoms of the MS. After 9 months, the worms will be killed with anti-parasite drugs.

People who have naturally acquired hookworms seem to do better with MS. This is the first clinical trial with the parasites.

posted on Tue, 03/10/2009 - 11:09am

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