hookworm cure asthma?
May 4, 2006 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Interesting. I predict that this will be the plot of a House episode in roughly three weeks.
posted by billysumday at 11:13 AM on May 4, 2006

Thank you for that. If I ever need to diet again I now have this bookmarked.
posted by Ryvar at 11:23 AM on May 4, 2006

I wish he said more about how his asthma symptoms are now. He says he has none, but I would have liked to read about the onset of relief. (I can't wait to see this on House.)
posted by OmieWise at 11:24 AM on May 4, 2006

I just vomited a little in my mouth.
(That means the hookworms are working!)
posted by Floydd at 11:27 AM on May 4, 2006

posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:32 AM on May 4, 2006

This thread is useless without pictures!
posted by drezdn at 11:33 AM on May 4, 2006

More from the same guy here.
posted by Floydd at 11:36 AM on May 4, 2006

There's a picture here.
posted by Floydd at 11:38 AM on May 4, 2006

After reading more down the page, I can say with confidence that the posters at K5 are insufferable snots, and that they're no fun, and they're not funny.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:42 AM on May 4, 2006

The article about cats and dogs is super interesting to me. I have been told by my vet last year that one of my dogs and one of my cats have allergies. When she told me this, I thought, allergies? I don't remember dogs and cats having allergies when I was younger... Maybe they just need to get there hookworms back. Nature is sweet.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:43 AM on May 4, 2006

Yeeeuch. Though I have to say reading the comments section is why I stopped hitting K5. Poor K5. :(
posted by cavalier at 11:49 AM on May 4, 2006

I'm going to bookmark that that k5 thread so that I can refer back to it whenever people being dumb in MeFi comments bothers me. I'm sure it'll make me feel better.
posted by atrazine at 11:58 AM on May 4, 2006

I found the whole story rather interesting and I did not expect to come away with anything but disgust. It's amazing that to circumvent the medical community and their stasis he had to employ such extreme nonconventional measures.
posted by prostyle at 12:05 PM on May 4, 2006

Remind me not to go on a camping trip with this guy.
posted by anthill at 12:13 PM on May 4, 2006

k5 isn't the same site it used to be, but it's still an amusing place to visit. You just have to understand the culture a bit more.
posted by WetherMan at 12:36 PM on May 4, 2006

I cured my congestive heart disorder with liver flukes! Well.

To be honest the liver flukes were tangental. The real cure was when I awoke one night screaming and feverish and tore my own heart out with a claw hammer.
posted by tkchrist at 12:37 PM on May 4, 2006

At first I was impressed by the spirit of science and self-sacrifice, until I read:

I offer my expertise in hookworm infestation and infestation management ...... The price for the five-day course, which runs from Monday to Friday, is $500.00 payable in advance.

I guess it's his prerogative to make money, but now I'm reminded of this fringe industry.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:09 PM on May 4, 2006

Allergy season is nasty in New York this year. The pollen count's never been higher. I've never had allergies before, but now I do, and I see what everyone else was bitching about.

Not enought to make me take a bath in Cameroonian shit, mind you.
posted by fungible at 1:21 PM on May 4, 2006

Tell me about it fungible. I had them for the first 3 years after 9/11 after never having them (always wondered if that toxic cloud messed with my immune system) then didn't have them at all last year but they came back with a vengance this year. Funny, I drank green tea yesterday and today and it seemed to have quelled it - or maybe the pollen just hasn't been that bad since it rained the past couple of days. Maybe I'll mix in some hookworm larvae with my green tea tomorrow to see if that cures me forever!
posted by any major dude at 1:28 PM on May 4, 2006

The thing is, I wouldn't recommend the treatment to anyone, but it's much more interesting a story than, say, some Yahoo using magnets to "cure" his cancer. The idea of him selling his "expertise" is pretty repellent, considering how limited it is.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:29 PM on May 4, 2006

"..it must have been either the first or second day I spent walking barefoot through the latrines."

And you thought your holiday sucked.
posted by Mutant at 1:39 PM on May 4, 2006

This phenomenon was actually covered in my immunology course last semester. For the scientifically inclined, the infection redirects the IgE-mediated immune response away from a variety of harmless pollens and towards the invading parasites.

I seem to recall from the class, the original investigator infected and treated himself several times. For up to two years thereafter, he was allergy-free. This may be slightly easier than maintaining a chronic parasite infection.

As was noted in the article, the IgE arm of the immune system originally evolved to respond to parasite infections. Lacking proper stimulation by parasite antigens in a modern, sanitary society, the immune response can be inappropriately redirected towards specific types of pollen antigens.
posted by corranhorn at 1:44 PM on May 4, 2006

This reminds me of an article (probably from here) I read the other day talking about how the greater majority of material in your body are actually other organisms living in symbiosis.

Not to say blood-sucking hookworms are symbiotic, but it does make one wonder just how well and quickly our bodies are adapting to this new, sterile western environment.
posted by Parannoyed at 1:46 PM on May 4, 2006

I'll keep my asthma, thanks.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:47 PM on May 4, 2006

Not to say blood-sucking hookworms are symbiotic,

Actually, if they are producing a benefit in their host, like curing his asthma, then they are symbiotic&#151at least, that's how I understand the term.
posted by smrtsch at 1:53 PM on May 4, 2006

I live in Toronto, and out of every 10 people I know, 6 have allergies that clog the sinuses. Right now I'm breathing out of one nostril by constantly tiling my head a little to one side. I'm not taking any decongestants since I'm currently pregnant.

It's amazing how important it is to breathe through your nose until you completely lose the ability to. Most mornings my nose wakes me up - I'd suddenly stop breathing in my sleep. It's nasty.

It also depends on how much it affects a person for him to go that far. I'm like this 6 months (at least) out of every year, with the only breathing season the great Canadian winter. If there is any sanitary way to clear it up, I'd try anything. Yup. If it wasn't for the lump of cells gaining weight in my belly, I'd probably go for sinus surgeries or infect myself with hookworms.
posted by Sallysings at 1:55 PM on May 4, 2006

The Return of the Leech.
posted by GuyZero at 2:14 PM on May 4, 2006

Reminds me of the time I used a blow torch to take care of a hangnail.
posted by SweetJesus at 5:01 PM on May 4, 2006

[. . .] activated T cells can also induce disease. Disregulation of TH1 cytokine production underlies chronic inflammation, such as occurs in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Disregulation of TH2 cytokine production underlies the development of atopic disorders, including atopic dermatitis and asthma. In the asthma setting TH2 cytokines drive eosinophil activation, IgE production, IgE mediated mast cell activation and degranulation, and accumulation of mononuclear cells and granulocytes into the lung tissue. These cells continue to secrete TH2 cytokines, chemokines, and effector molecules, thereby fostering chronic lung inflammation, which leads to tissue damage and remodeling, causing airway restriction.

Asthma and other atopic disorders are increasingly common diseases in developing countries. It has been suggested that the rise in asthma prevalence is linked to improved hygiene, and to a dramatic drop in exposure to viral and bacterial infections. This concept, termed the hygeine hypothesis, states that the recent increase in asthma is due to a disruption in the normal induction of TH1 immunity, leading to a pathogenic shift to predominant TH2 immunity, thereby causing atopic disease. Thus, improvements in living standards have reduced communicable diseases only to give rise to an increase in certain immunological diseases.
New Genetic Insights into Asthma: the TIM Family Emerges
posted by vira at 7:48 PM on May 4, 2006

At first I was impressed by the spirit of science and self-sacrifice, until I read:

I offer my expertise in hookworm infestation and infestation management ...... The price for the five-day course, which runs from Monday to Friday, is $500.00 payable in advance.

I guess it's his prerogative to make money, but now I'm reminded of this fringe industry.

One could argue that he is merely attempting to recoup his costs. $500 is a paltry price to pay compared to the cost of travelling to Cameroon, risking life and limb, not to mention the chance of contracting any number of other diseases that you'd rather not get (Basketball-nutz anyone?). Compared to the price of allergy medication over one's lifetime, it's enough to justify the ability to modulate the immune response without subjecting your body to questionable chemicals (In my opinion, the market lifetime of any drug is the amount of time it takes for the dangerous side effects to surface), but not enough to make it prohibitively expensive for the common man with other autoimmune disease. I wonder if this works on leukemia.
posted by SanitarySewer at 7:52 PM on May 4, 2006

I'd prefer worms you can take in pill form. I'd have no problem putting worms directly into my digestive tract like that, however have them going through the skin, into the bloodstream and through the lungs... that seems far more open to complications.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:11 PM on May 4, 2006

There must be a way to harness the power of the cleanliness-leads-to-immune-disorders argument to develop an invincable excuse to get out of washing the dishes.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:16 PM on May 4, 2006

Re: definition of Symbiosis

For this guy, hookworms are symbiotic. But not by any design on their or natures part. For anyone without these chronic diseases, hookworms simply suck (pun intended).
posted by Parannoyed at 1:14 AM on May 5, 2006

recklaw, thanks for this astounding FPP.
What an extraordinary story!
Frankly, I think the man who experimented with his own body to cope with his asthma is a brave scientist. He has my sincere respect and it will be very interesting to see what happens with his research. I wish him success both for himself and for the benefit of others.

He methodically researched the concept as thoroughly as possible and faced serious obstacles. It was obviously an awful ordeal but he endured it and his experiment worked/is working for him! Way to go!

Asthma can be agony. Having been hospitalised for a severe attack many years ago, I can say it is a terrifying experience not to be able to breathe, not to take in enough breath to feel one can live, much less do ordinary tasks like go up a flight of stairs. It's a major pain to live with and the pharmaceuticals taken for it stretch the lungs until they are like old rubber bands. The side effects of asthma medecine can be devastating, adding yet another burden to the situation.

The only non-pharmaceutical treatment I know that seems effective is the Buteyko system of breathing.

Medical science has come a long way for acute illness but not for many chronic illnesses, like diabetes, IBM, hay fever and asthma, among others. People suffering with chronic illness may try many means to help ameriorate their suffering, often with no guarantee anything will work or work well or for a long time.

If one wants to try and treat one's asthma with the Buteyko system one pays to learn.

I think $500 for a week's asthmahookworm.com seminar is an ethical price. He sounds smart, sincere and that the treatment he underwent is effective.

There is a clinical trial underway for this approach.

I lived in the tropics about fourteen years of my life and for the entire ten years in India had a variety of parasites. One, roundworm, has a similar migration up through the throat, lungs and intestines as hookworm, which apparently is a type of roundworm, and is as easily treated. Having roundworms, however, didn't help my asthma and it wasn't at all fun, lol. I can say that having asthma is way worse than having any of the parasites I experienced.

Sallysings: For natural ways to unblock one's sinuses:The Buteyko way.

And there is this simple trick that works for me: If one takes something about the size of a tennis ball, like maybe several pairs of socks rolled up tight. Lie on the side one's sinus is blocked with one's arm extended up, flat and puts the tennis ball in one's armpit. Lie there for about a minute with some weight on the tennis ball. When one gets up, the sinus on that side will be clear. I don't know why this works and Googled it now, maybe this yoga reason? No idea. Good luck and congratulations on the to-be-born in your life.
posted by nickyskye at 9:16 AM on May 5, 2006

LOL, rereading my post I wrote no cure for IBM.
It was supposed to be IBS.
posted by nickyskye at 9:46 PM on May 5, 2006

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