These worms were found in a human’s body. Disgusting!
This will shock you! Worms are good for you. They are. But before we even get there, I bet you are thinking “That can’t be!”. Well, its perfectly normal for one to think this way because our doctors have always told us that worms are bad for us. They are parasites and they live off their hosts, sucking them dry of nutrients. At least, that’s what we have learnt in science. And just the thought of them making their way around our bodies makes us feel somewhat squeamish isn’t it?
So is it true that intestinal worms are really bad for you? Let’s examine that.
About a hundred score years ago, before clean and potable water was a norm, everyone was infected with worms of some kind. Everyone was exposed to these intestinal worms on some level. Due to advances in technology and sanitary standards across the globe, it seems that these intestinal worms are actually less common in both children and adults.
But that hasn’t helped general health standards.
Indian children living in slumps are exposed to high concentrations of intestinal worms
In one of the largest studies performed on Indian children who are regularly exposed to these intestinal worms. These studies were performed on more than 2 million Indian children and it was one of the largest randomized trial ever performed . The aim of the study was to find out of intestinal worms actually do affect the health of children who were naturally exposed to them in their surrounding. The kids were given deworming medication. The whole idea then was if these children’s body mass did increase, then getting rid of these intestinal worms must have helped improve the general health of these children. The results? The removal of these intestinal worms did not improve their health. Neither were the children harmed when these intestinal worms were removed.
And so you’d have to ask yourself here at this point. Are intestinal worms really bad for health?
The thing is you gotta treat this body as an ecosystem of sorts. And in every ecosystem, there has to be some form of balance between the habitants of the ecosystem. Think rainforests and jungles and you’ll get what I mean. Too little prey for the predators will result in a lop sided food pyramid and too many predators would lead to starvation due to the competition of food. With regards to the body, it is like a jungle itself. There has to be some balance and scientists are now saying that the loss of biodiversity within our body’s ecosystem, called the biome depletion can actually do our bodies more hard than good. So what they really mean is that these intestinal worms in the right amounts in our body can actually aid general health and reduce inflammation.
These intestinal worms called “helminths” are actually an integral part of our bodies and work mutually with the body ecosystem. It has also been reported that these helminths can aid in multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and even reduce allergies and autoimmue conditions.
So what is the science behind these intestinal worms?
Ok, so you’d like to know the science behind how these intestinal worms work to help us. You have to remember that we are all products of millions of years of evolution. And these helminths or intestinal worms have co-existed with us for millions of years. We have thus evolved to benefit mutually from this relationship. What these helminths do is that they help to stimulate our body to build networks of immune cells and it also produces their own anti-inflammatory molecules that indirectly benefits our body’s immune system, thereby reducing inflammation. And the good news is this. All this happens without any side effects.
Studies on rats and rodents
In another recent study conducted in a lab in Duke University by Staci Bilbo, the study showed that the presence of these helminths in pregnant rats actually protected the brains of the rat pups from inflammation. So apparently, helminths can also protect the unborn.
In yet another study, the addition of these helminths to the guts of rodents actually improved the functioning of the gut ecosystem indirectly by improving the ratio count of good bacteria on the gut.
With all these studies that point towards a positive outcome, it is not too hard to imagine that at some point in the future, treating a disease or an illness with these nasty worms will be common place. But of course, there is still a long way to go.
Already, we have FDA approved maggots and leeches. Why not worms some may say? Well, while we know in theory that it is possible as a treatment option, the obstacle of course is how do you produce low cost, high grade mutualistic worms that is both affordable and effective in medicine? Well, I guess we have a long way to go in research and acceptance. You still think it’s yucky don’t you?
What are helminths according to wikipedia?
“Helminths are also commonly known as parasitic worms. They are large multicellular organisms, which when mature can generally be seen with the naked eye. The medical community considers these helminths intestinal worms even though it is a known fact that not all helminths reside in the intestines.
While there is no clear consensus on the taxonomy of helminths, it is more of a commonly used term to describe certain worms with superficial similarities. These are flatworms (plathelminths) cestodes and trematodes, and (roundworms) nemathelminths (nematodes) – both of these are parasitic worm types – and the annelida, which is not parasitic or at the most ectoparasites like the leeches.
Many, but not all, of the worms referred to as helminths belong to the group of intestinal parasites. An infection by a helminthis known as helminthiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, helminth infection or intestinal worm infection. The same naming convention applies to all helminths whereby the ending “-asis” (or in veterinary science the ending “-osis”) at the end of the name of the worm is added to signify the infection with that particular worm, for example Ascaris is the name of a particular helminth, and ascariasis is the name of the infectious disease caused by this helminth.
Helminths are worm-like organisms living in and feeding on living hosts, receiving nourishment and protection while disrupting their hosts’ nutrient absorption, causing weakness and disease. Those that live inside the digestive tract are called intestinal parasites. They can live inside humans and other animals. In their adult form, helminths cannot multiply in humans. Helminths are able to survive in their mammalian hosts for many years due to their ability to manipulate the immune responseby secreting immunomodulatory products. Helminth ova (or eggs) have a strong shell that protects the eggs against a range of environmental conditions.
Helminthology is the study of parasitic worms and their effects on their hosts. The word helminth comes from Greek hélmins, a kind of worm. ”
Perhaps Wikipedia should make amendments to this write up. It is high time.