Do we need worms in our gut?

Do we need worms in our gut? Yes but how many and what types is another question :).

Just lately, I’ve had several clients interested in the worms in their gut, hence this post. I’ve never had Combantrin or any other deworming in my life even though I grew up on a farm and most assuredly ingested some type of animal faeces in my life. But a lot of my clients have had many sessions of deworming and after looking further this may have led to their current gut issues.


Worms (or helminths as they are affectionately known) are a part of the gut community and they have a positive role. Helminths like the gut as it provides them with the perfect shelter, o lovely mucosal layer for them to attach to and a smorgasbord of nutrients. Helminths can, if they overgrow, induce intestinal permeability which isn’t great, but they also can produce products that can be beneficial to your immune system so it’s a balance.

The deliberate infection of patients is being explored as a possible treatment for some inflammatory diseases such as eczema, inflammatory bowel diseases, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and autism, and psoriasis.



Some recent studies on animals have shown that the lovely helminth can decrease the immune responses caused by parasites while also control or alter the autoimmune and allergic responses in a positive way. Studies are also suggesting that the obsession we have with deworming may have led to the emergence of inflammatory and metabolic conditions that we are now seeing but of course we need more evidence of this rather than assumptions.

Although this type of treatment seems to have some positive effects so far, I am not condoning that everyone goes out and gets worms 😊. There is a lot of interest in this area in the US but not so much in Australia. So, for now, it is a nugget of information that we need to keep in mind and who knows what our lovely worms may be able to do for us in the future.



References

Fleming, J. O. (2013). Helminth therapy and multiple sclerosis. International Journal for Parasitology, 43(3), 259-274. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2012.10.025

McKay, D. M., Shute, A., & Lopes, F. (2017). Helminths and intestinal barrier function. Tissue barriers, 5(1), e1283385-e1283385. https://doi.org/10.1080/21688370.2017.1283385

Wammes, L. J., Mpairwe, H., Elliott, A. M., & Yazdanbakhsh, M. (2014). Helminth therapy or elimination: epidemiological, immunological, and clinical considerations. Lancet Infect Dis, 14(11), 1150-1162. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(14)70771-6



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