In this installment of ‘Tried and Tested’ I’m sharing my experience with infecting myself with ‘probiotic’ worms. Sounds like a stupid thing to do, but actually it’s quite an interesting therapy.
I decided to give helminthic therapy a go last year, not long after I found out that I suffered from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid and usually leads to under-function of the thyroid (please note that I was already free of bladder issues at that point, so that’s not what I tried it for) .
If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, make sure you check out my last post where I explain what helminthic therapy is.
So the main reason I decided to give helminthic therapy a go was because I wanted to stop the autoimmune attack on my thyroid gland.
Before I had even figured out that I was in fact suffering from an autoimmune disease, I had started eating a really ‘clean’ diet free of things that are considered common triggers (such as gluten). I had also already spent a lot of time working on my gut health and in the process had recovered from my chronic bladder issues.
Because of my pretty stubborn gut issues I had also already undergone FMT treatment, again an experimental therapy used by some people with autoimmune conditions.
But obviously none of this had helped to stop the autoimmune attack on my thyroid (however, I have no idea how long I’ve had this condition before or what the levels of my antibodies would’ve been without the work I’d already put into my health).
I had heard talk about helminthic therapy a few times and it didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to give this ago.
So I joined the Helminthic Therapy Facebook group and read all the information they supplied. I also read about other people’s experience who had issues similar to mine and decided that the helminth I wanted to use was Necator Americanus a.k.a human hookworm. One of the main reason for this was that this type of helminth lives in humans and therefore can survive in the human intestine for several years once a colony has been established (they cannot replicate, however).
Because I’m pretty full-on when it comes to my health I opted to get the highest recommended starting dose of 25 worms.
Supplying worms isn’t strictly legal everywhere in the world and therefore I had to pay for my worms in bitcoin but promptly received them 2 days later.
Human helminths enter the body through the skin of the arm. You basically drop the solution containing the (invisible) larvae onto your skin and patch it up. You can’t see the larvae at all but the typical rash caused by them entering the skin shows that they are there. Pretty freaky!
The worms travel and mature
The worms enter through the skin as larvae and then travel via the lungs into the digestive tract.
Of course the body doesn’t like just being entered and it will kick up a fight. The whole process of the worms travelling to the small intestine, making a home there and maturing takes around 3 months. Naturally, during this time there can be some nasty (temporary) side-effects.
For me, the side-effects occurred where the worms were likely to be present at that moment in time.
First, I got the typical skin rash that lasted a few days and was pretty itchy.
Then, my lungs started burning for a few days.
A week later, I started getting nausea attacks in the evening, as well as a lot of bloating and felt pretty fatigued.
About 2 weeks in I suddenly started feeling like I was on speed. I had learned that at this time, one can have a sudden break from most symptoms. This is called ‘the bounce’. So my explanation was that my thyroid was working better and suddenly my thyroid medication was dosed too high, making me hyperactive.
However, this didn’t last long unfortunately.
In the next few weeks I experienced a lot of fatigue after eating, had flu-like symptoms, nausea and intestinal burning which lasted around 7 weeks or more post inoculation.
Around the 3 months mark, the worst of the side-effects had passed.
My bowels were generally better, but apart from that I didn’t notice a huge deal of improvement.
I had the feeling that the dosage of worms I had taken had been a bit too high for me, as my side-effects had been pretty strong.
Many people had described in the support group that they do better building up the colony in smaller doses.
But I was pretty disappointed as I had put a lot of hope into the therapy. However, for some people it takes longer to see results and I was prepared to wait.
One thing that was a bit annoying though, is that one has to be careful to not accidentally kill off the worms with certain foods, herbs or supplements.
Around the 3 months mark, I went on holiday to Morocco. On one of the first nights, we ate at a small Moroccan restaurant. In the evening I started getting a bout of the same nausea I had experienced during the first weeks with the helminths and concluded that I had a case of food poisoning.
Not much happened, so it wasn’t severe but afterwards my gut health went back to being a lot worse.
I thought I had contracted either a bacterial or a parasitic infection and went to see my GP after I was back in England. All tests came back negative.
As stool testing for parasites can be a bit unreliable, I tested again privately at a later time and once again, nothing was found – including my little worm friends!
My conclusion was that I must’ve done something in Morocco that killed them off.
Verdict on Helminthic Therapy
Unfortunately I couldn’t really tell if this therapy was beneficial or not, as I probably didn’t dose it right and then didn’t keep the colony of worms long enough to see real benefits.
I had a sneak peek at the start of how energetic I could be without a compromised thyroid but whether this would’ve been the result at the end is hard to say.
At the time, I didn’t have the financial means and energy to try again. And frankly, the side-effects had been pretty horrible.
So I decided to give my body a break for a while from crazy new therapies.
Will I try it again in the future? Probably…after all there are 3 more types of worms to try 😉
What are your thoughts, do you think I am crazy? Would you try helminthic therapy? Let me know in the comments!
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