Intestinal worms as a treatment option for ulcerative colitis?
Can worms help with chronic bowel disease? In one experiment, a patient swallowed a certain type and number of intestinal worm eggs. As a result, ulcerative colitis symptoms improved. The experiment was scientifically supported, but those affected should not attempt to do so themselves.
Worm eggs for chronic bowel disease
Scientists from the University School of Medicine in New York report on an unusual experiment in the science magazine “Science Translational Medicine”. A patient swallowed whipworm worm eggs to treat his chronic bowel disease. This was preceded by observations by the scientific team around P’nG Loke that the intestinal colitis ulcerosa occurs much less frequently in some countries in which worm infections are widespread. Other studies also indicated that worms can stop and reduce inflammation.
For the medical experiment, the patient voluntarily swallowed whipworm eggs (Trichuris trichiura). During the course of the study, the scientists examined the blood values of the 34-year-old. The examinations took place before and after the worms were consumed. In fact, the patient's health improved after a few months. The researchers found that the worm infection increased immune defense cells in the patient's body. In particular, the protein "Interleukin 22" had formed in large numbers. The protein is among others responsible for the stabilization and healing of the mucous membranes. The researchers suspect that the worm infection has increased immune cells to strengthen the mucous membranes in order to absorb the worm. Other doctors suspect that the worms themselves secrete active substances. Animal experiments have shown that the method alleviates symptoms of autoimmune diseases (e.g. asthma).
Researchers advise against mimicking the treatment
Despite the current success of the alternative treatment, researchers strongly advise against mimicking the experiment. Because the worms themselves pose health risks. "The problem is that these worms can cause slight or severe damage to the intestine themselves," the study authors write. At the moment it is still completely unclear which patient the therapy will help with and what the further course of the disease will be. In order to reduce the risk for patients in the future, the researchers want to start experimenting with worms that are usually less dangerous for humans. These include worms that tend to infect pigs and are almost harmless to humans. Pig worms die in the human body within 14 days and cannot be transmitted to other people.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic bowel disease
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic bowel disease that leads to multiple inflammations in the intestine. Most often the rectum and colon are affected. Unlike chronic chronic disease, inflammation from the rectum spreads continuously. This often results in smaller and larger ulcers that need to be removed with medication and surgery. Those affected suffer from diarrhea, flatulence and severe abdominal pain. In addition to the symptoms, comorbidities such as spondylitis, sacroiliitis or osteoporosis. According to the German Crohn's Disease / Ulcerative Colitis Society, around 168,000 people are affected in Germany. The exact causes of the disease are still unknown. (sb)