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Helminthic Therapy > FAQ
Note: This frequently asked question section is a work in progress. You may help by posting both questions and answers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What symptoms do inoculated hookworm patients typically experience?
Most users experience at least some rash, in the first hours / days, at the inoculation site. A cough, sometimes violent, is often experienced in the first three days, as helminth larvae migrate from the lungs to the esophagus.
Side effects vary from patient to patient. Common side effects include a mild physical and or mental fatigue. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas and diarrhea are common, as one might imagine. These side effects tend to taper off fairly quickly, but last for several months in some patients.
Herbert, in remission for Crohn's disease, reported no real side effects apart from a day of diarrhea etc. Other patients with eating disorders and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities have found the first 6 months rough going with symptoms such as extreme mental and physical fatigue. Symptoms tend to diminish over time being worse in the first 3 months. A few very sick patients find the side effects too much and discontinue the treatment.
Some report a ratcheting effect during therapy (2 steps forward and one step back) as the immune system kicks in and tunes up. Robert had one night where he was very sensitive to light and felt anxious, then felt a wonderful sense of well-being for the next few days.
More notes on symptoms can be found on the providers pages.
How long does it take to be healed?
Biologically-based therapies tend to take time when compared with pharmaceutically-based therapy. Most people seem to report a gradual improvement over time with full remission or maximum benefits noted by most patients between six months and one year.
Note that helminthic therapy is more a remission than a cure. Once you lose the worms, your immune system may in time start misfiring again causing old health problems to reappear.
Why do worms cost so much?
Helminthic therapy is a new and emerging field so no large scale competition exists. The current prices reflect both medical realities and the fact that in the United States the therapy is extremely difficult to practice because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has assigned it an "Investigational New Drug" (IND) status, requiring many regulatory hurdles.
There are currently three main providers for this therapy, one, OvaMed can arguably be described as being in the medical mainstream, supported by both more doctors, research, advertising and investment. The two other principal providers of helminthic therapy can arguably be described as "boutique" or "concierge" medical practices. The market for the therapy is also tiny, and this raises costs to providers. It is worth noting that the mainstream producer's (OvaMed's) therapy is more expensive (long term) than the two other boutique practices. Because of the nature of this emerging field, and their pioneering positions, all three producers set their prices largely unconstrained by larger market forces.
Customers are often perplexed by the high cost charged by providers given the simplicity of therapy. One might deduce that the following may contribute to these high prices:
- A clinic with professional laboratory needs to be maintained. Staff needed to be paid.
- Current US FDA laws have forced providers to relocate their clinics outside the USA.
- Being new experimental therapy, much time is spent researching and talking to patients.
- Currently patient numbers are low and patients are typically monitored for a number of years.
- Also paying 3-5 years of treatment in a single lump sum upfront is a shock to most people who are used to paying for medication on a weekly or monthly basis.
The following facts however argue for helminthic therapy being a very low-cost and effective therapy when provided in a more familiar medical and market situation.
- The microbiology is very simple, well established and requires only rudimentary labs.
- The helminths suitable for helminthic therapy have a long history with humans and are very safe (with noted exceptions) when used in a controlled manner.
- Much research has already been done by the academic and medical community and is ongoing.
- Because worm infections have been described and characterized in the medical literature, in one sense human testing has been occurring for hundreds of years.
No doubt the three organizations that have taken on the risk and expense of exploring this therapy wish to be remunerated for developing their expertise and also operating in grey areas of the law. As the therapy gains a more mainstream foothold however, expect it to become much more financially accessible. Note in comparison, the BioTherapeutics Foundation, that provides "pharmaceutical-grade leeches" to the medical community, does so at nominal prices in the range of $7-10 per organism. A similar helminthic treatment would thus be the range of $500.
What products and medications can harm my worm population?
- AutoImmuneTherapies.com FAQ page -- Covers a lot of common questions.
You will often see these acronyms in discussion groups where immune related diseases are discussed.
- IBD - Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. The major types of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC).
- UC - Ulcerative colitis (Colitis ulcerosa, UC) is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis is a form of colitis, a disease of the intestine, specifically the large intestine or colon, that includes characteristic ulcers, or open sores, in the colon. The main symptom of active disease is usually constant diarrhea mixed with blood, of gradual onset.
- Crohn's disease - Crohn's disease, also known as regional enteritis, is an inflammatory disease of the intestines that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, causing a wide variety of symptoms. It primarily causes abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is at its worst), vomiting, or weight loss, but may also cause complications outside the gastrointestinal tract such as skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, tiredness, and lack of concentration.
- IBS - Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS or spastic colon) is a diagnosis of exclusion. It is a functional bowel disorder characterized by chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and alteration of bowel habits in the absence of any detectable organic cause.
- MCS - Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a chronic medical condition characterized by symptoms that the affected person attributes to exposure to low levels of chemicals. Commonly suspected substances include smoke, pesticides, plastics, synthetic fabrics, scented products, petroleum products and paints. Symptoms may be vague and non-specific, such as nausea, fatigue, and headaches.
- MD - Doctor of Medicine (MD, from the Latin Medicinæ Doctor meaning "Teacher of Medicine").
- GI - Gastroenterology is the branch of medicine whereby the digestive system and its disorders are studied. Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the organs from mouth to anus, along the alimentary canal, are the focus of this specialty. Physicians practicing in this field of medicine are called gastroenterologists.
- EE - Eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic inflammatory condition of the esophagus. Symptoms are swallowing difficulty, food impaction, and heartburn. The disease was first described in children but occurs in adults as well. The condition is not well understood, but food allergy may play a significant role.
- Dyspepsia - also known as upset stomach or indigestion, refers to a condition of impaired digestion. It is a medical condition characterized by chronic or recurrent pain in the upper abdomen, upper abdominal fullness and feeling full earlier than expected when eating. It can be accompanied by bloating, belching, nausea, or heartburn.
- MS - Multiple sclerosis (abbreviated MS, also known as disseminated sclerosis or encephalomyelitis disseminata) is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms. In MS, the body's own immune system attacks and damages the myelin. When myelin is lost, the axons can no longer effectively conduct signals.
- O&P Test - "Ova and Parasites" or "Ova, cysts, and Parasites" are typical names of a pathology test for faecal (stool) that can report the presence of parasites (including hookworm and whipworm). Sometimes an egg count is not included in the report so you need to ask. Also try and check if the lab has experience in counting eggs.
- McMaster Egg Count - A method of counting parasite eggs in a faecal sample.
- Endoscopy - An endoscope is an instrument used to examine the interior of a hollow organ or cavity of the body.