A recent study suggested that people already infected with this kind of worm, known as helminths, experienced fewer symptoms of MS. This has led the FDA to approve a small trial of the therapy next month on five patients.
It is hoped that the therapy will prove to be a useful treatment with few of the side effects associated with some other MS treatments. Similar therapies have proved useful in treating some sufferers of inflammatory bowel disease.
And they call me crazy…
Well, “helminthic therapy” is actually not entirely new. It’s been studied for treatment of several diseases such as Crohn’s disease, asthma, and ulcerative colitis. Some even promote it for weight loss.
It remains to be seen, however, if this treatment actually provides any kind of benefit for MS patients, although I have some reservations about introducing intestinal parasites of pigs into human bodies. Who knows what the long-term ramifications of purposeful cross-infection might be?
What are Helminths?
So what are helminths anyway?
In this study they will use the pig variety instead of those that infect humans, hoping that the disease associated with the natural infection with these parasites can be avoided.
Why? Because an intestinal parasite infection can be less than lovely.
Signs and Symptoms of Intestinal Parasites
Helminth (parasite) infections are actually quite common, affecting millions of people around the world. And, along with the rise in immune deficiency diseases such as HIV/AIDS we’re also seeing the emergence of "new" opportunistic parasites, as well as an increased prevalence of other recognized types.
Signs and symptoms that you’ve been infected with an intestinal parasite include:
Eye inflammation (conjunctivitis and retinitis)
Coughing or wheezing
Enlargement of liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly)
How Parasites Might Help Treat MS
The potential success of this therapy hinges on the action of the T-cells in your immune system. Your T-cells are responsible for seeking out and destroying dangerous invaders. One way they accomplish this is by initiating a nonspecific inflammation response, called the Th1 pattern.
The Th2 pattern is more specific, destroying specific targets, which results in far less inflammation.
When you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you already suffer from excess inflammation. The more inflammation you have, the more your myelin – the insulation around your nerves – gets degraded. This damage slows down the impulses along those nerves, which results in the typical issues seen in MS patients, such as problems with:
The theory behind this infection therapy is to create a change in the MS patient’s immune response, reducing the Th1 pattern of nonspecific, systemic inflammation by increasing the specific attack response.
According to Dr. John Richert, executive vice president of research and clinical programs for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society:
"Pushing the immune system from a Th1 to a Th2 pattern is something that several of the current FDA-approved therapies for MS already do, and helminths seem particularly effective at doing this naturally."
Treating MS Without Toxic Drugs, or Parasites
MS is both a physically and emotionally trying disease. I used to cringe when MS patients came in to my office as I knew that I could not consistently offer them recommendations that could significantly improve their course.
However, I have since learned that there are a number of very effective natural treatment options for improving MS and, in many cases, eliminating it entirely.Now I am actually excited when they come in as our application of nutritional and emotional therapies has provided enormous relief for many.
One of the easiest is making sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin D from appropriate sunshine exposure. This is ABSOLUTELY crucial. I believe it is criminal malpractice not to regularly perform vitamin D blood tests to confirm that the D levels are in optimal range. This is one of the simplest, least expensive and most powerful interventions I have seen for most autoimmune diseases, including MS.
We also have many stories like Matt who had dramatic improvement using Nutritional Typing. Like most diseases, the earlier in the course of the illness you start your treatment the higher your likelihood of success.
I recommend avoiding nearly all drugs for MS, as they’re nothing but temporary solutions that invariably seem to impair your body's healing response and worsen the course of the illness over the long term. Additionally, most are quite expensive and can cost well over $1,000 per month.
The following natural treatments offer a practical alternative to drugs or parasites:
Check your vitamin D levels monthly -- Vitamin D levels seem to be low in virtually every autoimmune disease that I see. It is important to receive adequate amounts of vitamin D, as it keeps your cell growth and activity in check. When your body is deficient in this crucial nutrient your cells can go haywire, become overly active or multiply too quickly.
Take a high-quality omega-3 supplement -- This is an essential part of the treatment program for nearly all MS patients, as both vitamin D and omega-3 are absolutely necessary in the prevention and treatment of MS.
Resolve past emotional traumas -- Probably the single most important resource for improving MS is finding a solution for the previous emotional traumas in your life.
In my experience nearly every MS patient has some unresolved emotional trigger that caused their immune system to become impaired, eventually progressing to MS. Clearly, issues related to this event need to be addressed to resolve the disease.
There are many effective tools to address this stress, and nearly all of them involve some type of energy psychology. My favorite tool is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), as it is simple, highly effective and easy to use. For an example of EFT's use on MS see Persistent use of Emotional Acupressure Technique Eradicates severe Symptoms of MS.
However, because MS is such a serious health challenge I would not advise using this tool for MS by yourself, but rather as a supplement to work with a trained EFT practitioner. I suggest taking a look at Gary Craig's EFT Practitioner Referrals.
Eliminate pasteurized milk and dairy – This is important for most people, but especially here, as studies have shown that cow's milk consumption is correlated with MS prevalence. Many people will tolerate RAW dairy, however.
Calcium AEP -- Although I don't know of any good studies on it, the late Dr. Nieper in Germany used it extensively in his clinic, and Dr. Robert Atkins in New York City claims that 85 percent of his patients get positive results from it. Although there is an oral form available, most physicians use an IV administration.
Electromagnetic stimulation of the pineal gland -- Dr. Reuven Sandyk in the NYC area uses AC pulsed electromagnetic fields to stimulate the pineal gland, and he seems to get very good results. The treatment is very expensive and must be done long-term, however, and due to the prohibitively expensive equipment, Dr. Sandyk's clinic is probably the only place that offers this treatment.
Alpha lipoic acid -- A study from the Netherlands (Journal of Neuroimmunology 1998 Dec 1;92:67-75) showed that lipoic acid is a non-specific scavenger of Reactive Oxygen Species, which decreases the phagocytosis of myelin by macrophages. Free radicals appear to play a regulatory role in the destruction of myelin.
Progesterone -- Progesterone has been shown in animal studies to promote the formation of new myelin sheaths, but I am not aware of any clinicians using progesterone to treat MS patients.