(This is the cover that Chris White designed for the magazine in which we ran one of the first of John’s articles….)
When we first met John he had been living for 12 years on amino-acid-based hypoallergenic infant formula as the only ‘food’ he could tolerate, he had frequent migraines, crippling rhinitis and serious ME among many other illnesses. He now eats a normal diet, his migraines have gone, as has his rhinitis, his ME is massively improved and he leads a pretty ‘normal’ life. And all thanks to helminthic therapy! (If you would like to read about his gradual return to health see Wriggling out of food intolerance, Nasal allergies nuked by worms, Hookworm honeymoon, Helminths give chronic headaches the old heave-ho)
John has, reasonably enough, become a champion for helminthic therapy and, apart from keeping our helminthic section stocked, runs and contributes to innumerable helminthic therapies forums and groups – in the course of which he comes across many bits of wormy news. In the last couple of weeks he sent us two particularly fascinating cuttings – about sepsis and diabetes. I have added them to our helminthic site but really felt that they deserved an airing in the wider world – so here we go…
According to Julie Mellor, the Health Service Ombudsman (as quoted by the BBC) ‘around 37,000 people are estimated to die of sepsis each year, accounting for 100,000 hospital admissions.’ She goes on:
‘Diagnosing and treatment of sepsis presents some real problems because the condition is hard to spot and treat. The most common causes of severe sepsis are pneumonia, bowel perforation, urinary infection, and severe skin infections. In the cases in our report, sadly, all patients died. In some of these cases, with better care and treatment, they may have survived.’
John then pointed us to another article from the International Anaesthesia Research Society suggesting that sepsis is an increasing cause of complications and death among women in the West. The rates of severe and fatal sepsis during labor and delivery are rising sharply, such that sepsis is now the leading cause of direct maternal death in the United Kingdom.
And then he goes on to point us to some research carried out by the Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the University Hospital in Bonn looking at the use of helminths in modulating the immune system.
They postulate that:
‘As with allergy, epidemiological studies have observed a steady rise in severe sepsis cases and although this may have resulted from several factors (immunosuppressive drugs, chemotherapy, transplantation, increased awareness and increased surgical procedures), it is tempting to hypothesize that the lack of helminth infections in Western countries may have contributed to this phenomenon’. They go on to suggest that ‘in addition to suppressing autoimmunity, recent evidence indicates that concurrent helminth infections also counterbalance exacerbated pro-inflammatory immune responses that occur during sepsis, improving survival.’
Is it therefore, John asks, time to consider helminth deficiency as a possible risk for sepsis? And if so, could lives be saved by re-worming pregnant women?
Although diabetes is an autoimmune condition and helminths seem to offer very promsing possibilities in terms of re-regulating disordered immune systems, there has as yet been very little work done with helminths in the context of diabetes. So this report is particuarly exciting.
It is quite technical for those who know nothing about diabetes but the nub is that, in this 9-year-old, the progress of his diabetes seems to have been halted, if not reversed, by being colonised with hookworms.
I’m not sure where the proof is for what is going on in our 9 year-old, and I’m not certain if we have enough of the first year behind us to truly show a direct correlation with our little friends, the hookworms, but I’m just praying that whatever actions we have taken haven’t been too little too late. T1D (Type 1Diabetes) is one of those diseases that just descends on you like a hail storm in the summer. You just don’t know it is coming.
We started to notice high blood glucose (BG 250) in early Nov of 2012, and when we went to the endocrinologist on 20th of that month, we were given a 6-12 month projection for insulin dependence and had autoantibodies measured. The results came back significantly positive for GAD65 and IAA. They currently test for 3 autoantibodies to determine if the person is having and autoimmune progression of the disease and what percentage chance someone will develop T1D and in what time frame pending existence of autoantibodies. Two additional autoantibodies are now being tested experimentally. So with the presentation of 2 of the 3 autoanitbodies the autoimmune attack was in full swing. The pediatrician just said sit back and wait, and call us when blood glucose numbers reach X.
I’d stumbled upon a few articles about rebalancing the TH1/ TH2 (types of white blood cell that play an important role in the immune system) response with helminths and figured we had nothing to lose in trying this, so we had hookworms on board by mid Nov 2012. The one thing I read over and over in several research studies was that the timing of introducing the parasites was very important in type 1 remediation. (The earlier the better in NOD mice.)
Our first recorded A1C, which is a 2 to 3 month average of a person’s blood glucose level, was 6.4 on 20th Nov. Below 5.7 is considered normal functioning. We have since had several more A1C’s and 4 Oral Glucose Tolerance Tests (OGTT’s), which showed how the disease was progressing:
180’s (4th week in Dec 2012)
around 210 (3rd week in Jan 2013)
above 250 (4th week in Jan 2013)
To cut a long story short, we killed off the hookworms before the second OGTT and had them back on board by mid Feb. We were hoping to get included into an Anti CD3 Trial that has been showing good results to those who have been administered the medicine. So we killed off the hookworms so we would pass the blood tests to get into the trial. The disease process was progressing so quickly we missed that window of opportunity and ended up mistakenly killing them off. So the 2nd and 3rd OGTT was without hookworms on board.
We had our initial meeting with a new endo in early Feb 2013, when the A1C was 5.2. This had gone down since the Nov test because we were really monitoring the amount of carbs and exercise. The endo gave us a 6-9 month time window for insulin dependence.
About 2 days before our 6 month check up in mid Aug 2013 we went out for sushi and had ice cream afterwards. Post Prandial (glucose blood test) was 111. The Post Prandial is performed 2 hours after starting eating and should be below 180 to not be considered diabetic, but below 140 is more in the normal range. We were dumbfounded because, a while back, this PP would have been near the 160-180 mark if not higher. We were also not being as strict with diet and sleep, when we saw the endo, as it was summer, and we still need to be a kid! 😉 However, I really was thinking that the A1C would be at least 6.0, but it wasn’t. It was 5.5.
The most recent OGTT, last week, was 180. So we are back below the #’s of the first OGTT over 8 months ago. Granted, this number is still high for an adolescent, but it is certainly better than the alternative right now.
Currently we have 70 hookworms on board and will be dosing with another 30 or so to get to the 100 mark. There have been no side effects other than the first few days of loose stool and itching at the inoculation site – no worm flu or anything else. As a matter of fact, we had the healthiest winter we have had on record. In past winters we have averaged 3-5 strep throat infections, but last year we had none. In the winter of 2011, we were at the point where the doc starts talking to you about getting tonsils removed!
Another treatment we are doing is using GABA 750mg 4 X day. See the study here. This was a proposed study, but did not get investigational drug status from the FDA, so was not approved. (It is being researched in China.) The thought here is that there may be a benefit from using GABA to reduce inflammation in the pancreas around the Beta Cells and aid in insulin production.
We are also are dosing with 1x400IU of Magnesium at night and 1x1000IU of Vitamin D in the morning.
Of course we would like a cure but I am not holding my breath given the time frame of introduction of helminths in relation to presentation of symptoms. The way I look at this is if we can do anything at all to delay insulin usage this would be a huge success!