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In 2006, a man named Jasper Lawrence travelled to Africa to infect himself with hookworm by walking barefoot in a steaming mound of human excrement. He and other proponents of so-called helminthic therapy say that industrialized societies have become too clean, and in the process of sterilizing our homes and bodies, we’ve eradicated an essential piece of our biology: intestinal worms.
Hookworms attached to the intestinal mucosa. (Source: CDC)
The therapy requires the deliberate infection with helminths, or parasitic worms, by swallowing them or letting them crawl through the skin. It claims to alleviate a range of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases like allergies,inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) andmultiple sclerosis (MS). The Food and Drug Administration has not approved helminthic therapy. Nonetheless, Lawrence formed an online business in 2007 selling homegrown worms to autoimmune disease suffers around the world; he now operates out of the U.K./.../