Hookworms transform a food intolerant and food allergic patient into a foodie

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    I live in Yorkshire in the UK and I’m 54 years of age. My main health problem is multiple food allergies and intolerances, accompanied by environmental allergies, chemical sensitivities and asthma. I have an obviously compromised immune system.

    A dwindling diet and nowhere left to turn

    I experienced a progressive worsening of symptoms which go back to childhood and were aggravated by Cryptosporidiosis at age 30, and three bouts of glandular fever, the last of which was when I was 39/40.

    As my body was reacting against more and more food stuffs, and since medical investigations had only managed to confirm this problem rather than treat it, I was down to being able to eat only 26 different food items such as beef, lamb and chicken, and counting related foods such as chicken and turkey separately. As the list got ever shorter, I was becoming more and more scared that I would run out of things I could eat, or that my internal organs would not cope, and would simply pack up.

    I had followed up all lines of conventional medicine and was already on high doses of antihistamine. I had also tried homeopathic remedies, some of which seemed to ameliorate the adverse reactions, but did not widen the range of foods I could eat or help me stay symptom free.

    Getting started, and periodic setbacks

    When I started helminthic therapy 6 years ago, at the age of 48, I wrote to my gastroenterologist to ask for support, but received no reply. My local doctor put it on my records in inverted commas, and only the nursing staff at the local practice were interested at that stage. I had to consult a different local doctor to ensure they would continue treating me, and also to change my antihistamine to a hookworm-friendly variety. This doctor does now take it seriously.

    My family were fully supportive. They all understood the seriousness of the situation I was in as well as the misery it caused. I gave them articles to read and they were totally behind me from day one.

    I started dosing with Necator americanus (NA) in August 2014, and continued to dose approximately quarterly for the first 18 months. After that, I left longer gaps as I tried to work out the optimum timing, and settled on one dose around every 4 months or so. Unfortunately, due to problems with the provider I was using at that time, those periods were sometimes longer, and the effectiveness of my colony reduced a little. Once I was able to return to dosing quarterly, this seemed to be more effective for me.

    I have had another recent dip in effectiveness, but this may also have been linked to the length of time doses have taken to arrive, and the consequent reduction in their viability. I am now looking to restore my colony to full strength through more regular dosing from a supplier offering shorter delivery times, and I hope to add 10 NA every quarter to try to maintain a balance.

    The early doses caused some side effects

    The side effects included the usual itching around the site where the patch was applied, which was aggravated by being allergic to the dressing itself. I also had some stomach cramps, nausea and a flare up of vertigo from approximately 3 to 8 weeks post inoculation. But, once my colony was established, these symptoms reduced, except for the itching. More recently, a repeat incidence of shingles seems to have been linked to having left too long a gap between dosing, to which my body reacted once I did top up again.

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating!

    Improvement came in stages, the first signs appearing soon after starting - in a matter of days in fact. In less than 9 months, the improvement was considerable and, at around 12 months, I wrote the following:

    "On Saturday, it will be my 50th birthday and it will be one of my best ever. Having reached the point where, thanks to hosting hookworms for just over a year, I can eat almost everything. (I was down to only 26 different foods in total before I started). I will need to be on a diet after the weekend because we are having a cream tea for Saturday lunch, going out for a meal Saturday night, and for coffee and cake on Sunday. My presents include a bread maker, a sandwich press, a soup maker, a cheese making kit and several cookery books that don't have ‘allergy’ anywhere in their titles.”

    An overall 70-90% improvement in health

    I would say that, at my best, I have probably been 90% better. At the moment, I’m probably at around the 70% mark but hoping to pull things back again. If I were to list the top 4 things about my life with hookworms, they would be:

    • Fewer antibiotics

    • Better overall health

    • Eating out again
    • Feeling like a more normal person

    From unappealing therapy to life-changing process

    When I started out, I thought the whole thing sounded gruesome. I was only prepared to try it because I was desperate. But, having got to where I am today, I can assure you that none of it is nearly as unpleasant as you might imagine, and it has totally changed my life for the better.

    When I started the process, I was embarrassed about people knowing what my treatment was; now I've even open blogged about it and am happy to tell anyone. It has given me back such joy in life.

    So, if you decide to try this and are faced with scepticism, don’t feel you need to justify yourself. If you have read the background and feel that helminthic therapy would be of potential benefit, then go for it! Those around you will be convinced very quickly when they see the change it can bring. However, do give them links to relevant articles.

    By Ros Kind, April, 2020.

    For further details, see Rosemary's 36 minute podcast for the Sensitive One, recorded in Dec 2021.

    Rosemary's Story: From Food Intolerant to Foodie with Helminthic Therapy