Jasper Lawrence and helminthic therapy
Jasper Lawrence had two businesses before becoming involved in helminthic therapy. The first was a landscaping company that he started with his brother after first moving to the US from the UK, and the second was a business-to-business all-in-one technology marketing agency called Words & Images. He had also been involved in at least two other businesses, Surf Maps and portugal.com 
After hearing about pioneering work being carried out at Nottingham University, in which Prof David Pritchard was exploring the possible use of hookworms as a therapy, Lawrence wondered if this might be a solution for his own intractable asthma, and began to search for a source of the helminth species that Pritchard and his team were using - the human hookworm, Necator americanus (NA).
When Lawrence met one-time medical student, Garin Aglietti, who had a passionate interest in intestinal ecology, the two men joined forces to hunt for NA, and were eventually successful in obtaining this species from the wild in 2007.
At that time, Lawrence was looking for a new means of making a living, and, when he found that the hookworms he and Aglietti had obtained had put his asthma into remission, he suggested that they create a company to sell this organism to others with allergies and autoimmune diseases. The company they formed was Autoimmune Therapies (AIT).
While AIT was the first company to sell hookworms to the public, it was only the second to sell a therapeutic helminth. Ovamed, founded by Detlev Goj, and since superseded by Tanawisa, had already been selling the ova of the pig whipworm, Trichuris suis (TSO) for four years.
After Lawrence and Aglietti had been joined by Lawrence’s brother-in-law, clinical scientist Marc Dellerba, the three men pioneered the use of NA as a self-treatment for immune-related disorders. However, it wasn’t long before Aglietti found it impossible to work with Lawrence, and left to form his own company, Worm Therapy. Dellerba would also eventually go his own way, in 2013, (to help found Biome Restoration) after irreconcilable difficulties arose between him and Lawrence, but not before these two men had introduced a further helminth species in 2009 - the human whipworm, Trichuris trichiura (TTO).
In the early days, Lawrence made full use of his advertising expertise to promote AIT and helminthic therapy in general, and he created the first online discussion group for the treatment, the Helminthic Therapy Forum on Yahoo. (See The history of the helminthic therapy groups.) These early promotional activities attracted a great deal of attention to the fledgling therapy, and turned many people on to the therapeutic potential of helminths.
There are many people who consider that hearing the Radiolab interviews Lawrence gave to Pat Walters in 2009  and 2010  as the light bulb moment that illuminated a path to health that had eluded all their previous searching.
AIT was very successful for around ten years, after which its previously good reputation began to fade, as clients began to report unanswered emails and orders not filled on time. (See Customer reviews for AIT.) Thereafter, the effects of Lawrence’s assiduous promotional efforts were gradually undermined by the loss of the rest of AIT’s staff and periods during which Lawrence himself would be unpredictably and unaccountably unavailable.
After the initial decade of success, Lawrence became increasingly isolated from the online helminthic therapy community, and even lost interest in the Yahoo forum that he had founded. After passing responsibility for this group to John Scott in 2011, Lawrence eventually became critical of social media in general, commenting on Scott’s practice of data-mining online material for inclusion in the Helminthic Therapy wiki as follows.
Although many clients of AIT eventually switched to newer helminth providers who began to appear in 2014, selling NA by the dose and offering reliable customer service, Lawrence continued to demonstrate ingenuity in finding new ways to maintain his business. For example, after discovering Facebook’s business tools, he began to use this platform’s hidden adverts to target potential customers, and turned to promoting himself online by entertaining his followers on his Facebook pages with often prolific posting about topics in the news, and other subjects that had caught his attention while surfing the internet.
During his promotional campaign in 2007/2008, Lawrence raised eyebrows when he posted in online groups reporting that he had cured his asthma by hosting hookworms,  and that there was a new competitor for Ovamed that merited a look.  The issue with this behaviour was that Lawrence was not posting as himself, but using an alias ("FQ1513") to pose as a client of his own company and sharing the company's website link.
In response to criticism about this, Lawrence argued that he had done nothing that wasn’t common practice in business, telling the journalist, Moises Velasquez-Manoff, that pharmaceutical companies get actors to pose as patients and tell stories. 
After Aglietti had pulled out of AIT, in 2008, and created a website for his new company, he reported that Lawrence had seized control of this, made edits to its content, poached Aglietti’s customers over a period of weeks, and commandeered documents that Aglietti had produced while the two were working together. And a very similar scenario would be reported several years later by Scott.
After Lawrence had lost interest in the Yahoo Helminthic Therapy forum, and having pleaded with Scott to relieve him of responsibility for this group, Lawrence later seized back control of the forum after Scott had devoted months to updating the group’s resources and establishing it as a provider-agnostic venue. Without any warning whatsoever from Lawrence, he revoked Scott’s ownership of the forum, replaced the site’s banner picture with one of his own and made various edits that realigned the site with Lawrence’s personal business interests. Having got to know Lawrence quite well by that time, Scott knew that this sudden burst of enthusiasm on Lawrence’s part would not last, and he was soon able to regain control of the forum. However, he says that this was the point at which he finally lost trust in Lawrence.
Over the years, Lawrence created a network of websites, some of which have been neglected for long periods of time. For example, in January 2021, his helminthictherapy.com site still declared Lawrence’s intention that it would become the definitive source of information about helminthic therapy, yet the information on this site had not been updated for more than a decade. Consequently, this site, which, due to factors that include its venerable age, features prominently in internet searches for “helminthic therapy”, has continued to mislead its visitors into thinking that there are only two helminth providers, AIT and Ovamed, and the latter has not existed since 2015.
Since Lawrence was still creating new websites in 2021, and keeping details of his commercial products and services regularly refreshed on his main company site, a cynic might ask why he was neglecting to update the list of providers on this ten-year-old site with the prime URL, when the Helminthic Therapy wiki listed no less than nine helminth suppliers.  Interestingly, while the information on helminthictherapy.com remained misleadingly incomplete, the site’s software had been promptly upgraded to include the latest HTTPS protocol to ensure its continued high ranking in Google searches, suggesting that the primary purpose of the site is actually commercial rather than educational.
Lawrence precipitated several years of serious division and discord within the online helminthic therapy community when he failed to honour an agreement he’d reached with a community member. This individual - who was known to the community by the alias, Herbert Smith - had struck a deal with Lawrence whereby he would receive a commission whenever someone he referred to AIT followed through with a purchase.
The relationship between Lawrence and Smith broke down when Lawrence discovered that Smith was not using his real name in his dealings with the people he approached, nor telling them that he stood to benefit financially from his relationship with them. Unfortunately, when Lawrence pulled out of their agreement, he made a serious misjudgement by not paying Smith the commission he had earned for previous referrals. Smith retaliated by mounting a campaign of relentless disparagement of Lawrence and AIT across several new helminthic therapy groups that Smith had created to facilitate his plan to monetise helminthic therapy. Smith also began, at that point, to vigorously promote Aglietti’s company, Worm Therapy, causing a polarisation of the community around the two competitors.
Had Lawrence paid Smith what he was owed, the ensuing “dark age” that became known to some in the helminthic therapy community as the “provider wars” might arguably have been avoided. As it was, the polarisation only began to ease in 2012, when Scott created the Helminthic Therapy Support group on Facebook with a provider-agnostic agenda. In spite of this development, some discord continued in Smith’s groups (all since deleted or archived) for a further four years, until Facebook discovered that his identity was a fake and deleted his account.
For many months during 2016, Lawrence was unavailable to his clients, not replying to emails, not shipping doses on time, if ever, and not providing the support he had been paid for under the contract system that AIT still operated at that time. This situation caused considerable, often animated, discussion in the Helminthic Therapy Support group and, even though Lawrence reportedly took on someone to help with customer service in early 2017, the same issues continued to be reported.
During one period when AIT’s customer service was almost non-existent, and there was extensive discussion about this in the Helminthic Therapy Support group, one group member noticed that, while he was neglecting his clients, Lawrence remained very active on his Facebook sites. He had continued to post on his personal timeline, sometimes several times each day, and often at considerable length, about a range of topics that were mostly unrelated to helminthic therapy. This prompted the raising of a letter of complaint to Lawrence signed by more than a dozen of his clients who had long-term contracts. He replied, on 1 September 2017, in a long post on his timeline. 
Some AIT clients, who had had to purchase doses from other providers due to Lawrence’s continuing unavailability, requested a refund, to which he replied in an email:
In 2018, when awareness of AIT’s unreliability had evidently begun to affect Lawrence’s bottom line, the solution he came up with was not to take any of the more usual steps to improve customer service, but to create an entirely new website under a different company name. Using an alias, he then approached the editors of the Helminthic Therapy wiki with a request that they include his new company among the providers listed on their site. Immediately suspicious of the sudden appearance of a new supplier who was completely unknown to any of the wiki’s editors or the admins of the Helminthic Therapy Support group, an email interrogation of the alias was initiated. When this confirmed that the new company was a smoke and mirrors subterfuge by Lawrence, his application for this company to be listed in the wiki was declined.
There are many people who are immensely grateful to Lawrence for the improved health they are enjoying today. They realise that, without his provision of human helminths, and his promotion of the therapy, they might never have heard about, or had access to it. Many also speak of the care he has taken in helping them with their health, sometimes spending hours in conversation with them. However, there are others who feel he has not served them well, and not only due to his unreliability but also because of his approach to hookworm dosing.
From AIT’s inception, Lawrence adopted what is now recognised to be an overly excessive approach to hookworm dosing, starting new clients on a first dose of 35 larvae, and following this with two doses of 50 larvae at 12 week intervals. Aglietti, the only other hookworm supplier during AIT's early years, was more conservative, starting his new clients with a dose of 25 larvae, and basing the size and timing of subsequent doses on each recipient’s individual response to their first dose, rarely, if ever, going above 25.
Lawrence’s dosing regimen appears to have been driven by the idea that the immune system of hookworm-naive individuals needs to be given an initial shock. This notion, for which there is no convincing evidence, led to one of AIT’s clients developing Loeffler’s syndrome (see Too many hookworms may cause Löffler’s (Loeffler's) syndrome) and damage to his heart myocardium. This potentially fatal condition required hospital treatment. 
Once the Helminthic Therapy Support group on Facebook became the central hub for the community of self-treaters, the personal experience that members shared was collected, organised and published by Scott, initially in the group’s files section until the Helminthic Therapy wiki became available in January 2017. It was soon apparent from the gathered data that a not insignificant number of self-treaters had encountered severe side effects as a result of Lawrence’s dosing strategy, a fact that led observers to wonder why he had not recognised this issue much sooner, in view of the large number of long conversations that he was known to have had with his clients over many years.
Details shared by members of the Helminthic Therapy Support group eventually revealed that much more conservative dosing was not only largely free from side effects but also just as effective as the much larger doses that Lawrence recommended. Unfortunately, as a result of his having become isolated from the community by that point, he remained unaware of this development for a further five years, until his attention was drawn by Scott to the Hookworm dosing and response page in the Helminthic Therapy wiki.
After he was made aware of what had been discovered by self-treaters about hookworm dosing, Lawrence initially adopted a much more conservative approach, introducing newcomers to the therapy with a dose sequence of 5/5/10/10/20/20 hookworm larvae. However, even after this change in his approach, Lawrence was not averse to occasionally recommending much larger supplementary doses to clients who were not getting the results they had hoped for. Whereas members of the Helminthic Therapy Support group who find themselves in this situation would most likely be recommended to try adding, or switching to, a different organism, Lawrence tends to resort to the use of excessively high doses of the two organisms that he sells - NA and TTO. Reports received by this wiki in 2020 and 2021 revealed that Lawrence was again frequently recommending, and supplying, doses of 50 NA larvae, and that he has even suggested that some of his clients take a supplementary dose of up to 100 NA larvae.
When accounts of the sometimes very challenging side effects experienced by AIT clients have been reported to Lawrence, he has not always responded with the level of concern that might have been expected. For example, following an initial dose of 35 larvae, one of his clients reported awakening in the middle of the night gasping for air because his throat had closed up, and had remained closed for about a minute, an episode which this individual described as “harrowing”.  When this incident was reported to Lawrence by Scott, Lawrence brushed it off as unlikely to have been related to the size of the dose and most likely due to a panic attack. However, this explanation looks less convincing now that three other self-treaters have reported very similar experiences, most of which followed the use of larger doses of NA. See Hookworm side effects: throat constriction.
A subject on which Lawrence has remained resolutely resistant to accepting the evidence amassed from the experience shared online by self-treaters, is the adverse effect that some substances, including a few foods, can have, in some individuals, on the benefits derived from hosting hookworms. He dismisses the extensive anecdotal evidence presented in the Human helminth care manual, maintaining that, if what they claim were true, there would no longer be large areas of the planet where hookworms remain endemic, and the substances/foods/spices identified by self-treaters as potentially harmful to hookworms would have become folk remedies for helminth infections. This position ignores the fact that the effect of consuming a food or product with anthelmintic effects will be much less of an issue, if it is noticed at all, in populations that are continually exposed to helminths and therefore constantly being reinfected.
Lawrence has apparently told some of his clients that the information in the Human helminth care manual is “stupid and wrong”, and that those who say that some foods and spices can harm helminths “don't know what they’re talking about”. He insists that, unless a substance reaches the bloodstream intact, it cannot possibly harm helminths.
In his book, An Epidemic of Absence, Velasquez-Manoff writes of what he describes as Lawrence’s “self-important bluster”, and concludes:
Although Lawrence’s expertise is limited to the two organisms that he sells - NA and TTO - which are not always the most appropriate species to use in every case, he appears to believe himself to be the preeminent authority on helminthic therapy, and therefore the arbiter of all knowledge on the subject. He disapproves of the use of crowd-sourced information, and when, in 2016, he discovered the PDF resources presented, at that time, in the files section of the Helminthic Therapy Support group, he sent the following message to their curator, John Scott.
When the material in these documents that Lawrence had so roundly condemned was incorporated into the Helminthic Therapy wiki a few months later, they drew no criticism whatsoever. On the contrary, they received widespread approval from medical practitioners, researchers - including a professor of medicine who praised them highly - and many grateful self-treaters.
While carrying out research for his book, Velasquez-Manoff had uncovered concern about the extent of Lawrence's professionalism.
When he was interviewed by Velasquez-Manoff, Lawrence had an opportunity to promote helminthic therapy through this New York Times author, but, instead, he responded to Velasquez-Manoff's questions with a tirade.
Lawrence's lack of professionalism and his failure to recognise the contributions made by others to the advancement of helminthic therapy have seriously damaged perceptions about self-treatment with helminths and those who practice it. And his penchant for judging others who involve themselves in helminthic therapy has extended to researchers. For example, in a post on his personal Facebook timeline, Lawrence took a swipe at Prof David Pritchard, without whose seminal work, Lawrence would arguably never have found out about the therapeutic value of helminths.
Even more offensive, have been Lawrence’s public attacks on Prof William Parker who has, without question, done more than anyone else in the research community to promote the therapeutic use of living helminths. He and his team at Duke University published 24 papers on the topic between 2010 and 2021, but Lawrence appears to believe, incorrectly, that Parker wishes to steal his ideas for commercial gain, and he periodically vents his unfounded beliefs in print.
In the same post, Lawrence wrote,
And he has even boasted about his bad behaviour towards scientists.
Lawrence’s behaviour towards researchers has not only damaged the relationship between the community of self-treaters and some scientists, but it has also fed a belief on the part of the latter that those who deliberately infect themselves with helminths are all dangerous, irrational renegades.
While others in the self-treatment community continue to seek the trust and support of, and to work with, scientists, the goodwill of some of the current generation of researchers has been irrevocably lost as a result of Lawrence’s behaviour, especially his claim to have walked through open air latrines in the Third World in search of hookworms. This purported exploit - the veracity of which is disputed by some sources - has led certain researchers in Australasia to make repeated, rather vitriolic, comments to media representatives about helminthic therapy self treaters in general. 
Other sections of this site that document historical aspects of helminthic therapy include the following.