Helminthic therapy research

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This page lists almost 900 papers and reports of scientific studies relating to helminthic therapy and closely associated topics such as the Hygiene Hypothesis, the Old Friends' Hypothesis, Evolutionary Mismatch Theory and Biome Depletion Theory / Biota Alteration Theory.

There are four organisms being used currently in helminthic therapy.

Some of the reports and papers listed below have focussed on the effects of other species of helminth, or molecules derived from them, but all are nevertheless valuable for the insights they provide about the therapeutic and prophylactic effects of helminths.

What researchers say about helminthic therapy

The following quotes illustrate the current thinking among researchers who are investigating the therapeutic use of living helminths.

Although some helminths are known to cause disease and have been labeled parasites, it is now clear that some exposure to this class of organisms is necessary for human health. (Bono-Lunn et al) [1]
The results strongly support previous indications that helminth therapy can effectively treat a wide range of allergies, autoimmune conditions and neuropsychiatric disorders. (Liu et al) [2]
What was a costly and sometimes risky venture into the unknown, undertaken by only a few 10 years ago, is rapidly becoming a readily available and well-established resource currently used by thousands of individuals. (Cheng et al, 2015) [3]
Although self-treatment with helminths cannot be recommended by medical professionals due to a lack of blinded, placebo controlled trials, neither should it be discouraged since the available evidence suggests that it is beneficial in most cases when practiced by knowledgeable individuals. (Parker and Morey) [4]
In developed countries, where we are well nourished, worms are potentially good. If I had Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or multiple sclerosis, I would infect myself without hesitation. (Prof Alex Loukas, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine) [5]
Some patients with milder disease or more inclined for natural treatments may consider this as an option. (Prof Constantinescu, Nottingham University, commenting about Multiple Sclerosis.) [6]
All immunocompetent humans need regular exposure to helminths in order to maintain optimal immune function and avoid risk for inflammation-associated disease… access to helminths is a basic human need. (Smyth et al) [7]
We need to embrace the view that helminths are a necessary component of the ecosystem of a healthy body, and that helminths should be cultivated for population-wide biota restoration. (Villeneuve et al) [8]
Biome reconstitution… holds a promise for exposure of all individuals to naturally occurring organisms or selected variants of those organisms in a way that is required for human health. Such exposure must be considered a fundamental human right worthy of government support rather than an option for pharmaceutical development. (Parker and Ollerton) [9]
In some not too distant futurity, there may come a day when we all take ‘helminth supplements’ along with our Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, and whatever else goes to make up a modern balanced diet. (Zaccone et al) [10]
Twenty years from now everybody is going to have a helminth, and no insurance company will begin to cover you if you don’t have your helminths. We’re very confident in the science, that every single human being needs a helminth. It’s part of our biology. (Prof William Parker, Duke University, 2016) [11]

Reading packet

These selected papers provide a good overview of the potential of helminthic therapy and would be suitable resources to include in a reading packet to be given to a doctor or other medical professional, or to someone who is unaware of the evidence and rationale for helminthic therapy. The first two papers provide validation for the practice of self-treatment with helminths.

Tips for searching the list

Symbols used in the list of documents:

  • ✅ - A key paper/report in the development of the therapeutic use of helminths
  • ⚡ - A good place to start if you are new to helminthic therapy, or if you are looking for resources that would help someone else to understand the therapy.

If you are interested in helminthic therapy in relation to a particular medical condition, use your device’s search function to locate the items that are relevant to that disease. Several conditions will require the use of more than one search term, for example:

  • Allergies - search for “allerg”, “atopy” and “anaphylaxis”
  • Anemia - search for “anemia” and “anaemia”
  • Arthritis - search for ”arthrit” and “joint”
  • Asthma - search for “asthma”, “airway” and “wheeze”
  • Autism - search for “autism” and “ASD
  • Celiac disease - search for “celiac” and “coeliac”
  • Crohn’s disease - search for “Crohn”, “bowel” and “IBD
  • Diabetes - search for “diabet”, “insulin”, “glucose” and “metabolic”
  • Heart disease - search for “cardio” and “atherosclerosis”
  • Inflammation - search for “inflam”
  • Leaky gut - search for “barrier”
  • Multiple sclerosis - search for “multiple sclerosis” rather than “MS
  • Obesity - search for “obes” and “adipose”
  • Pregnancy - search for “preg” and “mater”
  • Ulcerative colitis - search for “colitis”, “bowel” and “IBD

Obtaining copies of scientific papers

Unless otherwise stated, the main links presented below are to PubMed abstracts, with additional links being provided to any full text and PDF copies that were available at the time we added the links to our list. (Some full text copies are embargoed for a period of time by their publishers.)

Where full text copies are not available from PubMed, these can usually be obtained instantly, free of charge, from Sci-Hub, although this pirate domain periodically becomes unavailable from some locations due to legal action by publishers, it invariably resurfaces once its founder, Alexandra Elbakyan, has erected yet another workaround. [12]

If you find that Sci-Hub is blocked in your area, try accessing it using a virtual private network (VPN). There should always be several countries that allow access to Sci-Hub's website.

To get a paper from Sci-Hub, go to one of the following links and copy/paste the title, or DOI number, of the paper you want into Sci-Hub’s search box. Then hit Return.


In the rare event that the paper you want is not available from Sci-Hub, you will be able to get it free of charge from the Facebook group, Get Your Papers, although this process takes a little longer than using Sci-Hub.

Research papers & articles[edit]



  • ✅ 2020 Jun 15 Hookworm Treatment for Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Double-Blinded Placebo-Controlled Trial -- Full text (While the primary statistical endpoint of this trial - the cumulative number of new/enlarging T2 and new enhancing T1 lesions at month 9 - was not significantly different between the hookworm group (154) and the placebo group (164), a closer examination of the data reveals that more than half the patients given hookworms did not have any new lesions. “The findings of the research… show that infecting MS patients with a safe dose of… Necator americanus induces immunoregulatory responses and boosts the number of cells which help keep the immune system under control.” [16] The trial’s lead researcher concluded, “I think there would be a niche for this approach - for individuals with mild disease who don't want to take immunomodulating drugs for life and would prefer a more natural approach.” [17])
































  • 1982 Jul Modulation of immune responses by commensal bacteria and intestinal helminth PDF




  • ✅ 1976 Sept 25 Letter: IgE, parasites, and allergy | PDF This letter reported the first known case of successful helminthic therapy in which colonisation with Necator americanus was shown to resolve hay fever. (NA)
  • ✅ 1976 Aug Serum IgE levels in white and metis communities in Saskatchewan This paper's author suggested that atopic disease is the price paid by some members of the white community of northern Saskatchewan for their relative freedom from helminth infestation and viral and bacterial infection.


  • 1970 (winter) The biology of the atopic response Twelve naval officers suffering from hay-fever “for some years” were free from hay-fever for an average of 2 years following colonisation with the large roundworm, Ascaris lumbricoides.



Take part in the research[edit]

Socio-medical research at Duke University[edit]

The researchers at Duke have previously reported on data they have already gathered.

The team at Duke are now looking for details about the use of helminthic therapy to treat those conditions for which helminths are less commonly employed, such as lupus, migraine headaches and neuropsychiatric disorders. If you have used helminthic therapy to treat one of these conditions, and whether or not this proved successful, please consider completing the Helminth Self-treatment Survey.

Support the research by donation[edit]

The vast majority of research into the effects of helminths is being carried out by researchers aiming to discover worm-derived molecules that can potentially be used to create drugs, and this work is already well funded by agencies hoping to benefit from the patents and sales which it is anticipated will follow in the wake of successful drug discovery.

Far less well funded is the research into the use and effects of live helminths, and their development for mass application in both the treatment and prevention of autoimmune, inflammatory, metabolic and allergic diseases, including neuropsychiatric conditions.

This latter work is being spearheaded by Prof William Parker and his team at Duke University, the progress of which is dependent on finance being found for each step they take - finance which is hard to secure from the usual sources due to the perceived lack of potential profits.

At the present time, the team at Duke have two main goals for their helminthic therapy research.

  • Writing papers, including reviews, commentaries, and policy briefs about helminthic therapy. In particular, they want to push for change in the landscape of the field to get helminths repositioned away from the modern drug pipeline, which is unsuitable and impractical for helminthic therapy. The Duke team would also like to be able to provide evidence to encourage governments to focus on the ultimate causes of diseases rather than on applying ‘sticking plasters’ to patch up sick people, and to concentrate on disease prevention - especially by means of biota restoration - rather than on the use of expensive pharmaceuticals.
  • Continuing to pursue the traditional pathway, for example, by seeking approval from the FDA for trials with HDCs.

Donations are needed to support this work at Duke, and even small amounts will make a difference. For example, $50 will go a long way towards covering the cost of publishing a scientific paper. $500 will help towards supporting a summer intern working on the HDC project. $5,000 would cover the supply costs of the HDC project for five months. $10,000 could pay for a study in an animal model, for example testing the idea that helminths may help with wound healing. (This is something the team at Duke believe, based on available information, that helminths probably do, but which has not yet been tested. If the hypothesis were shown to be correct, this would provide a huge push forward for the field of wound care.)

Anyone wishing to donate by cheque should make this out either to "Duke University Medical Center", with "for William Parker's HT research" in the memo, or to "William Parker", with "Immunity's Forge" in the memo. The Immunity’s Forge art studio website is also set up to take donations by credit card via a donation page. Either of these approaches will ensure that the money donated will be spent on helminthic therapy research and not on one of the other projects being pursued by Parker’s lab, such as the autism/paracetamol (acetaminophen) project. Both the medical centre and the art studio are registered non-profit organisations, so donations to either are tax deductible for US citizens.

Further reading[edit]

These pages contain further research papers and articles relevant to each page title.

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