Helminthic therapy support groups
Since 2003, when TSO became the first helminth to be made available for use by self-treaters, knowledge about this subject has evolved continuously. As a result, some of the information in the groups listed below has become obsolete, so details in older posts should not be relied upon, and details should always be checked against the information in this wiki, which is kept up to date.
General discussion groups
- Helminthic Therapy Support Group (Facebook) - 6,440 members. A vibrant and friendly community with many knowledgeable and experienced members.
- Helminthic Therapy (MeWe) - 80 members. A new group for anyone who prefers not to use Facebook.
- Worm Therapy (Reddit) - 110 members. Rarely used and not actively moderated.
Helminth incubation group
- Helminth Incubation Group (Facebook) - 850 members. A community of helminth growers who are cultivating NA, HDC and TTO.
For detailed instructions on how to cultivate NA, HDC and TTO, see Helminth incubation methods.
History of the helminthic therapy groups
Helminthic therapy became a reality in 2003 when the first helminth was made available commercially for therapeutic use. After a period of development commencing around 1998, the pig whipworm, Trichuris suis, which is sold as microscopic ova and referred to as TSO, was introduced for sale by entrepreneur Detlev Goj. Initially, TSO was sold through Goj’s first company, Ovamed, but is now supplied by Tanawisa.
The next helminth to be made available for therapy was introduced four years later, and this was the human hookworm, Necator americanus, known as NA. This enterprise brought together two men: Garin Aglietti, a former medical student, and Jasper Lawrence, who was looking for new opportunities following the collapse of his marketing agency.
Together with Marc Dellerba - a clinical scientist and Lawrence’s brother-in-law - Aglietti and Lawrence formed Autoimmune Therapies (AIT), which began selling NA larvae from the clinic of a Mexican doctor, Jorges Llamas, in Tijuana. However, it wasn’t long before Aglietti and Lawrence found it impossible to work together, and Aglietti left in 2008 to form his own company, Worm Therapy while Lawrence continued to run AIT from his home in the US, supported by UK-based Dellerba.
Soon after the formation of AIT, Lawrence started a discussion group, the Helminthic Therapy forum on Yahoo, which was the first online meeting place for those interested in this therapy.
In 2009, AIT began offering the human whipworm, Trichuris trichiura (TTO) in addition to NA, and, shortly after this, Lawrence persuaded a number of regular contributors to the Yahoo forum to accept blogs that he created under the AIT umbrella. One of these bloggers was John Scott, a retired head teacher from the UK who had successfully put his Crohn’s disease and severe food intolerance into remission using NA purchased from AIT. Scott had also begun advocating for helminthic therapy elsewhere online, and, after being asked to help moderate the Yahoo forum in June 2010, assumed ownership of the group a year later when Lawrence lost interest in social media and indicated that he was considering deleting the group.
Someone else who was to play a significant role in the online helminthic therapy community for several years was a systems administrator from New York who created a Facebook account in the name of “Herbert Smith”. After joining the Yahoo forum in 2008, Smith told Scott that he believed helminthic therapy was ripe for monetisation, and subsequently struck a deal with Lawrence whereby he would receive a commission whenever someone he had referred to AIT followed through with a purchase. Once this deal was in place, Smith began vigorously promoting helminthic therapy, and, in November 2010, created the (now archived) Helminthic Therapy Users Discussion on Facebook.
Smith went to considerable lengths to promote himself online, creating accounts for his alias on Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and elsewhere, before “friending” hundreds of people on Facebook and adding them, sometimes even without their knowledge, to his group.
The relationship between Smith and Lawrence 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. But, when Lawrence pulled out of the deal, he failed to pay Smith what he was owed, whereupon Smith began a campaign of relentless disparagement of Lawrence and AIT.
Thanks to Smith’s promotional efforts, his Users group had, by then, become the most active helminthic therapy group on Facebook and was increasingly used by clients of AIT as well as those of Worm Therapy, which Smith began to promote in preference to AIT. However, Smith’s strident partisan position polarised the community and left many members of his Users group feeling uncomfortable, with the result that several of them approached Scott with a request for a new “provider-agnostic” group on Facebook in which the conversation would focus on the therapy itself rather than on those providing helminths. In response, Scott created the Helminthic Therapy Support group in March 2012 - the first truly independent group run by and for the entire helminthic therapy community.
A fourth therapeutic helminth species was introduced in 2013 by Don Donahue, a medical doctor from the US who founded Biome Restoration to supply the cysticercoids of the rat tapeworm, Hymenolepis diminuta, known as HDC. Donahue brought in Dellerba - who, by this time, had already left AIT - and Judy Chinitz, a nutritionist and long-standing advocate of helminthic therapy, to run the company’s laboratory and customer services department respectively.
In March 2014, an enthusiastic user of HDC created the Hymenolepis (HDC) User Discussion and Support group on Facebook to share experience with the new species but, like several other helminthic therapy groups that were created for specific purposes, this only ever gained a very limited membership and has since been deleted.
Smith continued to cause discord within the helminthic therapy community until Facebook discovered that his identity was fake and, in late 2016, deleted his account. This action removed every shred of evidence from the platform that “Herbert Smith” had ever existed, and the Users group he had created, and once so assiduously nurtured, began to fall into disuse as people turned instead to the Support group.
With the generous help of an IT technician (who wishes remain anonymous), Scott created the Helminthic Therapy wiki at the beginning of 2017 to accommodate all the data he had mined over the previous 7 years from the available science and posts to the Yahoo forum, Support group and elsewhere. Around the same time, several new helminth providers began selling individual doses of hookworm larvae, thus freeing customers from reliance on the long-term contacts by which AIT and Worm Therapy had previously sold this organism. The combination of easier access to NA with the free availability in the wiki of detailed information about its use, ushered in a new chapter in the story of the therapeutic use of hookworms.
Easier access to NA at reasonable prices also greatly reduced activity in a small Hookworm Donors group that had been created on Yahoo in early 2013 by several Australians to facilitate the sharing of hookworm larvae. This group, which had already become dormant as a result of the disappearance of its owner and a loss of interest by its moderators, was effectively closed in Dec 2019, when Yahoo removed all user content from its groups and reduced them to email lists. This action by Yahoo also stripped the archive of 11,000 posts from the Helminthic Therapy forum, which finally disappeared in Dec 2020 when Yahoo closed down its groups operation.
The groups that exist today are listed at the top of this page. The Support group on Facebook meets the needs of users of all four helminth species in an atmosphere free from both commercial bias and manipulation by those with personal agendas. However, increasing censorship on the part of Facebook necessitated the creation of the Helminthic Therapy group on MeWe in late 2020, to which members of the Facebook group began gradually to migrate. There is also a small Worm Therapy group on Reddit, but this was rarely being used by 2020 and not actively moderated. The more specialised needs of those who are growing their own helminths at home are met by the Helminth Incubation group on Facebook. Groups not listed above have either been archived or deleted.
A different aspect of helminthic therapy history is addressed in the following section.