Opening up a can of worms...

I'm going to level with you about something: I'm not always right. BOOM. There it is. It's something I've come to terms with over the years and frankly, I feel like a better person for having done so. Would I say I'm right about most things? Yes. Yes, I would. But! I acknowledge that there's always a chance that I could be wrong.

Here are some things that I've been wrong about recently:

- Thinking that wiping sitting down is weird and wiping standing up is normal. I was wrong. My mistake.

- Thinking that most little boys don't see their dad's junk outside of a molestery arena. Incorrect! After last week's Dr. Reuben post, a few readers pointed out that it's actually pretty common for a dad to pee next to his son while potty-training him to show how it's done. And upon further reflection, that completely makes sense. Point taken.

- Thinking that most men don't compare the size of their junk to their father's. Again, thanks to very kind and open readers, I've come to learn that as a result of the above, it's actually pretty common. And again, it totally makes sense.

- Thinking that Cal Ripken, Jr. is a known wife-beater. Which isn't true, but for years I thought it was and maybe kind of spread it around town like it was a known fact. It turns out that he's not though. I was actually thinking of Garth Brooks. And even that's not true. I was just thinking of the antagonist in his incendiary The Thunder Rolls video. My bad, guys.

My point here is that while I can be stubborn about some things, I'm genuinely not one of those people who always thinks they're right about everything and says good day to anyone who says otherwise. I like to keep an open mind, even when it comes to my own ignorance.


Let me break it down for you. Helena and Laura came over last night to enjoy some rooftop wine and Chipotle action and somewhere along the line, Helena brought up an interesting This American Life piece she heard on NPR about a guy who got rid of his allergies by traveling to Africa and stomping around barefoot in a pile of scorching hot human poo, thereby picking up hookworms. Because apparently if you have a couple dozen hookworms camping out in your guts, allergies are a thing of the past. But it doesn't stop there! So content with this miracle cure, was he, that he starting selling the hookworms he shat out on the internet to help out other allergy sufferers! You can listen to the entire piece here. (10 minutes in.) (If you dare.)

Now, I thought Helena brought this up in a HA, HA CAN YOU BELIEVE THE WORLD WE LIVE IN?! KOOKY! kind of way, but after a few minutes of her defending this guy tooth to nail and snapping at me and Laura for being so grossed-out, it became increasingly clear that she brought this up because she thinks it's a good idea. To which I say no. Just, no. I say no to her, I say no to him, I say no to the hookworms, I say no to procuring hookworms on the internet from a man's asshole, I say no to parasites as an option for allergy relief, I say no to Ira Glass, I just say no to the entire situation. That's my entire argument: no. And I think it's pretty damn good one, if you ask me. And there's absolutely no chance that I could be wrong. I'm right. So there's that. Good day.

This fired Helena up like nothing I've ever seen before and she fought long and hard to persuade us to see her side of the worm. Did we? No. Of course we didn't. Why? Because, no.

"FINE! Then you go on your blog tomorrow and you ask your readers what they think! THEN WE'LL SEE WHO'S WRONG!" she challenged.

Oh, really? You sure you want to open those floodgates? Because we're not talking about the politics of ass-wiping, and I'm not mixing up my rednecks with blue eyes and shorn hair—WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PURPOSELY INGESTING WORMS WITH RAZOR SHARP FANGS TO KEEP THE SNIFFLES AWAY. Something tells me I might be right on this one. Sorry to get all cocky about it.

It blows my fucking mind that Helena, of all people, thinks this is a good idea and given the opportunity, she'd totally do this. Normally that would be enough to make me question myself and think something is wrong with me, but NO! Nothing is wrong with me. I'm right; she's wrong. And if she wants you guys to be the judge and jury on this one, then that's fine with me! I am more than comfortable with that.

Here's what she has to say for herself:

I've suffered from vicious allergies my entire life. The constantly runny nose, the leaking from every facial orifice, and general cranial discomfort. But I've come to accept it. UNTIL NOW.

Picture it: The Bus. 6:30 on a Monday morning en route to work. Listening to This American Life and suddenly I regain consciousness! Because there is a COMPELLING story re: allergies. Apparently there's a cure. HALLELUJAH.

Cons: living with hookworms.

Listen, as the world's biggest neat freak (seriously, I lost a BFF/roommate over this) I can respect the desire to not inject a parasite, but this is 1000% worth the trade-off. And I know that's not a real percentage. I'll take anything Radio Lab's Jad Abumrad says as gospel, but I think this is the most useful story he's done. Slash most upsetting. Essentially, getting comfortable with a few hookworms living inside you means you'll never have an allergy again. All they'll do is sing your immune system gentle lullabies and take a very small percentage of nutrients from your digestive system in return. Parasites are a part of life and in this part of the world, we've done a bit too much suffocation of the good stuff. All we need is a bit more action from our primordial partners.

Listen to the segment. In Ye Olde Western World, we're too clean and we've effed ourselves over. I'm not going to say I'm comfortable with mail ordering Jasper's excrements. BUT as soon as the FDA is on board with lab-approved treatments, I'm IN. Until then, sorry Jad/Jasper, I'm holding off. I really need a clean bill of health. I only hope it happens soon.

My rebuttal:


OK, I'll expand slightly. (Although I don't think I have to.) Reasons why Helena, bless her heart, is bat-bird crazy:

- Let me get this straight, you don't think the word "poon" is civilized, but you're A-OK with a shanty town of hookworms living in you?? Shenanigans.

- I have allergies too. They blow. I've been on a steady IV drip of Mucinex and Claritin D for the past month. It's irritating. However, it is not irritating enough to INGEST WORMS! What's the big deal with taking a pill? Hookworms are like the IUD of allergies; they're invasive and creepy and I don't care how many doctors tell me you can't feel 'em—I'd just rather take a pill everyday. If Mucinex and OrthoTriCyclin teamed up, I'd buy a Costco membership in 15 seconds flat.

- That's how confident I am in my side of the debate. One of my arguments is literally just a picture of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Why? Because it's not of hookworms.

- Because those are hookworms. They're the size of a piece of hair and they wriggle around your lower intestines mooching off your salad. No fucking thank you.


- I can understand the argument that the First World is too clean and we're actually hurting ourselves in the long run (mainly because I saw an episode of House about it...) but that means I'm willing to go to the extremes of drinking tap water to get more fluoride and don't feel the need to excessively Purell my hands day and night. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT I WANT TO INGEST WORMS!

- If it was a matter of life or death, I would obviously ingest the damn worms. If I picked up some parasite that could only be killed by another kind of parasite, which could eventually be killed off by medicine; fine. Give me all the worms in your worm farm and then some. However, I'm talking about a life or death situation. I'm not experimenting with parasites in my body to get rid of watery eyes and and the occasional sneeze.

- "But pills have chemicals! Worms are natural!" OH I'M SORRY, HIPPIE! Does that mean I get to take away all of the bleach you so regularly clean your house with? Maybe moonbeams and flower power will get your bathtub to sparkle, huh??

Look, Helena...I love you more than Hagman and Rasta Pug combined, but you're just wrong. The entire situation is wrong. But because I recognize that there's always the (very, very, microscopically small) chance that I'm not right here, I open up the floor to you readers and invite you to weigh in on the matter.

Thank you for your input and I'm sorry to Helena in advance.


Anonymous said...

Never in my life did I even consider the fact that one day I may have to take a stand on whether or not living with parasites out-weighs the cons of allergies...and frankly I'm a bit disturbed. Now, from a HUMAN BEING perspective, that parasite shit is disgusting. There is no way on Earth living with worms is the better option here. "Oh Helena, your allergies seemed to have cleared up!" "Ya no it's cool, I just swallowed some worms that came out of this dudes butt-hole no big deal." -- You'll be a hit at the next dinner party. That being said, LOVE YOU HELENA!

Claire said...

I don't trust things with fangs. Do we KNOW FOR A FACT that they won't gnaw their way out of your digestive tract? No. No, we don't. I've gotta go with Meggles on this.

Anonymous said...

Are you serious?? I mean, Helena you sound super cool and all ...but noooo..Meg all the way!!

Hallie said...

I've got nothing to add to the conversation besides what has already been said: NO.
End of story.

pook555 said...

Okay, um, no as in NO! Yeah, I watch the Animal Planet show Monsters Inside Me sometimes and let me tell you that show will scare the bejesus out of you and make you scared to death of parasites of ALL types. So yeah, parasites = bad. I'll stick with my Claritin D thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Ok. I don't want to buy myself a one way ticket to PariahLand, but I have to say I'm a little persuaded by Helena's argument. I definitely wouldn't do it to get rid of manageable allergies (then the daily pill is OBVIOUSLY superior). But can those little hookworm bastards get rid of food/animal allergies? Because there are a couple of foods that would straight up kill me. So in that showdown, the fanged parasite actually seem like the better option. But, only with Helena's FDA/lab test stipulation.

Also: don't we have a lot of gross shit living in our bodies anyway? At least this one is earning its keep, right?

I think my biggest problem with this, other than the obvious grossness, is the whole dirty hippy approach to health factor.

Unknown said...

I totally agree with the "desensitizing of america has made us pansies" bit (to paraphrase).

I was all for NO NO NO but then I realized that I've always wanted a tapeworm so that I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight. Which is kinda similar to the hookworm idea. Except mine is totally superficial but whatevs. Damn the stomach cramps and diarrhea, BEAUTY IS PAIN people!

on a more serious note, take a spoonful of local honey every day. it's a less fang-y, tree-hugging solution to unbearable allergies. make sure it's as "local" as possible (http://www.pioneerthinking.com/to_honey.html).

Kori said...

I'm not going to lie. If this would mean being able to finally being able to hold a kitten or a puppy, I'm totally in. I am THAT girl who makes you lock up Snuggles and Mr. Bigglesworth in the other room because otherwise I break out in hives. HIVES are no joke. It's embarrassing and would most definitely let some parasites throw a party in my insides. Hell I'd buy them a kegorater.

Liz said...

Okay, so first, I have to tell the world that when I went to google "hookworms" to get a little more info, my search history brought up "excuse for a dead hooker"...I have no recollection of this search, but I can only hope that in a black out drunk state, I accidentally killed a prostitute.

SCHMANYWAY, I would like to pose another question to you and Helena both: what if we compromised, and magically (scientifically) isolated the molecule that the worm's use to suppress the immune system and use it for allergy therapy!?
Win. Win.

Finally, I would like to echo what Terri said before me, local honey made by local bees with local pollen WORKS. So, we can keep doing that until the whole science/magic thing works out.

Haley said...


Sarah said...

Team Meg.

Also, doctors are flat out liars about the IUD.

My friend had to go get it "trimmed" because her husband could feel it.

HOOK WORMS, dude. No.

Anonymous said...


Grant said...

I can see the argument, especially because the rise of allergies in the developed world/global north is almost certainly related to our high levels of hygiene. I just think that the elimination of parasites in the first place was probably a good idea and we should stick with it.

Jared said...

Ok, I have to admit that I am biased here, both from having allergies for a long time, and thinking we here in the world's best country are a lil too sanitize-every-surface-ever-crazy. BUT I gotta say I could see Helenas point - I love the summer... and puppies... and food. Having one of those denied to me because of allergies (mine have fortunately disappeared... oh wow I just realized I may have hookworms...lolz) would make me one unhappy camper.

I think it all depends on the severity and the type of allergy. Would I be willing to get some parasite if it meant I could be outside during summer? Hell yes. If it was for my nose running occasionally? Erm, no.

Also, no chance in hell I buy them from some guys bag o' poo. I'd rather take my chances in Tijuana over a spring break than pay for the fecal fix.

queenmargot said...

I have to go with NO here as well.

Watch that show 1,000 Ways to Die. Some chick died from eating tapeworms to lose weight. Not cool.

S.Rod said...

So it seems that Helena simply doesn't want to take pills every day anymore. I can identify with that. I have a thyroid disorder and I'll take a pill every day for the rest of my life. HOWEVER, the hookworms are not a solution! From the ever credible wikipedia:

Hookworm is a leading cause of maternal and child morbidity in the developing countries of the tropics and subtropics. In susceptible children hookworms cause intellectual, cognitive and growth retardation, intrauterine growth retardation, prematurity, and low birth weight among newborns born to infected mothers. Hookworm infection is rarely fatal, but anemia can be significant in the heavily infected individual.

So let's review:
- Hookworms will probably give you anemia. So you have to take iron pills. And taking iron pills is WAY LESS FUN than Zyrtec. Unless Zyrtec gives you the following side effects: nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea. Because that's what iron pills can do to people. So not only are you still taking pills every day, you are taking pills that suck more than the original pills.
- Your kids will get hookworms. So unless you deworm yourself (a phrase which should really be reserved for animals, let's be real) prior to pregnancy and then stomp around in "night soil" (that is wikipedia's term and I am DELIGHTED that I got to use it) AGAIN, hookworms are not the solution.Do you see what hookworms do to the children?!

No. Thank. You.

Meg = Right.
Helena = Wrong.(No hard feelings. You're friends with Meg and thus likely awesome, but really, no amount of awesome can make up for stomping around in shit ON PURPOSE.)

Anonymous said...

Okay, I have to preface this with saying that I agree with the shot at the Western world. We're a little too obsessed with too many things that undoubtedly make us healthier in the long run.

But that said...

What the fuckity fuck? No. I'm sorry. Sure, the concept is great, and if hookworms could be trusted just to take away some nutrients in exchange for removing your allergies, maybe that would be an okay trade-off. Maybe even if there was a small risk of anemia involved. (Because there would be.)

But that's not all that you'd get! For the low, low price of stepping in some dude's crap, you can also get these fun side effects:
-cognitive retardation!
-premature birth!
-growth retardation!
-abdominal pain!

I'm sorry. For just a chance at removing allergies, I would not be willing to take a chance at having this many other problems, especially if I ever wanted to have kids. This seems to me like a great case of the side effects being worse than the drug.

But hey. I'll keep an open mind. Apparently the University of Nottingham (a trusted name in sciences, I'm sure) has been doing some trials. We'll see how that works out.

Katie said...

Will the worms eat enough of what you ingest to make you lose weight in addition to curing the allergies? B/c I don't have allergies, but I saw some medical drama once where a girl lost a shit-ton of weight b/c she had contracted a tape worm or something in Mexico. She almost died. And I still wanted one.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but Helena's logic sounds like something White Wolf (formerly known as Heidi Montag) would say.

Bailey@ peppermintbliss said...

I'm sorry Helena...I like your name, I like Meg's stories about you, I also hate the word Poon. I wish I could jump on your side on this one (for I fear you are about to be soundly walloped) but I just can't.
And it is not just because I think hookworms mooching off of my food is horrible. In fact THAT sounds like the best part of all of this, lose the allergies and those last 5 pounds? Hell, just losing 5 pounds period! I would do some insane things for that.
Allergies are a serious bummer, hook worms are inexcusable disgusting. Worst case scenario you are hooking up with a guy and you have to stop to sneeze. Worst case hookworm scenario? Far, far worse.
Which brings me to my final point, and I am sorry to be all southern 50s woman about this, but do you really want your future baby playing with hookworms in your gut? What if they suction onto its head and it comes out like medusa? Poor lil guy won't have a chance in this world!
But don't worry, his/her mom has ZERO allergies. Miracle.
That might sound insane, but in no way could it sound more insane than the original suggestion.
I still like you Helena. But I think everytime you sneeze from now on you should say, "God Bless Meg" and give your tummy a little rub as an apology for thinking of giving it hookworms.

And that was longer than my own blog post today. Whoopsie Daisies.

Elisa said...

My favorite thing about this argument is that you're both so hung up on the worm that NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THE STOMPING AROUND IN POO PART. That shit's gross. (Damnit I love a good, or mediocre, pun!) But anyways, where I'm going with this is:
Point Meg McBlogger. No freaking way would I ever inject a parasite.

Stephanie said...

my mind is so blown that there is even a vote necessary on this, I really can't come up with anything to say other than NO. NO NO NO NO. Meg is so right. Helena is so wrong.

ok after a little research, I have more to say. True statement: "People and animals with lots of parasites also have big bellies and lots of diameter below the belly button caused from the intestines losing their tone." HOW'S THAT SOUND? no allergies, maybe, but you will have a PARASITE GUT. Beer gut = ok. Parasite gut = SO NOT OK.

omg. we're talking about freaking medicinal worms here. Unreal. They thought leeches were a good idea for awhile, too! Next thing you'll tell me, fleas are good for acne, go get yourself a few. Clear that face right up. NO NO NO.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this similar to people taking tapeworms to lose weight? Does the end REALLY justify the means?

The answer is no.

Anonymous said...

Ok, be fair. The guy only went strolling through the latrines of S. Am. because no reputable lab would sell him a few clean, safe worms for home use.

What if the magic of science could isolate some aspect of the worm that would stop your body's freaking out over pollen, or cats, or whatev? And you'd take it in a nice little pill and never know what was in it? Yep, I think I'm all for that.

I agree with Helena!!!! Its a crazy new theory, but lots of research suggests that allergies come from the now idle part of the immune system that should be busy fighting off parasites! (Source: nursing school classes.)

20-Somethings said...

Does this shiz get rid of allergies PERMANENTLY? Like 2 little hook worms and BAM- I can face felines for the rest of my life? Or is it more like a parasite here, a parasite there...forever? Allergies are and always have been my greatest foe, and Zyretc my closest ally. BUT because I forgot to pop that little white miracle friend this morning, I am now cursing my existence on this Tuesday (and that stuff is like $15 a bottle and rising). So my final verdict: If those little hookers would seriously not kill me or my appetite, then I would definitely consider it.

Dana said...

Sorry Helena, NO NO NO.

a nony mouse said...

NOooooooooooooo. No. No. Gross. SO not worth it.

Patrick said...


Rachel said...

As a newly formed bubble boy due to pussy footing around my sterilized house for over two decades, I can safely say that being physically debilitated because someone used a little Febreez to freshen up their gym shorts on the treadmill beside you at the gym is no picnic. Know what else is not as nice as an outdoor lunch on a blanket? Listing Hookworm on your list of ailments (and need I remind you that some interesting places have decided this is necessary; spas, gyms, blood donor clinics- aka places of employment…) From now on the people taking your health surveys will most likely refer to you as Dr. Wormerkins- because just having your masters in womering wouldn't justify you stomping around in poop with your fingers crossed hoping you'll become a microscopic meal ticket. Good luck with the rest of the decisions in your adult life.

Sarah said...

I think those pictures are going to give me nightmares tonight...especially the one with the FANGS! (*shudder shudder*) Needless to say, I'm with Meg on this one....

Allison said...

inappropriate tie-in but there was a larry hagman reference on gossip girl last night: "These Russians drink more than Larry Hagman on his first liver."

also yuckers. meg, you are absolutely right on this one.

Nicole V said...

OK, I actually heard this on NPR and have been dying to discuss it with someone. If I had major allergies I would totally want to do this. Of course, I would do a bunch of research first on hookworms. They also said hookworms can help MS patients and other conditions where your immune system is attacking your body.
Sorry, but I am with Helena on this one!

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna go ahead and take a moderate stance on this. After reading a NY Times article about this dude's hookworm research:

No, there is no way I would infect myself with hookworms. However, the research is interesting and seems to have some credibility, and if they can figure out how to isolate the molecule that suppresses the allergic response and turn it into a hookworm-free pill, AND subject it to rigorous FDA testing, I would be more than willing to try it, 'cause my allergies are MISERABLE.

Also, Meg, the scientist is currently recruiting volunteers to be infested with worms and I'd be willing to bet he's paying A LOT to attract participants...just sayin'....

Anonymous said...

Straight up no.

vKAYb said...

Team Meg. Because, no.

However, I am mad at Meg for making me look at a picture of hookworms this early in the day :(

Kelley said...

My husband has crippling terrible awful allergies and they SUCK for both of us (I guess him, more probably). Not only do they suck when he goes outside, but it means I can never own a rasta pug or any other precious little puppy. I've been trying to talk him into a hook work for about a year now. TEAM IRA GLASS/JAD ABUMRAD!

Sarah said...

I have to pay one zillion dollars to my hippie ass allergist just to be able to walk outside without my eyelids swelling shut to keep the pollen/dust/mold/cat/cockroach/life out.

Humans are already about half bacteria. I see no problem in adding a tiny parasite that I'll never see again to the party. Kegorator indeed.

Anonymous said...

first of all: gross, gross, gross - NO.

secondly, a better natural solution? bee pollen. ever heard of it? helps with allergies, weight loss, and sexual stamina.

what more could you ask for? - and no fangs involved!

Anonymous said...

Mmm parasite in my tummy? No thank you. I also wouldn't mind loosing 5 pounds, I'm not going to ingest a tapeworm.

Just cause something's all natural doesn't mean its a good idea. Dirty hippies.

Ashley said...

Helena, I'm sorry but Meg is absolutely right. I don't personally have allergies, but my husband does and by seeing him leaking from every orifice every spring I have "some" clue of how awful they can be. But worms?? Really?

I can't wait to get home tonight and run this idea by him just to see what he says. "Honey, there's this new cure for your allergies I think you'd really be interested in. Yeah, you just stomp around in a stranger's poo and contract hookworms. No big deal."

Ushma said...

I was sold on NO just based off the Mister Rogers picture alone.

Michelle said...

Wait a fricken minute.

I cannot understand how STOMPING in poop is going to get the hookworm in your gut?? How does it wooorrrkk? I feel I've missed something. I do have a nasty habit of skimming from time to time but I'm too fucking lazy to go back and read again to see whether I'm going vague (as opposed to blind).

I'm gonna go NO with Meggidy. It was the fang-y face pic that did it for me.

Katrina said...

I have allergies, too, and NO.

Lindsey said...

I got enough problems as it is with my intestines on a regular basis, I certainly don't need to add hook worms into the mix. That's a definite N-O!

Anonymous said...

I'm going with Helena. I heard this story a few weekends ago, and anyone with crohn's or IBS should seriously consider this. People with runny noses... maybe not. SORR meg, I'd rather be grossed out than have to deal with a seriously debilitating disease.

Jess said...

worm with fangs + inside your body = Negative.

ALWAYS. Seriously. bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Meg wins this one just for the fact that a picture of mr. rogers was part of her argument

Chrissie said...

When animals have worms, we give them medicine to get rid of the worms so that the animal doesn't die. Why would someone happily ingest worms? Even if having worms inside of me would bring me to a glorious 130lbs again, it still wouldn't be worth it. Get some more allergy medicine, use a nettipot, and stay parasite free!

Anonymous said...

Did you ever watch the show "Monsters Inside Us" !?!?!? Make Helena watch that shit and she won't go within a mile of a hookworm.

Chrissie said...

Also, if I saw something wiggling in my shit in the toilet, I'd be so skeeved out by my own self that I'd go apeshit and scratch my skin off and inject bleach up my anus. So, there's my argument against it.

Layla @ The Midnight Garden said...

No. HECK no. That's how strongly I feel about this.

Upon discovering that one of my kitties had a tapeworm - and had been shedding tiny tapeworm larvae all over my apartment - I locked myself in my room for 48 hours, curled up in the fetal position, and while rocking back and forth, seriously thought that a little cathartic fire-starting might be the only solution to the infestation.

So, I'm going to go with a solid no on this "question'.

The Kuh said...

Sorry, Helena. Absolutely, positively, NOT. Under any circumstances. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.

Unknown said...

Meg, you lost me at "I say no to Ira Glass."

Unknown said...

Which means I automatically side with Helena. Sorry, I forgot to follow through with that.

Anonymous said...

I have horrific allergies that I can't even TAKE zyrtec or claritin for because some hippie nut allergist tested me and claimed my allergies were not allergies but instead an "acute vasomotor sensitivity to pollen." WHAT IN THE FUCKITY FUCK? And tell me that doesn't sound exactly like ALLERGIES? anyways, DESPITE all that, and how miserable i have been due to dc's straight up FESTIVAL celebrating pollen, no no no no no no no no no no no hookworms. maybe you guys have never SEEN anyone with a parasite but its not like you just get it and its no big deal and you dont know its there. you have a whole HOST (hahaha puns) of new problems, which are way more embarassing to explain that coughing and sneezing all over gods creation when its clearly super polleny outside. like you are really. really. sick and you cant eat or sleep or poop normally. im really not seeing the benefits. cant really appreciate that dog or cat or open air more if you're always running to the can.

Anonymous said...

YES. I am on board with Helena.

I heard this the other day and I thought their lead up to the story about how harmless some parasites are helped persuade me.

Also, I think that other good parasites in our bodies probably look far more disgusting than a hookworm, we just don't know so it doesn't affect us the same way.

Mia R said...

A) No. Just...no. I can't even go there kindo of no.

B) to add to the list of other remedies. I'm very allergic to my two cats, but I've been doing a sinus rinse (aka neti pot) 2x a day and I can breath and they can sleep on the bed/cuddle. I'll be checking out the bee pollen shortly, too.

manikarn said...

No. Period. Also what's the guarantee that the worms stay where you expect them to stay and not travel up north and damage your brains! Now is that typical to hook or tape or flatworms? I forgot but don't even want to google..

Casey said...

kay. here's my question. what do the worms DO to you? are there any disgusting worm-y side-effects like they make you sick or anything like that? or does just the ick-factor lead to the NO?

manikarn said...

and on second thought, is this not being a classic case of "cum hoc ergo propter hoc"? No offense to Helena but how can anyone be sure that the only thing that changed in that guy's life is the fact that he stomped on some shit? Didn't he also relocate to Africa? So if you are ready to a. relocate to Africa and b. take those shitty steps and control for other stuff that are probably associated with this change of scene then maaayyyyy bee you get the same effects. Is it worth? Man, I hope you were not serious when you egged Meg on.

Charles said...

I'm sure you also would not be first in line to try penicillin (orgionally came from mould).

Its fine you're not an early adoptor.

I'm down with the hook!


manikarn said...

Sorr about the Drag but No again..

Alexandra said...

meg: you win this one, you always do.

Anonymous said...

Team Meg. The idea of ingesting hook worms grossed me out so much that I purel-ed TWICE while reading that. And I suffer from allergies AND asthma

Bonnie said...

Um, i'd like to call shenanigans on the "science" behind this one. Aren't allergies encoded in our biology once we get them?? I'm not a doctor, but if i was, i would diagnose that bs SHENANIGANS.

The onlyrealy pro i could see in this is the possibility that i'd maybe drop a few pounds from the parasite. Zyrtec isn't that much of a hassle to take, and i'd rather the yummy chemicals than those fangs in my person.

Anonymous said...

sorr about the bag

Marv in DC said...

They use Maggots and Leeches a lot in medicine these days eventhough they were considered Medieval for a long time. So I say Helen is right on this one.

Crystal said...

I'm gonna go Team Meg on this. It's just too gross. The worm, the poop, the poop in the mail. Just ew.

Bonnie said...

Aaaalllsssssoooo....if it's just supressing the allergoc response, doesnt that make you still allergic??? It seems like that terrible/wonderful movie "Envy:" where does the poo go???? As in, where do the allergies issues go????

Unknown said...

I'm sorry Helena, but I died a little inside just thinking about a gut full o' hookworms. I gotta side with Meg, expressing a big, fat no.

Adria said...

No worms.

My allergies have been getting worse and worse each year, and last year I discovered that I'm also allergic to Claritin. As soon as things started up this year I thought I was going to go crazy, until a friend told me a secret. Local Honey. It sounds totally insane (not as insane as WORMS, but still) but it works. Something about pollen and bees and polinating flowers within a certain mile radius of where you're allergies are. Whatever, its cheaper and more natural than Claritin AND Worms. So flower power yourself that one, Mama.

Loretta said...

NO! I'll put my hope in modern medicine.

Unknown said...

Team Meg. Just, NO.

Erica said...

Okay, so I've taken a parasitology class and a immunology class.

You know how that man got hooks in his stomach through his feet? They ate through his skin, migrated under his skin, through his body and then probably did a tracheal migration. (i.e. you coughed them up and swallowed them into your stomach) Then there's the potential anemia, and the possible intestinal rupture if you take on too many of them.

Now your immune system may not be focused on your allergies anymore but instead is focused on killing the hookworms. Eosinophils (which are the primary cells that fight off parasitic infections) still activate mast cells (which cause a lot of allergies). If there is an accumulation of eosinophils for a prolong period of time it can contribute to adverse tissue reactions and tissue damage. Chronic and persistent parasitic infestations result in immune complex hypersensitivity which may be deposited in blood vessels, and kidney glomeruli (where the blood is filtered), producing inflammation at those sites.

So...in short, Meg McBlogger...you are right. NO. Everyone wants a quick fix, but sometimes there just isn't a quick fix. (Shocking, I know!)

But...on a slightly related note let your kids get dirty every once in awhile, it'll save on cold medicine in the long run! :)

Annie said...

OH HELLLL NO! no way. nope. sick. FANGS!

Rachel said...

So, I'm in med school and this blog is so incredibly in line with my life that today happens to be the day we're discussing the so-called "hygiene hypothesis". Current literature says there's some evidence that exposure to weird creatures (read: worms with fangs) early in life can offer a protective effect from allergies, via epigenetic modulation (basically, changing the way your genes are expressed). But, there does not seem to be any reputable doctor prescribing a nice poo-romp as a way to get rid of allergies as an adult. I will, however, make sure to ask my lecturer today his thoughts on the subject. Maybe Helena will get a well-deserved reprieve (or my professor will laugh in my face)...

Anonymous said...

Soooo...I wasn't going to comment, but then I realized that I'm probably the only person reading this who has actually had worms. Before you judge: I am a returned Peace Corps volunteer. I venture that it is literally impossible to make it through the Peace Corps without worms and a wide variety of other intestinal parasites. Ok, that said, being a worm-survivor I think I have a unique perspective on this. And that perspective is: NO NO NO a thousand times NO! Have you ever simultaneously shat and thrown up until you passed out face down on a slab of concrete? No? Then try some amoebas on for size. And then tell me purposely ingesting parasites is a good idea.

ksuzannec said...

I'd already suggested the hook-worm solution to a friend, so hells yeah I'd take 'em. I'm all for it.

Full Disclosure: When living in West Africa I was treated for amoebic dysentery repeatedly over a six month period. Eventually the doctors told me the meds were hurting me more than the amoebas. So I just had to stick it out another year with those millions of sweet parasite friends living in my gut.

MsK said...

Well I was going to side with Helena until i saw the picture of Mr Rogers and was thus dissuaded.... seriously though absolutely NO to the hookworms things! Seriously the fact that people are even doing this gives me the heebie jeebies..

Anonymous said...

My bf and I have already had this conversation after listening to the TAL piece. We live in the Willamette Valley, which is known as the grass seed capital of the world and has the worst conditions for allergies in the ENTIRE country.

We are both soundly team Helena.

Amanda said...

So, I am Microbiologist, and I could not be MORE for this! Over 95% of known microbes are not harmful to human beings, in fact, some are beneficial to us and some are ESSENTIAL to us. There are more microbial cells in your body than human cells. We are alive BECAUSE OF microbes! That includes some parasites.

Getting educated about this is essential. Sorry, Meg, I love your blog, but you need to back up your argument with some science.

Meagan said...

Meg! You should edit the post-it was Radio Lab and not This American Life! Ira Glass has nothing to do with the glory that is Radio Lab. I adore Ira, but Jad and Robert deserve credit where credit is due.

That being said, I am in Helena's camp. As the scientist clearly says, as long as you have no more than 10 hookworms, you never even notice them, they clear up asthma and allergies nicely without any nasty side-effects (like anemia).

I say, why not?

Meagan said...

And readers- read the nytimes article another helpful commenter posted. There have been studies done about how many hookworms one can safely have in his/her body without causing any negative side-effects. There's a commonly held belief that the hookworm actually developed in tandem with our immune system, as a part of it, so it quells immuno-responses to unnecessary things.

To the RPVC- amoebas are very nasty parasites and I'm sorry for your intestinal troubles- but don't rule out hookworm. Even with the fangs, they're kind of cute.

Hoolia said...

I have allergies. I randomly break out in hives for no apparent reason. I take a Claritin D and deal daily.

NO NO NO NO NO Helena!!!!!

NotablyNeurotic said...

My beagle had a worm in his poo once. Just once. He did his thing in the yard; I did my thing with the plastic baggy wrapped around my hand to pick it up and dispose of it. I saw a white squiggly thing in the fecal matter and was at my vet's office in .5 seconds flat.

You don't screw around with worms shooting out of your corn hole, I don't care HOW sick you are with allergies or anything. If God wanted us to ingest worms, he would have created us with a tape worm farm already in our intestines.


Unknown said...

another scientist's opinion...

the same antibody which causes allergies (IgE) is also responsible for fighting off various parasites...so there is probably some truth behind it. and although there are more bacterial cells in the human body than our own cells, some things just aren't supposed to be there, like hookworms. i'd rather have the sniffles than the runs, thank you very much.

p.s. i have a test on this stuff today. thanks for helping me study meg!

Unknown said...

another scientist's opinion...

the same antibody which causes allergies (IgE) is also responsible for fighting off various parasites...so there is probably some truth behind it. and although there are more bacterial cells in the human body than our own cells, some things just aren't supposed to be there, like hookworms. i'd rather have the sniffles than the runs, thank you very much.

p.s. i have a test on this stuff today. thanks for helping me study meg!

Elyse said...

1. Those worms are fucking scary
2. What happens when you're fucked up and you remember, "oh shit! I have little hook worms in my lungs." and proceed to have a nervous breakdown? what then!
3. Allergies come a couple times a year, those little fuckers stay for life once they shack up in every crevice of your bronchiole.
4. just no.

Anonymous said...

1 vote for Meg. worms are nasty. -AT

Abbie said...

Aside from how gross it seems initially, there are some good points raised, which make this an interesting topic. I don’t think the risk of damage from the hookworms is worth the minor gains in reducing allergies that are fairly superficial, like the stuffy nose, watery eyes, cough, etc. There are pretty good drugs to deal with those symptoms, and you will be only uncomfortable should you forget to take them. I should mention that I have no allergies, so I’m likening their symptoms to that of a head cold or the flu or something. After reading the NY Times article, I get the impression that maybe the effect the worms have on your allergies is not a favorable one. It would be awesome if the worms had found some way to reduce your immune response, thereby ensuring their longevity in your gut. However this has some serious repercussions. Like an increased susceptibility to things like viral and bacterial infections your body is dealing with on a regular basis. If your whole system is turned down, that means you might have more trouble fighting off other bad bugs you would’ve normally killed no problem. Infecting yourself with hookworms therefore is just trading one discomfort for another: no allergic stuffy noses, but more infectious cold stuffy noses. This doesn’t even get into what the worms are actually doing in your intestine. They’re hook worms with scary fangs so they can hang onto the lining of your intestine and drink your blood. They actually don’t eat the food in your intestine, they rob your blood of it. I recall learning about hookworms in high school and being told that they can leave trails of open wounds in your gut. They’re a parasite for a reason.
Another thing to think about is that these worms haven’t been prevented from reproducing. So they’re dropping eggs into your body, which makes me think that even if you were only infected with 10 worms, it is absolutely possible for you to catch the offspring of those deliberate worms, and then have more symptoms of a greater infection. This also freaks me out because even if we live in a developed nation in which plumbing keeps the poo away, I don’t like the possibility of hookworm outbreaks infecting people for whom this was not elective. People like me who played in the dirt as a child so as to avoid stuff like allergies. I don’t want worms, and if there are people wandering around with them and using porto-potties you can bet your disgusting parasites that we’re going to have a problem.
Though this is interesting because if the worms’ method for depressing the immune system could be found out and exploited, we would have a fantastic solution to an array of much more serious diseases than the typical pollen or dander allergies. That said, if I had a serious food allergy or something like celiac’s disease I might consider this in spite of the risks. I would probably decide not to solely for the reason that I wouldn’t want other people to be infected with my wormy excrement. I have little to no problem with bugs as long as they’re isolated to my own system. Geh, that was long, SORR ABOUT THE BAG.

Alex said...

Having a harmless little worm hanging out inside of me is more than a fair trade for to having to pop Benadryl like they are pez. Sign me up.

Unknown said...

i have allergies. bad ones. and yet...

Meg: 1
Helena: -100000000000000

Kate said...

I was also incredibly intrigued with the whole hookworm idea. I don't suffer from allergies, I just think its an interesting idea. However, there are major repercussions that they didn't talk about. They briefly mentioned anemia, but dismissed it as though it is nothing. Anemia can actually be a big issue - it makes people tired, there can be gastro-intestinal bleeding. Especially for young children, it can stunt their growth.

So, while interesting, way more research would need to be done before I go stomping around in poop.

Emz321 said...

I can't believe I sat and read 90 comments, but moreso I can't believe some people are pro poo stomping worm hosting! Once inside you they mate and females can lay (remember this is happening inside of you)up to 30,000 eggs PER DAY! Those eggs then exit your body with your poo, thus you've essentially just laid 30,000 eggs!

No, no, no it's just not okay.

Carrie Beth said...

I am Helena, there are other organisms in your body. Worms don't hurt.

Andrew said...

I keep reading "hookworms" as "bookworms" and I get very confused.

And Meagan (the commenter, not Meghan McBlogger), a version of the Radio Lab piece aired on This American Life earlier this month, so Ira Glass is fair game.

Lloyd Christmas said...

"I Got Worms!"

That's what we're gonna call it. "I Got Worms!" We're gonna specialize in selling worm farms. You know, like ant farms...

Hanna said...

This post reminds me of the time in 10th grade when my friends and I found out that having a tape worm in your intestines can assist in losing massive amounts of weight. Granted we were all 16 and had severe body issues, it really didn't sound like that bad of an idea...until we googled it and found out about the other side effects and general disgusting nature of tape worms and then the idea of miraculous weight loss didn't sound so appealing. This is the same scenario. Nice idea but then when you get down to the bone of the situation it is completely disgusting and unappealing. I'm with you Meg, just NO.

Lauren said...

Helena, if you choose to go forward with this please follow through in a location other than our house. I fear for the cats. And myself. And our other roommate.

Liz S said...

As someone who suffers from allergies that turn me into a snotty, sneezy, itchy-eyed zombie, I am gonna side with Helena. If it really works, AND I could get hookworms that weren't expelled from someone else's ass, I would totally give it a shot.

So, to all you pharmaceutical-types out there: Get started on making some "clean" hookworms.

Anonymous said...

I threw up a little in my mouth when I read that. Gross!
I vote NO WAY TO WORMS/PARASITES on my free will.
As I read this blog,it also kinda made me remember a video I just saw with a elelphant eating anothers dung.

Do you think they do it for allergies too? LOL.

Cassie said...

Okay, while Helena seems like a pretty cool broad, EW. EW EW EW NO THANK YOU.

There's not much to say about why hookworms are a terrible idea than what's already been said (anemia, adverse effects on the babies, fangs, Mr Rodgers, etcera). This is definitely a situation where the cons outweigh the pros hardcore.

Especially because there are other ways to get rid of allergy symptoms. I would suggest working with an allergist before stomping around in somebody's fecal matter. I know poo is free, but allergists seem like a much safer option.

andrea said...

NO. absolutely not, no fucking way, no.

Colleen said...

Totally siding with Meg. Almost lost my lunch of Mini Eggs while looking at the photos. Gross gross gross.

Brittan said...

nope. team meg.

i eat locally grown food, recycle, replaced allergy meds with local honey and a neti pot, hug trees and all that but no way. not a in a million years.

fangs, helena! fangs.

Anonymous said...


Candace said...


Anyone siding with Helena, is probably Helena(Anonymous). Just saying.

Hope said...

I am married to a chronic allergy sufferer, and I would sprinkle hookworms in his oatmeal if he could then sleep through the night without having a sneezing fit.
Hookworm Helena for the win.

Hansz said...

One more vote for Helena. You gotta do what you gotta do... do.

Kate said...

meg meg meg. NO WORMS

Anonymous said...

Look at the images of humans infected with hookworms in the paperwork that comes in Frontline of Heartguard.

This is just stupid.


Ginny said...

You guys, be sweet! Helena never said anything about a trot through the poo! She's talking about a nice, FDA approved treatment.

I'm thinking they could make a drug that contains whatever part of the worm our immune system recognizes, some harmless protein, instead of letting people actually have the whole parasite. It would work like a vaccine.

Becky Mochaface said...

No. Do not pass go and do not collect $200. Go straight to no. No.

Anonymous said...

you're totally right megs. sidenote: CAL RIPKIN IS NOT A REDNECK. thanks :)

Anonymous said...

I listened to that episode of This American Life and I totally agree, ingesting worms and having them nom away inside you is gross. But with that said, Jasper's allergies were not just a stuff nose, the guy was about an asthma attach away from having to live in a bubble and the science behind it makes sense. A) There are already TONS on parasites and bacteria living in us so it's not as if it's really a foreign thing it's just a different species of what's already in us. B) The hookworms basically kick start your immune system which is more or less what vaccines do and we all take those. Also, Helena admitted that it was gross, she said she would only be interested once it was FDA approved and by then they would have most likely found a way to cultivate the worms outside of the human waste. Penicillin started off as just mold and now it's just a pill. Mold is gross but the penicillin makes us better so if taking hookworm pills gets rid of debilitating allergies then why not? C) At least the hookworms serve a legit purpose. You can buy tapeworms online to loose weight so why not something that will actually be of benefit to your health long term as opposed to just making you loose 15 pounds?

So yeah, it's gross and creepy but in terms of the science and logic it makes sense.

Bren said...

you can buy a years supply (not kidding) of generic zyrtec at costco for under $20...sounds a lot better then eating worms to me...ick so wrong.

Anonymous said...

leave it to meg to get more than 100 comments on a post about worms. Meg, you definitely win this one.

LifeIsThisIt said...

This is similar to the abortion argument - in the end everyone should be allowed the choice about there own body. If Helena wants to ingest worms that is her perogative. But, if she poops them out and they get into the water system does that infringe on Meg's right to choose not to have worms in her body.

Wiggs (The Beholder) said...

I'm late to the game but I gotta side with you, Meg. It's just...no. You can't do that. You can't intentionally load yourself up with parasites to cure your allergies. That would be like the old lady who swallowed a fly (sorry if someone already made that analogy; I didn't have time to peruse the comments yet).

Unknown said...

Ok number 1.) I think it's safe to say it's not worth it. HOWEVER 2.) you do not have to put them in your mouth, they crawl into your blood stream through your feet. Which makes it significantly less gross... but still gross nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

omg are you kidding? the fact that they enter by crawling through your feet makes it infinitely worse than if you had to eat them. another vote for meg, though.

Shannon C said...

I have the worst allergies and would do anything to cure them but i wouldn't put hookworms in my bod. No thanks. I'm not worm-racist but don't like about intentionally putting something in my system that will eat my insides. I take vitamins which help my immune system, prenatals are awesome, you don't have to be preggers to take them. Helena, there has to be a better solution! p.s. Poodles are hypoallergenic and adorable.

Fritalian Foodie said...

Umm first, ew.-- And second, I don't mean to get all, ya know, serious, but there's a much easier way to get rid of allergies... local honey. Yeah, it sounds hippie-ish, but I'd much rather stick some of that in hot water or over my Crispix than ingest worms...gew. Local honey is made by local bees which get their honey lovin' from local flowers... this means you can build anti-bodies against the allergies in the area. I spent 7 years in DC and was all but dead every Cherry Blossom season from the allergies...trust me, this works!

Damn you mother and making all sorts of sense with your science! I'm going to go drive my SUV around now...

Caitlin said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/health/01iht-01prof.14122951.html The times is reliable and clearly some studies have been done.

Andrea said...

So I read through most of these comments and agreed with the NOs right off, then I did a little research...
My conclusion is that this could be a feasible solution if you had really bad, crippling allergies that could not be cured by modern medicine. The biggest thing to influence that conclusion was this blog entry:
which detailed getting infected and staying infected. After an expensive travel to a very treacherous 3rd world country to get infected, you have to constantly monitor both your iron levels and your infection levels, then RE-INFECT yourself if you infection levels drop too low to help. That means growing your own farm of worms, granted it's your own feces you're using to grow them, but you have to maintain a shit-farm! Even if it works and is safe, it ends up being more money and time than just taking an allergy pill.
So for you, Helena, I'm still a no, but I kinda see where you're coming from. Sorry.

Jessica said...

NO. N-O. Oh, you have peanut allergies? I'm sorry. DON'T EAT F-ING PEANUTS THEN. I don't know of anything on God's green earth that could make me want to swallow a parasite. Unless I was 100% guaranteed to lose 50 pounds and then kill the parasites with a pill or something. BUT THAT'S IT. I'm too lazy for an eating disorder, but if I could just shit my way to skinny I think I might be able to get behind that. Maybe.

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh, I am going to vote yes. If there was something stopping me for doing everything that I want to do and feeling great doing it I would stoop so low as to jump on poop.

CVilleFieldNotes said...

I absolutely would not do this. Oh! and "see her side of the worm" is genius.

Kerri said...

Meg McBlogger, FTW.
Sorry, Helena.

LK said...

Would they make you skinnier? Because if they ate all my food in there...could be cool.

Lindsay said...

No way, I'm with Meg on this one. I have a friend who got liver parasites from eating bad sushi in Taiwan and he was seriously ill for a year and a half. He got sick every time he ate and lost tons of weight. He's finally got rid of them, but now he's lactose intolerant. Parasites are bad news. I'd take a runny nose over that shit any day.

Kristen said...

Meg... you're right. 'Nuff said.

As for the wiping debate, I've always done so standing up. Doing it sitting down would mean putting my hand partially in the toilet. Ew.

Kelsey said...

Hi Meg- I'm a new reader here and I have to say I love your blog... it cracks me up every day. On that note...


Unknown said...

so i was until very recently living in oblivion about the amazingness that is 2b1b. that is until a very good friend of mine turned me onto you guys. i have thanked her profusely as well as reading 2b1b most of the day. this being said, i'm a masters student in molecular biology. i have worked with leeches and i know all of the benefits that they can infer. BUT, i think there is a fundamental differences between hookworms and my leeches. these are too many for me to list and so for brevity, i have to agree with meg. hookworms=bad. sorry helena.

Kelsey said...

Team Meg all the way! Organisms actually LIVING inside of me is just not ok...

Cari said...

ugh no.

Steph said...

EW EW AND MORE EW! sorry helena, but i am solidly on team meg for this one

Raquel said...

Do you "ingest" them or stand on them. Because that makes a HUGE difference to me. HUGE. That being said Meg, with your allergies HOW can you not appreciate never taking a Zyrtec again? Never having EVERY.SINGLE.PERSON. in your life ask if you're sick. Every fucking day. No no no I side with Helena. Plus if it was on Radio Lab or "This American Life" it's pretty much gospel.

molly said...

TOO GROSS. NO is the right answer.

tiny_little_dot said...

I have a friend who told me that hookworms are also a possible treatment of auto-immune digestive diseases like ulcerative colitis and crohns.

But that's like, curing/greatly reducing the effects of a debilitating disease. Not the sniffles.

Kristen Scioli White said...

Oh wow. I listened to this episode the other weekend. Thought it was interesting but I wouldn't do it. No way, impossible to manage the way those suckers multiply.

Ira Glass rocks my world generally, though I must say.

ashzilla said...


Symptoms of Hookworm:

The list of signs and symptoms mentioned in various sources for Hookworm includes the 24 symptoms listed below:

Symptoms from entry of the worms into the body:

Itchy foot
Ground itch
Pimply rash at worm entry site
Foot pimply rash

Lung symptoms - when the larvae of the worms are temporarily in the lungs from where they later move to the intestines

Gastrointestinal symptoms - when the worms infest the bowel or intestines:
Vague abdominal pain
Intestinal cramps
Abdominal colic
Gastrointestinal bleeding
Blood in stool
Black stools

For details see also symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding

Anemia - from gastrointestinal bleeding and from worms sucking blood; see symptoms of anemia including:

For details see also symptoms of anemia
Worm eggs in stool


Unknown said...

I don't have allergies so I don't feel like I can answer this fairly, but I can't say I'd be putting worms in my body to get rid of something that wasn't life or death shiz.

Chad said...

Sweet mother of worms... f that nonsense. I would rather have the worst allergies every second of my life than to have worms wiggling around in my guts. Disgusting dude. No chance, not ever, not in any possible situation is this an acceptable solution. Take Zyrtec and be quiet.

Anonymous said...

I like this idea, Helena wants to get rid of her allergies (which can be HELL) and I applaud her. Meg do you know how many living organisms are in/on your body right now! So some little worms in your gut are nothing. GOOD ON YA HELENA.

Brittany said...

Wikipedia has also commented on hookworms as such:

"Recent research into the clinical effectiveness of Whipworm ova (Trichuris suis) and Hookworm (Necator americanus) for the treatment of certain immunological diseases and allergies means that these organisms must be classified as Immuno-therapeutic agents. Helminthic therapy is being investigated as a potentially highly effective treatment for the symptoms and or disease process in disorders such as relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis[36], Crohn’s[37][38][39], allergies and asthma[40].
The precise mechanism of how the helminths modulate the immune response, ensuring their survival in the host and incidentally effectively modulating autoimmune disease processes, is currently unknown. However, several broad mechanisms have been postulated, such as a re-polarisation of the Th1 / Th2 response,[41] and modulation of dendritic cell function by Fujiwara[42] and Carvalho[43]. That helminths modulate host immune response is proven, as the core assertion of the hygiene hypothesis appears to have been, with the recent publication of a study demonstrating that co-evolution with helminths has shaped at least some of the genes associated with Interleukin expression and immunological disorders, like Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis and Celiac Disease. Much of the research that has been published now indicates a key role, for what have been traditionally regarded as disease causing organisms, the helminths, in down regulating the pro-inflammatory Th1 cytokines, IL-12 (Interleukin-12), Interferon-Gamma (IFN-γ) and Tumour Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-ά), while promoting the production of regulatory Th2 cytokines such as IL-10 IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13.[41][44]"

So obviously, with anything, there are bad things and good things about hookworms. Thank God I'm only allergic to certain drugs.

Erin said...

I just vomited in my oatmeal.

Yiz said...

Alert: I am geeking out this comment

First, all of modern medication actually came from itty bitty bacteria to fight the itty bitty bacteria in your body. So gross out factor is kind of out, considering what penicillin looks like as a fungus. AND the good allergy medication is now behind the counter because of the pseudophedrine (and who knew if that was good for you in the first place especially if it is the primary ingredient in Meth (though that may have more to do with the battery acid than the pseudophedrine))

AND if you have really bad seasonal allergies, and keep in mind that all allergies decrease the effectiveness of your immune system, with untreated allergies you aren't just "uncomfortable" you are opening yourself up for worse opportunistic infections. (bugs that live on your skin, and if they find out your immune system is compromised they are planning on having a party in your lungs called PNEUMONIA)

BUT... there are NO SCIENTIFIC TRIALS supporting the use of worms. AND self medication of really anything stronger than 1 zyrtec a day/ bayer aspirin is seriously harmful to your system. Especially considering that worms don't cause you to lose weight, they cause you to become malnourished (which then causes weight loss), and like it does, you either die OF STARVATION NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU ARE EATING or you fuck with your metabolism and once it is gone you balloon out like the south during carnival season (mmm fried dough).

Helena, I love you, i dealt with your neatness for an entire year. And, I'm EXTREMELY messy. And I still love you. But, I'm going to say "No", not because of grossness, but because I love you and worms can kill you. LIKE, KILL YOU.

For future reference: any time there is any medical style question, I would "pubmed" the shit out of it.

Also, for natural allergy relief increase your intake of red wine, and switch your coffee to tea. Unlike honey, which actually has no scientific proof of relieving allergies (it's a placaebo effect that hippies started and TONS of scientists tested... sorry kids, no honey group felt relief from allergies), tea, red wine, grapefruit, onions all contain a compound that has significant proof to reducing allergies.

Ok... sorry to geek out!

Anonymous said...

Deriving medicinal value from potentially harmful organisms has been happening forever.

Like many people mentioned, penicillin mold is one example.

If you have ever gone to the eye-doctor and had your pupils dilated, they may have used atropine, which is a deadly poison if ingested, and is the chemical that makes certain mushrooms deadly. It's also used to treat glaucoma, after cardiac arrests, and to counteract mushroom poisoning.

The chemical that makes poison dart frogs harmful can be used as a muscle relaxant or heart stimulant.

We inject partially-killed viruses into our system all the time as vaccines.

We need bacteria inside us to stay alive and healthy.

Leeches are still sometimes used in modern medicine.

The hookworm thing is just another example. It's in the first crude stages of being evaluated for its medicinal value...the idea would be to eventually extract the chemical it uses to suppress allergies and turn it into medicine...no one's really saying people should go around ingesting hookworms to treat their allergies.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, to amend above comment, atropine comes from a deadly plant, not a mushroom.

Deb said...

I opt for going back in time and playing in the dirt more so as not to develop allergies in the first place.

Seeing as that's not actually an option, the hookworm method seems kind of like introducing non-native species to eat small insects. Next thing you know there's 30 million of them (possum-New Zealand). 30 million hook-worms in your gut? Yeah I think you should just deal with the sneezing.

Miss La said...

While there may be some potential pros to the hookworm theory, the fact is as of this very moment, if you want to clear your allergy symptoms via tiny parasitic creatures, the only way you can do that is to buy some parasite-infested doo doo off some random guy's web site. Sketch? Totally. Worth it? Probably not.

While it's totally possible this guy really truly just wants to spread his knowledge for this special remedy, it's more likely that he just wants to make a few bucks to pay off that expensive trip to Africa and regain a small bit of his dignity that these hookworms chewed from him. And after this whack-job decided he could make a semi-lucrative business at this, what's to stop the next shcmo on the sidewalk from opening up his own little poo farm? Which brings up another point: do you only have to stand knee-deep in this specific person's poo who has been exposed to hookworms, or can it just be any regular old poo? AND, how can you tell that the poo has hookworms? They don't exactly seem visible to the naked human eye.

So, based on the information presented here: buying supposedly hookwork-infested excrements from shady random guys=epic fail.

Mollie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
holly pocket said...

NO NO NO! No to poo-stomping parties, no to swallowing intestinal parasites from some other guy's pooper, just...NO!

I suffer from allergies and I love furry animals and flowers and trees and sunshine...but no.

My boyfriend, however, says that he would do anything (including ingesting parasites from another dude's butt, apparently) to be rid of his allergies and be able to breathe through his nose again.

I'm sure Helena's awesome, but I'm on Team Meg with this one.

Mingosthename said...

Meg I don't see what the big deal is. I walk around in feces all the time! Sure I have hookworms, a tapeworm, a stomach virus, and salmonella, but I also don't have allergies. I think it's a fair trade.

Mingosthename said...

Also This:

mrs. darling said...

i know i'm late to this party but OH MY WORD. NO. NO. NO. meg, you WIN. i used to live in west africa and i've had intestinal worms and you do not want to mess with that shit. it was horrific. i was encouraged to take a DE-WORMING PILL every six months, "just to be safe." what the hell? WHO WOULD DO THIS ON PURPOSE?! i'll take the sniffles, thankyouverymuch.

Unknown said...

Alright hippies, here is why it is and will always be a NO. Yeah its natural and yeah there's germs everywhere but let me just inform you of a little thing called the "The Guinea Worm".

Now that mother fucker can grow to be over 2 feet long and will CRAWL OUT YOUR BLISTERS! Educate yourself. http://www.dhpe.org/infect/guinea.html True f*ing story.

Now I ask you, do you want that bitches cousin playing house in your intestines???

Anna said...

OMG FANGS No! Just take Nasocort/Rhinocort - its a steroid and its beautiful.

People ingest tapeworms to lose weight using the same logic.

Jessica Deering said...

Personally, I just suffer through the sniffles for a couple of weeks. No pills, DEFINITELY no parasites. Eventually they lighten up. Maybe I just get used to it... Yeah, we're way too clean. I'm down for not bleaching everything into oblivion. I might even take the sterilized maggots to eat rotting flesh so my wounds could heal, if need be. But Meg's right. No.

heatherbird said...

I agree with both sides.
1. Why I agree with Meg - (first time commenter - long time reader. LOVE YOU) eeeww gross.
2. Why I agree with Helena - Dctors and Scientists(not completely aligned with the pharma industry - don't read 'consipiracy theory' into that too much) have long espoused the view that the reason that so many people have allergies in our post-indutrial world when other generations did not have such rampant allergies, is specifically because most people no longer live on farms and thus do not live near animal feces. No joke - I have read numerous articles on this for the past 5+ years about how when humans lived in closer proximity to animals, and thier feces, humans had less allergies. I only took one logic class in college, but I did learn that if A = B and B = C, then A = C. and I think that translates to, yes, parasites from feces ward off allergies.

Full disclosure - I don't suffer from allergies.

All that being said - there is no way I would do this. None. What. So. Ever.

Meagan said...

i wouldn't eat some dude's poo-worms. but i'm totally with helena on the fact that if the FDA found some way to approve and market hookworms as a legit allergy cure, i'd let them live in my gut, no problemo.

Ash said...

Yo, I lived with a parasite in my person while on a trip to Mexico for 5 weeks - that shit is no joke and I would never, in a gazillion years, wish that on my worst enemy - let alone my sister.


Birdie said...

I knew a girl who also got these lil worms. Know wha huppen? THEY MULTIPLIED AND GREW AND SOON SHE WAS EATING WHOLE F'ING CHICKENS AND STILL DROPPING WEIGHT LIKE A LIGHTWEIGHT WRESTLER A WEEK BEFORE THE SEMIFINALS. So, no. Plus you know how EXPENSIVE it must be to buy whole chix for dinz? Like feeding a family of 5 but without the street cred.

Rachel said...

So I very rarely read your blog (I know, I'm a horrible ex-roommate...sidenote-321 blastoff). However, after a very long, strange day I decided to take a break from my mountains of work and lost myself in the world of Meg.

And low and behold I find an article about hook worm. Gross.

Now, Peace Corps and living on a small island taught me a lot of things. I learned a lot about bucket showers, spear fishing, AND worms. Yes, I had wormS (multiple times). So gross. The only redeeming quality was I lost a tooooon of weight-it was better than any diet system they sell in the US. Other than that, NOT FUN. More uncomfortable and painful than allergies. And to add insult to injury I did not have a bathroom but rather two choices: a) a hole in the ground or b) the ocean. Imagine that one...

So, as much as I love Helena, I am going to have to side with Meg on this one. WORMS = NOT FUN.

Sorry, Helena!

Miss you two ladies.

Peace, Love and Worms,

Anonymous said...

jesus, meg! 166 comments on this!

Maren said...

I know this debate is waaay over (ew worms no way), but I saw this today in NYT and thought "ahh, another reason to not order worms over the internet: you might get these worms instead and have them DANGLING OUT OF YOUR BODY"


Guinea worms grow up to a yard long inside the body and finally poke out through the skin. They cause excruciating pain and must be pulled out slowly, an inch or two a day. In endemic areas like this district in Lakes State of southern Sudan, people can have a dozen Guinea worms dangling from their bodies.


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