Hookworm Only — Starting Over.

It’s been ages since I updated this blog. Basically, I was doing very well on the first round of helminthic therapy, then wounded my finger tip when I was cooking dinner one night. A one week course of Levaquin antibiotics (early August, 2011) sterilized my gut, and what grew back was a horrible mix of bacteria. This triggered a flare of ulcerative colitis. I probably already had SIBO, too, from years of antibiotics from childhood to young adult years, but the constipation from this last round of antibiotic “therapy” made it all much worse. I then decided to add a 1500 whipworm top off dose, to stop the bleeding in my colon, but this just made my bowels more sluggish and I started to feel allergic to just about everything.

Eventually, enough was indeed enough. Due to a growing intolerance to foods, I had to kill off my 2000 whipworm and 55 hookworm combination with a three day course of Mebendazole (late October, 2011) and start over. On November 22nd I reinoculated with 50 Necator Americanus hookworm and decided to avoid the whipworm this time, since they appeared to contribute to an increased allergic response and most likely compounded the constipation from antibiotics. I feel I can now control my ulcerative colitis with probiotic implants and as long as hookworm reduce my allergies, this will also help my IBD improve.

So far, so good. I’m really feeling better this time around. Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be 6 weeks since I inoculated with 50 Necator Americanus hookworm. Last time, when I did the 55 hookworm/500 whipworm combination, by week 7 my asthma disappeared, so that’s a potential benchmark. If anything, I feel like I’m having earlier symptom relief on round two, and am reacting less allergically in general.

My nose started clearing around Thanksgiving, due to the “bounce”, which is an early symptom relief some of us get from hookworm, then this upper respiratory relief became a longer term benefit about a week or so ago. I hardly ever react to things like house dust anymore, and if I do it’s a more typical reaction like a sneeze, something I never could manage when my immune system was a deer in the headlights.

In October I was experiencing incredible food intolerance — reacting to nearly every protein I tried to eat — with a stuffy nose, tinnitus, and throat tightening sensation. The last week or so I’ve noticed my appetite increasing, and seeing that as a signal, I’ve since been testing and enjoying normal portions of pork and lamb, plus smaller amounts of beef. I’ll try things like chicken and fish at a later date when it’s more obvious the hookworm are providing benefits. Vegetable fats and proteins, like avocado and coconut, have also been fairly problematic in the past, so I’ll wait a while to test those, too.

Should anyone ever wonder if hookworm can help with salicylate sensitivity, in my case I think it’s doing exactly that. In early October I reacted to an over the counter product with salicylates (acne cream and a skin wash) when I used it on my face, and since then foods higher in salicylates would trigger a similar reaction — nasal congestion, tinnitus, increased heart rate and anxiety, asthma and throat tightening. It was no fun at all! Last night I tried eating a boiled carrot, since they are high in salicylates, and barely reacted. This morning I’m sipping a cup of organic coffee (also pretty high on the scale) and enjoying it. None of this would have been possible a month ago!

One of the best benefits now is relief from anxiety and muscular tension. I’m waking up feeling rested, with a very relaxed back and legs, and am drowsy enough to take naps, which creates a virtuous cycle.

Another thing I’m noticing — my face is clearing up. When my gut flora is out of balance, I often get acne to each side of my nose.

By the way, I have a new GI doctor who knows Joel Weinstock at Tufts University, is a major proponent of helminthic therapy, and (as I understand it) has sat on panel discussions with Weinstock. This doctor of mine also does fecal transplants for quite a few of their patients and has told me FT can be really helpful in the right applications, including my own condition. Right now the course of treatment we’re following is to keep things simple and allow the hookworm to get established.

Regarding acne relief, my GI says hookworm appear to literally change the human biome for the better, influencing which of the good bacteria survive and which of the more pathogenic ones don’t, and how large or small each population is allowed to grow. New (and old) research suggests a strong link between SIBO, acne and neuropsychological issues. Note the Stokes and Pillsbury study here, done 70 years ago, and leading edge research is just now catching on to their same hypothesis today.

The possibility of SIBO for me is very real, but I haven’t been tested to confirm it. Diagnosis can involve drinking sugar water to create gases that are then measured in the upper GI tract, but too much carbohydrate can cause flare ups of ulcerative colitis, and I don’t want to take the risk. The best approach in my opinion was to act as if I have SIBO and treat it with diet and probiotics, not antibiotics (which is a more conventional approach). For now, this has meant adding even more soft-cooked vegetables to an already high fiber diet. I’m literally sweeping the bacteria out of my small bowel and into the colon with a “broom” of large plates of veggies, mixed with modest amounts of animal protein. Too much fiber can create problems of its own, like undigested material that continues to feed bacteria, but this mechanical approach to addressing SIBO is short term and focused. As soon as possible I’ll want to eat a lower residue diet.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling well enough to go back into the world and work again, which is great, but in the interest of stabilizing as soon as possible, and cementing my progress, I would like to get up to a full dose of hookworm at the 3 month mark. I’m anticipating doing another 50 hookworm 6 weeks from now, or perhaps even 70, to get up to a 120 hookworm population. Given how minimal the side effects have been for me, I do think I can now handle 70 at once, especially with the 50 in me already, which should ease the immune response.

I’ve also ordered a microscope so I can keep track of my hookworm egg count. I don’t plan on being too precise about this. I don’t care how many eggs per gram of stool they are laying. I just want to make sure they are alive and well, so the plan is to check for ova every few months, and base most of my population maintenance on inoculation timing and overall symptom relief. If things are going well, my instinct is to just let things be and enjoy the ride!

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More Whipworm for Ulcerative Colitis Flare

My gut has been doing incredibly well ever since starting helminthic therapy back in late April, 2011. On August 8th I had to take Levaquin antibiotics for 7 days, and this “stunned” my worms enough that they no longer were providing anti-inflammatory benefits. Three days ago I noticed the first hint of an ulcerative colitis flare: a little mucous, some heat in my left abdomen around the descending colon. Sure enough, a day later I had a slight bit of blood on the TP. Those who suffer from UC know all about this. It’s when you start trying to decide how best to get rid of the inflammation.

In my case, I’ve had good luck with dietary changes, but only for maintenance. The “big gun” of a decadron IV in the hospital works, as does Imuran, but each of these meds have horrid side effects. And with “dysautonomia” now affecting me, who knows how I would react, even if taking a small dose of prednisone.

So I started thinking about that 1500 whipworm top off dose in my fridge. Trichiura Trichuris to my rescue? I downed all 1500 in one gulp. If my immune system needs a “suitable target” for a distraction, I’ve certainly given it that. Speaking of, over the last 10 years, the luckiest I ever got was catching a cold of some sort while I was flaring. It was enough to take the immune attack off my gut, and focus it on the “bug” instead. Here it is almost week 20 after my first inoculation, and I’m aiming for a similar response with this 2nd dose of helminthic therapy.

In an ideal world I would have had a spare vial of Necator Americanus hookworm, and inoculated with those instead. I think my body tends to get along with them a bit better than the TT whipworm, but I have no solid proof of that, only a hunch. Anyway, so it goes — we work with what we’ve got. Now I’m pondering the coming wave of side effects. Since my body already knows these critters, having taken 500 of them in late April, I don’t anticipate the same intense reaction, but time will tell.

I’m hoping this latest batch of “old friends” keeps me healthy until the initial round (55 hookworm and 500 whipworm) perk up from the antibiotics. It usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks, so they should all be “online” and laying their eggs again by October 15th. Meanwhile, goooo, worms. 🙂

Six Weeks — Hooray, Helminths!

Today I woke up early feeling a touch of worm flu. I’d only slept a few hours (friends came late the night before) and for some reason I had… an odd bit of energy. Sure, I was dried out and congested, which is par for the course these days, but I just hydrated myself with water and electrolytes, and then went about my work day.

Trips to the bathroom? Oh, yes, indeed. More than a few — the usual routine. However, my earlier attention to fluids and minerals seemed to help dampen that immune reaction after a while. I trudged onward. By lunch, my appetite wasn’t huge, but I ate anyway. Several hours later, I quit working for the day.

Still feeling fairly good, I went out and took a walk, then settled in for a nap, and fell asleep easily. Not 30 minutes later, I woke up spontaneously, with a burst of… real energy. Hmmmm… my nose was suddenly wide open, my gut felt calm and happy. My mood was… really upbeat.

Taken aback by this, I tried to put all wishful thinking out of my mind and conducted an objective inventory of my senses. Nothing was quite where it had been yesterday, not at all. In fact, aside from the faintest ringing in my ears, I hardly recognized my body. For quite a while, I just laid there, grinning.

Is this the beginning of not only a new uptrend, but what it feels like to be… getting well?

Hookworm Day 15 – Glorious sleep.

More than two weeks after dosing with helminths, I’m no longer on the natural high of a “bounce”. Instead, my body feels like it’s adjusting — sometimes awkwardly, or uncomfortably — then I’ll have a moment where I feel a sudden and startling improvement, reminiscent of the honeymoon phase.

It’s worth noting that none of the negatives I’ve experienced thus far come anywhere close to side effects I’ve endured in the past, from medications like prednisone, Imuran, 6-mp, etc. At the worst, I’ve felt a generalized tenderness in my mouth, and have noticed it’s a shade redder than usual. The solution was fairly simple: switch from an electric to a manual toothbrush. My gut also feels a bit off, but this is tame compared to an ulcerative colitis flare.

On the net positive side of the ledger, I’m finding I get wonderfully drowsy at night, exactly at a time when I’d like to be sleeping. Even if I push beyond this first sleep cycle, I still fall asleep with ease when I finally decide to turn in for the night. This is no small feat, since part of my immune dysfunction has been insomnia, for the last two or three years. Typically, if I miss the boat at 10:00PM, I’ll be up until 4:30AM until I get another window of drowsiness, and then sleep comes on like a coma. Not so anymore. I feel, well… normal.

And tinnitus, which as been a growing problem for the last 5 years, is also nearly gone. I’ve read articles suggesting that “buzzing” we hear is really the sound of our nervous system. When the acoustic nerve becomes hyper-attenuated, we tune in to those frequencies. This may be promoted by a high-adrenaline state, because I’ve noticed tinnitus getting worse when I’ve had a stressful experience at work. Anyway, no more of that, or at least I can barely notice. Combined with the normalizing internal clock, I feel as if I’ve stepped into a new body that’s acting stereotypically human. I could get used to this.

Update: flash forward a few years, and here’s another great way to heal insomnia.

Necator Americanus & Trichuris Trichiura

So I’ve got 55 hookworms now, Necator Americanus to be exact, and 500 Trichuris Trichiura whipworms. Together, they brought about a growing and intense well being, starting a day or so after I was inoculated. I could breathe through my nose, fully, for the first time in many years. I could smell the chill in the morning spring air as I made my way outside, amidst a torrent of tree-fluff allergens that would have had me gagging with asthma, and running for HEPA-filtered air, just days earlier.

Shortly thereafter, the skin on this 40-something’s face was becoming soft and smooth, not rough and inflamed, as it has been for so long. What a time machine. I ran my fingers through my hair, which even felt a bit softer, too, and noticed the seborrheic dermatitis was easing. The scaly patches that had dogged me since my late teens were giving way to a normal scalp, the redness around my mouth and nose was becoming clear and… normal. Never before has “normal” been such a wonderful word.

I tried wheat, and sugar, even beer, and tolerated all of it. Merely days ago this forbidden menu might have sent me to the ER with a flare of ulcerative colitis. Yes, it can be dangerous to throw caution to the wind, and make such drastic changes, so I soon backed off the accelerator, and stuck with my low carb diet. But it was an incredible triumph to have a bread pudding… and live to type about it.

This “bounce” lasted for five glorious days. Then, as quickly as it came, it went. Such euphoria is a normal reaction to helminthic therapy, as I’ve come to understand, for a small and lucky subset. Some who do “HT” never bounce at all, so in this sense I felt doubly fortunate: first, to be successfully hosting them, and second, to have had such a strong initial response as they entered my bloodstream.

Inoculation day was April 25, 2011. I took two hookworm doses over two days — 35, and then 20 more. About 15 minutes after application, a “ground itch” developed at their entry site on my arm, which was quite mild. I also drank a tiny vial of 500 Trichuris Trichiura human whipworm ova on day one, which were suspended in saline solution. Apart from the concept, their entrance was utterly uneventful. *Gulp* Bon appetit.

 

 

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