While it is difficult to determine which organism is responsible for the disease, a new study suggests that eating worms may help treat inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s. People living in communities that have low rates of Crohn’s disease may be more susceptible to a particular intestinal worm. Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center examined whether eating worms could help treat Crohn’s disease. The disease causes inflammation in the digestive tract, which can lead to pain and severe diarrhea. The disease is also associated with malnutrition and fatigue.
Scientists believe that the presence of parasitic worms in the gut affects the composition of the microbial mix in the intestine. Mice are full of bacteria, and some are helpful, while others are harmful. Many diseases, including Crohn’s, are associated with the ratio between the two types of bacteria. Feeding mice with parasitic worm eggs may reduce the bad bacteria associated with Crohn’s disease while increasing helpful bacteria.
Another study suggests that lack of exposure to helminth infections may contribute to the increased incidence of IBD in developed countries. Furthermore, studies of helminth protection have revealed that regulatory T-cells and pathways are required to protect against infection. In addition, therapies that use living helminths appear to be effective against several immune disorders. Therefore, a connection between parasites and Crohn’s disease must be made.