If, like most people nowadays, you’re terribly concerned with keeping yourself and your kids completely germ-free at all times, you may want to reconsider. I’ve just read about some recent scientific discoveries that shore up my belief that cleanliness isn’t next to godliness, after all.
Here are some of the interesting stories I came across as I ankled across the internet doing research on the relationship between how healthy we are and how clean we are.
Helminthic therapy, or treatment with worms that are usually considered parasitic, is not something most of us would want to contemplate. However, it’s already being tried on autoimmune diseases, autism, MS, IBS and asthma.
Researchers are also interested in how it might affect inflammation in the body, even when there’s no obvious disease causing it. Patients are injected with worm ova at intervals, depending on the type of helminth involved and its lifespan. Reportedly, there is a high rate of improvement in some diseases, compared to conventional therapies, although there are side effects, sometimes severe ones.
I would think that the biggest hurdle would be just getting people to consider the idea of being injected with parasites that mankind has spent most of its history trying to eradicate, but I suppose if you’re sick enough, you can endure anything that promises a chance at a normal life. That is, if you can call hosting parasites for a few months to a few years normal.
Not quite as radical as the worm therapy, getting dirty is looking like the way to go if you want to be healthy. Scientists have discovered that there’s a bacteria in the soil that encourages the human body to make serotonin. This little Prozac mimic also seems to be connected to a bacteria that causes tuberculosis, but further research is needed to determine the connection.
For now, researchers are working on whether the organism will be of use in fighting Depression. I’d say it might explain why those of us who garden always feel better after we dig around in the dirt for awhile, wouldn’t you?
And now, unfortunately, I have to report that although leech therapy is still hanging in there, maggot therapy turns out to be slightly less successful than it first appeared to be. I know I was pretty chuffed about it, but we’ll all have to ramp down our expectations a little. While it does help somewhat at debriding, it’s not all that great at the healing part. Still, what can you expect from the larval stage of a fly anyhow?