Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pain and Suffering In the Name of Science

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Eating Roundworm Eggs

In a study published Dec. 2, doctors told the story of a 36-year-old California man who swallowed worm eggs to treat his inflammatory bowel disease. The anonymous man visited a doctor in Thailand and swallowed the eggs of a human roundworm that infects the large intestine. It wasn’t a complete lark — the man had brushed up on the medical literature and knew that several researchers have proposed worm therapy to provide relief for anything from Crohn’s disease to asthma.

But his leap of faith paid off. Within a year of gulping down roundworm eggs, his symptoms had all but disappeared, scientists said. They explain that his body produced mucus in an effort to expel the worms, and the thick fluid coated the man’s intestines, soothing the ulcers in the lining of his colon.

This photo shows Trichuris trichiura roundworm eggs taken during a colonoscopy.

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