The most significant of all the many improvements to my health that have been wrought by my wonderful worm friends has to be the return of my tolerance to food because my previous inability to tolerate not only all normal foods, but also most forms of special medical food, was potentially life-threatening. Yet the development that has provided the greatest improvement in my quality of life is the new-found ability to breathe freely through my nose.
My nasal problems began early in childhood, when my affliction won me the nickname 'Snotty'. I was even ridiculed by teachers, one of whom presented me as an exhibit at an assembly, holding my arm aloft so that the whole school could see the silver streaks on the cuff of my black blazer that were the result of my needing to catch the incessant nasal drip at moments when I was unable to reach for a handkerchief - or when the latter was already so completely saturated that it was useless.
The unattractive nature of chronic rhinitis was an even greater drag during my teens and, to prevent it from ruining my chances with the opposite sex, I became a regular user of antihistamine nasal sprays, which inevitably caused rebound blockage and, eventually, effective 'addiction'.
By my mid twenties, bouts of sinusitis had become so frequent and severe that I was sent to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist who said that I needed to have my nasal passages widened surgically. There were no medical lasers in those days, so this would have been a hammer and chisel job, which didn't appeal to me at all, especially as my dad had had the same 'treatment' and swore he would never submit to it again, under any circumstance.
Galvanised into action to avoid the surgery, I began to research the subject, though this was not an easy task in the 1970s, with no internet and an effective blockade on medical information by an extremely guarded and paternalistic medical profession. Nevertheless, I did discover that milk can cause nasal symptoms in some people, so I stopped eating dairy products and, to my surprise and delight, my nose began to clear!
The next time I saw the ENT specialist, he declared me to be no longer in need of surgery as my previously inflamed nasal tissues had returned to normal, though he was clearly bemused by my account of my dietary modification.
I particularly remember two nurses who were present during this session with the ENT consultant, because they were so overcome with mirth - apparently at the thought of someone actually believing that a change in diet could have any effect whatsoever on their health - that they both had to make a very hasty exit, with their faces buried in their hands!
So long as I avoided dairy, I continued to enjoy freedom from nasal symptoms, until some years later, when I developed food allergies and intolerance, which eventually became so extensive that I was forced to rely increasingly on medically-prescribed foods. At this point, it wasn't just the milk-derived foods that caused nasal repercussions, but even those hypoallergenic foods that were manufactured using other protein sources, such as pork and soy. The longer I took these supposedly 'hypoallergenic' foods, the worse my nasal symptoms became.
Eventually, I was transformed into a veritable snot machine, extruding psychedelic gunge by the bucketful, which frequently blocked my throat at night when regular swallowing was suspended during sleep. Apart from this being uncomfortable in the extreme, and surprisingly difficult to clear, it cost me many hours of sleep, night after night. Regular nasal irrigation became a necessity and I took to sleeping with a brass 'olive' (a metal washer used in plumbing fittings) lodged in at least one nostril in an attempt to improve air flow through my nose during the night.
Then, just when I seemed doomed to drown in my own secretions, I encountered the wonderful Dr Wriggly (aka Necator americanus), who put to shame all the many doctors I had consulted previously about this condition. The hundreds of years of collective experience that the medics represented was as nothing compared with the expertise gained by my diminutive helminthic healer during millions of years of on-the-job training, and, within a couple of days, his skilled ministrations began to stem the nasal tide.
Improvements continued to manifest, although these fluctuated wildly during the first few months, and they were accompanied, initially, by some unpleasant, though thankfully transient, gastrointestinal side-effects. Once the full benefits finally came on stream, however, my slumbers ceased to be nightmares of nasal obstruction, and my days became completely free from the need to blow or even wipe my nose. I was also reintroduced to the forgotten phenomenon of crow bogeys - those nasal stalagmites and stalactites that had never had chance to form during the long years of continual discharge but which, now, once again provided me with the exquisite pleasure of being able to remove them manually!
Now, at nearly two years since I began helminthic therapy I am nasally more normal than at any time in my life. I can eat dairy products with impunity and I am no longer a victim of any of the environmental allergies that previously plagued me with such vengeance. I am, at last, free to dally among the dust mites, cavort with cats, and garden in the summer sun without any antihistaminic support whatsoever.
My experience, and that of others who have used helminthic therapy to treat nasal allergies, rhinitis and/or sinusitis, suggests that Necator americanus is likely to offer the best chance of relief from these conditions. There is nothing at all in the orthodox medical armoury that can match the side effect-free efficacy of this humble hookworm.
First published January 2011
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