Helminths give chronic headaches the old heave-ho
– by John Scott

I have had migraine headaches since childhood, but these have always been fairly infrequent. Of much greater concern have been the chronic headaches that developed 25 years ago, along with M.E., a type of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. From this point onwards, I began to experience a headache every day, beginning within a couple of hours of rising each morning and continuing until I went to bed at night, at which point it would gradually subside until the next day.

My GP theorized that there may be a problem with the pressure of my cerebro-spinal fluid, but neither he nor anyone else has been able to confirm or dismiss this theory, or to offer any solution, so I have been left to manage the problem as best I could.

I tried all the usual remedies, with little success, and have had to rely on the regular use of paracetamol (acetaminophen), which I have always used as sparingly as possible, only taking 1/2 tablet at a time and then waiting 3/4 hour before taking another half, if necessary. Occasionally, however, the headache would escalate to monstrous proportions and would necessitate the addition of dihydrocodeine to the maximum permitted dose of paracetamol.

Being aware that the regular use of such drugs can actually perpetuate headaches, I have periodically stopped taking them for several weeks at a time to ensure that this was not the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, this strategy has never resulted in any diminution of the headaches and I have always been forced to resume taking the drugs.

My intake of paracetamol had remained fairly constant for many years, fluctuating between 2 and 3 tablets per day - 56 to 84 tablets each month.

During the two months preceding my first inoculation with helminths, I averaged 57 tablets per month. Then, in the first 4 months following the introduction of 35 hookworms (Necator americanus), there was a slight increase in my need for pain relief, with an average of 74 paracetamol tablets being required each month.

Once the hookworms began to "work", at 4 months, there was a noticeable, sudden drop in my need for pain relief, with an average of only 36 tablets being needed in each of the next three months.

When I added the human whipworm, Trichuris trichiura, after having had the hookworms for 7 months, my need for pain relief again increased slightly. This increase in pain coincided with an increase in allergic symptoms, and it could be that the whipworms may have initially impeded what might otherwise have been a more rapid reduction in head pain as a result of the effects of the hookworms.

The following 16 month period, during which I added several further hookworm doses, saw my need for paracetamol steadily decrease to the point at which I now only need 6 tablets per month, a mere fraction of what I needed to take before adopting helminths.

It's conceivable that some of this reduction may have been due to changes in my diet that were made possible by the introduction of helminths. For example, the ability to take a range of food supplements that I had previously been unable to tolerate may have helped. In particular, ginkgo biloba, which is known to have a beneficial effect on headaches, may have been at least partly responsible. However, even if this was the case, the helminths were still indirectly responsible as, without them, I would not have been able to take the ginkgo.

The graph below shows the number of 500 g paracetamol tablets required each month to control my chronic daily headaches during the last 2 1/2 years. Each bar of the graph represents one month, and its length indicates the number of tablets taken that month.

last 2 months before helminthic therapy
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Introduced 35 hookworm (HW) larvae
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Added 100 whipworm (WW) ova
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Added 200 WW ova
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Added 800 WW ova
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Added 10 HW larvae
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Added 10 HW larvae
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Added 10 HW larvae
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Added 10 HW larvae
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I'd love to know how much this progressive reduction in head pain is due simply to the length of time that I've hosted helminths, and how much it has been influenced by the additional doses. I'm also particularly eager to discover exactly what the final outcome will be. Will my headaches eventually disappear altogether? It certainly looks like they might.

Whatever the end result, the degree of progress achieved so far is nothing short of miraculous. To be enjoying not only whole days without any headache, but also entire weeks, is just incredible, and especially welcome now that paracetamol has been linked to blood cancers!

In addition to the reduction in daily, M.E.-related headaches, my migraines are also greatly reduced in both frequency and severity - experience that tallies with that of a fellow migraineur following his adoption of helminths.

What amazing creatures these helminths are!


First published July 2011

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