Parasitic Intestinal Worms Used as Treatment Therapy for Autistic Adults

Dr Eric Hollander – Director of the Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Program at Montefiore Medical Centre in New York City has recently conduct two studies involving worms and hot baths for the autism therapy.

The Whipworm study involved 10 adults who have high functioning Autism who ate whipworm eggs for 12 weeks. Around 2,500 eggs were ingested every 2 weeks. Study participants also spent a further 12 weeks on an inactive placebo medication.

Dennis Thompson from Health.com reports the study found that the adults involved experienced an improvement in their behaviours. The Autistic adults became more adaptable and showed decreased repetitive actions.

Dr Hollander and fellow researchers believe that the presence of the worms help the body to regulate its immune response which in turn reduces the individuals immune levels.

“The whipworm doesn’t reproduce in the gut, and it doesn’t penetrate the intestines, so it doesn’t cause illness in humans,”

The gut clears itself very 2 weeks which is the reason why participants in the study had to be re treated every 2 weeks.

Dr Hollander voiced that the main side effect from eating whipworm eggs is diarrhoea and this occurred as often in the placebo group.

Dr Hollander states:

“We found these individuals had less discomfort associated with a deviation in their expectations,”

He then adds:

“They were less likely to have a temper tantrum or act out.”

However Health.com reports that Rob Ring, chief science officer of Autism Speaks has some doubts surrounding the use and effectiveness of using whipworms as a way of treating other diseases related to the immune system. Mr Ring is quoted as saying:

“I think it’s still a ways away before we know whether these treatments are going to be effective,”

He then adds:

“But these findings are helping put us on a road to better understand these effects.”

Dr Hollander is planning on following up the whipworm study with a larger sample study that will contain young patients and lower-functioning adults with Autism. He also conducted another study into the therapeutic use of hat baths for Autistic children which found to improve symptoms.

‘Inflammation caused by a hyperactive immune system, which is suspected to contribute to autism, is the link between the two unusual but potentially effective treatments.’

Hot baths, Dr Hollander believes can trick the body into thinking it has a fever which then releases protective anti-inflammatory signals.

The bath study involved 15 Autistic children. They spent alternative days soaking in a 102-degree hot tub and then a 98-degree hot tub.

Improved social behaviours were found on days when they soaked in the hotter tub.

Mr Ring is quoted as saying:

“Parents have said when their child got fevers; they see a marked improvement in autism symptoms,”

He carries on:

“This has been reported for years. This study is just one angle you can take experimentally to get at whether this is a true response.”

More information on whipworms can be found here