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Chart TSO Figure 1. Mice exposed to helminths are protected from developing TNBS colitis. Adapted from Elliott, et.al., Amer. J. Physiol. 284:G385, 2003.

About TSO

Helminths and the Immune Response
(The theoretical basis for TSO)

Helminths are parasitic worms. There are many different species of helminths. People acquire helminths naturally through contact with contaminated food, water or soil. Colonization is most common in children living in tropical areas with poor sanitation..

Helminthic inoculation has emerged as one possible explanation for the low incidence of autoimmune diseases in less developed countries, together with the significant and sustained increases in autoimmune diseases in industrialized countries. As a consequence some seemingly beneficial helminth have found their way back to the human gut, intentionally, for the avoidance of immune-related disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis,(IBD), multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and others, as natures most powerful probiotic.

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History of Helminth Therapy

In the late 1980’s, mdical researchers in the US and Europe developed a popular theory entitled “The Hygiene Hypothesis” which helped to explain why people living in developed countries have a high prevalence of atopic, or allergic, disorders. Essentially, the Hygiene Hypothesis states that the human immune system is dependent upon exposure to a variety of organisms, in particular helminths, for proper development and functioning. The reason for this is believed to be that we co-evolved with these micro-organisms which have almost always been present in our bodies. The recent and relatively rapid removal of these organisms from our bodies by modern medicine is believed by many physicians and scientists to be a major factor in the malfunction of many people’s immune systems.

Under controlled conditions, at least some helminth species, such like Trichuris suis, interact with humans in highly complex and apparently beneficial ways, modulating the immune system in preliminary studies while positively impacting inflammatory bowel and other autoimmune diseases. In small quantities, Trichuris suis ova may more accurately be described as having a symbiotic relationship with the human body.