Parasitic worms? Definitely a huge ewwww from me and if you want to spend a few hours grossing yourself out, spend some time on Google – there is quite a bit of information out there.
But what is rather interesting is the idea that parasites, such as tapeworms, whipworm and guinea worms, play an important part in maintaining the balance in our bodies. It’s not just the ‘friendly’ bacteria and whatnot in our guts that help our immune system, these worms have evolved alongside humans, or rather inside humans, and are perhaps the reason for the ‘overactive’ immune systems in the Western World. Whereas in the developing areas of the world, thereare less allergic reactions and auto-immune issues but by far more parasitic worm infections.
A recent study at the University of Manchester has established this link, investigating the whipworm, or Trichurus, that live in the large intestine, which have pretty nasty symptoms in bad infections but hardly any in mild cases. They found that the bacteria living in the intestine helped trigger the parasite in both it’s establishment and hatching, as well as showing that the presence of bacteria and worms prompt immune system responces that are beneficial to all. To learn more, click here.