It has long been known within the immunology scientific community that people who inhabit third world countries have less of an incidence of allergy and autoimmunity. Many researchers have suggested that parasitic infections can play a role in this reduction.

Dr. David Pritchard has taken this research one step further and actually infected allergy-sufferers with hookworms to reduce allergy symptoms and it seems to work!

In 2006, Pritchard published an analysis of 33 separate studies involving parasitic infections and determined that hookworm infection may reduce the risk of asthma. In a NY Times article, he explains that “the allergic response evolved to help expel parasites, and we think the worms have found a way of switching off the immune system in order to survive.”

Other groups are also studying this phenomenon and have found that these parasites may be able to encourage immune regulatory cells to dampen the immune response, therefore reducing allergy symptoms in the process.

Pritchard is currently recruiting participants for a large-scale clinical trial with hookworms as the preferred therapy. Many hope that in addition to helping those suffering from allergies, this therapy may also help reduce other immune dysfunctions, such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and arthritis.

Worms anyone?