Autoimmune illnesses and allergies are becoming a more and more common occurrence. We regularly hear about people with food and seasonal allergies. Many of us know someone who suffers with migraines, Crohn’s disease or eczema. And the increase in the number of children affected with autism has been headline news. Where have these conditions come from and why did our ancestors not suffer in the same way that we are?
There is growing evidence that many of the common conditions we see in the industrialised world are caused by a depleted biome. The biome is the living organisms in an ecosystem. A forest, for example, isn’t just made up of trees: it is a complex mix of plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, soil and water – all mutually reliant and interdependent. The human body, too, is a complex ecosystem. And just like the forest, the human biome is a finely balanced environment.
Humans living in industrialized societies no longer have exposure to a wide variety of the normal organisms that used to inhabit our intestinal tract. We are missing many of the organisms that were present in our ancestors and that are still present today in people in less developed countries. Improved hygiene, water purification and our ubiquitous use of toilets have contributed to the depletion of our intestinal organisms.
The Hygiene Hypothesis holds that we are too clean for our own good, living in sanitised environments, which includes over-clean housing, wearing shoes, buying processed food from clean supermarkets, drinking purified water, and so on. While exposure to ‘germs’ such as the flu does nothing to improve immune functioning, exposure to commensurate organisms, like probiotics and helminths, is necessary to properly train our immune systems. In fact, the concept of biome depletion is no longer a hypothesis but a paradigm in today’s science.
If you look up helminths, the definition will tell you it is a parasitic worm, but this isn’t accurate in every case. Some helminths are harmful and some are not, just like some bacteria are dangerous and some are probiotics. The helminths we are talking about here are not harmful and will in fact help restore our internal ecosystem to what it once was.
Research from leading universities shows that restoring our internal ecosystem with benign helminths may lead to a more regulated, less inflammatory immune response from our system.
Ick, worms, you might think but in the developed world, humans have only been free of intestinal worms for the past 75 years or so. Helminths cause a particular type of immune stimulation. Without that stimulation, our immune systems tend to overreact to non-harmful things – like cat dander, peanuts or even our own tissues, such as is the case in autoimmune illnesses. Similarly with probiotics, while many people originally thought ingesting bacteria was an unpleasant thought, it is now commonplace and accepted as normal and beneficial. You can read more about helminths here.
Due to the growing evidence and backing for helminths, a particular type of helminth, HDC, is now commercially available to buy. Grown under strict hygiene conditions in a lab, you simply take a very small vial of liquid containing the microscopic worms, which gently and naturally reinstate balance to your system.
Content supplied by Judith Chinitz, Founder, Biome Restoration Ltd.