Miss me, anyone?
I'm in the hospital with my worst-ever flare-up of Crohn's disease. I promise to spare you the disgusting details, but it has been bad enough to keep me away from an Internet connection for almost a week. That should tell you something.
But I did learn about some preliminary research that indicates that perhaps my condition results from changing the environmental conditions away from the usual coevolutionary relationship between humans and intestinal parasites. A small clinical trial tested the effect of giving Crohn's and ulcerative colitis patients porcine whipworm, Trichuris suis, and got some intriguing results. The researchers note that the initial study is too small to separate possible placebo effects, but positive responses in several patients indicate the need for a larger controlled study.
The basic gist behind this is that the porcine whipworm parasites are invasive enough to obtain an appropriate response from the gut, while being out-of-place enough in the human system that they don't pose a significant health risk of their own. The researchers also note an observed inverse relationship between incidence of Crohn's and colitis cases and prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections. If this works out, continuing maintenance of Crohn's and ulcerative colitis in at least some patients may include a routine of ingesting porcine whipworm eggs periodically. While I usually shudder at the idea of deliberate nematode ingestion, my recent experiences certainly put me in favor of giving it a try.