People cringe at the thought of Intestinal worms which are responsible for a number of problems which include diarrhea, abdominal pains, dysentery and many others. However, according to latest data, these worms may help lower the risk of developing Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Revelations from researchers based at the New York University’s Langone Medical centre shows that the intestinal parasites may negatively affect the environment where IBD thrives. By altering the intestinal environment, the population of the microbes diminished or remained stagnant and lowered the risk associated with the disease.
Intestinal worms are mostly found in regions that have poor sanitation and hygiene, and that’s why the developing countries have reported the highest number of cases. The developed countries such as those found in the western world have much fewer cases courtesy of better hygiene and sanitation.
The parasites feed off the bacteria that is left behind or erupts after feeding on improperly cooked food, drinking dirty water, or living in unhygienic conditions. Their numbers grow as the intestinal surrounding becomes worse over time.
An issue that has always perturbed medics and researchers is that the regions with the highest cases of intestinal worms have among the lowest cases of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Cases of associated ailments such as Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are also higher in the developed countries compared to undeveloped or developing regions.
Data from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the US has among the lowest cases of intestinal worm infections. The region however has among the highest number of IBD cases and current figures indicate that about 1.3 million people in America have the disease. The conclusion is there is an inverse relationship between the parasite and IBD.
P’ng Loke, PhD, together with workmates from Langone Medical Centre undertook a research to find why the above scenarios existed. They put two groups of mice under observation for a long time constantly monitoring the level of intestinal worms as well as IBD infection.
The first group of mice was intentionally infected with the parasite by feeding the colony with between 10 to 15 eggs got from whipworms. They also made sure the rodents lacked the NOD2 gene which is associated with IBD as well as other immune conditions. The other group was not infected and was kept in more hygienic and sanitary environment.
According to Loke, the first group of mice infected with the parasitic worms had lower concentration of the damaging bacteria linked to IBD. The Bacteroides reduced by 1000-fold while it increased in the other sample that was not infected. It was also observed that a beneficial bacteria that reduces inflammation known as Clostridia increased in the first group of mice by 10-fold.
The conclusion was that though intestinal worms cause some problems to the human body, they may be used to prevent or reduce cases of IBD.