Thousands of people across the world have bought parasitic worms online and eaten them to try to treat conditions from depression to inflammatory bowel disease. When researcher Detlev Goj of Thai company Tanawisa surveyed people who were treating themselves this way, he estimates there were about 7,000 people eating worms to deal with health issues.
The idea is that infecting yourself with parasites is no big deal because until we got better at hygiene, these little things commonly lived in our bodies. And while inside us, they evolved to survive in our guts by secreting substances - and that stuff the worms make is actually good for our immune systems. So there are possible health benefits to having parasites!
And now, a kind of pig worm is being analyzed to be approved for sale as a food product in Germany. Goj hopes to sell small vials of 500, 1000, or 2500 pig whipworm eggs, to be consumed in food or drinks. This would be the first live worm product approved for sale as a food ingredient in Europe.
Some experts say the worm therapy is pseudoscience cult therapy, but others say eating worm eggs is probably no worse for us than other dietary supplements. Does it sound nasty? Absolutely. Does it help treat autoimmune and mental health conditions? That’s still up for debate. But because they’ll be sold as a food ingredient and not a medical drug in Germany, they only need to be considered safe. And you have to be brave enough to actually choke down some of them for them to work - so we’re giving it a hard pass, thanks.
Source: New Scientist