There are many "alternative" therapies for autism. Most lack scientific foundation and some are dangerous.
The latest is -- no kidding -- worm therapy, based on the questionable "inflammatory disease" theory. Fox News reports:
It’s a medication technique that many may be reluctant to swallow, but it’s slowly proving to be a valuable tool in treating autoimmune disorders – ingesting the eggs of parasitic worms.
The use of this alternative medicine is all part of the hygiene hypothesis – the idea that ‘harmful’ organisms might actually be protecting our immune systems. In the 19th century, people did not bathe as frequently as they do now, and many lived among ‘filth’ – but autoimmune diseases were virtually non-existent. Subsequently, those who currently live in third-world countries also have a lower rate of developing autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Eric Hollander got the idea to study the use of the hygiene hypothesis to treat autism when he noticed one of his patients’ behavior improve while self-medicating with Trichuris suis ova (TSO), the eggs of a whipworm.
Over the past 20 years, doctors have noticed parasitic worms help alleviate symptoms for patients with Crohn’s disease, but other disorders, like multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes are also being studied.Some in the community are a tad skeptical. From The Autcast:
Five gross things from Jessica Ryen Doyle's article for FoxNews.com about using worms to treat autism.
1. Using worms to treat autism is gross:Dr. Eric Hollander got the idea to study the use of the hygiene hypothesis to treat autism when he noticed one of his patients’ behavior improve while self-medicating with Trichuris suis ova (TSO), the eggs of a whipworm.2. Telling people how to access a treatment that has not been approved by the FDA is gross:The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved TSO therapy, but there are ways to buy the product – either online or by traveling to another country.3. Calling an autistic teenager a child is gross. The guy Hollander is talking about is sixteen:“So based on the fact that this child had substantial improvement – it didn’t cure the autism, but it had a major impact on repetitive and disruptive behaviors,” Hollander said. “So, we designed a study to test this in a more systematic fashion.4. That doctors are actually planning to put worm eggs in autistic people and study what happens is gross:Hollander said the trial will focus on 10 adults between the ages of 18 and 35, who are of normal intelligence with good verbal skills – that way the participants can describe the effects. Participants will also have allergies or a family history of autoimmune diseases.
During the first phase of the trial, participants will either get TSO (administered in a clear, odorless liquid) or a placebo for 12 weeks. There is a washout period of four weeks, after which patients will switch to the opposite (if they first received a placebo, they’ll get the TSO product). This way, everyone has the opportunity to get active medicine and a placebo.
5. The Simons Foundation is gross for funding this study.