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Drinking Pig Worms to Fight Crohn's Disease

Eight years ago, Herbert Smith (not his real name) did the unthinkable -- he swallowed thousands of microscopic pig whipworm eggs in a desperate try to quell his advancing Crohn's disease.

"There was nothing to it," said Smith, a 33-year old financial analyst from New York. "It was drinking half a cup of salty water."

Then something incredible happened. After he had swallowed 2,500 worm eggs every two weeks for three months, his symptoms started to wane.

"I was definitely ecstatic," he said. "The symptom reduction was pretty drastic."

In Crohn's disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks the intestines, causing diarrhea, pain, bleeding and infections. But after drinking worm eggs, markers of inflammation in Smith's blood started to drop. And even his doctor "was cautiously optimistic," he said.

Today, researchers are eagerly studying the experimental therapy in multicenter clinical trials across the United States and Europe.
 
 

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