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How much would you pay for this man's worms?

I was out walking the other day, listening to an old episode of This American Life, the theme of which was parasites.

There was a story about a parasite called an isopod that enters a fish’s mouth (a snapper, to be precise), and devours its tongue. Then it turns around and sits where the tongue used to be, facing outward. Apparently it looks kind of tongue-like itself, so if you were to peer into the snapper’s mouth, it would look like he had a tongue with eyes. The parasite spends the rest of its life doing the work of the snapper’s tongue, while sharing a portion of the snapper’s food. Is that freaky or what?

But that was just the warm-up. Then there was the story of Jasper Lawrence, who sells hookworms which he harvest from his own poop.

He went to great lengths to acquire his hookworm infestation in the first place. He had all kinds of debilitating allergies that were ruining his life, and he found out that people in third world countries have very few allergies, as do people who have hookworm infestations (there’s a great deal of overlap between these two populations).

He became so convinced that his only hope for a life without the misery of allergies and asthma was hookworms, that he went to Africa (Cameroon, I think) and walked barefoot through the festering latrines of twenty or thirty villages. He said it was absolutely the most repulsive thing he’s ever done. The stench, the sound of the insects buzzing, the hundred-degree heat, the humidity, the human waste oozing between his toes…

Then he returned to the States to wait for Spring to see if he was cured.

And lo and behold, he was!

He then dedicated his life (and his excrement) to saving others from their debilitating allergies and asthma. He believes hookworm therapy (helminthic therapy) may also be helpful for sufferers of other auto-immune disorders, including Crohn’s disease, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Jasper says harvesting the hookworms is not that big a process, since the hookworms just ‘walk right out’. He cleans them up and Fedexes them to his clients. At the time of the original broadcast, he had shared his hookworm infection with approximately 85 people. Since then, the FDA investigated him and found him to be in violation of some laws, so he fled the US and is operating his business elsewhere.

I know it sounds like a wacky and repulsive thing, but before you write Jasper off as a complete quack, you should know independent scientific research isn’t writing him off just yet.

So…If you’d like to buy some hookworms, his website outlines the process. But I couldn’t find the price anywhere on his site. I guess if you’re sick and desperate enough to purchase a worm infection, you’re probably desperate enough to pay a lot of money for it too.

13 comments to How much would you pay for this man’s worms?

  • Wasn’t there an episode of Grey’s Anatomy recently that dealt with worms? Of course, I cannot remember the details other than the human host was suffering a lethal intestinal blockage from the worms. And yes, that isopod IS freaky!

  • grace

    You’d love dinner at our house with three biologist daughters. One of whom is in the process of applying for a Masters program — fish parasites to be specific.

  • Thanks for offering up that website – you never know when you might find yourself in need of a few good hookworms! (shudder)

  • Wow. That’s gross. And fascinating.

  • Ummmm.


    But, I guess whatever works for ya!

  • ewwwww. I have rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and a host of allergies and sensitivities and there is no way. Just. No. Way. I mean, look at the teeth!

    fascinating, in that sick kind of way.

  • Jay

    Sir this is one of the freakest things I have read in a while!!! Dang how I hate parasites especially when they steal your tongue!

  • Karen

    Okay, just saying, if you are using Grey’s Anatomy as your source of reliable info think twice. 😉 Secondly, it’s a little misleading to show the pic of the fish, then tell a story about trudging through poo, and end up with, “Well if it helps you get better than yay!” It’s actually a very NON disgusting process. The worms are microscopic, don’t reproduce once inside of you, and you drink them in a tasteless solution. Not nearly as disgusting as one might think. And the remission rate of those using the therapy for countless autoimmune diseases is staggering. Food for thought.

  • I find the human body endlessly fascinating (I also like to poke things with sticks) but the idea of trying to acquire hook worms in the wild is just yucky. I’m glad it works for him but I’m pretty sure it’s not for me.

    And I’m glad it’s not lunchtime…..

  • I have Crohn’s which is an autoimmune disease in the small intestines that often makes you feel like you are in Hell. Sadly, a lot of the approved meds for severe Crohn’s also make you feel like you are in Hell. So when I found out about hookworms a couple of years ago, I went for it. It DOES work!

    You don’t actually drink a solution of hookworm larvae, but apply it to the skin where the microscopic organisms make their way to the gut. Jasper and Company also sell whipworms, which are taken by drinking a solution. But again, they are microscopic. The picture of the hookworm above was taken with a microscope. You’ll never see any hookworm that looks like that with the naked eye. If you do, then I would suggest running.

    I’m blogging about my experience if you’re interested. Just Google “lukecology” and you’ll find me.


  • Tracey

    Hmmm, I’d pay about $2500. Small price to free a child of an immune disorder that recognizes nearly all food as poison.

    Dr.Oz called worms “proven & effective”. Sometimes things that sound crazy or gross work beautifully such as maggots.

  • Abby, I haven’t seen that episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Sounds like a good case for House too.

    Grace, she’s probably an expert on the isopod then!

    Kara, you never know. Some people feel like they’ve gotten their lives back because of this treatment. I know it’s kind of viscerally unappealing, but if I was sick enough and conventional treatments weren’t helping, I’d consider it.

    Laurie – my sentiments exactly.

    Valerie – yup. I’m glad though that I don’t have what this works for!

    Lene, remember when vacuum cleaner salesmen used to show you the magnified pictures of dust mites? And then tell you that there are millions of them living in your mattress and pillow? That used to freak me right out.

    Jay, madam, I see you’ve linked to spam. But since your comment is on-topic, you have the distinction of being the first spammer I haven’t deleted.

    Karen, I didn’t use Grey’s Anatomy as a source of information. I used This American Life. Also I don’t think I’ve been misleading at all. Not even slightly. The fact is, a lot of people find this therapy somewhat grotesque from an aesthetic point of view. Is it wrong to acknowledge that?

    Donna Lee, you never know what you might consider if desperate enough. It may be repulsive, but if it holds the hope of curing you of something that’s ruining your life…

    Hi Luke. Thanks for weighing in here. I’m glad it’s working for you. (And thanks for explaining how it gets into the recipient’s body…I was wondering about that.)

    Tracey, I’m a big fan of maggot therapy for wound care actually. I read in Canadian Nurse last year that maggots got re-classified to “medical device” a couple of years ago, which makes it almost impossible to get medical-grade maggots imported into Canada in a timely fashion now. So that treatment – which is fast, painless, safe, natural, and without side effects – is virtually non-existent here now.

  • I am open minded to this type of thing and believe it warrants research. But won’t be trying it anytime soon until it comes in a nice and clean looking capsule, approved by some regulatory bodies!