Worm therapy. Intentional infection with worms to treat another disease. Now that’s appealing, isn’t it? But worm therapy has some real benefits in inflammatory bowel disease and maybe in some other diseases.
Inflammatory bowel disease includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These two diseases cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and bleeding.
Helminths are parasitic worms which infect more than a third of the population of the world, usually in warm climates in underdeveloped countries with poor sanitation. Inflammatory bowel disease is less common in these areas and is more common in developed countries with better sanitation and lower rates of infection with intestinal parasites.
It is thought that intestinal parasite infections benefit patients with inflammatory bowel disease by suppressing the overactive immune system which causes these diseases. Infection of patients with the pork whipworm has shown benefits for patients with Crohn’s disease. Infection with the same parasite had similar benefits in ulcerative colitis.
According to an urban legend, possibly true, in the past people swallowed parasite eggs to set up an intestinal infection to cause weight loss. There is no medical documentation that this is safe or effective.
Is the Patient the Enemy?
One of my colleagues recently said “A doctor has three enemies: the insurance company, the hospital, and the patient.” I found this statement very disturbing. It isn’t news that insurance companies and hospitals view us as cash cows at best. At worst, they would like to cut our throats as long we could keep working afterwards. Of course, patients can sue you and cause other problems. But the patient as enemy? Are things that bad? I can see patients that way only rarely or occasionally.
Imagine viewing your patient as an enemy as you try to diagnose a medical problem. Research shows that doctors typically juggle several diagnoses in their heads at one time, discarding some and adding others as they go along. This would be difficult if you were anxious and fearful, that is, if you are paying more attention to yourself and your own needs than to your patient’s.
Above all, dedication to the best interests of the person seeking your care comes from commitment and from years of training and indoctrination. The patient as enemy? I can’t see it. We aren’t there yet.
And it’s hard to beat the satisfaction of hearing “Doctor, my headaches are gone. I feel great.” Even “Doctor, you saved my life.” Few professions offer the personal satisfaction of being a physician. For that reason, medicine will long be an attractive profession, even as the rewards decrease and the hassles increase.
Kitchen Utensils Used as Surgical Instruments in Kosovo
“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Plato
War started in Kosovo in 1999, leaving a number of surgeons and medical personnel with limited supplies. Makeshift operating rooms were set up and kitchen spoons were used as surgical retractors. Many major lifesaving operations were performed.