Yesterday I was driving to New Orleans getting my daily podcast fix in as I crossed the Causeway. The podcast choice for yesterday was This American Life (one of my favorites). This particular episode kind of blew me away with a story about a guy named Jasper Lawrence who willingly infected himself with hookworms to cure his asthma and allergies.
Apparently developing countries don’t have near the problems with asthma and allergies that we do in the developed world and this is in part due to how clean we have made the world. In the developing world there is a much higher hookworm infection rate which has proved to be the link in suppressing auto-immune diseases. Jasper Lawrence was desperate for relief from his allergies and asthma when he came across the studies on hookworms. After making multiple failed attempts to buy hookworms from laboratories he ended up visiting many villages in Camaroon (Africa) to walk barefoot in their latrines (hookworms enter through the feet). After doing this about 40 times he went back home to the UK. He achieved his goal of getting infected and subsequently cured his asthma and allergies. Now he is a hookworm dealer.