I killed the hookworms off at the end of April. So now it’s been 2 months hookworm-free. Physically, I have regressed somewhat. Anal mucus is back, most every day, I have more random anal pain. My acne at first got worse, but now looks better.
The hookworms were keeping the Crohn’s in remission, but…too many side effects. And I’m talking about the long term side effects. Not many worm hosters are 4 years into this. At first, I get high and happy from the hookworms, tons of energy for the first week. Then the side effects kick in at the end of week 2 and last until week 8, then the physical improvements begin and the Crohn’s improves.
It took 10 months for the mineral deficiencies to set in the first time. Magnesium loss – manifested at first as involuntary muscle twitches, then toe and calf cramps. Then as it kept falling, anxiety sets in, then insomnia. It suuuucks.
This last December’s innoculation only lasted until April before the magnesium fell enough to start causing constant symptoms. I don’t mind the muscle issues, but the emotional ones become too much.
I had gone on antidepressants to deal with the anxiety and insomnia two years ago. I had to take a combo of ambien, melatonin, benedryl, and valerian just to sleep on the bad nights, and it would still take several haunted hours to fall asleep.
Interestingly, my poor husband, who got 25 hookworms 2 years ago and 25 in December, no IBD or bowel issues, good absorption and digestion, started getting depressed last year and also went on antidepressants. He was feeling overwhelmed and didn’t want to get out of bed. He was having more leg cramps at night, and sometimes it seemed as if he had restless leg syndrome. He only hosted hookworms for me anyway; his walnut allergy never went away, so when I killed the hookworms and he didn’t need to host them, he killed them too. And guess what? His depression lifted, he dropped the Wellbutrin, and 2 months later he is back to his happy self.
Do hookworms cause depression and anxiety? Probably indirectly. They also can eliminate depression and anxiety for some, that happened to me at first. Though they may be manipulating seretonin and other such things in the gut, their constant drain may just deplete the body of certain minerals essential for nerve and muscle function, and magnesium affects the mood and mind, I’ve unfortunately discovered.
Why are other hosters fine? I don’t know. Maybe they have higher dietary intake of all the nutrients. Maybe they haven’t hosted for long enough. But I’m starting to see the advantage of a species that works much more gently on the body.
A few other long-term hosters are having issues too. Bubbleboy just killed the hookworms because he was becoming too depressed and unmotivated. Garin’s sick of hosting them and the constant nutritional supplement regime he takes to keep deficiencies at bay. Jasper was suffering from depression after leaving the US, and had some pretty extreme emotional issues even here, but whether or not the worms had any contribution is unknown.
While some responders are in their first flush of remission, most don’t know that the glory days seem to be the first 2 years, then the worms benefits diminish for some, and most need to go back to a cleaner diet, or start building to higher numbers, more species, or both. There are enough people doing well longer term that it’s worth pursuing, but I’ve only seen a few lucky people who are in remission for years without issues. Some lose their worms and just need redosing, some lose benefit, or like some of us, suffer too much from the negatives.
I left all the worm forums since there are a handful of diehards who have gotten great benefit from the worms, and seem to have their blinders on. They will not tolerate negative talk about one’s provider, my reflections on magnesium deficiency are met with so much derision (it couldn’t possibly be the worms, my blood tests, my husband’s experience, other hosters suffering the same muscle issues, it all must be suspect or I must have ulterior motives to bring down the worm world)…let’s just say it’s not supportive or very balanced. I miss the excellent links to all things Old Friends, worm-related, or autoimmune, but I don’t miss the drama.
I wish every experimenter luck- if the worms work for you, enjoy your first two years. Pay attention to symptoms of iron or magnesium loss, preventive supplementation may be better. For me, bringing up my mag levels has not been easy – too aggressive supplementation and I get diarrhea, the shots hurt and only last for a few days. I’m still twitching and cramping somewhat, but I have abandoned my antidepressant for the first time in 2 years and I’m sleeping without aid and have no anxiety. PMS is also a lot milder.
I really should get a colonoscopy and see where I’m at. I did just reach 170 POUNDS (I was down to 138 lbs last summer), though I need to cut back on chocolate treats (honey based) and cheating with tostadas and corn chips-I’m starting to collect fat. I’ve been biking a lot more, though sometimes I wonder if it makes my butt ache. I think the IVig, the probiotics (VSL#3 DS and multaflor,) and diet are pulling most of the weight.
The neverending experimentation continues, I still hate having a colostomy and dream that I can get it reversed. I’m enjoying feeling so strong and heavy. Mostly, I’m trying to get on with my life and support my children through their lives, help heal the trauma of Mommy’s rough last few years.
But the hookworms are dead and gone, and I will probably not host them again. They work for my Crohn’s, but not my sanity.