My Self-Experiment with Pig Whipworm (Published in AJG, on Dr. Oz)

Sean Ahrens, about to ingest parasitic worms

Back in 2010, I performed an experiment on my self by ingesting pig whipworms (Trichuris Suis Ova: TSO*) for my Crohn’s. And now, this month, I published the results of my study in a major medical journal, the American Journal of Gastroenterology!

This story has now been all over the web. I initially made a Facebook post about it, then e-Patient Dave wrote about it, and then BuzzFeed picked up the story. In the first few days, BuzzFeed’s article got over 250,000 views. And now, my video taking the worms was shown on the Dr. Oz show.

In 2010 (before I started Crohnology), my Crohn’s was flaring badly, and I didn’t have many good treatment options left. I decided to self-administered an unapproved therapy that had little research behind it: taking a parasitic worm evolved to live in pig intestines. It sounds pretty crazy, especially since I administered the treatment to myself at home. I recorded my symptoms throughout the duration of the experiment in the hopes of being able to put them online for other patients to see.

I ended up publishing my self-experiment in the American Journal of Gastroenterology’s July 2016 issue, which is somewhat unprecedented: for a patient him/herself to publish directly to a medical journal his/her own self-experiment. Now, to be clear, this was published in a specific section of the journal that has just recently been made available for patient submissions, and this section isn’t peer-reviewed. But having a patient self-experiment in a major medical journal is still pretty ground-breaking.

Due to copyright issues, I’m not able to share my full article online until January 2017 (which I will do here, then!) But meanwhile, BuzzFeed’s article covers this story better than I’m writing here myself, so please give it a read!

*Logged-in Crohnology members can see the treatment page for Pig Whipworm (TSO) here.




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