Some evidence suggests that parasites may influence the immune system and lessen its response. As such, these changes may help to lower levels of inflammation and reduce MS disease activity.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated condition that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It develops when the immune system mistakenly attacks myelin in the CNS and causes inflammation. Myelin is a substance that coats and protects nerve fibers.

When this damage occurs, the electrical impulses that travel from the nerve fibers do not flow smoothly. This means that the body cannot carry out certain functions, which results in the symptoms of MS.

As evidence shows that parasites may reduce the response of the immune system, it may be a potential treatment for managing MS.

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MS is the result of an abnormal immune system response. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly targets the myelin that covers nerve fibers. This creates an inflammatory response that causes damage, leading to the symptoms of MS.

As such, many therapies for MS aim to influence the immune system. Known as disease-modifying therapies(DMTs), these treatments aim to interfere with the immune response to reduce inflammation. They work by targeting immune cells to reduce their number and lower the frequency of immune attacks.

Helminths are a large group of worm-like parasites. There are many types of helminths, such as hookworm and whipworm, that can cause a variety of illnesses. They are able to cause infections due to their ability to influence the immune response.

Helminths can do this by producing an array of molecules that affect the immune response. As such, the properties of these compounds may have therapeutic use that can help treat immune-mediated conditions such as MS.

Read on to learn more about helminth therapy.

Some evidence suggests that parasites may help reduce the risk of developing MS. This follows the theory of hygiene hypothesis. This theory suggests that infections offer a protective effect rather than inducing autoimmune conditions such as MS.

The environment plays a significant role in developing MS. Some research highlights that the prevalence of MS is lower in areas where parasitic infections are more common. This suggests that a reduction in parasite exposure, due to improved hygienic conditions, may favor the development of MS.

As such, this supports that parasitic infections may play a protective role in MS. A small 2020 study suggests that a hookworm infection may provide a mild therapeutic effect on relapsing MS and warrants further research.

While research indicates that helminths and the molecules they produce may help with MS. There are also reports that some types of parasitic worms could possibly make MS worse.

Research is still ongoing, and the impact of parasites on MS progression is still a subject of debate in the scientific community. For example, a 2022 review notes that the accumulation of parasites can result in an inflammatory response that could possibly worsen MS symptoms.

Additionally, if a person receives helminth therapy, there is the potential risk that a person may develop gastrointestinal symptoms because of the parasite and will require treatment to eliminate the parasite.

As such, more research is still necessary to understand the potential impact of parasites on MS.

Currently, there is no cure for MS. However, treatments are available that can help reduce the number and severity of relapses, as well as delay the long-term disability progression of the condition.

Medications can include:

  • Injectable medications: Injectable medications are typically suitable for relapsing and long-term MS. Examples include Avonex, Copaxone, and Kesimpta. An injection involves administering medication using a needle and syringe.
  • Infusions: Infusions are similar to injections, but they differ as they deliver the medication over several hours. Additionally, a person cannot administer infusions at home. They must receive them from a trained professional in a clinical setting.
  • Oral drugs: A number of oral medications are also available to help treat MS. These include Aubagio, Tecfidera, and Vumerity.

Read on to learn more about MS medications.

There is also ongoing research into the development of new drugs. Researchers are also investigating other treatment options, such as stem cell therapy and cannabis.

In addition to drug treatments, other options such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and bladder therapy can also help manage symptoms of MS. A person can discuss their treatment options with an MS specialist.

Read on to learn more about MS treatments.

The relationship between MS and parasites is a complex and evolving area of research. MS is an inflammatory condition, and parasitic infections influence the immune response. As such, parasites and the molecules they produce may help reduce inflammation and the symptoms of MS.

However, research is still ongoing to understand the relationship between MS and parasites. While there is currently no cure, a number of treatments, such as injections, infusions, and therapy, are available to help manage the condition.

If you have questions about MS treatments, or your treatment plan specifically, talk with your healthcare team.