Real concern or scam?

DANIEL ROBERT HOLDSWORTH drh92 at aber.ac.uk
Wed Oct 30 13:05:15 EST 1996


In article
<Pine.Sola.3.91.961029163628.25827A-100000 at speedy.daugherty.com>, Jim
Lellman <lellman at daugherty.com> writes:
:I have been speaking to a doctor, who cites certain studies that indicate
:that a significant portion of the population of North American is
:infested with one or more variety of parasites.  I have listened to
:a tape quoting various doctors that say this is so.  The problem I
:have is that the doctors involved have an interest in selling a
:herbal remedy that allegedly cleans out parasites from a person's
:system.  Has anybody heard of such a thing?  

It depends on what the herbal product is. 

The oldest intestinal worm killer I have heard of is something which was 
referred to colloquially as "Russian Worm Seed", which sounds like a plant 
seed secondary chemical. What was interesting was that although the material
was said to be effective as an anthelmintic, it was poisonous to the vertebrate
host to the extent that when used with pigs, the pig had to be weighed and a
bodyweight-related dose given.

This suggests that the substance was excessively toxic to vertebrates, and not 
particularly toxic to the parasites, hence the need to get a dose that was just
sub-lethal for the host.

The only other "cure" for intestinal parasites I have heard of which is plant
derived is one quoted by the UK-based survival expert Lofty Wiseman. This is
an infusion of fern rhizomes; this is said to be effective, but Mr Wiseman 
commented that the effect was that of a very severe laxative, which acted very
quickly, hence the advice never to use the material unless you were close to
a lavatory of some kind.

These anecdotes suggest that there aren't really any good plant-derived 
anthelmintics which are highly toxic to the helminths, but fairly harmless to
the vertebrate host. In the light of this, I would be highly skeptical of
the claims of medical doctors to have a new "Miracle cure" for intestinal
parasites.

Give me a modern synthetic such as one of the avermectin group any day...

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Dan Holdsworth, drh92 at aber.ac.uk
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