Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eating Dirt

There is one less worry for parents - especially parents of children who lick or eat everything in sight (pica).

Jane Brody's New York Times' column today reviews the case for ingesting dirt. Children who run barefoot in the dirt, and eat with dirt on their hands are less likely to develop allergies and asthma. Children who are exposed to farm animals (or to household pets) with worms are less likely to get inflammatory bowel, Crohn's diseases and other autoimmune diseases. This is not to say that we should not wash our hand after using the toilet. We should. But just plain soap and water, please.

Dr. Brody asked immunologist, Dr. David Elliott, about intestinal worms. "There are very few diseases that people get from worms", he said. In fact, in Argentina, persons with Multiple Sclerosis who were infected with human whipworm had fewer recursions and with decreased severity. And pig whipworms, which stay for just a short time in the human intestinal tract, are beneficial for treating IBS, Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.

More reading: "Why Dirt is Good", Mary Ruebush, (Kaplan).

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