Eating earthworms, including cocoons, isn’t dangerous. However, other types of worms, specifically parasitic worms, can cause any number of reactions such as vomiting, weight loss, nausea, loss of appetite, itching, and diarrhea. Pinworms and tapeworms are parasitic worms that you do not want to accidentally ingest or come in contact with in any way. To avoid tapeworms, do not eat uncooked pork, beef or fish. To prevent pinworms, always wash your hands thoroughly several times a day, especially if you are around children often and clean countertops, toilets, sinks, and other similar areas in the household regularly.
As for earthworms, besides being grossed out, accidentally swallowing a worm won’t harm you. In fact, some worms are actually beneficial to the body, although they are not necessary for survival. Worms are packed with protein, they are a source of nourishment and food for many animals, and they may provide a fair amount of entertainment as documented in the popular book How to Eat Fried Worms.
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Other types of beneficial worms are being used in experimental research to treat intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is an intestinal disease that causes severe cramps and sudden attacks of diarrhea. It is not curable, but doctors are trying to find ways to manage the disease and give patients relief from its symptoms. Worms are proving to alleviate the symptoms of this disease and give relief to those who suffer from it.
One mother from Iowa (Anna Glanz) visits her doctor every three weeks to drink worm eggs. The worms then grow inside her gut and then pass out of her system after a few weeks. The result of this treatment has been a complete remission from the disease. She no longer has any of the symptoms she previously suffered from. While the idea of deliberately eating worms (or in this case worm eggs) may make some nauseous, those who participate in research trials are finding that it is far better than suffering from the condition itself.
Other researchers continue to investigate the advantages of worms in the human body. Some believe that the human immune system is now out of balance since worms have been eradicated from the body. Gut worms in particular were part of the human system until about 50 years ago. A unique coincidence of this fact is that until about 50 years ago, allergies were virtually non-existent.
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One UK scientist developed a case of hookworms when on a field trip. He studies himself as well as the worms living inside him because he has had nearly a complete remission of his hay fever symptoms since the hookworms entered his body.
These ideas are not entirely new. In many underdeveloped countries, natives still function with worms in their bodies. And, in some countries, such as China and Mexico, that eat worms as part of the daily diet. Worms can be nutritious, good for your health, and they do have a lot of protein.
Most worms that dwell in soil and gardens are fairly safe to eat. However, there are also many insects that appear to be worms in the early stages of life, but they are not worms at all. Butterflies, moths, and flies are commonly mistaken for worms in their larval stages. And while maggots (baby flies) are not likely to hurt anyone, they are seldom among the animals (worms or otherwise) that anyone wants to eat, even on a dare.
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)