Opening (and Swallowing) A Can of Worms to Treat My Crohn's Disease

Am J Gastroenterol. 2016 Jul;111(7):918-20. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2016.193. Epub 2016 May 24.


Editor's Note: This article discusses the experience, ingenuity, and determination of Sean Ahrens, a young patient with Crohn's disease who took it upon himself to treat his longstanding, symptomatic Crohn's disease with pig whipworm eggs. Reading this story will make some of you uncomfortable. You might question whether this work belongs in a medical journal or sends the wrong message to readers. However, we recognize that this topic is controversial and that N=1 reports cannot and should not change practice. The purpose of this story is not to encourage the use of pig whipworm or to demonstrate its efficacy (or lack thereof). We firmly believe that patients are uniquely qualified to provide insights into how they view their illnesses, weigh risks and benefits, and ultimately achieve self-efficacy. Stories like this are important for us to acknowledge and understand, even if they do not change our practice.

Publication types

  • Personal Narrative

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Autoexperimentation
  • Crohn Disease* / parasitology
  • Crohn Disease* / physiopathology
  • Crohn Disease* / psychology
  • Crohn Disease* / therapy
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Hygiene Hypothesis
  • Male
  • Self Care* / methods
  • Self Care* / psychology
  • Self-Examination / psychology
  • Therapy with Helminths* / methods
  • Therapy with Helminths* / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trichuris / physiology*