Toxicity of parasites and their unconventional use in medicine

Ann Agric Environ Med. 2019 Dec 19;26(4):523-531. doi: 10.26444/aaem/109665. Epub 2019 Jun 26.


Introduction: Over 300 species of parasites can possibly be passed on humans. Most of the parasitic infections are defined based on their pathogenicity; however, some positive effects of a parasite existence within the human body have recently been suggested. Beneficial outcomes of parasite infections might result from the production and release of metabolites, modification of host immune response or products uptake of the host.

Objective: The aim of the study was a comprehensive analysis of a wide range of effects of parasites on the human body, including an overview of the toxic and positive effects.

State of knowledge: In the light of the latest research presenting the unconventional use of parasites in medicine, the widely understood of their impact on the human body can also be considered in a positive context. Clinical cases from diseases caused by the toxic effects of parasites, as described in recent years, indicate that the problem of parasitic infections still persists. Despite a great deal of knowledge about the toxic effects of parasites on the human organism and, above all, despite the improvement in sanitary conditions, there is a resurgence of parasitic infections, as evidenced, e.g. by the examples presented in this review.

Conclusions: The examples of positive effects of parasites presented so far give hope for the future in terms of fighting many diseases for which pharmacological treatment has not yet brought a positive effect. A better understanding of those processes might lead to the development of new methods of unconventional medical treatment.

Keywords: helminth therapy; parasites; toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Medicine
  • Parasites / chemistry*
  • Parasites / metabolism
  • Parasitic Diseases / immunology
  • Parasitic Diseases / parasitology*