Dr Tom Smith: The worm theory

Is it true that parasites - such as worms - in the bowel can protect us against diseases?

Some scientists have been pushing the 'worms may be good for you' theory for a while. For example, Vietnamese children with bowel parasites have fewer allergies than those without. The idea is the parasites stimulate an immune response that also prevents allergies developing. You'd need to get your bowel infection early in life, though - which is a problem because the infection itself may kill you at that age. As for later diseases, Argentine doctors have claimed parasitic infections may protect against multiple sclerosis, possibly for similar reasons - but I don't see infection of the bowel with worms becoming an acceptable disease-prevention method.

What's the best way to get over jetlag?

Going west is easier than going east. West-bound, keep awake as long as possible when you arrive, and go to bed at the normal time for your destination. After eight or more hours of sleep, you should wake fresh at the normal breakfast time and adjust quickly. Going east is harder as you lose a night's sleep before you start to adjust. You recover from the time change at a rate of only an hour a day. So if you have come from west-coast America, an eight-hour difference, it takes eight days. Using sleeping pills or stimulants to try to adjust faster can make things worse. Melatonin has its followers, but the evidence isn't impressive and I'm not sure of its safety. Better just to accept that you won't be right for a few days.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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