For centuries earthworms have been used as a protein rich food and a medicine to treat heart disease and pulmonary illnesses in parts of Asia. Earthworms offer unanticipated potential health benefits without common drawbacks that come with other biological, alternative forms of medicine such as cost, ethical and pathological concerns of animal testing.
The earthworm’s evolution of maintaining soil and living among rotting organic matter has caused it to build itself an extraordinary immune system. Earthworms have developed symbiotic relationships with beneficial soil microbes that protect it from disease as well as developing it’s own anti-pathogenic proteins.
Considering the fact that the majority of the immunologists all over the world are focused on the mammalian or particularly human immunology, it may sound surprising that invertebrates—and among others earthworms—have been an important experimental model since the very beginning of immunology.
An extract from the earthworm Eisenia fetida has been shown to inhibit the activity of influenza and adenoviruses. Coelomic fluid of Eisenia fetida also inhibits the growth of many plant pathogens like Fusarium oxysporum and their castings a reduction in damage from plant parasitic nematodes.
.Scientists in Poland believe the digestive fluid that helps worms be able to safely consume any microorganism could one day be used to treat lung cancer.Initial research has been showing promising results.
With all these emerging potentials of worms as medicine, and as a relatively cheap source of protein, it may well be time for our “advanced” western civilizations to reconsider the ICK factor around earthworms. Will you embrace the lowly worm as a cure? as an entree at a fancy restaurant?
Earthworm fluid destroys lung cancer cells in lab | Reuters.com
Earthworm Immunity – Madame Curie Bioscience Database – NCBI Bookshelf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45034/ Martin Bilej, Petra Procházková, Marcela Šilerová, Radka Josková
Potential of actinomycetes isolated from earthworm castings in controlling root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita | SpringerLink
Revising lysenin expression of earthworm coelomocytes – ScienceDirect
An extract from the earthworm Eisenia fetida non-specifically inhibits the activity of influenza and adenoviruses – ScienceDirect
Inhibitory effect of earthworm coelomic fluid on growth of the plant parasitic fungus Fusarium oxysporum – ScienceDirect
Dilong: Food for Thought and Medicine – ScienceDirect