Beyond the ‘Yuck Factor’: Students Research Tapeworm Remedies
Katherine Buehler is a biology major at Converse College. Katherine and Keli Alber worked in conjunction with Dr. Steele on a research project. Their goal was to determine if homeopathic remedies could be used to treat tapeworm infections as effectively as the leading synthetic drug, Praziquantel. After the project was over, Katherine realized she did not want to pursue research in her career but saw it as a valuable experience.
What could be better than sitting in a lab with rats and tapeworm eggs everyday? Perhaps finding new ways to eliminate the tapeworms from the rats. After considering the general population’s desire to employ homeopathic remedies and also considering the lingering issue of tapeworm infections, Keli Alber sought to address both factors in her research, with the ideal end being an inexpensive, all natural antihelminthic treatment.
Their Research Project
Sixteen male Wistar rats were experimentally infected with Hymenolepis diminuta cysticercoids. After infection was confirmed, they were separated randomly into four equal groups. One group received oral treatments of 2.0 mL carrot juice (16 g/mL). Another group received 2.0 mL pumpkin seed juice (1 g/mL) and the negative control group received 2.0 mL distilled water. The positive control group received a one-time oral treatment of praziquantel (0.5 mg/kg BW) on the first day, and then distilled water only for the remainder of the treatment period. The treatments were administered to each rat daily for a total of 15 days. Tapeworm eggs were collected from rat feces using modified zinc sulfate floatation. Examination of fecal samples revealed presence of numerous eggs throughout the treatment period in feces of all rats in both the experimental (carrot- and pumpkin seed-treated) and negative control groups. The presence of adult tapeworms in these rats was further confirmed upon dissection of intestines of euthanized animals. All rats that received one dose of praziquantel (positive control) were completely free of tapeworms by day 14 post treatment. Results of this study indicate that carrots and pumpkin seeds were ineffective anthelminthics against H. diminuta infections.