Dr. Michael Mosley, known for experimenting on himself, ingested a tapeworm in hopes of finding out whether being infected with the parasites is worth the purported weight loss benefits. To the contrary, though, Mosley found that the tapeworms increased his appetite and actually made him pack on a couple of extra pounds.
"When I first saw the worms, I was in an Indian restaurant," said Mosley, according to Yahoo! Shine. "I shouted out, 'Blimey! There's a tapeworm in me!' The other diners looked very surprised."
The tapeworm diet has been slowly gaining steam after some say ingesting the parasites has helped them lose weight. But prior to its popularity as a diet technique, tapeworms were actually something that people dreaded and avoided at all costs. According to Mayo Clinic, an adult tapeworm has a head, neck, and a chain of tentacle-like digits called “proglottids.” When people get intestinal tapeworm infections, the tapeworm head attaches to the wall of the intestines and begins to produce eggs. Tapeworms can live in a person’s body for up to 20 years. Symptoms of an intestinal tapeworm infection include nausea, weakness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Mosley traveled to Kenya in order to pick up the parasites, which came from cysts on a cow’s tongue that contained tapeworm eggs. After ingesting the tapeworm, Mosley tracked his progress for about six weeks. He kept a food diary in which he noted any changes in his behavior or physical appearance. Contrary to what some may believe about the tapeworm diet, Mosely said he found himself craving carbohydrates and sugars. He gained about 2 lbs. during the experiment. Eventually, Mosely took a medication to get rid of the tapeworm. He has had no lasting symptoms since taking the meds.
So maybe the tapeworm diet doesn’t work for weight loss. It didn’t work for Mosley, at least. One thing is for sure though, the risk is probably not worth any of the possible benefits. In August, after an Iowa woman ingested a tapeworm she bought on the internet, the Iowa Dept. of Health wrote an open letter to people thinking of trying the diet. “Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths,” wrote Department of Health Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “Those desiring to lose weight are advised to stick with proven weight-loss methods — consuming fewer calories and increasing physical activity.”
You can watch Mosley’s journey below: