Our gatherer ancestors obtained so much vitamin C from their predominantly fruitarian diet that they eventually lost the gene responsible for its synthesis, making modern man dependent on food-source vitamin C.
In the same way, genes that once trained and tuned our ancestors’ immune systems were lost as ever-present intestinal worms took over this role. Unfortunately, however, we in the modern West have summarily dismissed our helminthic hitchhikers and are consequently left with no alternative source of the molecules with which they had supplied us for millennia.
Deprived of the natural regulatory mechanism provided by intestinal worms, immune systems are now attacking harmless environmental antigens (causing asthma), foods (inflammatory bowel disease), or self-antigens (multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and more than a hundred other autoimmune diseases).
Depression is not yet listed as an autoimmune disease, but it may not be long before it is, according to a recent article in Psychology Today.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), which is closely linked to the Western lifestyle, and is rising rapidly up the world’s ‘top ten’ chart of diseases, may not be a mental illness after all, but a mental symptom of an immuno-regulatory disorder of the modern environment.
If this is true, it implies, to quote this article, “… that the most effective therapy is likely to be similar to those suggested by the hygiene hypothesis for other immune-related disorders – and is certainly not likely to be psychotherapy. Worms might do you more good!”
See also: Can you worm your way out of depression?
NB: This post is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.