A fecal transplant, also known as Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT), fecal bacteriotherapy, fecal transfusion, stool transplant, fecal enema, and human probiotic infusion (HPI), is a procedure where fecal bacteria is transplanted from a healthy individual (usually a partner or close relative) into a recipient to introduce healthy bacterial flora to a person’s gut.
Am I talking about eating someone’s poo??
Well, yes kind of! Transplants occur either through an enema straight into the back passage or through a nasogastric or nasoduodenal tube… The healthy stool is taken (after many health checks on the donor) and mixed with saline to create an infusion that is then given to the recipient.
“The aim of this procedure is to reestablish the normal composition of the gut flora, restore balance in metabolism, and stimulate both the acquired and the humoral immune responses in the intestinal mucosa after disruption of the normal flora” MARKUS D. AGITO, MD
C.Diff (Clostridium difficile) is a type of bacterial infection that can affect the digestive system. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and include: diarrhoea, high temperature and painful cramps. It can also lead to life-threatening complications such as severe swelling of the bowel from a build-up of gas. In cases of C.Diff, fecal transplants can cure the infection in just one treatment so you can see why some experts are calling for it to become the firstline treatment!!
It has also been hailed as a treatment for Ulcerative Colitis, with studies saying that multiple infusions of the poop soup could bring long term remission in IBD patients. Fecal transplants for Ulcerative Colitis are still in the investigational stage, so panic not that your consultant is going to make you eat poo quite yet! I would be wary of any sites that profess the transplants as a ‘cure’ or the ones who offer tips on DIY fecal transplants… *shudder*
But as medical options are often looking back to more natural, traditional ways perhaps studies can proven that this works? The concept of treating fecal diseases with fecal matter originated in China a thousand years ago and called “Yellow Soup”, who knows what the future will hold for this, perhaps in years to come this will be the norm?
At this moment in time, the thought of it makes me feel sick, but I do remember being so poorly, so ill in hospital that I would have done ANYTHING to feel better and so perhaps if it had been offered to me then, I would have taken the chance. After all, the medication we pump ourselves with have a list of side effects longer than the colon they took away! Why not look at natural remedies?
The CCFA (Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America) says this:
“CCFA has adopted a position on FMT which states “Clostridium difficile infection can occasionally be very difficult to eliminate and usually requires the administration of more antibiotics. In cases where antibiotic treatment fails, use of fecal microbial transplantation has been implemented… A more challenging question is whether fecal microbial transplantation can be a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, in the absence of Clostridium difficile infection. It is known that the gastrointestinal microbiota of inflammatory bowel disease patients contains different bacteria from that of people without IBD or those with IBD in remission. These observations suggest that FMT may be a possible treatment for IBD. There have been, however, no definitive, good quality research studies. Only small case series have been reported suggesting that FMT may be beneficial for treatment of active IBD but there is concern that the results may have been biased by the low quality of the study methods utilized. It should also be noted that unlike for C. difficile where a single treatment may be effective, in IBD patients, maintenance treatment with multiple coursed of FMT may need to be considered. Therefore, treatment of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis with FMT should be considered experimental and only performed as part of a properly designed and supervised research trial.”
It is available on the NHS for treatment of recurrent C Diff, their website says it “is probably the best treatment currently available.” With studies being done, if it is proven to work for IBD, this could become a normal treatment for people with Ulcerative Colitis!
So what do you think?? If you were offered this treatment that was safe, proven and a LOT cheaper for the NHS but is frankly, gross, would you?
Love Sam x