We have savings banks, commercial banks, investment banks, mortgage banks, internet banks as well as blood banks, sperm banks, egg banks and now, a stool bank. Yep. There is a company of medical students who have opened up the first stool bank called OpenBiome. They intend to provide hospitals with donor stool for Fecal Microbial Transplantation (FMT).
What is Fecal Microbial Transplantation?
Simply put, it is using stool from a healthy person and planting it into the colon of a sick person. It has been used to CURE infections from the dangerous Clostridium difficile bacteria and many people with other devastating diseases are hoping to see research put on the fast track.
History of Success
Back in 1958, doctors in Denver administered feces by enema to patients with fulminant, life-threatening pseudomembranous enterocolitis. The goal of this infusion of donor feces was to “re-establish the balance of nature” within the intestinal flora to correct the disruption caused by antibiotic treatment.
They reported “immediate and dramatic” responses and concluded that “this simple yet rational therapeutic method should be given more extensive clinical evaluation.”
Sadly, it did not take hold at the time.
Currently, those who have received a fecal transplant after suffering from recurring bouts of C. diff. — report that the next day they are 100% cured.
I’d say that’s a pretty powerful treatment modality.
The Procedure is Simple
The stool is placed in a blender with saline (salt water), and poured into a syringe. The sick patient is then given the freshly homogenized human stool via a colonoscopy, which is done through the rectum.
The donors theoretically come from a select group of Super Donors – people who did not have antibiotics as children, who are healthy, and who will be able to donate their stool.
I bet there are some Real Foodies out there that would qualify.
Do It Yourselfers
There are many patients, or parents of sick children who do not want to wait 5 – 10 years for the FDA to approve FMT for other illnesses such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. They are taking it upon themselves to screen donors and to apply the simple treatment at home as an enema. Many report good success. Others need to tweek the treatments in one way or another.
There have been no reports of adverse reactions at this point.
Enema is a Traditional Treatment
We have saline enemas, coffee enemas, probiotic enemas and now poop enemas, the ultimate probiotic! In the history of healing, enemas have been used for centuries.
In 1500 B.C. the Egyptians were the first in recorded in history to use colonic lavage. The Babylonians and and Assyrians followed in 600 B.C. as recorded on cuneiform tablets.
Hippocrates used enemas for fever in 400 B.C. and in 124 B.C. Asclepiades used enemas for intestinal worms and fevers.
In 30 AD, Celsus, the author of one of the first medical books, wrote about the use of the enema for treatment. In 100 AD, Galen, the celebrated Greek physician supported enema use.
During the middle ages the use of the enema became popular with the wealthy and royalty. In 1480 Louis XI was relieved of an attack of apoplexy by an enema and became a staunch advocate of it.
The 1600’s became known as the age of clysters (enema) and some people enjoyed it as many as 3 or 4 times a day! In the 1700’s Louis XIV became known as the Enema King as it has been recorded that he had 2,000 enemas during his career.
As with most traditional, safe healing arts, during the 1800’s the enema fell out of favor in the medical community as laxatives and other drugs took over.
In the 1930’s – 1950’s the enema emerged as colonic hydrotherapy which was used in hospitals, but sadly was dropped in the 1970’s in favor of prescription laxatives.
Read more for an interesting, in depth review of the history of enema.
How Does FMT Work?
We house microbes in every part of our body — intestines, skin, mouth, to the tune of 100 trillion. That means that there are more bacterial cells in and on our bodies than there are cells that make up our body, tissues and organs.
Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, has said,
we would do well to begin regarding the human body as an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants.
Interestingly, Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride has been talking about the gut bacteria for years and addressing imbalances in their diversity in her GAPS diet.
Poop is simply thousands of strains of bacteria that assist us in detoxifying dangerous chemicals that come through our digestive systems. Clearly, it can be beneficial to people with an overriding C. diff infection, to have an infusion of new bacterial strains that will crowd out the C. diff.
Probiotics do not come close to the effectiveness of poop. Probiotics generally have only 1 – 14 strains of bacteria compared to poop which has hundreds if not thousands – many unknown to us at this point.
Having previously tested stool from donors ready to be used, much like blood transfusions, is the goal of this company, OpenBiome. Hopefully the FDA will not put the kabash on this exciting new treatment by commanding unnecessarily strict regulations. (source)
Of course, screening and testing the stool is in order, but now there is talk about having the patient provide the donor which makes it more difficult. having a stool bank with ready-to-go frozen specimens makes it convenient.
The Wave of the Future
This procedure can open up treatment options for people with other disorders like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis who are faced with disabling symptoms that are at present only addressed with expensive and dangerous drugs.
If you had a disease that could be treated with FMT would you do it? If you could replace your bad microbiome with a good one would you do FMT? Leave a comment and let me know!
For more information about this topic:
- Poop: The ultimate Probiotic
- Change Your Microbiome – Change Your Health
- Fecal Microbial Transplantation: Promising Novel Treatment for IBD
- Fecal Biotherapy