Could Fecal Implants Be A Cure All?

Fecal bacteria at 10,000x magnification.

(Pretty cool, eh?)

One of the most popular posts on this blog over time has turned out to be, of all things, Fecal Implants? Seriously?! (Yup.)  When I first read about the treatment almost two years ago now, frankly, I thought it was a joke.  But it quickly became apparent that, for a growing number of people suffering or dying from Clostridium difficile colitis…a spreading epidemic in hospitals and nursing homes…fecal implant treatments can often be more of a miracle than a punchline.

Well, buckle your seat belts again folks because it looks like not only do fecal implants provide an effective treatment for C. diff, they may also provide some measure of relief for a host of other gut-related illnesses.  In an Australian article from The Sydney Morning Herald this morningMore Than A Gut Feeling, Sydney gastroenterologist Professor Tom Borody is quoted.

”But there’s also some evidence that other conditions, including ulcerative colitis, chronic severe diarrhoea and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can be improved with FMT,” says Borody, who uses the technique in his  practice and believes we need more research to explore its potential.

The article talks about the growing awareness in medical circles that the legions of bacteria living in our guts, when knocked out of balance by things like sanitized environments, bad diets, and antibiotic use “may contribute to hard-to-treat problems such as allergies, autoimmune disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and even obesity and diabetes.”

(Evidently, a recent study by Dutch scientists shows some promise that transplanting gut flora from a healthy gut to a compromised one may improve insulin resistance.)

The wheels of research are finally starting to roll on this whole idea, which is absolutely fabulous.  I can’t help but wonder though when the far bigger wheels of industry will wake up and start moving in.  How-oh-how will the pharmaceutical companies and hospitals wind up packaging this one?  Poo packets?

Ideas anyone?

Actually, the formal name used for fecal transplant is Fecal (faecalmicrobiota transplantation (FMT) or stool transplant.  Which, when I climb out of my eight-year old self, actually seems more respectful to those who need help but don’t want to wind up as a punchline in someone else’s joke.  So from now on, FMT it is.

copyright Dia Osborn 2012

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