New Nature study research shows that fatal first world, hospital-born diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile can be treated with donor feces.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. Transferring feces of a (healthy, tested) donor to the gut of a patient suffering from life-threatening diarrhea.
These are cases where the body’s natural, beneficial bacteria are wiped out from many rounds of antibiotics, giving room for the virulent Clostridium difficile bacteria to take over. It causes never-ending, foul-smelling diarrhea, fever, severe cramps, dehydration and possibly bowel perforation and sepsis.
Fecal transfer is done by introducing the stool sample it into the body either via enema or nasal tube. Disgusting? Very. Effective? Yes. Replacing healthy gut bacteria with donated feces cures.
The current outbreak of Clostridium difficile is a disease of the First World. It’s even been suggested that since much of our cattle is over-treated with antibiotics, meat and dairy consumers absorbing these products are at higher risk of having their own healthy gut flora wiped out. Another scary reason to go organic.
We know to eat yogurt and other pro-biotic foods immediately after finishing a dose of antibiotics. See our post about fermented foods that can heal your gut. But in some, especially elderly people, gut flora never re-colonizes. Conventional treatment consists of treating patients with yet more antibiotics, a method that is largely ineffective because the bacteria resists them.
Professor Thomas Borody of the Centre for Digestive Diseases and the University of Technology, Sydney, is one of the leading medical authorities on fecal transfer. According to Professor Borody, 30,000 patients die yearly in the US of Clostridium difficile infection, and it’s spreading to Australia.
Wikipedia reports that cases have been reported in Canada, the UK, and Denmark as well. It’s an extremely strong bacteria that resists alcohol-based disinfectants, although scrubbing with a diluted bleach solution is said to kill it. Hospitals are a breeding ground for it. Today’s epidemics travel at super speeds around the globe. How soon will the spores of Clostridium difficile arrive where you live?
Would that treating such infections were as simple as keeping chickens healthy with oregano. But if you can’t contemplate faecal transfer without your stomach turning over, take heart – less unpleasant ways of effecting the transfer are in the works.
“The future of this FMT [faecal matter transplant] is filtered bacteria, washed, frozen and put in a capsule, which we lovingly call a ‘crapsule’,” said Professor Borody. He adds that nearly 94 per cent of patients given the transplantation one or two times recovered, compared to only 30 per cent of the group given the antibiotic vancomycin.
A study conducted in Holland and published in the New England Journal of Medicine reaches similar conclusions.
The power of poo? That’s the name of a blog dedicated to faecal transfer done at home, authored by an Australian woman who identifies herself only as Tracy. Read it – it may disgust, but will surely fascinate you.
More on antibiotics and other pollutants in our food and water:
- Israelis Are Drinking the County’s Drugstores
- Swab A Frog For Good Health – But Not At Home
- Contaminated Cheese and Meat in Lebanon
- Polluted Wells in Tel Aviv
- Egypt’s Filthy Canals
Image of diarrhea sufferer via Shutterstock