The correct term is fecal transplant – it involves liquidizing the stool of a healthy donor, and then injecting it into the patient’s large intestine. This can recolonize the healthy bacteria in your gut, if it has been lost due to the overuse of antibiotics. So far it has had great success, but there are regulatory hurdles to overcome. The FDA only approves drugs, devices, vaccines and tissues. Feces aren’t in their brief, and without the permission of the FDA, clinical trials cannot proceed.
The condition it has fixed (90% of the time) is a Clostridium difficule infection that results in constant diarrhea because it has taken over the gut and good bacteria are unable to re-establish themselves.
The full story is at Scientific American.
To date this has been a controversial topic. Scientists are increasingly accepting the importance of gut flora, but seemingly logical remedies like probiotic yoghurt doesn’t seem to be much help.
A common hospital bacteria is in dire need of having its incidences reduced:
Clostridium difficile is a menace in hospitals and nursing homes, causing nearly 336,000 infections and 14,000 deaths a year in the United States. Antibiotics can temporarily knock down the bacterium, but about 25% of infected people relapse, often multiple times, because the germ produces spores that hand sanitizers and hand washing don’t kill. Antibiotics can also backfire because they kill the gut’s normal microbial community, clearing the way for C. difficile to resettle.
[Source: Science Mag]
A controversial remedy will be reported here tomorrow, using the excrement from healthy people…
Fortunately scientists have now isolated the beneficial bacteria from the fecal remedy, so these bacteria can be directly applied in a more acceptable manner. Mice only at this stage:
…identify a simple mixture of six phylogenetically diverse intestinal bacteria, including novel species, which can re-establish a health-associated microbiota and clear C. difficile027/BI infection from mice. Thus, targeting a dysbiotic microbiota with a defined mixture of phylogenetically diverse bacteria can trigger major shifts in the microbial community structure that displaces C. difficile and, as a result, resolves disease and contagiousness.
It is well understood that when you use antibiotics to destroy harmful bacteria, you also lose beneficial bacteria – collateral damage.
Most of the good bacteria can be found in your gut, where it helps with your digestive processes.
In a report in the journal Nature, Martin Blaser writes:
Antibiotics kill the bacteria we do want, as well as those we don’t. These long-term changes to the beneficial bacteria within people’s bodies may even increase our susceptibility to infections and disease.
Overuse of antibiotics could be fuelling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations.
…Antibiotics are miraculous. They’ve changed health and medicine over the last 70 years. But when doctors prescribe antibiotics, it is based on the belief that there are no long-term effects. We’ve seen evidence that suggests antibiotics may permanently change the beneficial bacteria that we’re carrying.
That permanent change can be problematic for future generations, because when a child is born, and it passes through the birth canal—that is the baby’s original exposure to beneficial bacteria. If that bacteria has been compromised in the mother, the baby could be less healthy throughout its life.
Did you know that the microbes we carry in our gastro-intestinal tracts add up to several pounds in weight?
These microbes are necessary to being healthy, and are critical to our well-being. A new study shows that the unnecessary use of antibiotics has deleterious effects on human health that were previously unappreciated.
The most profoundly altered pathways involved steroid hormones, eicosanoid hormones, sugar, fatty acid, and bile acid. “These hormones have very important functions in our health,” says Antunes. “They control our immune system, reproductive functions, mineral balance, sugar metabolism, and many other important aspects of human metabolism.
Evidence is beginning to show that our stomachs, and their internal health, are extremely important. Some researchers suggest that the origin of inflammation, the basic underlying problem in heart disease, is the stomach.
The obvious answer is to eat healthily. If you are a regular user of antacids, if you suffer from constipation, or if you have ulcers, then this is a red alert that your entire body could be malfunctioning.