Human waste has a huge range of fascinating and interesting uses, which we’d highlighted pretty well in this article earlier. One of these magic applications is a process known as Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT), or in layman’s terms, a poop transplant. That might sound like nasty prank straight out of ‘Jackass’, but it actually has a huge range of medical benefits, especially at treating a Clostridium difficile infection (C diff), which can cause symptoms like watery diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, and abdominal pain.
The antibiotic Vancomycin, used to treat C diff. has a cure rate of only 23%-31% but a fecal transplant’s success rate in treating C diff. is 81% after the first administration and 94% after the second.
Poop transplants might sound like something we’re only just discovering, but it’s actually been in use since the 4th century! The Chinese used it to treat food poisoning and severe diarrhea. There are also records of a Chinese physician named Li Shizhen using fresh or fermented fecal products, called “yellow soup” to treat severe diarrhea, fever, pain and constipation in the 16th century.
When some types of beneficial bacteria are missing from your digestive system, diseases like C diff., irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis can start to manifest. A poop transplant can help reestablish these missing microbes and hopefully cure the patient.
In recent times, gastrointestinal diseases have seen a massive rise, especially in developed countries. This is directly related to their frequent use of antibiotics. Dr. Maria Olivia-Hemker of John’s Hopkins Children Center said, “Antibiotics are lifesavers, but anytime we give them to a patient to eradicate one pathogen, there’s collateral damage, in that along with the bad bacteria we wipe off some good organisms that help keep the complex workings of our gut in perfect balance.” This is why FMT is such an exciting new option.
Most doctors agree that more research needs to be done to determine what effects changing the dynamics of your bowels can have on overall health. However, it’s hard to argue with the life-saving value of a procedure such as this. So always remember, your poop can make a difference!