There’s no denying fecal transplants — the transferring of gut flora from a healthy donor to sick patients — can be helpful in treating Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections that contribute to diseases from colitis to diarrhea.
Transfers of healthy gut bacteria have been delivered via a variety of uncomfortable methods, ranging from tubes through the nose to the intestines (nasojejunal) and stomach (nasogastric) to endoscopies, colonoscopies and enemas.
However, the promising findings of a recent Journal of the American Medical Association report may be changing the delivery of fecal transplants for good.
After successfully testing the delivery of frozen fecal transplants to patients via nasogastric tubes and colonoscopy to treat patients earlier in the year, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital designed a study to test the efficiency of fecal transplant capsules.
To produce those capsules, stool samples were taken from healthy volunteers who had been screened for infectious diseases and avoided consuming common food allergens. Then, the samples were processed, placed into capsules and frozen for four weeks.
Feeling squeamish yet?
Scientists tested their frozen transplant on 20 patients between ages 11-84 who were suffering from a persistent or recurring C. diff infection. Over two consecutive days, each patient took 15 capsules per day. After an initial two-day treatment, the symptoms from 14 patients were completely resolved.
Then, after a second treatment with the remaining six patients (who were generally in poorer health) a week later, all but one were successfully treated. Over the eight-week trial, all but two patients responded successfully to the frozen fecal transplant capsules.
Despite the success of the study, Dr. Ilan Youngster (co-author of the study) warned patients, literally, not to experiment with fecal transplants at home. “While we are striving to make this treatment more accessible to patients, it’s important to remind people of the potential dangers of attempting ‘home brew’ FMT [fecal microbiota transplants] using fecal material from family members or friends.
“Many people can be carriers of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are shed in their stools but have no symptoms. It’s not enough to know your donor and just ask how he or she feels, as some websites suggest. In any form, this procedure should only be performed under strict medical supervision with material from thoroughly screened donors.”
The lesson to be learned from this study is pretty simple: If doctors encouraged their patients to take a probiotic when prescribing them antibiotics, doing that one thing would reduce the number of C. diff cases significantly.
Taking a probiotic about two hours after a prescribed antibiotic will reduce the risk of antibiotics depleting the live, beneficial bacteria that protect and improve your gut health naturally.
Taking a multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids) can give your immune system a much needed boost by improving the diversity of beneficial bacteria in your gut, and eliminate the need for a fecal transplant.