Not All Bacteria Is Bad
Turn the TV or radio on or open one of your social media accounts and you are sure to find an advertisement, warning of the dangers of bacteria. From antibacterial soaps and cleaners to antimicrobial towels and clothing – bacteria as a whole as established quite a bad reputation for itself. And while many strands of bacteria are threatening, many of them aren’t. In fact, many strands are crucial building-blocks for sustainable, long-term health.
Every human body contains trillions of bacterial cells that largely reside in the small intestine and colon. This massive colony of gut bacteria is referred to as your microbiome and is responsible for many bodily processes including hormone regulation.
Due to the inundation of household and personal products that kill off bacteria (coupled with the excessive use of antibiotics), many people have unknowingly killed off much of their “good” gut bacteria. As a result, people experience issues with regularity, stomach pain, mood imbalance, obesity, lethargy, and proneness to falling ill.
A small percentage of the population even become exposed to bacterial infections in the gut as a result. The most common infection is caused by a germ called Clostridium difficile (C. diff for short) and resolving this issue can resort to some pretty extreme measures – one in particular called Fecal Microbiota Transplantation.
What is Fecal Microbiota Transplantation?
FMT is a method of implanting healthy bacteria from a donor’s feces into the lining of your intestines. In layman’s terms: a specialist colonizes your gut with someone else’s poop.
Gross as it might sound, this new, innovative procedure has shown to be highly effective, resolving between 80-90% of C. diff cases that didn’t initially respond to antibiotics treatment. There are multiple routes of FMT administration including a colonoscopy, nasoenteric tube implant, and capsules. Though beneficial, this procedure is invasive and not without risks.
How does FMT work?
FMT works by repopulating the patient’s microbiome with healthy, diverse microorganisms that are sans C. diff germs.
The reason typical, antibiotic protocol doesn’t work in these cases is because antibiotics disrupt one’s precarious ecosystem by killing the protective bacteria. C. diff forms spores that are resistant to antibiotics and the pathogen establishes itself in the gut, producing toxins that leave patients suffering with severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. With an infusion of healthy fecal matter from a donor’s stool sample, the C. diff germs are outnumbered and outpowered.
Some experts are also exploring whether FMT can potentially help in the treatment of other gastrointestinal diseases, such as IBS and Crohn’s Disease, but research is still in the early stages.
Though somewhat alluring and interesting, there are noted risks associated with this procedure. Stool is a complex mixture of bacteria and organisms that can still carry infectious agents – even if screening tests show that it’s clean.
Because this procedure is still in the infant stages, it should be considered a “last result” to treating intestinal infections. However, it does show promise for many who suffer with abdominal pain and infection due to C. difficile.