Alternative medical treatment
"They say it's un-Canadian and you must leave the hospital if you want to do it" - Tom Louie
"Is it, in effect, a human poop transplant?" - jwz on Livejournal
Poop transplant? Actually, yes, that's exactly what it is - a medical procedure which involves transferring the bacteria from a healthy patient into one, um, less healthy. Also known as faecal bacteriotherapy or human probiotic infusion, it's used in some cases of pseudomembranous colitis, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. The aim is simply to restore the normal balance of microorganisms in the bowel, and very effective it is, having been used for years to treat people affected by that colitis caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile.
According to wikipedia, the treatment is delivered, logically enough, by enema, although it can also be delivered via a nasal tube into the stomach. The donor is, naturally, screened for other unpleasant parasites such as bacteria, amoebae and other bowel flora and fauna†. The
stool poop faecal matter donation is subjected to a wide range of tests and treatments to render it suitable for, um, injection. A series of treatments is necessary.
Grandmother saved by daughter's poo
Does it work? Yes, according to Ethel McEwan. At 83 years of age, she contracted a potentially fatal case of C. difficle, and was only saved, in the words of the Daily Telegraph newspaper, "after a hospital fed her daughter’s faeces to her". In this instance, Ethel was transfused nasally, with what the newspaper described as a liquidised sample of faeces. Each of the news reports I have read suggested that the delivery system was ingestion rather than colonic injection, which allows whatever effective agent to work on the whole of the digestive system, from stomach through small intestine to colon.
Various studies have been undertaken, in hospitals from Australia through Scotland to the US. One hospital in Glasgow conducted a trial on twelve patients infected with C. difficle, after antibiotics had failed to control repeated infection. Nine of the twelve reported no further incidence, two had further infections which did respond to standard antibiotics, and one was initially cured but later reinfected. Many people both outside and inside the medical profession believe that antibiotics weaken the general healthy balance of organisms in the bowel. This enables the superbug to do its worst, and that only by attempting to redress the balance can the condition be controlled, in this case by faecal infusions.
The Centre for Digestive Diseases in NorthWest Australia describes the treatment (however administered) as a "treatment of last resort", but they should know - they've been doing it a long time, and they claim a 90% success rate.
So, I ask myself, would I have such a poo transplant? Hell yes, if I had to. Just as long as it's not still warm‡.
† And yes, it seems odd to talk of "bowel flora". What would it smell like, Odour Colon?
‡ Oh, and someone pointed out that there's a supposed sexual practice known as "chunneling" which involves a direct transplant via a tube. It's at http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=chunnel if you want to try.
Rai Tai says re faecal transplant: This general thing is done in cattle very often, except we call it transfaunation, and it's movement of healthy "rumen juice" from one bovine to another. That more than anything can help save a cow's life, because they will starve if they don't have healthy flora/fauna. At the vet school, we have fistulated donor cattle to help save lives, the bacterial way!
A cartoon, just for laughs