You are likely aware of organ donation, and may have even signed up on a registry, or if you are like me, and live in Alberta, you may have checked off the organ donor boxes on the back of your provincial health care card.
Or maybe you donate blood, because there is a need for blood and you know you are helping someone by donating.
But have you ever thought of donating your poop? Not likely. Why on earth would you donate your poop? Or more importantly, why would you get a poop transplant?
Healthy fecal matter (poop) is needed for fecal transplants. Fecal transplantation is exactly what it sounds like. The fecal matter of a healthy individual is transplanted into the colon of an unhealthy individual. Grossed out? Don’t be.
Fecal transplantation has enormous potential in restoring the health of individuals where the gut microbiome is not in a healthy state. If you’ve ever chatted with me, or been to my Gut Health = Good Health Support Group, then you know just how many health conditions are affected by our microbiome. Fecal transplants provide a way for a healthy gut microbiome to be transplanted into an individual with a health condition.
While research has exploded in the area of the microbiome, not a lot of research has been done on fecal transplants. You can easily do your own on-line search, but some of the health conditions that have been correlated to either excessive or deficient amounts of specific species of gut organisms include Parkinson’s, autism, MS, and heart disease.
One area where the use of fecal transplants is widely accepted is with Clostridia Difficile (C. diff) infections that are antibiotic resistant. If a person has C. diff and has not responded to antibiotics, then fecal transplants offer a very successful treatment option. This procedure has been around since the early 1950s for C. diff, and is used in a growing number of hospitals.
If you are still grossed out, then think of fecal transplants as microbiome transplants. By the time processing is complete for transplantation the end product doesn’t resemble poop anymore.
It’s time to broaden the application of fecal transplants. Research has been done on fecal transplants in the areas of autism and Parkinson’s, and it is very promising. Clinically it has also been used for multiple sclerosis (and likely a few other conditions as well), but I haven’t seen any research studies.
Donors have to be carefully screened, and it can be a bit challenging to find an appropriate donor. Once a donor is found and they provide their fecal matter, then the poop goes through a process to make it viable for transplantation.
When Should Fecal Transplants Be Considered?
My clinical practice is built on teaching people how to eat to restore their microbiome. Diet should almost always be the first approach used to bring the microbiome back to a healthy state. The primary reason for this is to create an environment in the gut for the microbiome to be able to colonize. For some people, there are also genetic reasons that make them more susceptible to microbial imbalances, so then it is especially important that the gut be in the best state it can be to accept a new, healthy microbiome.
For some people, diet alone can bring about huge changes. In situations where a person’s health or quality of life has reached a critical stage where more drastic measures are needed, or when someone’s life is at risk (such as with C. diff), then fecal transplants can offer hope.
Need More Information?
Send me an email with your questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy, Healthy Pooping