There has been an increase in scientific interest in how faecal matter can be used to optimise health, and we’re not talking about just digestive health! Scientists have discovered that human waste can be repurposed to treat diseases such as obesity, autism, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and nasty gut ailments.
Waste is a terrible thing to waste
According to The Faecal Transplant Foundation, Faecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) is a procedure in which faecal matter (or stool) is collected from a tested donor, mixed with a saline or other solution, strained, and placed in a patient, either by colonoscopy, endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or enema. This in turn changes the makeup of our gastrointestinal flora. Ultimately, the health of the microbes in our gut affects both our physical and mental health.
Red, blue and now brown pill?
This discovery could make a significant difference in the treatment of patients suffering from Crohn’s disease. Hospitals and facilities that specialise in caring for the elderly are familiar with the risk of clostridium difficile, which occurs when the trigger responsible for the condition overwhelms the other bacteria in your gut, causing a horrible condition called pseudomembranous colitis. It has been shown that the disease can be mitigated by FMT and it's a proven science solution with a 97% curing rate.
A promising outlook
The successes of FMT is owed to several trials and anecdotes. A doctor shared a success story of how a depressed client in his 50s was suicidal because of a gut issue.
"He had a course of FMT. I was a bit nervous about his follow up visit a month later – the man was suicidal and I was worried about him. But he jumped out of his chair and said 'You've changed my life!'.
"I rang his psychiatrist, who said 'What did you do?' I said 'All I did was change his gut microbes.'
Unfortunately, FMT in pill form is still a couple of years away from gaining public access. An enema is currently the only way to deliver FMT. While the prospect of having tiny bits of someone else’s stool inside might turn the stomachs of some, the actual procedure itself is as sterile a process as you’d expect, considering that it’s performed in a hospital. It’s a sticky idea for sure, but it might even save your life!