FECAL MICROBIOTA TRANSPLANTS
ARE YOU SERIOUS?
AS SERIOUS AS A HEART ATTACK!
Almost exclusively due to unbridled Antibiotic use, about 3 million Americans a year are infected with a bacteria called Clostridium Difficile ---- a bug that is typically picked up in hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes, and other similar settings. Because this particular bacteria (C. Diff) attacks the Gut, about half a million of those infected develop cramping, diarrhea, and fever, along with a painfully inflamed colon. And despite the fact that you've never heard of C. Diff before, as many as 30,000 Americans die from it annually. Just another one of those dirty little secrets.
Interestingly enough, there is another group of people who tend to get this infection. Along with HELIOBACTERIA PYLORI INFECTIONS --- the stomach infection which is the known cause of Ulcers and Gastritis ---- people taking acid blocking drugs (prevacid, prilosec, tagamet, asiphix, etc) are getting it as well, due to their propensity to foul up the body's pH balance (they raise stomach pH, while lowering the pH of the body --- the exact opposite of what most people really need (see above link). Once C. Dif takes over the G.I. tract, all sorts of bad things begin to happen.
One of the last-ditch efforts being used in treating these individuals involves something called "Stool Transplants" (the official name is Fecal Microbiota Transplantation ---- FMT). Despite the fact that people suffering from C. Diff have Guts (intestines) that are literally devastated by the effects of INFLAMMATION, it has been discovered that transplanting "healthy" fecal material from a donor to the infected patient cures the infection in about 90% of the cases. Let's go look at some history to figure out why; because maybe if we can figure out why this is happening in the first place, it can be stopped in its tracks before it takes off and runs (no pun intended).
OUR MODERN MEDICAL COMMUNITY
For starters, your Gut is the seat of your Immune System. An Australian study done by a team of several medical doctors was published in a 1999 issue of The American Journal of Physiology. It was called, "The Intestine as a Sensory Organ: Neural, Endocrine, and Immune Responses". What did these researchers have to say about this topic? They said that according to the current research, "The gut immune system has 70– 80% of the body's immune cells" (HERE). When you look at the incredible amount of information packed in to these two highlighted sentences above, an interesting picture begins to emerge. We see just from these two sentences that there is a powerful relationship between the Endocrine System, The Gut, and the Immune System. This is why I created a website on this very topic called ENDOGUT.
Just remember this; Dysbiosis is being linked back to numerous health problems of the Immune System and hormonal (Endocrine) system (AUTOIMMUNITY, THYROID PROBLEMS, BLOOD SUGAR DYSREGULATION / DIABETES, ADRENAL PROBLEMS, SEXUAL HEALTH, and a plethora of others). If neither you nor your doctor are versed in addressing these problems logically and systematically, you'll end up like so many others who are spending unholy amounts of money on medical care and getting nowhere as far as answers are concerned. More of the same-old same-old; more tests, more drugs, more surgeries, and more blank deer-in-the-headlight stares.
Remember how I said that if you go back 50 years or so, you'll see that the medical community thought differently about Gut Health than they do today? Let me prove it to you. Although veterinarians have been using this procedure on sick racehorses for the better part of a century, 55 years ago in Australia, Dr. Thomas Borody performed the first Stool Transplants on four C. Diff patients --- successfully, I might add. Why has it not garnered more attention before this? I probably do not have to tell you. For one thing, you cannot patent dukie like you can patent a drug. For another; you walk into your doctor's office, and he says you have a bacterial overgrowth in your large intestine. You assume he will give you an antibiotic (which is actually the current treatment of choice ---- after all, antibiotics kill bacteria). You fill the prescription on the way home. But as you surf the web, you stumble across my blog and begin studying the information that you find there. One of the first things that you learn is that it was the antibiotics that made you susceptible to the infection in the first place.
Like I just mentioned, the medical community's SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for treating C. Diff infections is treating them with antibiotics. But once you understand that Antibiotics do more to destroy American Immune Systems than almost any other common substance people ingest in the name of health, you'll begin to grasp how big a deal this really is. You see, although the Antibiotic treatment used to treat the initial C. Diff infection works about 90% of the time, reinfection rates are skyrocketing. This is not difficult to understand. You get a cold or the flu and your doctor erroneously gives you Antibiotics --------> You take the Antibiotics faithfully ---------> The cold goes away like it would have done on its own anyway ----------> Antibiotics weaken the Immune System, which is largely made up of bacteria living in your Gut ----------> A weakened Immune System leaves you susceptible to more infections ---------> When you get another infection, you go to the doctor who prescribes you ---- yep; more Antibiotics.
As the cycle spins in a big circle (Sickness, Antibiotics, Sickness, Antibiotics), your run down Immune System gets weaker and weaker and weaker ---- each round hammering it into a veritable playground for all sorts of sickness and disease. And finally it happens. On one of those trips to the doctor, you pick up a C. Diff infection that someone has so thoughtfully left for you to find. Not only might it take years for anyone to actually figure out that your problem is a Clostridium Difficele infection, if they do figure it out, there is an almost 100% chance of you being treated with Antibiotics. Besides the cost of this particular antibiotic-therapy being ridiculously high (about $1,500 for 10 days), Antibiotics are exactly why the the recurrence rates for C. Diff are also so high. And as you might imagine, the odds of really bad things (like death) go up with each recurrence.
Although people who are not sick tend to gross out and talk about the "ick factor" of a Fecal Transplant, sick people really don't care as much as you might think. It is sort of like the TISSUE REMODELING TREATMENTS that are a huge focus of my practice. Because there can be some ugly and widespread bruising associated with the procedure, people who are not in pain tend to look at the bruising of people I have treated and say something along the lines of, "I would never have that done, even if you paid me" (HERE). This just means that any physical problems they may be dealing with have not reached critical mass ---- the point of true desperation. People who have the kind of pain that encompasses their whole being, ruins their life, and becomes the only thing that they can think about (HERE), couldn't care less about a bruise. Desperation born from pain produces people who would be willing to let you beat them with a ball-pein hammer if they thought it had a prayer of fixing their problem. In many ways, a Feces Transplant produces a similar situation. I get it ---- the term "Fecal Transplant" does sound kind of gross. But laying on your back, six feet under, with your arms folded across your chest, taking a dirt nap (or living the rest of your life in misery) doesn't sound too enticing either.
Truthfully, if you simply try not to think about it, going to the dentist is probably worse. After having the colon cleaned out via an enema --- similar to the preparation for a Lower GI Study ---- less than two ounces of donated fecal matter is "injected" into the rectum using a gizmo that is basically an extra-large syringe. It takes a grand total of about 5 minutes to perform the procedure, and patients often see dramatic changes within the first couple of days. The transplant typically needs to be done only once to re-establish the good bacteria and start the process of restoring one's Immune System.
Not that I am recommending it, but there are scientific studies as well as a growing body of anecdotal evidence for actually performing this procedure in the comfort of your own home (HERE). My interest in this topic was piqued a couple years ago after reading of an individual who got tired of bickering back and forth with his insurance company who were refusing to pay for the procedure (they called it "experimental"), so he went out and did it himself. He found a healthy donor, cleaned out his colon, and gave himself a Feces Enema. In fact, in Europe, they are beginning to use this technique to heal AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES. It's not like it's brain surgery, and it's definitely better than the alternative. Speaking of alternatives.......
A couple of big drug companies are working feverishly on medications and vaccines against C. Diff. If you understand VACCINES, you'll know that I do not believe this is a good idea. Many of these developmental drugs are being designed to go after the toxins made by the bacteria. Although this is not a terrible idea, I would rather see the infection dealt with than simply covering symptoms with a drug ---- and then using Antibiotics to take care of the C. Diff infection itself.
Furthermore, if you have been following my blog and grasp the relationship between the Gut and overall health, it is fairly easy to understand why it's actually being used to treat problems other than diarrhea and cramping. I have written extensively on the relationship between Gut Health and Immune System Function, and mentioned the amount of research associating abnormal Gut Flora (bacteria) with all sorts of disease process. Wikipedia agreed, saying this about Stool Transplants.
It can also be used to treat other conditions, including colitis, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and some neurological conditions and autoimmune disorders. Wiki paraphrased this from a 1989 issue of The Medical journal of Australia. Isn't it fascinating that there is a huge relationship between healthy gut flora and the Nervous System? I have talked about this fairly extensively in ENDOGUT & BRAIN-BASED THERAPY. One of the chief neurological problems studied? PARKINSON'S. To understand the relationship between Gut Health and Autoimmunity, CLICK HERE. Another common problem being treated with this procedure is MIGRAINE HEADACHES.
The thing is, Stool Transplants are a still a niche ---- a form of treatment done only by a select group of forward-thinking Gastroenterologists. If you are not already suffering from raging C. Diff infection, I want to go over a few methods to help prevent the problem from starting in the first place. These things might actually help cure the infection of one who already has C. Diff as well.
THINGS TO DO TO PREVENT CLOSTRIDIUM DIFFCILE AND OTHER SIMILAR INFECTIONS
- NIX THE ANTIBIOTICS: Although they have the ability to save lives, I would argue that other than our massive over-consumption of processed foods, nothing has done more to destroy the health of the American public than Antibiotics. When people have chronic infections, H. PYLORI, Staph, Strep, Yeast, Mold, Fungus, etc, etc, ANTIBIOTICS are almost always to blame. This is the case with C. Diff as well. The truth is, we are frequently way too clean both inside and out (HERE).
- CUT BACK ON SUGAR AND STARCHY CARBS: If Antibiotics are the cause of various forms of DYSBIOSIS (including C. Diff infections), SUGAR is the straw that stirs the drink. I have shown you over and over that UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR is at the root of practically all health problems --- including this one. Be aware that GLUTEN (grain protein) is being implicated in this problem as well.
- EAT A DIET OF WHOLE FOODS: Whole Foods are where it's at. If you are not eating a LOW CARB or PALEO TYPE DIET, you may want to look into some of the research on the subject.
- DRINK PLENTY OF WATER AND EXERCISE: These are both generalized health tips that will boost your Immune System function and help promote Bowel Health. The best way to exercise is HERE. If you are fighting an active C. Diff infection, you may have to back off of the exercise until you get it under control.
- TAKE PROBIOTICS: Everyone needs to be periodically taking PROBIOTICS --- especially if you have been on Antibiotics. I recommend broad-spectrum HSO Probiotics that replenish your Gut with the same bacteria found in organic soil. If you have C. Diff, you have to get extremely serious about this by eating lots of fermented foods as well. Be aware that for some of you, probiotics will not be enough (HERE).