Fecal Microbiota Transplants-Why do You Need to Know about it?

Fecal Microbiota Transplants-Why do You Need to Know about it?

As per a study published in a journal named Gastroenterology Hepatology, fecal transplants have a cure rate of about 91 percent. It can treat infection caused by Clostridium difficile and may even help in the treatment of colitis, IBS, and different autoimmune problems.

There are a lot of instances in which an infection that is risking the life of a person may actually get treated by a fecal transplant. It is a process in which stool or fecal matter of a healthy donor is mixed into saline and then strained only to place it another person.

The stool-saline mixture is placed inside the colon of a receiver with the help of different techniques such as endoscopy, colonoscopy, or even with an enema.

You may be wondering why a technique like fecal transplant even exists. The basic purpose of this process is to implant healthy bacteria in the receiver’s colon.

This repopulation can also occur naturally if you consume foods rich in probiotics or by simply taking probiotic supplements. However, this process is quite slow and requires a lot of time to actually work.

An average probiotic supplement or food item is said to contain up to 30 strains of bacteria. In contrast, a healthy poop sample has more than a thousand strains of bacteria.

Before you start judging this procedure or more likely reject it, realize that the Fecal Microbiota Transplant or FMT has strong scientific evidence.

Fecal Microbiota Transplants

FMT has not been included in the mainstream media yet but it is already providing benefits to millions of people.

The technique is especially useful for those who are tired or recurring intestinal problems due to bacteria, known as Clostridium difficile.

It is being anticipated that in the future, it may also be able to treat problems such as leaky gut syndrome, ulcerative colitis, IBS, chronic fatigue syndrome, and several autoimmune diseases.

Why would You Need a Fecal Transplant?

It is quite normal to ask the conditions in which you would require an FMT. You may be wondering why would someone want to get someone else’s stool transferred to his colon?

It turns out that this technique is for everybody whose own microbiome has failed him. There are trillions of useful bacteria that reside in your gut and form the gut microbiota.

The human poop also comprises of almost 500 of such bacterial strains and over 4000 microbes that otherwise form your gut microbiome.

This microbiome is like another world present inside the gut. It has both good and bad bacteria which are affecting every little activity going on in your gut.

The gut microbiome is different for different individuals. This is because it is susceptible to a lot of changes such as the consumption of processed foods, medications, and antibiotics.

Imagine if there is a way to get rid of all the worn out bacterial strains from your microbiome and replace it with some healthy ones? This is exactly what can be achieved by following FMT.

Fecal Microbiota Transplants

As per the Centre for Digestive Diseases in Sydney, it is extremely important to understand the significance of a gut microbiota in order to appreciate the use of FMT in humans.

More than 10 trillion bacteria reside in the human body which is 10 times more than the total human cells. Most of these bacteria are present in the GI tract and that’s exactly where FMT targets.

People who are victims of digestive problems such as Crohn’s disease, IBS, and ulcerative colitis have a number of bad bacteria in their microbiome as compared to the good ones

The good bacteria in your body are often killed off due to several factors such as consuming a poor diet or using antibiotics for a long time.

For such people, FMT is of particular significance. This procedure can let these people get their healthy bacteria back through a healthy donor’s feces. This makes their digestive system stronger and treats all the conditions.

The best way to perform an FMT is by transplanting feces to the receiver while the bacteria are still alive. In this way, these microbes can take over the receiver’s get much more easily and start repopulating immediately.

RELATED: Are You Having Signs of IBS?

Are Fecal Transplants Safe?

By donating healthy stool to the receivers, the donor is actually providing him an ability to increase the levels of good bacteria in his body and to get rid of all the problematic symptoms of his GI tract.

As per the latest research, FMT is effective in up to 98 percent of the cases. So, while it may seem a bit weird to you while receiving someone else’s poop, remember that it has a high success rate and is an affordable solution to people who have been fighting GI disorders for years.

FMT can also be carried out with the help of capsules. It was tried in a clinical trial in the year 2017. The trial concluded with a success rate of 96.2 percent. All these individuals were able to prevent the infection caused by Clostridium difficile after getting the treatment.

This was found to be equally true in both groups; one receiving FMT via capsules while the other receiving it via colonoscopy.

Only 5.4 percent of the individuals receiving capsules were found to suffer from side effects. On the contrary, 12.5 percent of the people receiving FMT via colonoscopy complained about side effects.

66 percent of the people receiving capsules stated that their experience was not unpleasant. On the other hand, 44 percent of the people receiving colonoscopy had similar views to share.

Moreover, the total cost of the treatment in case of capsules was around $308 as compared to $874 for those who received a colonoscopy.

Fecal Microbiota Transplants

The best thing about this therapy is that it has not been related to any serious side effects so far. This makes it an affordable, low-risk, and highly efficacious way of minimizing GI problems.

How FMT Works?

Since 2013, the FDA has restricted FMT to qualified physicians only. These physicians are specially trained in reference to this procedure. It is strictly not recommended to perform FMT on your own.

At present, the physicians are performing FMT to get rid of recurrent attacks of C. difficile. The procedure is carried out after getting a signed consent from all the patients and by completely testing the stool of the donor.

Fecal transplants are usually performed in clinics. The process begins by dilution of the donor’s stool with the help of a liquid. The most commonly used liquid in this regard is saline.

As soon as the liquid is diluted, it is placed into the intestinal tract of the patient with the help of colonoscopy, enema or a tube inserted from the nose and directed towards the small intestine.

The commonest way of performing FMT is by collecting the stool sample in a cup and placing it in a French catheter. This allows the sample to get injected into the colon of the person receiving it.

The living microbes present in the stool soon take hold of the gut and start populating. This allows the beneficial bacteria to take over the microbiome and kill any infection that has been recurring.

The popularity of FMT is continuously increasing, and with the increase in the window of benefits, it is likely to receive a lot of appreciation from the masses in the near future.

Nancy holds a Pharmacy degree from University of Michigan and Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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