In Emergency Situations, a Fecal Transplant May Be a Lifesaving Option

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October 08, 2012 | 223,438 views

Story at-a-glance

  • The easiest way to combat overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria that can cause serious intestinal diseases is to eat traditionally fermented foods, but in an emergency situation, a novel procedure called fecal microbiota transplant may be the difference between life and death
  • A fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) involves taking donor feces and transferring it to the patient during a colonoscopy. In recent research, FMT had a 91 percent resolution of symptoms caused by recurring Clostrium difficile infection, without recurrence within 90 days of FMT
  • FMT should not be thought of as a magical route to fix less than life threatening conditions. You can reduce your risk of developing more serious gut infections, such as C. diff., by making sure you take probiotics during and/or after a course of antibiotics, in order to repopulate the beneficial bacteria in your gut that were killed off by the treatment
  • The ideal way to optimize your gut health is to regularly consume traditionally fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, lassi, kefir, and natto. Avoiding sugar/fructose and processed foods is another essential step

By Dr. Mercola

Probiotics, i.e. beneficial gut bacteria have been heavily featured in the media lately, and for good reason. Researchers are increasingly realizing just how essential your intestinal microflora really is to your health.

The easiest way to improve the makeup of bacteria in your gut is to include traditionally fermented foods in your diet, but in an emergency situation, a novel procedure called fecal microbiota transplant may be the difference between life and death.

Who Knew a Fecal Transplant Could Be a Life Saving Procedure?

Such was the case with Kaitlin Hunter, a California woman who developed a potentially lethal bacterial infection in her colon after spending a month in the hospital recuperating from a serious car accident.

As reported by CNN Health:1

"In the hospital after her accident, doctors followed standard care and put Hunter on antibiotics to prevent an infection. In spite of the antibiotics – or possibly because of them – Clostrium difficile (C. diff) infected her colon, causing severe stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting...

It's believed that antibiotics, which kill harmful infection-causing bacteria, also weaken the beneficial, healthy bacteria percolating in the colon. With the colon's defenses down, C. diff grows rampant, releasing a toxin and inflaming the colon.

C. diff infections kill about 14,000 people in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the number and severity of total cases have increased dramatically over the past decade."

A fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) involves taking donor feces (the donor is typically a spouse or relative; in the Kaitlin's case, it was her mother) and transferring it to the patient during a colonoscopy. In this way, the patient receives a transplanted population of healthy bacteria that can combat the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria.

Recent research has shown the procedure to be very effective against recurrent Clostridium difficile infections. In a study2 published earlier this summer, FMT had a 91 percent primary cure rate, meaning resolution of symptoms without recurrence within 90 days of FMT. The secondary cure rate was 98 percent. Here, resolution of symptoms occurred after one additional course of vanomycin either with or without probiotics and/or a repeat FMT.

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How to Reduce Chances of "Healing Crisis"

There is one precaution that needs to be discussed here, and that is the potential for a so-called "healing crisis," provoked by the massive die-off of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other harmful pathogens by the reintroduction of massive quantities of probiotics. It can significantly worsen whatever health problem you're experiencing, before you get better.

The reason for this is because when the probiotics kill off the pathogens, those pathogenic microbes release toxins. These toxins are what's causing your problem to begin with; be it depression, panic attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or any other symptom. When a large amount of toxin is suddenly released, your symptoms will also suddenly increase. So, if you've never had fermented foods before, you need to introduce them very gradually.

Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends starting off with just ONE TEASPOON of fermented vegetable, such as sauerkraut, with ONE of your meals, and then wait for a couple of days to see how you react. If it's manageable, you can have another helping, and gradually increase your portion. If you feel worse, stop. Let the side effects subside, and then have just a tiny amount again. Some may even need to start with just a teaspoon of the juice ferment to start. Then move on to two teaspoons per day, and so on.

It's important to realize that besides containing massive amounts of beneficial bacteria, fermented foods also contain many active enzymes, which act as extremely potent detoxifiers. As Dr. Cambell-McBride explains:

"Healing goes through two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, and one step back. But you will find that the next layer is smaller. The die off and the detox will not last as long as the previous one... We live in a toxic world, and many of us have accumulated layers and layers of toxicity in our bodies. The body will clean them out, but you will find that each layer will last shorter and not be as severe... Eventually, you will come to complete, radiant health. You will feel 100 percent healthy, no matter how ill you were before."

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References

  • 1 CNN Health September 27, 2012
  • 2 American Journal of Gastroenterology 107, 1079-1087 (July 2012)