Fecal transplants (or fecal microbiota transplants, FMT) are used in medicine primarily in an attempt to treat problems in the gut microbiome with transplants from people with healthier microbiomes. The first fecal transplant reported in a scientific journal was in 1958, but research was minimal until 2012.
Treatments have addressed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis and Clostridium difficile infection. In such cases a plausible rationale for such treatment exists, and some treatments have had success. Transplants have often used suppositories, but oral pills of extracted bacteria seem to provide the safest method. In other words, researchers started with a bottoms-up approach and have now moved towards a top-down approach.
Efficacy and safety
Fecal transplants have a 90% cure rate for treating C. difficile, far more effective than antibiotics. In a small study of 55 patients with both IBS and inflammatory bowel disease, only 52% were cured or had decreased symptoms after treatment with FMT. In a smaller study of 13 patients with IBS only, 70% reported improvement of symptoms after treatment with FMT.
FMT is not without risk. "Autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren syndrome, idiopathic thrombocyto-penic purpura, and peripheral neuropathy) developed in 4 of the 77 patients" in one long-term study. Even if you think you have your shit together and you already have everything you need to do an FMT, do not try this at home.
Raquel Rubio et al. won the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize in Nutrition for their study on infant fecal bacteria used as probiotics in sausages. This is one kind of sausage that you absolutely do not want to see being made. Unless...
The difference between the alternative medicine treatment and the medicine treatment is that:
- Alternative medicine fecal samples are generally not screened for pathogens.
- Alternative medicine claims tend toward a wide variety of implausible applications.
Human and animal feces are in the Chinese Materia Medica, and have a long history in traditional Chinese medicine. "In the 16th century, Li Shizhen detailed a variety of fecal preparations called 'yellow soup' to be given for diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and constipation." It can even be found for sale online as Excremento Hominis in a preparation called ren zhong huang (人中黄) or (licorice with human feces). The laundry list of indications for ren zhong huang includes "erysipelas, sores, polydipsia with high fever, typhoid with heat disease, macula due to heat-toxin."
Ren zhong huang (as jen chung huang) appears in the Chinese Materia Medica as treatment for:
“”Epidemic fevers, delirious fevers, mushroom poisoning, and abscesses. Osteomyelitis, hematemesis [vomiting blood], epistaxis [nasal bleeding], regurgitation. For unerupted smallpox. Antiphlegmatic. The smell will induce insects to crawl out of any of the body orifices and relieve irritation. The ash is applied to genital sores in children, prolapse of the uterus after childbirth is best treated with roasted feces.
Knife wounds in the abdomen with extrusion of the bowel should be dressed with the dried powdered material.Bleeding needle wounds are dressed with the ash. Snake bite should have a thick dressing of feces. it is an antidote internally to all kinds of poisoning, either in the form of ash, or the clear liquid feces is given.
Plain human feces are given:
“”For epidemic fevers, incoordinated gait, as an antidote for poisons, given in the form a soup made from the dried and powdered material. Given with water for typhoid. Applied to boils, in one day they will burst. For carbuncles and smallpox sores which are undeveloped. For osteomyelitis.
“”I am witness to it, cow dung and urine are a 100 per cent cure for cancer.
|—Shankarbhai Vegad, BJP MP|
In Spain, two biology students, Fernando Cervera and Mariano Collantes, claimed to have invented their own pseudomedicine in 2010, called fecomagnetismo, as a part of one social experiment. The pseudomedicine was supposed to use human fecal samples with magnets, and diluted by homeopathic procedures. The experiment ended three years later, after they appeared on important webpages, events and promotional publications about pseudomedicines. They appeared on national TV in 2017, as a part of a critical show about how pseudomedicines are created.
To cure homosexuality
Feces has been used in reparative therapy. The gay male client bottles his feces, and when he experiences desires for sodomy, he opens it up and takes a whiff. The aim is to "remind (gay men) where (they) stick their penis" and that "homosexual relations are not pleasurable."
- OpenBiome provides screened fecal microbiota preparations to the medical community for FMT. Donors are paid for samples and can win prizes for the biggest or most donations in a month.
- Alternatives needed to do-it-yourself feces swaps by Erika Engelhaupt (February 20, 2014). Science News
- Intestinal Microbiota and the Efficacy of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in Gastrointestinal Disease by Olga C. Aroniadis & Lawrence J. Brandt. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2014 Apr; 10(4): 230–237.
- Poop-transplant pills treat intestinal infection: Freezing donated gut bacteria keeps them fresh to fight Clostridium difficile by Kate Baggaley (October 16, 2014). Science News
- Introducing the first bank of feces by Erika Engelhaupt (February 12, 2014). Science News
- Oral, Capsulized, Frozen Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Relapsing Clostridium difficile Infection by Ilan Youngster et al. Journal of the American Medical Association November 5, 2014, Vol 312, No. 17, p. 729.
- Fecal Transplants Bring Hope to Patients, Challenge the FDA by Janis C. Kelly (December 15, 2014). MedScape
- BBC: Woman's stool transplant leads to 'tremendous weight gain'
- http://www.improbable.com/ig/ig-pastwinners.html Winners of the Ig® Nobel Prize]
- Characterization of lactic acid bacteria isolated from infant faeces as potential probiotic starter cultures for fermented sausages by Raquel Rubio et al. Food Microbiology Volume 38, April 2014, Pages 303–311. doi:10.1016/j.fm.2013.07.015.
- Intestinal Microbiota and the Role of Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) in Treatment of C. difficile Infection by Lawrence J Brandt. The American Journal of Gastroenterology 2013;108(2):177-185.
- Should We Standardize the 1,700-Year-Old Fecal Microbiota Transplantation? by Faming Zhang et al. The American Journal of Gastroenterology 107, 1755 (November 2012). doi:10.1038/ajg.2012.251
- Wholesale Price List Of Chinese Herbs (7) Eastern Chinese Medicine Export Company (products A394 & A395).
- TCM Wiki: Ren Zhong Huang
- Chinese Materia Medica: Animal Drugs by Bernard E. Read (1931). Peking Natural History Bulletin. Based upon the "Pen Ts'ao Kang Mu" [Bencao Gangmu] by Li Shih-Chen [Li Shizhen].
- Cow dung, urine can cure cancer: BJP MP The Hindu
- Vice: Korean Poo Wine
- Korean Feces Wine is a Real Thing and We’ve Got Two Bottles of it
- Bottoms up? The bizarre traditional Korean rice wine that uses human POO to 'heal' everything from broken bones to epilepsy
- Fecomagnética Médico Archive.org
- Terapia Fecomagnética Fecomagnética Médico
- Equipo de Investigación/Los nuevos curanderos (2017) Antena3.com
- Fecomagnetismo: mierda para curar enfermedades: Entrevistamos a los creadores del fecomagnetismo, una supuesta terapia alternativa con excrementos humanos que destapó la estafa de las pseudociencias. by Ana Llurba (Sep. 9 2014) Vice.
- Reparative therapy.