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Monday, October 04, 2010

Fecal Transplants, er, I mean bacteriotherapy

And, more detailed, here, though you might need a login (and a strong stomache) to read this...

Its been some years since I posted here - I suppose near death by neglect - but, with a topic like this how could I resist?  (And I've been quite busy over at the Lone Wolf blog so I figured why not add to the blogging fun.)

And yes, you read the title correctly.  I will spare you with the ghastly details of how, precisely, this is accomplished - feel free to read the above article at Medipage to learn about that.

The concept here is actually quite good and makes a lot of sense - at least in theory.  Let me explain...

Your intestines play host to a variety of bacteria that assist your body in digestion.  Now, as for bacteria on humans, there are apparently many specialized types (see this for some ideas).  The theory is that if these bacteria get killed off (say via antibiotics) or suffer other calamity your health can suffer severely.

The good news here is that there are many other ways to reboot your intestinal flora besides fecal transplants - various probiotic supplements are designed to the same thing.

I've had personal experience with this ... drum roll ... through my dog.  Poor old Mugs (a giant Boston Terrier) came to me in mid-life suffering from all the usual mid-life misery - chief among the misery - screwed up bowels (I'm sure you can imagine the details).   When I first got him he had been on antibiotics most of his life for his ear problems.  Long story short he would scratch his ears, they would get full of cuts and infections, and he'd get antibiotics.  This went on for years.

The antibiotics killed off his intestinal flora - they were kaput.  My lovely wife recommended that we "fix" this with some probiotics she happened to have laying around the house.  So, for about a month, each meal old Mugs got a shot of probiotics.  And, sure enough, the results of his food digestion process significantly improved.

(Of course we also stopped the antibiotics and figured out how to fix his ears homeopathically.)

It took a few more years of tinkering with his ear problems to finally get him back to full health, but we did, and now he is as spry as our 2 year old Boston Terrier/Pug mix - leaping vertically about 3 feet when needed.  These days old Mugs can eat trash, garbage, paper, plastic, you name it, with the best of them and by next morning everything has been passed on.

I am glad that this new fecal transplant thing came about after Mugs had his problems...

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