Medical Cure for Ulcerative Colitis. Hidden Where the Sun Don’t Shine…
Naturopaths have been accused of being fixated on poop. Unlike most physicians we ask about our patients’ BM habits not only to assess Gastrointestinal function, we ask because we understand that the bowel is literally the seat of good health. At long last conventional research is validating the Naturopathic poop obsession and providing proof that nature has an awesome sense of humor and irony to boot.
The articles I’ve posted below document studies that achieved impressive success rates of over 90% in treatment of colitis (inflammation of the colon). This particular treatment is reluctantly becoming standard of care for pseudo-membranous colitis; induced by opportunistic overgrowth of the bacteria Clostridium difficile after the use of antibiotics has wiped out most of the other bacteria in the GI tract. This form of colitis can be deadly if the balance of gut microflora is not restored and that’s exactly what this treatment accomplishes better than any probiotic supplement could dream of. It has been used safely and successfully for over 50 years in cases of C. diff that cannot be managed with conventional means and has saved many lives and colons from death or surgical resection. This treatment is even more astounding because it is non-toxic and has virtually no adverse side effects as reported in nearly 400 cases in the literature. This treatments main ingredients are readily available and cheaper than imaginable – In fact you couldn’t sell it if you tried.
The treatment I’m talking about bears the acronyms IMT, HPI or FMT by researchers but between you and I, let’s keep it real and call it what it is… A poop transplant… You heard right! Scientists are now realizing the profound impact of gut bacterial ecology (the microbiome) on the whole patient. Yes, we are discovering that perhaps it is the bugs that are in charge and we the willing puppet chauffeurs at their whim. But seriously, strong associations with metabolic disease including diabetes and obesity and all the pathology that goes along with them, immune mediated diseases including cancer, auto-immunity and allergies, of course bowel diseases. Dr. Thomas Borody a prolific publisher of peer reviewed Gastroenterological journal articles used fecal transplant to treat a case of multiple sclerosis. “According to both men, the treatment worked marvelously; Borody is currently setting up medical trials to try to establish proof” (Freakonomics Radio: The Power of Poop). He practices at The Center for Digestive Diseases and they have plans for research transplant for Parkinson's disease. There is also evidence that it may benefit Alzheimer's.
If this sounds to good to be true lets narrow it down and examine some clinical evidence with Ulcerative colitis. One answer may be provided by a small research study by Dr. Borody published in July 2003 in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology involving 6 patients with long term severe Ulcerative Colitis. Dr. Borody and his team provided these patients with fecal transplants after thorough screening of their donors to avoid infectious transmission. The abstract for this study is listed below, the results were quite remarkable: Within 4 months the patients all had complete remission of their disease! “At 1 to 13 years post-HPI (human probiotic infusion) and without any UC medication, there was no clinical, colonoscopic, or histologic evidence of UC in any patient”. None of these patients had any significant side effects with fecal transplant, excluding being a bit “grossed out”. Conventional treatment includes pharmaceutical and surgical options such as potent immune suppressing drugs predisposing patients to cancer and serious infection as side effects, and invasive surgical colon resection with permanent bowel dysfunction, recurrent need for more surgery and colostomy bags. Which option sounds crazy now?
I find it astounding that this study has not been followed up with rigorous studies given the horrible suffering these patients often endure not to mention the stupendous costs of treatments (the best of which are often not covered by insurance). Certainly Dr. Borody’s is only one small study but I guarantee there are no large studies with the current medications and surgical options that command results that are anywhere near this convincing with or without serious side effect. As with most of modern medicine, I suspect the missing inspiration for further study is financial incentive. The lowly stool transplant cannot be patented like a drug and is not nearly so heroic and sterile as a surgeon in a mask with a sharp knife. The literature likes to excuse the lack of momentum by the “ick factor” but that rings very hollow to patients who suffer from UC. Dr. Borody’s work has inspired a number of patients to take things into their own hands. Numerous blogs can be found on the internet where desperate UC patients have attempted do it yourself stool transplant with mixed methods and results. Many at home trans-planters take serious risks by foregoing necessary screening of donors and physician guidance. Dr. Borody’s little study has percolated the popular interests in FMT / HPI and I hope it reaches a boil. I’m sure the supplement and drug companies would love to encapsulate a true full spectrum probiotic but they cannot grow anything this diverse in a factory lab and never will.
This treatment challenges us to examine our impulse of revulsion to a potential natural solution that sounds a bit dirty and “icky” and question our automatic faith and habitual acquiescence to a scientific industrial medical system that heaps its money and technology up proudly like a mountain only to fall at the feet of the humble little turd.
Mother Nature and life are hysterical.
Stay well and keep laughing. – Doc Griffith