Scientists have turned human fecal matter into medicine
If you were suffering from diarrhea due to a C. difficile infection, would you consider taking pills that contained freeze-dried poop from healthy volunteers? What if I told you it had a 90 percent success rate?
In a story that sounds like it's the plot of a children's book about poop, researchers have discovered that transferring healthy gut bacteria via capsules actually helps resolve the infection. C. difficile, more formally known as Clostridium difficile, is a nasty bacteria that causes a ton of unpleasant symptoms, including diarrhea, pain, fever, loss of appetite and abdominal tenderness. It's also a hardy bacteria — it can live on surfaces for weeks. Surfaces like counters, the credit card reader at your grocery store and just about anything else you've probably touched today.
Prior studies have shown the effectiveness of poop therapy in those suffering with a C. difficile infection, but concerns over, you know, using poop as medicine has reduced its possibilities as a popular treatment plan (prior treatment plans required invasive procedures to place the healthy bacteria directly in the intestines of those who were suffering). However, new research conducted using freeze-dried fecal matter (from healthy, completely screened donors) has eliminated the risk of bacteria implantation, and the success rate is stellar.
In the study group of this particular research, 90 percent of the patients reported their diarrhea resolved. Better yet, this administration of other people's poop helped them stay symptom free.
This is great news for those who have been afflicted with C. difficile, because it has been known to be incredibly difficult to treat and completely eradicate. That being said, how happy would you be to ingest fecal matter from another person? Would you worry about the pill accidentally popping open in your mouth, or is that the least of your concerns if you're pooping diarrhea five to 10 times a day?
I think this research, while it sounds completely disgusting, is amazing. I've never been affected by C. difficile, but if I were, I'd totally sign up to take poop pills. I've had my fair share of gastrointestinal illnesses and 24 to 48 hours is enough for me to know that I'd not tolerate weeks of diarrhea very well at all.
The researchers say that more studies, with a larger sample size, need to be done. They also did not use a placebo to study those possible effects. But this is very promising, despite the grade-school feces humor. Who knew that poop could help someone with diarrhea?