Imagine going to your physician after several days of high fever and cramps. The doctor examines you and looks at your blood work. After a few minutes of tapping away at her tablet, she texts you a prescription for … feces.
No, this is not a joke. Fecal transplants may very well be the solution to a multitude of diseases that the western world is encountering in growing numbers. Scientists have only recently started to understand the extent to which our gut affects our overall physical and mental health, but the it may hold the key to our well-being. The trillions of bacteria in our intestines not only help to break down the food we eat, but are also involved in a plethora of additional symbiotic relationships with our body’s cells.
Each one of us has a specific combination of bacteria strains in his body, a gut print if you will. Researchers believe that unlocking the “gut genome” may help develop cures (or at least reduce the symptoms) of Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune diseases. In the gut of ill people, there is often an imbalance of bacteria. What if we could restore the balance, or even improve it, by importing the bacteria of a healthy gut?
That’s exactly where fecal transplants come in. Our stool is 70% bacteria, which means we create a copy of our gut microbiome each time we go number 2. There have been reports in respected medical journals of people who suffered from a severe depletion of their gut bacteria (a life threatening situation) who were saved by a fecal donation from healthy individuals.
Don’t go trying this at home just yet. But, judging from a recent article in The Atlantic, these “vitamin sized poo-filled pills that release their contents in the colon” may be coming to your local Walgreen’s sooner than later.
It is believed that our sterile western lifestyle, with hand sanitizer wielding moms incessantly wiping off their children, may lead to a weakened immune system. Our gut never gets a chance to fight out potentially harmful bacteria when we are young. Perhaps we should try to live a bit dirtier than we currently are?