If you wake up and find feces in your nose, you could blame your friend who you seem to remember saying, “Hold my beer and watch this!” Or you could thank the doctor who treated you with a new way of fighting a drug-resistant super stomach bug.
The superbug is the bacterium clostridium difficile, which causes stomach cramps, chronic diarrhea and possible life-threatening colon inflammation. Even worse, it’s resistant to drugs normally used to treat similar problems. C. difficile is commonly picked up in – ironically – hospitals and can quickly develop in the guts of patients who are already being over-treated by other antibiotics.
An alternative natural remedy called a fecal transplant was developed in 1958 but seldom used for obvious reasons. It involves mixing feces taken from like donors, preferably family members, and inserting them into the small intestine by enema. Doctors originally used fresh stools but found that frozen feces worked equally well and could be stored much longer.
More recently, unadulterated donor feces were mixed with saline solution and given to the patient via a feeding tube from the nose to the stomach, a procedure that is easier and much less expensive. This procedure and other new developments were presented at a recent conference of Australasian anesthetists and surgeons by University of Sydney associate professor Ian Seppelt, an intensive care doctor and anesthetist.
Seppelt says the fecal transplant is 95% successful and works because healthy humans have about 100 times more bacteria cells in their gut than their own cells. He is part of a team that is studying the gut bacteria of intensive care patients across Australia. More information is still needed, says Seppelt.
We are trying to get the balance right, but we are pretty much ignorant of what we are doing to the normal bacteria in the gut.
Another natural remedy that stinks, but not as much as the disease it cures.