May 24, 2011

Is it all about the poo?

My brother sent me on this podcast  from freakonomics radio about how a man with MS was "cured" by getting a fecal transplant.  Apparently, if we have bad germs in our guts, we can get some good germs from someone else's poo and allow them to inhabit our guts.  This will remove the harmful bacteria that live there and therefore return us to health. Assuming they beat up our bacteria and take over.

It's an interesting point.  If we are, as described in the podcast, 10% us and 90% bacteria, there's something to be said about reorganizing our friendly colonists (pun intended) to be more friendly. And, after all, that discovery of H. Pylori and ulcer causation revolutionized the treatment of ulcers.

And, truth be told, there is much research to indicate that MS is probably infection-related, given that it involves an autoimmune response that must be triggered somehow.

I'm not sure about having a poo transplant, though. There's a lot of nasty stuff in poo, much of it I would not want to visit.  Montezuma's revenge, cholera, who knows what else. I'm reminded of the rabbits of Australia - brought on for hunting, reproduced like mad, then they had to treat the rabbit problem, and lost control of that, too.

And I can't help but wonder if some of the same magic thinking is going on here that hangs around those in support of cleanses. Our digestive tract is full of little creatures that change and reproduce and wriggle about depending on what environment we give them. I think they'd be hard to manage long term.

The fellow they interviewed said that he was all better after his treatment, but time will tell. Relapsing-remitting MS is a trickster that way - you can think you have it beaten and then it sneaks up on you from behind (har har). I hope he stays well. But it's another tale of anecdote not making scientific proof.

I'm not signing up for the randomized controlled trial, though.


Nicole said...

Are you serious?

Che koala said...

surely, just taking some probiotics is whole let less ewwww and achieves the same :)

TRC said...

I don't know about it being a cure for MS, but apparently there has been some success using 'fecal bacteriotherapy' to treat antibiotic resistant infections. Some day there could be poo donor clinics...better to give than receive...

Kayla said...

I just listened to this podcast the other day too! I'm planning to write a post about it sometime soon. Lots to think about, but mostly I heartily agree with your final sentiment: EWWWWWW!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My husband just got diagnosed with MS. We have doing our research on this and our considering this. Have you consider trying this or have you done it? Sorry I haven't fully read your blog and may have missed it. Thank you and hope you're doing well.