The problem with fecal transplants


33 Responses to “The problem with fecal transplants”

  1. awjt says:

    I call BS on this.  The FDA just needs to give it pre-market approval for a new BLA (biologic license application.)

    see this:

  2. How is it fundamentally different (from a bureaucratic perspective) from a blood transfusion? Those are both non-tissue bodily substances.

  3. mrmopwater says:


  4. Lobster says:

    Not to be cynical or anything, but what did Einstein have to do with medicine?

    • jackbird says:

      He allowed his name to be attached to the medical school of Yeshiva University while it was under construction after hearing that admissions would be open to all religions and races, something that was unusual in the late 1940s.

  5. extra88 says:

    Diverticulitis is awful and I’m sure a course of antibiotics was preferable to surgery but if this was a “scorched earth” approach I wonder if it would be possible to store one’s intestinal flora before starting the antibiotics. Then, once the treatment was over you could “repopulate” your intestine from yourself instead of from a donor. I suppose there would be a concern for storing the bad with the good but my impression is with diverticulitis the bad is localized to the pockets.

    • awjt says:

      Or store some of your shit from an intestinally happier time, for use when you really need it later on.  Like people who keep their kids’ placental blood.  You could keep old toenails, haircuttings and baby teeth in the same nitrogen-cooled bio-locker.

    • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

      Why bother?  No matter how cheap they make poop storage I guarantee you can find an ample supply for free at a wide variety of locations at any time.

    • mranon says:

      Indeed, this is already being done in some cases. Just like banking your own blood. I forget the term used for it.

      • voiceinthedistance says:

        I believe they are marketing it under the name Shitlocker.

        I personally am waiting for the turd of the month club.  Next month:  Nepal!  I just hope it comes inconspicuously packaged.

  6. citizen says:

    Back and forth, forever.

  7. It won’t be approved until the drug companies find a way to patent shit. It’s all about the money.

  8. Vincent Maldia says:

    probiotics in drug form are already available like erceflora.

    why not one by one find out exactly which bacterial species/species combination works then cleanly grow those in the lab and then place them in capsules which dissolve in the large intestine

    its the equivalent of moving from chewing on willow tree bark to aspirin

    • theresa hewitt says:

      The problem with this approach is that the bacterial population of the human GI tract is made up of hundreds of species, many (if not most) of which have yet to be identified or even well-described, creating an extremely complex self-correcting/limiting microbiome.  For all intents and purposes, the development of a product that even begins to approximate the early results of fecal transplantation is currently impossible and, ultimately, nonsensical.

      Aspirin vs. willow bark, or Marinol vs. marijuana for that matter, are perfect examples of why this approach really *doesn’t* work very well, honestly.  In the case of aspirin, 2-3 minutes of googling yields a plethora of information regarding the various other beneficial active compounds found in willow bark besides salicylic acid, including several compounds which act as prodrugs of salicylic acid (are converted to salicylic acid upon absorption) which neatly circumvent the GI issues that aspirin is known to cause.  Treatment with marinol frequently causes negative side-effects such as anxiety, nausea and dysphoria, which negatively impact any therapeutic effect and are generally absent when using whole preparations of marijuana.  I’m not saying that the sum action of whole products is always *better* than that of derivative products, but the effect of this approach is something to be aware of.

      tl;dr: Well-screened poop donors > billions spent on sanitizing the concept into a poor simulacra of poop.

  9. Guest says:

    ‘In the U.S., however, the research logjam persists.’  *titter*

    ‘Increasing research interest in the influence of gut flora on the rest of the body—and on conditions as varied as obesity, anxiety and depression—will likely bring pressure for transplants to be adopted more widely.’

    In the future, I’d like to see this treatment used prophylactically.  There’s a huge number of us Boomers who were prescribed antibiotics for every little thing that happened to us when we were children.  While we may not suffer from C. diff per se (yet), Boomers seem to be a generation with chronic gut problems, even those leading a fairly clean and health lifestyle (cuz we want to live FOREVER and look good doing it!.)  I’ve wondered how many of those gut problems started in childhood and are organic in origin (as opposed to ‘it’s all on your head’ or ‘you’re getting older’.)

  10. Jenonymous says:

    Insert Human Centipede reference here.

    Followed by Cute Chaser here:

    You’re welcome…

  11. lknope says:

    This is totally off topic but that picture makes me think of this 25 second clip:

  12. tomrigid says:

    If you imagine the old days like 100 years ago, and more usefully back to pre-agrarian times, you can’t help but imagine a world in which people are accidentally ingesting shit all the time. An okapi poops in the woods and a juicy mushroom grows up, Mog eats and refreshes Mog’s gut-florae. Also: open sewers.

    This is hygiene theory, the idea that our physical equilibrium is calibrated to a far more diverse and challenging environment than the one we post-industrial folk currently inhabit. Our bodies are a pyramid of little struggles, all balancing well enough to support a thick bundle of neurons which thinks of itself in the first person, with a severe distaste for feces.

    • Guest says:

      It’s based on this theory that researchers have been going into more agrarian cultures of late and collecting stool samples and studying the bacterial composition, exactly because they live closer to the land… by some coincidence, the folks in these cultures don’t suffer the gut problems us first worlders do.  They’ve found the composition to be more diverse, including what was considered rare strains of gut flora.
      The conversation around the campfire that night after the latest batch of scientists left must
      have been interesting, starting with… “What did they want from us this time?”

  13. Guest says:

    I hate needles.

  14. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    Two girls, one cure

  15. anansi133 says:

    Economies of scale have their dark side. By the time you want to add a new category of treatment, the infrastructure is too big to allow serious changes. It’s the same problem with insurance- there’s too much money at stake now to allow for change.

    (how is a turd transplant somehow more disgusting than a blood transplant? In context, both are equally interesting.)

  16. mranon says:

    A major factor in the slow progress of this treatment (and others in the same category, for example, helminthic therapy – see is that they can’t be monetized by big pharma. Gastroenterologists who are open-minded enough to pursue this very promising treatment do not have armies of lobbyists to get their way.

    Also, a note to anyone who thinks this is funny or useless: spend just one hour with chronic C. Diff infection, Crohn’s disease, IBS or other serious intestinal malady, and you’ll be begging your creator and/or your doctor for relief. Poop jokes are funny, but intestinal disorders are awful.

    • Guest says:

      Chronic constipation ain’t no picnic either.  Just want to give a shout out to those of us who know the grass isn’t any greener on this side of the malady.

      • Chauncey Scott says:

         No it’s not, my sister can go 3 weeks, without a BM, and has seen atleast 8 gastros, taken every possible remedy. The general consensus is that the muscles around her intestines don’t fire in order.

  17. Mark Davis says:

    shameless plug: I do poop transplants for a living.

  18. mattcornell says:

    “Marion Browning.” Are you shittin’ me?

  19. Warren Harrison says:

    My first though upon reading this was:


    From “Me and You and Everyone We Know”:

  20. Itsumishi says:

    I’ve been trying to conceive a way to get my partners gut fauna inside my stomach for a while. She seems to be able to eat absolutely anything without getting any issues whilst I am nearly constantly suffering gut problems of one sort or another.

    If I manage to eat yoghurt every morning the problems are certainly alleviated, but two days without and they back rapidly. Indicating gut fauna is at least part of the problem and that my stomach doesn’t seem to stay “in balance” by itself. My almost entirely uneducated intuition makes me believe there is some other kind of fauna present in most peoples gut, that’s not in mine that helps other bacteria survive for longer periods of time without… aherm… shit going haywire .

  21. cwap cwap says:

    I’ve been trying Florastor, it’s a proprietary probiotic, a type of yeast saccheromyces boulardii, and it really has worked to keep the bad side effects from an extended regimen of antibiotics (diarrhea, c.difficile, etc.)  from being an issue.  I found out about it from an old CNN article, they talk about other probiotics that work for specific issues, citing actual studies n’ stuff.

    Florastor is over the counter, but not cheap.  Worth every penny in my recent experience.

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