By David Mittleman

One Man’s Crap is Another Man’s Cure

Okay, funny heading aside, digestive problems are no laughing matter.  From Irritable Bowel Syndrome to Ulcerative Colitis, digestive problems can be a serious hindrance to an individual’s ability to live a joyful life.  I have the greatest empathy for those who suffer from IBS, Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis as my father suffered for years, as well as one of my closest friends.  The impact these conditions can have on one’s activities of daily living can be profound, any cure would be welcome, even accepting a friend’s poop.  A recent NYT’s columnist described his stool donation and how it changed his friend’s life who suffered from Ulcerative Colitis, a devastating condition characterized by stomach pain, intestinal cramps and bloody diarrhea.

Fecal Microbiota Transplant

The columnist’s friend was left with two options–go on powerful immunosuppressant drugs or have a colectomy.  The drugs might not be effective, and could possibly raise the risk of lymphoma or other fatal infections and the surgery may leave the individual with tissue that would become ulcerative in time regardless of the procedure.  But what about another option…one that involved placing the stool of your friend inside your body?  Might sound disgusting, but Gene, the columnist’s friend, decided to give it a go.

Stool as a Cure?

Using stool as a cure is not a new phenomenon.  In 16th century China, during the Ming Dynasty, fermented fecal matter was used a digestive cure.  In the 17th century, German physician Cristian Franz Paullini compiled a stool recipe book for treating digestive ailments, and fecal transplants have been used in sick horses in the U.S. for many years.  Finally, in 1958, Dr. Ben Eiseman pioneered fecal transfers as a last-ditch effort to treat digestive problems in humans.

A Hitch in the …read more