12 Health Benefits of FMT (Fecal Microbiota Transplantation)

0
3592
Health benefits of FMT

Fecal Transplant (also called Fecal microbiota transplant or FMT), is a process in which donor stool or fecal matter, along with the microbes it contains, is transplanted into the lower intestines of a patient. The procedure aims to rebalance the patients gut bacteria. You might have come across a recent study that fecal transplants have a success rate of over 91 percent in treating Clostridium difficile infection. It has also been successful in the treatment of IBS and certain autoimmune diseases too. [1] As the list of diseases from imbalanced gut bacteria is growing daily, the health benefits of FMT are only just starting to be realized  Check them out.

What is FMT Treatment?

The basic purpose of fecal transplantation is the replacement of good bacteria that have been suppressed or killed off usually after a heavy antibiotic treatment. Fecal transplantation can be considered as a system reboot of your body from the inside-out.

The procedure for a fecal Transplant involves the collection of a stool or fecal matter from a donor. It is then mixed with saline solution and strained. The processed fecal matter is then placed in the patient with the help of endoscopy, colonoscopy, and enema, or sigmoidoscopy.

what is FMTMore than 10 trillion bacteria are said to reside in your body which is ten times more than the number of cells. The majority of these bacteria primarily occupy the gastrointestinal tract. [2]

The human stool itself consists of over 500 different kinds of bacteria and over 4000 different strains of microbes that mainly constitute your gut microbiome.

When the gut bacteria become unbalanced in both diversity of bacteria species or the presence of bad bacteria, many diseases follow. By directly injecting the bacteria from a healthy individual using FMT, the intent is to kick-start good bacteria growth by providing a starter kit of microbes.

Why do You Need a Fecal Transplant?

People who tend to suffer from various digestive disorders and infections, for example, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis have a higher proportion of bad bacteria in their gut as compared to the good bacteria in much lower quantities.

These diseases along with other factors such long-term use of antibiotics and a poor diet can suppress and can even kill the number of good bacteria in the gut.

For such people, the health benefits of fecal transplant are particularly significant. These people benefit from the healthy gut microbiome of another person to rebalance their digestive system and restore health. Rebalancing your gut bacteria through diet is a much slower process and the benefit of FMT is that it is much more direct with quicker results.

In order to take maximum advantage of the living bacteria, it is recommended to transplant them in a living state from the donor directly to the receiver.

Following this way, the healthy microbes get a chance to occupy the gut and repopulate there easily. Fecal transplantation process, in one sense, is comparable to an organ transplant.

Be aware, there are risks of FMT that you should not take lightly

Health Benefits of FMTHealth Benefits of Fecal Transplantation

  1. Clostridium Difficile Infection

This is the best-known health benefit of FMT with aruably the best results.

Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff, is a dangerous bacteria which can cause a serious infection of the gut. The disease caused by this organism is commonly referred to as colitis and comprises of vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Sometimes, the infection becomes so serious that it may eventually lead to fatalities. As antibiotics can often be the cause of infection, home remedies for c-diff infection of which FMT is one example, should always be considered.

The NEJM study of 2013 is suggestive of the health benefits of fecal transplantation for the treatment of C. diff infection. The procedure was found to be more effective as compared to antibiotics or antibiotics combined with bowel lavage. Fifteen out of 16 people included in the study successfully recovered from C. diff infection after receiving two sessions of fecal transplantation. [3]

Another study researched the effectiveness of a slightly modified form of fecal transplantation. They utilized the method of colonoscopy to inject either fresh or frozen fecal matter into the patients suffering from recurrent attacks of C. diff.

A 100 percent success rate was observed when the fresh fecal matter was used in the process of fecal transplantation. On the other hand, the frozen product had 83 percent success rate. [5]

  1. Treats Ulcerative Colitis

People who have an overgrowth of bad microbiota in their bowels are said to suffer from colonic dysbiosis or intestinal dysbiosis. The condition mostly occurs due to the presence of parasites in the intestine which are really hard to remove.

Fecal transplantations can help such people by eliminating intestinal dysbiosis and is an excellent home remedy to get rid of ulcerative colitis. In one study, it was shown that fecal enemas injected in children suffering from ulcerative colitis produce a positive clinical response in less than a week. [7]

No side effects have been reported while performing fecal transplantation procedures for the treatment of ulcerative colitis and the associated colonic dysbiosis.

Scientists are currently finding more evidence in order to check how many sessions of this procedure would be required to completely cure ulcerative colitis.

  1. Useful for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

New evidence has recently emerged suggesting the potential health benefits of fecal transplantation in people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

It has long been known that the gut microbiome is often found to be connected with the psychological states of mind.

CFS patients have abnormal bacterial flora present in their gut and this is believed to causes their symptoms such as stress, exhaustion, low motivation, sadness, and problems in sleeping. [8]

One study showed that 70 percent of such people who suffer from CFS respond well to the gut bacteria therapies. Out of the 60 patients who were infused with healthy bacteria in their colon and rectum, 42 responded well and observed a marked reduction in their symptoms. [9]

What is even more impressive is that these patients were contacted after many years and it was found that 58 percent of them still had their symptoms resolved to a great extent. 7 out of 12 patients observed complete resolution of symptoms while 5 out of 12 did not suffer from any recurrence even after 3 years of getting the treatment.

  1. Manages Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Dependency on the antibiotics has caused poor macrobiotic health in many people.

Together with poor dietary habits, toxin exposure, and allergy attacks, digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have been on the rise.

IBS refers to a chronic problem which is extremely difficult to detect and resolve. It consists of bouts of constipation or diarrhea which can be extremely uncomfortable.

IBS can also be caused by intestinal dysbiosis, stress, a few dietary components, and an imbalance in the normal gut flora.

One of the major health benefits of FMT is that it can treat IBS and its associated symptoms such as dysbiosis.

In one study, 15 IBS patients people were subjected to fecal transplantation process. Almost 86 percent of the subjects observed an improvement in their condition. Moreover, the procedure also enhanced their compliance towards medicines. [10]

  1. Aids in Food Allergies

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that bacteria that normally reside within your digestive system contribute to a great deal in the prevention of allergies.

These bacteria alter the immune defenses present in the gut lining and prevent the food allergens from entering the bloodstream and producing their effects.

Recent research has observed how the variations in the gut bacteria can contribute to the development of food allergies, and improving one’s gut bacteria can be used as a home remedy to get rid of allergies.

The study revealed that the mice that lacked in the normal gut flora were at an increased risk of developing allergic responses when they were fed peanuts. This was in contrast to the healthy mice with normal gut flora which had reduced allergic responses to the same food item. [11]

The same effects are believed to be present in the humans in reference to food allergies.

A major health benefit of FMT is that by rebalancing the gut bacteria, the body’s immune response to allergens is revitalized. A fecal transplant may not be able to completely eradicate a food allergy, it can significantly reduce its prevalence.

  1. Helps with Autoimmune Diseases

People who suffer from autoimmune diseases usually have disturbed gut bacterial health and this is what triggers their own immune system to attack the healthy cells. In an autoimmune disease, the antibodies present in human body starts targeting the healthy tissues of the body by mistake, eventually leading to inflammation.

In an autoimmune disease, the antibodies present in human body starts targeting the healthy tissues of the body by mistake, eventually leading to inflammation.

The health benefits of fecal transplantation are of particular importance in this regard.

The role of fecal transplantation in managing autoimmune diseases has also been well researched, highlighting the application of fecal transplantation to not only autoimmune diseases but to other areas such as tumors.

A study has been conducted in this regard to test the health benefits of FMT in people suffering from metabolic syndrome. It was concluded that this therapy is, indeed, helpful for such patients in improving the insulin sensitivity and increasing the levels of the gut microbiome. [13]

  1. Maintains Brain Health

At the moment, the more clinical evidence is required to prove the health benefits of fecal transplantation in the improvement of cognitive disorders.

However, researchers are hopeful that this process can play an important part in the treatment and prevention of certain brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and autism, particularly because of the strong connection between the brain and the gut.

The brain and the gut are connected through the nervous system, immune system, and hormones. The gut microbiome is also able to release neurotransmitters and communicates with the brain through the vagus nerve.

It has recently been observed that people suffering from brain problems have imbalanced gut microbiota as well.

Therefore, it is thought that improved gut health via fecal transplantation will decrease the memory loss and cognitive decline in addition to other problems associated with the brain such as ADHD.[15]

  1. Antibiotic Alternative

The research studies focusing on the benefits of fecal transplants as an antibiotic substitute are limited, however, some of the earliest trials have been performed with a very high success rates.

A study performed in 2013 by the New England Journal of Medicine(NEJM) attempted to compare the effects of fecal transplantation with the traditional antibiotic treatment. The researchers found that the patients receiving fecal transplantation showed significant improvements.

So good, in fact, were the results that the study was stopped so that all the patients who were receiving just antibiotics, were allowed to benefit from fecal transplantation therapy. [16]

  1. Seed Infant gut microbiota

When a baby is born, its gut is sterile. The gut quickly will become colonized by the bacteria that the infant comes into contact soon after birth.

One of the many benefits of vaginal birth is that it starts the initial seeding of gut bacteria for the infant. As the child passes through the birth canal, secretions from the vagina, packed with bacteria, rub off on the child. The bacteria from these vaginal secretions become an effective starter kit of microbes to colonize the gut.

This initial bacterial colony will much more closely resemble the gut bacteria of the mother and what’s more, will stay with the child for the rest of its life.

However, given the rising preference for C-section deliveries, infant microbiota seeding is left behind. This is where FMT comes in as it can be used to seed infant gut microbiota.

While the idea of giving the infant a tiny taste of the mother’s stool at birth is quite repellent, it actually has a long tradition in my ancient societies and it is often seen practiced in the natural world for many mammalian species.

  1. Treats Candida

Although bacteria make up 99.9% of the digestive tract microbiome, we tend to forget that two other microorganisms, viruses and fungi, perform important functions.

The role of fungi in the human microbiome has not been fully understood. The Candida fungus is most common in the digestive tract and while its presence tends to be transient, it can go through growth spurts, leading to the yeast infection condition of the same name.

A candida yeast infection tends to occur when the gut bacteria is also out of balance, typically when the patient has a poor quality diet high in sugar.

Like gut bacteria, research has shown that the presence of the fungi plays a large role in the regulation of the human immune system and as such, FMT has much potential to address any imbalance of fungi in the digestive system and treat recurrent yeast infections.

  1. Weight Loss Treatment

Research on how gut bacteria can help you lose weight is still in its early stages however the preliminary results are promising making it one of the most exciting health benefits of FMT

It appears that a person’s weight may be partially linked the composition of their gut flora.

Studies have found that the bacteria in your gut adapt to your diet. A diet packed with saturated fat will encourage the growth of bacteria that are better evolved to deal with fat.

Likewise, a diet that is unbalanced and lacking nutritional variety will promote low diversity in gut flora. (17), (18) So it now appears that weight gain is not just a question of sedentary lifestyle and too many calories, it appears that an abundance of gut bacteria that metabolize saturated fat is also part of the problem.

If there is a link between obesity and gut bacteria, it follows that if you can change the gut bacteria, you can lose weight.

This is where FMT comes in.

Studies have shown that when the bacteria from obese mice were transferred into a control group of slim mice, the control group mice gained weight faster. Likewise, when healthy bacteria was transferred into the obese mice, they lost weight much faster. (19).

If the human microbiome reacts in the same way, a fecal transplant from a slim donor into an overweight patient has the potential to kick-start the bodies natural ability to burn calories away for good.

There is now plenty of anecdotal evidence of human cases of FMT which have resulted in weight loss or weight gain depending on the donor BMI.

  1. Autism Treatment

Autism is a spectrum of neurobiological disorders that impair social interactions and communication. Sufferers often lead restricted lives, with repetitive and obsessive patterns of behavior and activities.

While the cause of autism is not fully understood, research now links a gut bacteria imbalance to the condition, especially for people who suffer late stage autism. Children with autism often suffer gastrointestinal problems that correlate well with the severity of their condition.

A recent trial was conducted where long-term oral FMT treatment was administered to 18 children with gastrointestinal problems and autism.  In the trial, an initial two-week antibiotic treatment was administered (to wipe clean all bacteria from the gut) and then this was followed an initial high dose FMT treatment followed by maintenance doses for 8 weeks.

At the end of the treatment, patients revealed an approximately 80% reduction of gastrointestinal symptoms, with significant improvements in constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

For autism, behavioral symptoms also improved significantly (measured by the PGI-II test) and remained improved 8 weeks after treatment had ended. (20)

FMT warnings

  • Always screen the donor for possible conditions. An unhealthy donor may inadvertently transfer their health problems to you
  • Maintain a diet rich in prebiotics to encourage the seeding of the microbiota
  • Only consume the probiotics that you know agree with you during an FMT course. FMT is, after all, the ultimate probiotic making probiotic supplements redundant.
  • Always consult a medical professional prior to treatment at home
  • Donors from blood relatives minimize the risk of hidden complications
  • Be aware that there are complications associated with the treatment and it does NOT have a 100% success rate

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.