Monday, May 23, 2011

My Intestinal Saga, Part 7: The Holy Grail of Probiotics

At the end of my rope after years of irritating intestinal symptoms, I decided there had to be something out there that was a silver bullet -- something that would end my problems for good and allow me to live my life free of abdominal discomfort and 3 A.M. insomnia.  Manipulating my pattern of eating only helped mildly and did not work as a long term fix.  I was on a maintenance plan of suboptimal health, and I was tired of it -- ready to try anything.

Me and my dog.  Note the sh*t-eating grins.
One sunny winter day, on a hike with my dog in the mountains of southern Utah, I was pondering what else I could try that I hadn't already.  My thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a grotesque munching sound: Chomp, squish, blurg!  It was my little black lab enjoying some fresh cow dung.  I'd seen her do this countless times in her puppy years, and I always figured she was getting a healthy dose of beneficial bacteria with every squishy bite -- perhaps to stimulate her immune system or to settle her stomach.  In a sense, my pup was happily choking down natural probiotics in that slurry of cow excrement.  As I witnessed this phenomenon for the umpteenth time, a light bulb went off in my head: "That bovine poo must be absolutely teeming with hundreds of species of millions of bacteria -- probably in greater diversity than could ever be produced in a laboratory.  I wonder if there are any accounts of humans eating feces for health as some animals appear to.  And, if so, could this be something that would help me?"  Not the weirdest thought I've ever had, but certainly up there on the list.  

I voraciously researched the internet for anything relating to humans and feces consumption that wasn't connected to some odd fetish or mental disease.  My first lead came from a humorous website, called "The Straight Dope."  This website answers questions people have about random, often shocking subjects.  A woman had written in to ask whether or not coprophagia -- sh*t eating -- was dangerous for humans.  The website authors, who actually appeared to be quite intelligent despite the mocking and sarcastic nature of the site, dug into some research to answer her question the best they could.  What they found, in a scientific journal, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, was this:

... consumption of fresh, warm camel feces has been recommended by Bedouins as a remedy for bacterial dysentery; its efficacy (probably attributable to the antibiotic subtilisin from Bacillus subtilis) was confirmed by German soldiers in Africa during World War II.

Fascinating!  A bacterial remedy for a bacterial illness.  So, did I go out and eat cow dung after reading this?  As tempting as it was to a crazy, fringe health dude like myself, I decided to do some more research first.  After coming across other counterintuitive silver bullets in reversing disease, such as helminthic (worm) therapy, and coming full circle reading about Aajonus Vonderplanitz (God, I love that name) and his recommendations to eat animal crap, I finally stumbled upon what appeared to be a scientifically-validated therapy for gut issues, called "fecal bacteriotherapy" or "fecal transplant."  In a paper, called "Bacteriotherapy Using Fecal Flora: Toying With Human Motions," Austrailian gastroenterologist, Thomas Borody, outlined the historical and scientific precedence for a procedure he developed to treat severe digestive diseases.  What was this procedure?  Basically, he was implanting the feces of healthy people into sick people -- orally or rectally -- and achieving amazing results, not the least of which was a long term remission of crohn's disease.  Holy sh*t.

I found out that Borody offered this procedure in his clinic in Australia.  Well, I wasn't about to fly to Australia and pay thousands of dollars to eat feces when I could probably do it just as well at home.  (Wow.  That would be a funny sentence to quote out of context.)  Sure enough, I found a "human probiotic home infusion protocol" (nice euphemism) that I could use in collaboration with a doctor and a donor.  This protocol described how to go about doing an enema with a poo mixture.  To my surprise, my doctor had already heard of the therapy, and I quickly found a donor in a friend of mine who was healthy and free of bowel problems (or so I thought after interviewing him -- more on that later).  After having my friend, who I was about to become incredibly intimate with, tested for all the bad bugs and viruses that could be transferred in human feces -- and once more consulting with my M.D. -- I was ready to take the leap.

Part 8 of "My Intestinal Saga" -- it gets even better -- up next ...
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6 comments:

Gabriella Kadar said...

I can hardly wait...

This stuff is absolutely fascinating. Monastyrsky's message is dysbacteriosis.

It makes sense that depending on diet and the components of the diet that are not absorbed by our digestive tracts, that varying species and amounts of bacteria will find a place to be comfortable in our guts, even if we're not.

What I've read in regards to the bowel effects of the ketogenic diet for epileptics who do not respond to drug therapy, constipation is a problem.

Human babies fed human milk have no problems with bowel movements because there is a large amount of functional oligosaccharide in breast milk. This is not digestible by the baby, provides protection to the mucosa and provides a substrate for bacterial colonization... so it's a 'pre-biotic'. Maybe this is what's missing in a ketogenic diet: a source of oligosaccharide.

Dr.GK

Danny Roddy said...

i can't get enough.

Caty Karther said...

Health is really matters for all of the persons. And for this they must do proper care of the health. Main thing which matters is the proper food and also some exercise. So for health we should do some physical work also.

Warrior said...

Just read your other post. I do wonder what your blood type is? People with arch fingerprint patterns are more constipated.

Ryan Koch @ Health Matters to Me said...

Warrior,

Pretty sure I'm blood type O. And, yes, I have arch fingerprint patterns.

danimal said...

how does this not have more views, like freetheanimals no soap post