Monday, August 8, 2011

Fecal Transplants: The Turd Twister & A Historical Account

I have been voraciously exploring the world of human gut bacteria, fecal transplants, and the like as of late, and I wanted to update all you readers with some information that I've found particularly invaluable.  Well, okay the first bit of info isn't invaluable, per se, but it is pretty funny.  My awesome aunt, a frequent reader of this blog, recently sent me something she dug up as she was preparing for an estate sale.  I don't know if anybody else out there has heard of this.  It's called a "Turd Twister."  I thought it would make a great gag gift, especially for a potential fecal transplant donor.  There are many wonderful shapes that can be produced and presented with this device!  Anyway, the version I received is kind of old school and uses hard cardboard, but for more serious turd twisters, you might want to check out the website for a modern and far more comfortable-looking model.

Next, I wanted to reiterate a point I made in the comments of a previous post in order to further bolster the merits of the "sh*tshake" method.  Here is a comment from "Mike K" on the Freakanomics radio show website:

Forty years ago, we treated antibiotic resistant bacteria in the colon by giving the patient a dose of antibiotic sensitive E. coli in a malted milkshake. The sensitive bacteria would replace the resistant bacteria in a day or so. Our theory, or that of my professor who devised the treatment, was that “wild” or sensitive bacteria are better adapted to the normal colon environment. Antibiotic resistant bacteria can only take over when the sensitive bacteria are killed off by antibiotics, as when a patient has been treated for an infection like diverticulitis. When the antibiotics are stopped, the normal sensitive bacteria will quickly oust the resistant ones which are less adapted for life in a normal colon. All that is necessary is to provide a dose of the normal wild bacteria.
In the County Hospital, we used the same method although we did not have the nicety of cultured sensitive bacteria. We would take a fecal sample from a healthy patient coming in for hernia surgery, for example, and give it to the patient in a milkshake.
Needless to say that none of the patients were ever told the extra ingredient of the milk shake. 

This marks the second time I have heard of a fecal transplant used in such a manner.  The first time was from a retired nurse who basically said the same thing.  What surprised me in both cases is that the amount of "donation" required was minimal enough for the patients to not even realize they were drinking a poo concoction.  Also, one might think that the milk would cause a serious acid dump in the stomach and kill the beneficial bacteria, but this didn't seem to happen.  Must be a strength in numbers thing.  Anyway, this just goes to show that the essence of the fecal transplant's magic is actually pretty simple, and it certainly doesn't require some of the exorbitant costs and methods of implementation that are associated with it.

Next up, I have a very juicy post to share about an adventurous blog reader, Ben, and his recent foray into the fascinating world of home fecal transplants.  


Gabriella Kadar said...

I suppose those were the days prior to 'informed consent'. Oh WOW! These days I'm not sure anyone could be just given a milkshake spiked with filtered shit. Now, given that comment, it does not mean I am adverse to the practice. Au contraire.

Ryan Koch @ Health Matters to Me said...

Haha ... yeah, I suppose it is a bit controversial. But it certainly saved lives.

Jake of Flag said...

Does the turd twister work?

There are two types of people in this world: those who ask why, and then those who ask why not.
Jake of Flag

Ryan Koch @ Health Matters to Me said...

You know, Jake, I never really thought about whether or not the thing actually worked! I just figured it was a funny gag gift. I wonder if any out there has actually tried it? Well, Tom Green apparently endorsed it on his show that he used to have, so I wouldn't put it past a dude as wacky as him.

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