Revolutionizing Health and Wellbeing Through Fecal Microbiome Transplantation (FMT)August 26, 2023
Scientists seem to have discovered discovered a panacea magic potion with Fecal microbiota transplantation(FMT). The past decade has been revolutionary in the research of gut microbiota, with FMT being used to remedy not only the digestive system, but the brain, metabolism, immunity, and hormonal system.
Gut microbiota are the colonies of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa living in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. Desirable and non-desirable microorganisms exist in the human gut. The desirable microbes are those that have been linked to positive effects, while the undesirable are those that are harmful to the body.
The gut microbiome is considered another organ of the human body due to its crucial purpose in different body processes. It is only logical to swap a faulty organ for a useful one, right? Like you would chuck a flawed kidney for a functioning one? With FMT, good microbes are transplanted into the gut, and optimal conditions are provided for them to multiply, while creating an unfavorable environment for the bad microbes that may be in your gut, causing them to die off.
What difference does FMT make?
A study to determine the relationship between gut microbiota and obesity was done in 2018 using human twins where one twin was lean, while the other was obese. Their gut microbiome was transplanted in two rat models. The rats were then fed similar diets with the same amount of calories and were observed over time. The rat that received the microbiota from the lean twin turned out lean while the one that received microbiota from the obese twin became obese.
The results were ascribed to the role gut microbiome plays in regulating metabolism. The presence of gut microbes and their metabolites in the gut lining influences the release of metabolic hormones that affect fat storage, insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and appetite.
FMT has also proven to work in treating mental health issues. This is after a study in 2016 concluded that fecal matter transplanted on a rat from a depressed human caused it to show depressive symptoms. Studies have shown that more than 90% of serotonin, the feel-good hormone, is produced in the gut by microbes like; Bifidobacterium infantis, Streptococcus spp., Candida spp., and Enterococcus spp. So, having more of these microbes in your gut would outdo the mood boosters you swallow every day? Most likely.
Other medical problems have also shown significant improvement with the administration of FMT. They include; autism spectrum disorder (ASD), multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), metabolic conditions, and Parkinson`s disease. There have also been trials on cancer patients, where patients who received FMT performed better than those who did not.
How does FMT work?
FMT is not all new to the human race. The ancient Chinese used FMT to treat severe diarrhea whereas soldiers in WW II ingested camel`s stool to treat some medical conditions in the absence of antibiotics.
Well, I know it doesn’t sound fancy, eating another person`s fecal matter, but let’s examine the facts. You don’t ingest poop like they did in WW II. The stool is highly processed to remove every other material apart from the microbes needed. The final result is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless. So you`re ingesting the gut microbiota from a healthy donor. Donors also undergo a variety of blood and stool tests to determine eligibility.
Companies like Novel Biome have sprung up to provide FMT services. According to Dr. Shaina Cahill, the director of Medical Communications and Affairs at Novel Biome, donors undergo over 120 blood and stool tests to ensure their gut microbiota is optimal for transplantation.
Some of the hoops donors have to jump through are; a restraint in using antibiotics over a period of time, not having traveled outside their home country for a year, and having no family history of gastrointestinal disorders, cancers, and neuropsychiatric disorders. The measures used are to prevent posing risk factors to the recipient.
Donors are therefore rare due to the strict conditions they have to meet. There are also super donors, who produce FMT results better than other donors. The wider the variety of the good gut microbiome, the better a donor is. Novel Biome also provides an option for people who would like to store their microbiome for future use. “If you are healthy and your gut microbiome is functioning properly, you can store your gut microbiome in Novel Biome long-term so that if you encounter dysfunction or have to go on antibiotics, you can get your healthy gut back,” Dr. Shaina says.
Experts in the field have endorsed FMT over consumption of probiotics. FMT introduces a wider variety of good microbiota than probiotics which seem to have a narrow variety. “The downside of probiotics is that they don`t engraft in your gut, so you get its benefit as long as you take the probiotic while in FMT, the microbiome engrafts and becomes part of your gut,” Explains Dr. Shaina.
I don`t know about you, but I’m convinced FMT is creating new possibilities in the medical field that will boost health and wellness. Though what we`ve learned is only the tip of the iceberg compared to the vast complexes of the gut microbiome, the future promises more clarity and solutions to the health and wellness problems afflicting the human race. Having said that, I can`t wait for FMT to be a common viable solution to medical problems in Kenya. I can already see all those influencers lining up to promote the use of FMT.
However, you should note that bodily functions depend on a variety of factors apart from the gut microbiome. Having a healthy gut will indeed improve the functioning of the rest of your body, but it is not the only factor that determines health. Therefore, FMT used alongside other medical interventions produces optimal results.