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About the Other F-Word

Updated on October 18, 2014
New Capsule
New Capsule | Source

The Other F-Word

If you find the F-word abhorrent, or have a sensitive stomach, do not read further. If you suffer from copromania, you need no warning.

That was a disclaimer. Now we can move ahead. The F-word I am referring to is not the popular F-word that may come to mind.

No, it is FECES. Or for those of you who are purists, Faeces. Fecal matter. Excrement. Merde. Sh!t. Dung.

What I am about to reveal may be hard for some folks to swallow but that is the fecal, I mean focal, point of this post.

First I need to tell you about the stubborn bacterial infection known as Clostridium difficile. It rarely succumbs to antibiotics and kills over 14,000 Americans each year. C. difficile often gets a foothold after prolonged antibiotic use has disrupted a person's normal balance of gut bacteria.

A fecal transplant using bacteria from the feces of a healthy donor restores that balance, and can be highly effective against C. difficile, which is notoriously difficult to treat with antibiotics.

But now … drum roll, please … a brand new pill which was developed at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston may be the answer to curing this stubborn infection.

This new fecal pill – I am serious – may put an end to the wrenching pain and diarrhea that accompanies C. difficile infections.

Until now, very uncomfortable fecal transplants were the norm to restore healthy gut bacteria. How was this accomplished you may ask? Take a look at this video:

Poop Transplants

Speaking of Feces

Did you know that blue whales produce the most feces? Their daily deposits can reach up to several meters in length, and are often pink in color thanks to a diet of shrimp-like krill.

When a dog needs to go it will align itself with the north-south axis of the Earth's magnetic poles.

The average human being produces about 2 pounds of the stuff every single day.

Poo knew?

Now this new fecal pill – it’s really a capsule – filled with microbes derived from human feces will be far less invasive than a fecal transplant performed via a colonoscopy.

Thomas Louie, M.D., at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, treated 31 patients with these bacterial capsules, curing all but one. Each patient swallowed 30 freshly assembled capsules of fecal bacteria for two days. The capsules were coated with gelatin to survive the stomach and reach the intestines.

His team followed the patients' progress for up to one year afterwards and found that C. difficile had disappeared, and bacteria associated with a healthy gut had dramatically increased.

As a physician and infectious-disease specialist puts it: “It will be difficult to compete with the ready availability and very cheap costs of human poop.”

Now that scientists have made this dramatic breakthrough, that beloved schoolyard taunt will no longer be valid. I am referring to "Eat sh!t and die." Now it is "Eat sh!t and live." Just sayin’.


Notes:

Several research teams and private companies are currently developing and testing these fecal pills before submission for FDA licensing.

Copromania is an abnormal obsession with feces.

Sources: New York Times, Time Magazine, Nature

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2014. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."

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    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Yes, my dear Nicomp, please turn it off at mealtime or I shall feel distress beyond imagination. Trust me. ;)

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      My common sense tells me to stop following this hub but I surely cannot. Perhaps I can turn it off at mealtime.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Howdy, Alastar. Thanks for the compliment - you don't do too badly either in the pun department, y'know.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      You make a very good point, my dear Suzie. Some things are better left unsaid and unexplained.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Dolores, m'dear, nice to see you. Yes, C. difficile is hard to cure and can be devastating for those who suffer from it. Thanks for enjoying my informative aka ridiculous post.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, JamaGenee. Thanks for sharing that interesting anecdote about the patient that was able to avert having to ingest that fecal cocktail. That zealous med student is probably a renowned internal medicine physician now. Thanks, too, for enjoying my puns and wordplay and the Up and the sharing. You and your visit are much appreciated.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Howdy to you DrBJ! Poo knew for real! learn something poo every day...lol, OK, forget that sad attempt at humor. Your the champ in that dept. Fine to read the stuff is good for something beside just fertilizer

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 2 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Whatever works, I guess. Perhaps it would be best if the doctor did not reveal the contents of the capsule when she prescribes it. What you don't know.....

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi drbj - it's good to read one of your informative yet ridiculous articles. We were laughing about this poop transplant the other day but when I see that 14,000 people died due to the bacterial imbalance, it wiped the laugh right off my face. I know people who get antibiotics way too much and, of course, the same folks have stomach trouble. But that it can become so deadly is frightening.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      drbj, the things ya learn at Hubpages! Thanks...I think... That said, I hope I'm never in need of the "poo pill", but if I ever am, they'll have come up with a better color for the capsule.

      Actually, in the 70s I briefly worked on the Medicine ward of a regional med center and teaching hospital before moving on to OB. An overzealous med student spent 2 days trying to come up with a way to dissolve fecal matter in juice to give to a patient who'd had several enemas prior to a procedure. Luckily, the patient didn't have to drink any of his (ghastly!) concoctions because on the second day after the procedure her intestines began producing "good" bacteria on their own, as the student's supervising resident said they would.

      I won't even try to add to the puns and wordplays you and others already came up with. Great hub! Upped and shared! ;D

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Message to nicomp: 'Touche!' (laughing)

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Clear.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      I think that is a very reasonable request, my dear nicomp. Which color would you like? Burple? Bilious green? Plaid?

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Couldn't that pill be a different color? Is that too much to ask??

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks for appreciating my title, Dianna. It was a flash of insight from the bottom of my ... heart. I anticipate that the fecal capsule will be on the market soon to aid sufferers of C. difficil and other similar bacterial diseases.

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Jodah, for your kind words and welcome. Now that I have elaborated upon the benefits of the fecal capsule, my mission has been accomplished. And thanks for the Up!

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Audrey. Thanks for your kind words - I did try to be as delicate as possible regarding this subject. Most folks appear to be unaware of the dangers of the overuse of antibiotics.

      Thanks for your sweet welcome back and blessings to you, too, m'dear.

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      So sorry, Jaye, to learn about that devastating experience you had with the nasty C. difficil or other 'bad' bacteria. Happy you survived without the need for a fecal transplant. As you so wisely pointed out, choosing the fecal pill against dying - no contest!

      Thanks for your gracious comments, m'dear, and sharing that debilitating, fearsome experience. And thanks for the up vote and the pluses.

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      That was some experience for you and your son, Genna. The brown recluse spider's bite can be venomous. And suffering from C. difficile as well is no laughing matter. Happy that you all recognized that bite so quickly.

      Yes, the other F-word has a whole new meaning and hopefully will soon be available for patients.

      Re the color of the capsule ... if you ever need to swallow it, do not open your eyes.

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks for finding this information as useful as I did, Alicia. Forewarned is forearmed. And the sharing is my pleasure.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Now that's what I call a tribute, Martie, and in rhyme as well. Happy that I made you aware of the latest fecal transplant/capsule news. Thanks for missing me; happy to be back.

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Good to hear from you, John, but please don't take your wife to task over verbal excess regarding your intestinal tract. She just wants you to be healthy. Right? ;)

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, bp. This may be TMI to 'swallow' all at one time. But as Mary Poppins once proclaimed: "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down ..."

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Kim. Pulled you in with my title, eh? Happy I held your interest 'til the end. Pun intended. Thanks for the kind words and the visit, m'dear.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      Your title certainly pulls in the reader. Poo knew? Seriously, this is important information to know and to keep on file should one experience discomfort. I am so glad that there is help for those who suffer from this disease.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Good to see your comedic touch returning to these pages drbj. I just had to check this hub to find out what the other "F" word was.....and well, it was quite interesting to say the least. Well most vaccines and ant-venines contain parts of the virus or poison, so a poo pill makes sense to treat intestinal disorders...thanks for the info. Voted up.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Drbj. This is so funny but serious. You always crack me up as you shared info on delicate subject in such a good way. Antibiotic overuse is a serious problem, as many people beg for them. I believe you were gone for awhile, so good to have you back. Blessings. Audrey

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Good to see you back in fine fettle, DrBJ. For some reason, you haven't been on my feed in a while, and I've missed your distinctive humor.

      In 1999, an overzealous doctor over-treated me (mistreated may be more accurate) with continuing prescriptions of broad-spectrum antibiotics because of a sinus infection and associated ear infections that were stubbornly entrenched. Too many antibiotics play havoc with beneficial gut flora, so I wound up much sicker than I was with the sinus and ear infections. I collapsed at work after a week of colitis caused by the 'bad' intestinal flora wiped out the 'good' type we all need for health.

      I was admitted to the hospital, placed in isolation, 'treated' to a colonoscopy that showed no major problems, then treated with probiotics and anti-fungal meds to get rid of the villainous tummy bacteria (probably candida, though I don't recall anyone telling me) and replace it with the healthy, heroic variety. Fortunately (to my way of thinking), there was no 'poo pill' available at the time. (I get queasy at the thought.)

      I realize that C. diff and other infections are rampant in hospitals these days, and this new treatment might mean the difference between recovery...or not. Faced with taking a poo pill or dying, there would really be no contest, would there?

      Voted Up+++

      Jaye

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Ohhhh…C-diff. My son contracted this while in the hospital being treated for a bite from a brown recluse spider. He was lucky in that he caught the bite and spread of venom early and rushed to the ER. None of us thought he would need additional intestinal fortitude in order to be discharged, healthy. Like you stated so delightfully, “Poo knew?” And this pill was developed at Mass General in Boston. The F-word has taken on new meaning; this new treatment will help many, although I have to confess, I can’t imagine swallowing that capsule when I see the color. Yipes. Great article, drjb. :-)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is useful information, drbj. I hope the capsule helps a lot of people. Thanks for sharing the news.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      Best article about shit I have ever read. The poo transplant takes the cake. Now I will never again visit the loo without thinking of you and your article about poo :)

      I have missed you, drbj :)

    • John MacNab profile image

      John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Thank you drbj. Now when my wife tells me I'm talking a load of crap, I can remind her that at least I don't suffer from as much diarrhea as she does.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      So glad to be back, Ruby, m'luv. Your profession is a noble one although your duties, pardon the expression, may not always have been the most rewarding. ;)

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      You know, Faith, I often wondered about that. Why do proctologists and other similar specialists choose that particular line of work. I even asked a few I know that question. They all agreed that they just sort of backed into that specialty. Hmmmmm! Perhaps they are latent copromaniacs.

      Thank you for the lovely welcome back. Hope all is well with you all.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      You know, Faith, I often wondered about that. Why do proctologists and other similar specialists choose that particular line of work. I even asked a few I know that question. They all agreed that they just sort of backed into that specialty. Hmmmmm! Perhaps they are latent copromaniacs.

      Thank you for the lovely welcome back. Hope all is well with you all.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Eric, for that rewarding mix of adjectives. Your comments and your visit are most appreciated.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Talk about ' copromania ' I had an old gentleman who suffered this phenomeon, once when I helped him on the comode, ( before the first grunt ) he looked up at me and said, " I wonder if I'll have a bm tomorrow? Nursing can be fun! Soooooooooooooooooooo glad you're back writing on HP...

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      TMI!!!!!

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      You got me with the title and held my interest all the way through. I had never heard of this bacterial infection. Great work handling the other F-Word.

      V+ for sure,

      Kim

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Hee hee, oh my, drbj, you have gone where no man wants to go ... but somebody had to do ... do it! Oops, sorry for my stutter. Well, I guess the doctor or whomever does a colonoscopy wants to go there? Wonder how they decided they want to do such in life, maybe something impacted them in life ...

      So wonderful to see you writing again. You have been missed!

      You knew about poo news : )

      Bless you

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well done, enlightening, entertaining and disgusting all in one. We do need to discuss healthy pooping and bacteria more.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Good luck on your colonoscopy, Rebecca. I have never minded this painless procedure that much. It's drinking all that 'delicious' liquid beforehand that I abhor.

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Sweet Peg - Thank you for those lovely comments. Delighted you enjoyed my foray into a less than alluring subject. But someone had to do it.

      Right?

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      So many literate and appropriate allusions to this topic in just a few lines? Let me count the ways, Maria: stall(ed), flush, pooped, the A from LMAO, intestinal and bottom. Six of them, m'dear. You are soooooo intelligent!

      Laughed six times, y'know.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      I understand exactly how you feel, dear Patricia. Some things are just better left unknown. And poop is certainly on the top of that list. ;)

      Angels are winging their way to you, too, m'dear.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Oh my, news to me...I am scheduled for a colonoscopy, just routine Friday, so this is just what I needed to see. LOL!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      I stalled before making a comment, drbj..........

      I am flush with excitement to see you but frankly pooped after LMAO at the intestional fortitude you have shown in this clever essay on something we all need to get to the bottom of at one point or another!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Oy vey, what will they come up with next? Well, I dove in wondering what you were up to here, Drbj, despite your warning about people who may be squeamish with sensitive subjects. In your usual, educated and dignified manner, you have covered this delicate subject with finesse. And yes, I had to look up the spelling for three words in this comment.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      O my ...who would have thunk it??? I think I would not wish to know exactly what was in the pill if I ever had to have one of them. Call me squeamish I guess.... drbj

      Angels are on the way to you today ps