- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
About the Other F-Word
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:
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.
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’.
• 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."
- Weird Animals - the Dung Beetle
Did you know there is an insect that loves dung, lives in dung, eats dung, feeds dung to its offspring and often rolls balls of dung for long distances while standing on its head moving backwards?