Apparently watching videos of people putting human feces in a blender to create a turd milkshake that they then use as an enema on YouTube is a thing. Because of this growing trend, doctors are now having to warn that the practice of DIY fecal transplants could be putting the recipients at risk of spreading a whole host of medical conditions, from HIV to obesity.
Transferring feces from one healthy person to another is now fairly common practice when treating some conditions, such as the "superbug" Clostridium difficile. The bacterial infection can cause serious problems for those who have it, and at times when antibiotics fail to get the bacteria under control, fecal transplants can be used in a clinical setting.
The aim is basically to introduce into the sick person's gut the microbiome – or community of bacteria – from a healthy person. But as an increasing amount of research has been uncovering just how far the influence of the bacteria in our gut extends, with studies implicating our microbiome in a wide range of conditions such as Parkinson’s, anxiety, obesity, and even autism, some people decide to take things into their own hands.
This has given rise to a whole library of videos on YouTube informing people how to perform their own fecal transplant. But this do-it-yourself approach is not recommended, according to experts.
Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference this week, the University of California San Diago’s Rob Knight said that doing such a procedure at home risks exposing the recipient to a wide range of bacteria that could do far more harm than good.
When done in a hospital setting, for example, the donated poop is extensively screened for microbes that have previously been linked to conditions such as Parkinson’s and MS, as well as for other highly infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. But there are concerns that the microbiome has been linked to many other conditions.
This has actually been observed before. A few years back, a patient was being treated for an infection of C. difficile, and received a fecal transplant from her healthy, but overweight, daughter. Amazingly, following the transplant, the mother then became obese.
As more research is done, and more conditions linked to the microbiome, the threat of spreading these through home poop transplants is increasing. The researchers are now looking to start collecting more long-term data on donors and recipients of stool transplants, in order to see how big the risk actually is.
[H/T: The Guardian]