Over the weekend, I read a great little article about the potential applications of fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) in treating a huge variety of diseases.[i] Of course, we are sorely lacking in clinical trials for almost all but still, there is hope to be had in this treatment for illnesses for which there is precious little now. So, it’s still worth writing about where the science is at present.
Before I tell you about all these potentials though, I just want to share a sentence in the introduction that really struck me and I think will resonate with you too. It sums up what we currently know about the role the gut bacteria play in the human body: “In addition to breaking down foods and synthesizing nutrients, microbiota play an important role in the immune system, provide colonization resistance [to pathogens], protects against epithelial [the intestinal wall] injury, promotes both angiogenesis [development of new blood vessels] and fat storage, modulates human bone mass density, modifies the nervous system, and metabolizes therapeutic agents into active compounds.” Reading that list, it really hit home: there is truly astounding just how much our gut bacteria do for us! (And we probably only know the half of it right now.)
So, back to the treatment potential of FMT, I’ll write this in the form of a list to make it easy for you to scan. I’m not going to go into detail for some of these as there’s apparently not a huge amount of data right now – only common sense and science suggesting that more research should be done because of the known relationship of the bacterial microbiome to that disease. But I’ll list everything, nonetheless, as it’s still exciting to contemplate just how much FMT may help in the future with “incurable” illnesses.
To conclude then, we need WAY more clinical trials, and these trials need to be better standardized in terms of the screening of donors, the preparations of the donations, frequency of dosing, delivery methods of doses, and so on. The great news though is that, “…increasing studies have shown that FMT also presents potential and promising clinical indications for the treatment of many other disorders related to gut microbial dysbiosis.” And actually, if you think about it, there are probably many, many more illnesses that could be added to this list. Fibromyalgia, perhaps? Spondyloarthritis? Post-traumatic stress disorder? ALS? Celiac?…and the possibilities list goes on and on and on.
Considering the total lack of effective treatment for pretty much everything on the above list, this is at least a spot of light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.
[i] Zhou, Y, et. al. Are there potential applications of fecal microbiota transplantation beyond intestinal disorders? Biomed Research International. 2019. Article ID 3469754. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/3469754
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