Is losing weight one of your 2016 resolutions? Many people go out and join gyms, change their eating habits to match the current diet trend, or look for the latest weight-loss pill. Yet, some scientists are getting ready to prove that consuming someone else’s poop may be the most effective way to slim down.
It is not the most pleasant thought, but a team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital is going to test the idea that consuming freeze-dried poop pills may actually help someone lose weight.
Later this year, a controlled, randomized clinical trial, led by assistant professor and researcher Elaine Yu, will involve 21 overweight patients who will be given pills filled with freeze-dried fecal samples from lean, healthy donors. The patients will then be monitored for any weight and health changes.
Yu says the pills have no taste or odor and will not release their poop payload until they reach a certain spot in the large intestine. The research volunteers will have no idea whether they are taking the excrement pills or a placebo.
According to a Science Alert report, the patients will be given the poop pills for six weeks, after which researchers will test a person’s weight and health every three months. The trial volunteers will be required to maintain their normal eating and exercise habits.
It sounds like a pretty crappy idea, but there is already strong evidence that microbes in feces can influence a person’s health and fight disease. Previous research indicated that excrement from one person can fight infections in another person’s digestive system.
The same team behind the weight-loss study tested the effects of frozen poop on a deadly infection named Clostridium difficule in 2015. The scientists discovered that the “normal” microbes contained in the healthy donor’s excrement rebalanced the recipient’s system and effectively fought the infection. They successfully eradicated the illness from 18 of 20 patients who took part in the feces study.
In a previous Inquisitr report, another study showed fecal transplants worked better than antibiotics.
Using human excrement for obesity treatment may seem far-fetched, but scientists think if microbes in poop can fight infection maybe they can be used to help with weight-loss and even improve metabolism as well.
Several years ago, another group of researchers took samples of stomach microbes from a set of twins, one lean and obese. They placed the microbes into two sets of mice.
The mice were given the same diet, but the rodents who received the chubbier twin’s microbes actually got fatter. In contrast, the other mice who received the slimmer twin’s microorganisms stayed leaner.
Since diet was not a factor, the results led scientists to believe it was the microbes that were affecting the weight of the animals. So this upcoming trial will give a tremendous amount of new information to researchers, which may someday lead to a poop weight-loss pill.
Although the clinical team in Massachusetts is not sure how well the freeze-dried poop trial will turn out, researchers hope it will teach them more about microbes and how they act in our bodies. They plan to run the trial for at least one year, but possibly longer.
“We don’t know what the results of this trial will be,” Yu told the New York Daily News. “I don’t want to feed any frenzy of people jumping on this bandwagon. DIY experiments make me very nervous, as a physician and as a researcher.”
People who are willing to donate their poop can do so as long as they are free of infection or other health issues. The researchers plan rigorous health screenings for each donor before taking samples for use in the trial. The search for acceptable donors has already begun and poop samples will be collected within a few months.
According to Yu, scientists are just scratching the surface in microbiome research. In the end, if the excrement experiment provides solid evidence that microbes can cause healthy weight changes, a weight-loss pill filled with someone’s poop may be an effective treatment for obesity in the near future.
[Image via Shuttershock]