Fecal transplant procedures are usually done with the aid of a colonoscopy, which as many middle-aged men know, can be quite unpleasant. But luckily, news broke last week that pills are equally as effective.
Citing a study first published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Washington Post reported that pills administered orally are equally as effective in restoring healthy bacteria to the gut.
One of the major digestive issues that this can help with is Clostridium difficile (aka C. difficile and C. diff.).
Statistics show that as many as 14,000 people die from C. diff. each year, and it can result in as many as 250,000 hospitalizations. It’s usually treated by antibiotics, but for 30 percent, that’s not effective.
As a 31-year-old man, I had to experience it for myself. To this day, my wife and I aren’t sure how I got it since it’s typically confined to nursing homes and hospitals.
I may have gotten it from our walk-in clinic, or she may have inadvertently brought it home from the hospital when she was going through nursing clinical.
With C. diff. mostly affecting the sick and the elderly, I can definitely see how it could be deadly.
I was a young and relatively healthy guy, and found it debilitating. For three months, I suffered from violent stomach cramping and diarrhea that could manifest itself as much as six times per day. And mine was a mild case.
It wasn’t until I mixed the antibiotics with probiotics that I was finally able to get rid of it once and (hopefully) for all.
The use of a fecal transplant would have been welcome at that point, especially if taken by mouth, and the new research shows it could have been.
Here’s how it works, according to WashPo’s Rachel Feltman.
“Exceptionally healthy young people — those that pass all requirements for blood donation, as well as being screened for other health factors — provide stool samples, which are then blended with medical-grade saline and filtered,” Feltman writes.
However, instead of pumping the patient full of a liquid, “it’s concentrated into a single capsule.”
“Another layer of capsule goes on top, and the whole thing is kept frozen,” she adds. “A single treatment requires a gulp-worthy 30 pills — 15 on the first day and 15 on the second. But don’t knock it: In a trial of 20 patients, it brought normal bowel health and function to 18 — which is the same rate of success seen in more invasive methods.”
Furthermore, insurance companies usually don’t cover fecal transplant procedures by way of colonoscopy, and that can run a patient $3,000 or more.
For fecal transplant by mouth: $500.
So if you suffer from C. diff. or any other digestive issue which might benefit from a fecal transplant, keep this procedure in mind.