This where I’d going to document my experience with an attempted treatment of my Crohns disease using a home fecal matter transplant treatment. Check back from time to time. I’ll mention updates in the main blog section so subscribe to the RSS for insta-updates!
So what is a fecal matter transplant (also Fecal Bacteiotherapy)? Why would you want one?
I am a long time sufferer of Crohns disease. This is an illness characterised by inflammation of the intestines, cramps, pain and often wind and diarrhoea. It’s associated with a variety of other nasty side effects and knock on illnesses like:
- Sweet Syndrome
- Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
- Increased risk of bowl cancer
It’s overall a not fun thing. Suffers go through periods of remission, where nothing is really wrong, and periods of “flare”. During a flare a sufferer can be nearly crippled with pain, suffering from bloody diarrhoea and generally unable to function. It is thought that the illness is caused by an auto-immune reaction to the lining of the intestines. i.e the patients own body attacks the lining of the intestine.
Crohns, and it’s sister illness Ulcerative colitis, are generally treated with an array of immune suppressing drugs:
- Purinethol (mercaptopurine)
- various TNF inhibiting anti-inflammatory drugs
The amount people react to the various drugs differs greatly. For some no good treatment options exist that keep their Crohns under contol.
So what’s changed? Recently, some doctors have suggested that, like peptic ulcers, there might be a bacteriological component to the disease. With ulcers it used to be assumed that stress and other medical issues caused stomach ulcer. However a Sydney based team showed that it was in fact caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori in many cases and that if you treated a patient with antibiotics you could cure them of their ulcer.
Using this as a base the same team of doctors theorised that in many cases diseases like Crohns, IBS and UC are caused by either a particular bacteria or bacterial imbalance in the gut. Many of the symptoms match with aClostridium difficile infection. With this in mind they treated with antibiotics and found they could often alleviate symptoms, but once antibacterial therapy was terminated the condition returned.
This led them to try a “rebalance” of the intestinal flora. The theory being, that in sufferers of IBS illnesses have a damaged gut flora, either from antibiotic use, environmental or hereditary reasons. This flora could, in theory, be re-populated from a donor with a healthy gut flora.
The initial experiments involved taking fecas from a healthy known donor, blending it up and using an endoscope to deliver the material to the upper intestine. They had very promising results, nearly 80% remission rate in suffers. And similar high success for treating Clostridium difficile with the same process.
This led to quite a few crohns suffers attempting to replicate these results at home. Protocols were quickly available on the internet to perform the procedure with a donor sample and a blender and a home enema kit. I myself tried this protocol with limited success. I had a slight reduction in symptoms for 3-4 days that then returned to baseline. Some people online have success with this but at a lower rate than the Sydney studies. It is suggested that this is because the enema dos not penetrate high enough up the intestine to colonise as is needed.