No confusion about transpoosion

What is “transpoosion”, you may ask? Well, it’s just like “transfusion”, only with poo.

You heard right: faecal transfusion, also known as faecal transplants, human probiotic infusion (HPI), or faecal bacteriotherapy.

Basically it involves taking fecal matter, i.e. poo, from a healthy donor and transferring it to an unhealthy person to make them better. And we shall discuss it without any snickers (which is also the name of a chocolate bar that itself looks a bit like poo).

But how does it work? Or more precisely, oh-my-god, why would you do such a thing?

Well, if you have the wrong kind of bacteria in your bowel – such as one called Clostridium difficile – it can cause all kinds of nasty problems, like chronic diarrhoea and colitis (inflammation of the colon). So the idea is to reintroduce good bacteria from healthy people, to re-establish the proper balance, or if you like, to flush out the bad germs.

Low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of Escherichia coli bacteria, magnified 10,000 times
A cluster of Escherichia coli bacteria, commonly found in human faeces, magnified 10,000 times (Photo by Eric Erbe, digital colorisation by Christopher Pooley, both of USDA, ARS, EMU, via Wikimedia Commons)
The technique was developed and championed by Professor Thomas Borody of the Centre for Digestive Diseases in Sydney, but other researchers around the world have performed studies that demonstrate its effectiveness (see, for example, Khoruts A, Dicksved J, Jansson JK & Sadowsky MJ 2010, “Changes in the composition of the human fecal microbiome after bacteriotherapy for recurrent Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea”, Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, vol. 44, no. 5, pp. 354-360).

But wait, there’s more. Professor Borody’s clinic administers their good bacteria, or flora, in three ways: via a colonoscopy, through an enema (pulverised poo in a saline solution), or by a nasojejunal tube, i.e. a tube inserted into the nose, running all the way to the bowel. Yes, you read that correctly: poo through the nose.

That may sound like crap, but some of the patients who’ve undergone this therapy had previously suffered through months of painful, embarrassing diarrhoea, and are really at the point where they’ll run to any opportunity.

All jokes aside, this treatment has helped many people and is a good example of not only using our bodies’ natural relationship with our bacterial chums, but also of identifying and treating infections that we may have overlooked in our current tendency to blame disease on “lifestyle” (much like the way the Australians Barry Marshall and Robin Warren showed that Helicobacter pylori, not stress, caused stomach ulcers – a discovery that won them the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2005).

For more information, see Professor Borody’s Probiotic Therapy Research Centre.

And yes, they do have a donor bank.

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One thought on “No confusion about transpoosion

  1. This is a new science and there will no doubt be critics from the not invented here NIH arena…Poo is basically undigested food along with a whole bunch of microbes most of which are healthy…That has been known for a very long time….When a person is very sick however, their poo will contain many harmful microbes… These transpoosion scientists are at the cutting edge of curing a lot of digestive disorders like ulcers…There are also some herbal treatments to help digestion…. Chewable calcium is good for a mild upset stomach….Fenugreek, the herb is also a great promoter of digestion…No doubt others and much cheaper than Big Pharma’s remedies which solve one problem while causing two more….

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