Every once in a while I see something that stops me in my tracks. This time it was a report I saw in our internal library abstracts that told of a new and highly effective experimental treatment for a very threatening illness known in hospital talk as C. diff. I had served on our local hospital board for a while, so I was used to hearing about and monitoring stats for Clostridium difficile. It’s an infection people who are on antibiotics can get, and it’s often deadly. Hospitals do not like C. diff, and it’s whispered in hushed tones, “He’s got C. diff.” Not good. So imagine this conversation:
You are in the hospital and you’ve been having diarrhea really badly, bloody even. You feel like crap! You may die. Seriously. Your doctor comes in and says, “This is serious. There is only one thing we can do. You will need a transplant.” Your heart skips a few beats.
“What kind of transplant, doctor?” fearful you may not live till your waiting list number comes up.
“A fecal transplant.”
“Excuse me?” you ask. “I mean, isn’t fecal a word for poop?”
“Yes, a fecal transplant. We will need to find a family member willing to make a donation.”
This sounds funny, but I’m not joking. Fecal transplants, where doctors take poop from a relative, mix it up with water, and insert it into a patient’s intestines, has almost miraculous healing properties. This comes straight from my morning library news: According to lead study author Mayur Ramesh, MD, from the Henry Ford Health System. Of the 49 patients, 43 fully recovered, 4 died of causes unrelated to C. diff, 1 had intestinal surgery, and 1 showed no improvement.
Now, this study has not been written up and peer reviewed yet, so there is a chance it’s a fluke. But I doubt it. In a recent issue of Organic Gardening, I wrote about a whole new area of medicine that’s studying the microbiome, a fancy way of saying tiny living creatures that live in the world inside your body-especially your stomach, intestines, and all the other dark places. What’s fascinating to me is the exact parallel to those tiny little creatures (myccorhyzal fungi, for example) that live in our soil.
Here’s the point, people: You may be grossed out by these tiny living creatures in our bodies and our soil, but without them, we die. We are dead. We cannot survive. And in both cases, our bodies and the planet’s body, those tiny creatures are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. And we are doing it to ourselves every time we overuse antibiotics, douse ourselves with antimicrobial soaps and other completely unnecessary and dangerous products, and clean our houses to the point of sterility. Sterility is death. Likewise, we do it to our soil every time we apply pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides. And who the hell knows what eating GMOs will do to the essential life inside our bodies?
A poop transplant will only work if the person the poop comes from is healthy and has an active living collection of the tiny creatures working inside their bodies. This explains the effectiveness of compost even more-it’s like a poop transplant for the soil.
There are a few essential books written about China and how it survived for thousands of years without destroying its soil. The main thing it did was apply ”night soil” to the crops (aka poop). Europe, too. Now we live in a culture in which that idea is gross and our human waste must be hidden, sterilized, and disposed of outside of our realm of awareness. The sad thing is that our overuse of toxic products-be it cleaning products, pharmaceuticals that come out of our bodies, or other things we flush down our toilets-make our sewage sludge unhealthy.
What about E. coli, you ask? Well, E. coli is a lot like C. diff. I’ve seen studies that show it’s not the poop itself that causes E. coli infection, rather, it’s the microbiome out of balance that does. For example, animals raised in confined animal-feeding operations (CAFOs) are much greater carriers of E. coli than animals raised healthfully outside on organic farms.
In conclusion, there are a lot of things we don’t yet understand about our bodies and our planet and the universe, but the one frontier that still needs exploring is the world of tiny creatures that keep us all alive. Rather than fearing the microbiome, we need to understand it better. Rather than being embarrassed and ashamed by our bodily functions, we need to respect and learn from them.
Nature is not dirty. Nature is a miracle!
My grandparents lived on my great-grandparents farm when they were first married during 1930s. From all I’ve heard, my great-grandfather was known for his incredibly rich topsoil, and his garden/farm fed the family and many neighbors during those difficult times. My grandfather told me that they used to take the outhouse poop and spread it on the field that was being rotated out of use. By the time it was rotated back in use for crops grown to feed the animals (they didn’t use the outhouse “compost” on the the vegetable gardens), the field had soil that was like black-gold.
Seems it would be easier to consume probiotic rich foods and drinks….just saying.
When I was growing up, my mom would say things like “she’s always sick because she’s always taking showers”. I didn’t understand it at the time of course, but my mom didn’t need science to tell her cleanliness was not necessarily an ideal.
What an insight. Yes, this is not the thing to talk about at the table.
But these things must be bantered about occasionally. This is one of those subjects I have personally digested (a pun for fun) as I struggle with a noncontagious digestive tract disease.
Doctors wont do anything to cure my condition. They want me to be on the medications they prescribe. One of the side effects is what they call muscle soreness. You and I call it muscle PAIN.
This subject of fecal transplant has sparked my interest, as many other medications & medical procedures.
I am definitely going to ask about this on my next doctor visit.
A thank you to Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen for being so bold.
Wow. Lots of food for thought. Thank you.
P.S. Pamela Miles of Reiki in Medicine (www.reikiinmedicine.org; Reiki, Medicine and Self-Care on Facebook) posted this link. Now, I’m going to thank her, too.
@TO WILL ROGERS,
Did you find a naturopath yet, or homeopath? I hope so! Left you a message about how to find one from yesterday.
Yes, these little bugs in the body are a great necessity, the good ones of course! LORI, when I lived in Canada, I had my septic tank cleaned out, I curiously asked the cleaner what he did with the contents of his truck, and he said that the company takes it to the farmers and the farmers used it in their fields to make the soil richer and grow things! Needless to say that I almost fell over and died on the spot! If I thought that my veggies were being grown by this, I would have never eaten again, which made me go organic even more!
Excuse me, but there are diseases that exists that I don’t want growing in my food, AIDS, HEPATITIS, CROHN’S DISEASE, as an example. That may be the extreme, but it is possible!
Over-cleanliness, if there is such a thing, turly is not best. We need a little dirt just to stay healthy.
I’m laughing because this makes so much sense! Inoculating the intestinal flora…
Probiotic supplements would not contain some of the necessary microbes. Digestion would kill off some others. Yup, this would be more effective.
Skipping on the hand sanitizer and antibiotics would be so much easier in the long run, though.
Without soil micro-organisms there wouldn’t be plant life on the planet, let alone animals, and humans.
In a sense, we wouldn’t die without those organisms; we simply wouldn’t exist to begin with.
I recall 2 Univ. of Colorado researchers proving that you are what you eat, right down to the mitochondria.
Are you kidding ? Is this for real? Human Poop on your garden…..makes me want to throw up……
Folks!! all of you ‘grossed out’ by human waste being used as fertilizer. You are WAAAY behind the times!!! Read Liquid Gold and you will get an eye opener. and Sweden actually collects sewage (every house has a tank that is pumped out) and proceses it for fertilizer.
Little Suzie, I would much rather it be put in the ground where it belongs than in our water which is then supposedly purified for drinking.
Is there a “e-mail” button anywhere on this page so I can forward this interesting journal entry to my friends from your site? Couldn’t see an email-link at top or bottom, only “Like” for Facebook; and I’m not certain I want to post it there like that.
Thank you for your attention, and all the wonderful words.
Cultured and fermented foods are good for the digestion and help
with the gut flora. They can be done right in your own home.
This is a good site to check out.
Fecal transplants are for real and being done in the US. The GI surgery center where I work has done 9 of these in the past 6 months and we are having good success at making folks with c-diff feel better (I won’t say we cure them, cause 6 months is too short of a time to claim a cure!). Unfortunately, for folks with c-diff just eating probiotic-rich foods just isn’t enough- too many good bacteria die in the stomach. Anyone who thinks fecal transplant is too gross to consider hasn’t had to live with the effects of the toxins produced by the colostrum difficult bacteria!