DIY FMT is on the increase, and whilst the figures aren’t yet known, it seems from the proliferation of ‘advice’ articles on the internet, it’s something many people are feeling compelled to try. Looking at social media, it seems that people are increasingly taking matters into their own hands when they start to think that medicine is making them feel abandoned.
To many the idea of liquidising excrement in a kitchen blender and then inserting it into your body with an enema kit may sound quite unpalatable, but we understand that sometimes desperate situations call for desperate measures.
However, we feel it is only right to highlight the dangers.
Whilst anecdotal tales on the internet will tell success stories of improved well being, it is human nature to loudly declare success but not to disclose failure. Because of this there are no statistics available to give a reasonable balanced view. It was partly the failure of licenced medical professionals to provide standardised data after treatment, that led to the Food and Drug Administration to introduce the restrictions on FMT that exist in the US today.
Largely out of ignorance of the complexity of the science involved and mostly because of the desperation of the situation they find themselves in, the vast majority of DIY-ers are adopting an ‘any poo will do’ attitude. But is it worth the risk bearing in mind what may be unknowingly introduced to the body?
Lifestyle, antibiotics and a significantly altered diet appear some of the main reason why our microflora is so very different to that of our forefathers. Without safe and comprehensive screening of the faeces you are implanting into yourself, you really don’t know what potential diseases you could be inviting into your body.
At the Taymount Clinic the quality of our donors and their rigorous testing programs underpins the safety of the treatment. The Taymount donor program is run by a full time Donor Manager who is a medical professional. Their job is to ensure our donors meet all our exacting health criteria and to make sure that the donors are re-tested to a fixed program. Taymount implant material cannot be used until we are sure that the donor does not have a disease or infection state that could compromise a patient.
Healthy doesn’t mean just because you are young and fit and go to the gym you are okay either. We’ve had many people who on the face of it appear to be in great shape, but once their samples have undergone our rigorous examination, we discover that due to a pathogenic burden or a poor diversity and density of microflora they are unsuitable as a donor.
Only 5% of Taymount donor candidates get over the first hurdles.
Donor selection is only part of the story. Read any university reference book on the diversity of species found in the human gut and you will find that 90% of the species that are commensal (normal) to the human gut are called “anaerobic” – to them, exposure to oxygen is quite literally a poison. Any academic or scientific establishment that has bacteriologists running their FMT study or research program uses an oxygen-free laboratory environment when processing and handling bacteria.
FMT is moving forward at a great pace, and the Taymount Clinic is proud to be at the forefront of the science. We are cautiously pushing the boundaries, demanding that safeguards be put in place.
Whilst we know and understand that what we have said will not deter absolutely desperate people, we can urge caution as the Hippocratic oath states “At first do no harm”. We also understand that we cannot change the circumstances that people find themselves in that cause them to undertake such desperate measures as DIY FMT, but we can urge them to study and practise good science and be wary of some of the advice that circulates the internet.
We want FMT to be available to everyone, but not when it places him or her in danger.