The most talked about new therapy, the fecal transplant, is a bit disturbing. Can you imagine the physician explaining that he/she wants to share someone’s healthy stuff with you? The concept is to take the feces of a healthy individual and put it in the colon of the recipient to re-inoculate the bowel with healthy bacteria. Is it the answer for individuals with severely disrupted bowel bacteria suffering from Clostridium difficile (C.diff) infection? C. diff is usually created by the use or overuse of antibiotics that destroyed the natural bacteria or flora of the intestine. The result is life threatening diarrhea (not at the top of my list) and inflammation of the colon. The C. diff is actually part of your normal bacteria and the standard treatment is more antibiotics.
Probiotics are becoming more mainstream. At the same time, many hospitals do not routinely give probiotics to their antibiotic patients, nor are they generally recommended in the community. How about an ounce of prevention? If you take an antibiotic, always, always, always take a probiotic.
As a side note, there are over 100 species of Clostridium including C. botulism, C. tetani (tetanus), and C. perfringens (food poisoning and gangrene). The effects of these bacteria are due to the toxins they excrete.
The New England Journal of Medicine (January 2013) reported a 81% cure rate of pseudomembranous colitis caused by C. Diff using fecal implants. The use of fecal bacteria is not new. Dr. Anthony Bassler wrote of Intestinal Toxemia in 1874. Dr. Edward Bach (Bach Flower Remedies) isolated, studied and treated patients homeopathically with his seven bowel nosodes in the 1920’s. In World War I, a strain of Escherichia coli was isolated from the stool of a soldier who survived an outbreak of shigellosis without developing entercholitis. This strain was successfully used to treat acute infectious intestinal disease. And Dr. John Paterson detailed the role of bowel flora in chronic disease in 1948.
The bacterial environment of the intestines includes over 400 species of bacteria and yeast that can weigh as much as 6 pounds. This is no doubt a complex ecosystem that is a part of our immune system. Other killers of our good bacteria include cortisone, birth control pills, stress, and the consumption of chlorine treated water.
A more common, persistent problem is the overgrowth of yeast after antibiotics. This may require a good probiotic for an extended period of time. My favorite probiotic is Enterobiotic SBO. It contains 13 strains of the good bacteria, Saccharomyces boulardii (a beneficial) yeast, soil based organisms, and FOS to support friendly bacteria. Soil based organisms are naturally occurring bacteria that release powerful enzymes.