The benefits of poop therapy

The ick factor is high, but so is the therapeutic benefit

Fecal bacteria magnified 10,000 times.

Fecal bacteria magnified 10,000 times.

The “ick” factor may be high, but so is the therapeutic benefit of fecal transplantation—taking the feces of one person and putting it into the intestinal system of another. Just last month CNN reported on a Georgia woman who overcame a raging Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, infection after receiving a fecal transplant from her mother.

The treatment is also called fecal bacteriotherapy, which better describes it. The goal is to transfer the microbes from a healthy person into someone whose gastrointestinal system has been knocked out of whack by antibiotics or other causes. The newly introduced microbes replace the recipient’s missing helpful bacteria, much in the same way—but far more effectively—than the acidophilus in yogurt does.

The procedure is especially useful for treating C. diff, a pernicious bacterial strain that kills an estimated 14,000 people a year in the United States—with a cure rate of around 90 percent.