The Role of FMT in Treating Gastrointestinal Disorders: A 2023 Overview

July 11, 2023

Imagine your body as a bustling metropolis, with trillions of inhabitants working in harmony to keep the city - that is, you - thriving. This isn't just a metaphor; it's a reality.

Of course, we all know that maintaining good health is essential and that eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help us achieve that. But did you know that trillions of bacteria in our gut also play a significant role in keeping us healthy? 

This bustling community of bacteria, known as the gut microbiome, has been making headlines, moving from DIY methods to FDA approval, and gaining traction for its impact on our overall well-being.

In this blog post, we'll explore a procedure called Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) and how it can potentially restore balance to your gut and promote good health.

Understanding FMT

Think of FMT as a city planner for your gut. It involves taking the fecal bacteria from a healthy individual, the 'donor,' and transplanting it into a patient. 

The goal? 

To restore the balance in the city of the patient's gut microbiome, which can be disrupted due to various health conditions. It's like taking the blueprint of a thriving city and using it to rebuild a city that's struggling. 

Over the past few years, FMT has been making waves as a potential treatment for a range of health issues, particularly those related to gut health. 

The procedure can be performed in several ways, including:

  • Capsules
  • Enemas
  • Or transplant pills

Each method has its own advantages and is chosen based on the patient's comfort and the specific area of the gut that needs to be targeted.

Charlie's Story

Now, let's take a moment to share Charlie's story. Charlie, like many others, found himself in a tough spot when conventional treatments failed to alleviate his health issues. Desperate for a solution, he turned to FMT, a decision that would change his life.

Charlie's journey is a testament to the potential of FMT in transforming lives. His story, and many others like it, are the driving force behind the growing interest in FMT and its potential in treating a variety of health conditions.

But you might be wondering, is there an age limit to this procedure?

Is There an Age Limit To FMT?

According to Luca, a researcher in the field and a member of Injoy

"There does not seem to be an age after which FMT is no longer viable, but it might work differently for people depending on how old they are and their health. Some research suggests that FMT can be used for children and adults of any age, but who the donor is and how old they are might affect how well FMT works. So, choosing the right donor for FMT might depend on things like the age and health of the person getting it and what they hope to achieve."

Still unsure of FMT or want to dive deeper into the subject? Check out our curated list of FMT studies.

FMT and Gastrointestinal Disorders

FMT has shown promising results in treating gastrointestinal disorders. One of the most notable applications of FMT is in treating Clostridium Difficile infection, a condition that can cause severe diarrhea and inflammation of the colon. 

This condition is like a city under siege, with the harmful bacteria wreaking havoc on the city's infrastructure. FMT acts as a reinforcement, bringing healthy bacteria to restore order and balance. 

The treatment has proven incredibly effective, with success rates of up to 90%. This makes it a potential first-line treatment for this disruptive infection

Other gut-related conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), are also being studied for potential treatment with FMT. 

As we continue to explore the potential of FMT, it's important to remember that everybody, like every city, is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. But with continued research and understanding, we're getting closer to finding effective solutions for these complex issues.

The Science Behind FMT

The science behind FMT is not just impressive but also complex and always changing. 

According to a joint document by the Asia-Pacific Association of Gastroenterology (APAGE) and the Asia-Pacific Society for Digestive Endoscopy (APSDE), the success of this restoration process can depend on several factors. 

These include:

  • the composition and function of the recipient's microbiota
  • physiological factors, and
  • genetic factors associated with both the donor and the recipient

Beneficially, FMT not only introduces new bacteria into the gut but also fosters a harmonious co-existence between gut fungi, viruses, and bacteria, promoting the restoration of microbial equilibrium. 

It's important to note that the type of bacteria in the donor's gut can affect how well FMT works.

However, as mentioned before, FMT studies are still in their early stages and have not been fully clinically tested for the public.

Learn more about FMT from the Director of “Designer Shit” by listening to her interview on Against The Grain.

The Risks and Benefits of FMT

Like any medical procedure, FMT comes with its own set of risks and benefits. The most significant risk is the potential for transmission of infectious diseases, which underscores the importance of thorough donor screening. However, when performed in a clinical setting with a healthy, pre-screened donor, FMT is a relatively safe procedure.

The side effects of FMT tend to be mild and short-lived. 

These can include changes in the following:

  • Stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Cramping 

Note: If any of these symptoms persist for more than a few days, it's important to consult a doctor.

Major risks associated with FMT, although incredibly rare, can include intestinal perforation, physical injury, transferring a parasite or pathogen, dysbiosis (unbalanced gut microbiota), and even transferring other characteristics such as obesity from the donor to the recipient. 

These risks highlight the importance of performing FMT under the guidance of experienced medical professionals and with proper screening and preparation.

However, while many fecal transplant risks are rare, performing FMT DIY is not advisable as the risk is heightened by a lack of proper care and screening. Fecal transplants should never be performed without the consultation of a doctor. Both stool donors and recipients involved in FMT need to be thoroughly screened to make sure they are both healthy enough to participate in the procedure.

Ultimately, the benefits of FMT can be life-changing, with many emerging clinical procedures already proving to improve the quality of life of patients.

The Future of FMT

The future of FMT in treating gastrointestinal disorders looks promising. With ongoing research and advancements in the field, we can expect to see more refined procedures, expanded applications, and improved patient outcomes.

FMT has shown varying rates of success in treating different conditions: 

  • Clostridium Difficile infection | 90% 
  • Crohn's Disease 61%
  • Ulcerative Colitis | 44%
  • Autism | 60%

These numbers are promising, but it's important to note that the success rate can vary depending on the conditions being treated and the health of the patient. As we continue to refine the procedure and expand its applications, these numbers could potentially increase.

FMT is also being studied as a potential treatment for a wide range of other conditions, including:

  • Arthritis
  • asthma
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Eczema
  • Fibromyalgia
  • insulin resistance
  • metabolic syndrome
  • mood disorders
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Obesity, and 
  • Parkinson's disease.

Wrapping Up

As we journey through the bustling city of our gut microbiome, it's clear that FMT is a promising frontier in the world of gastrointestinal disorders. From the inspiring story of Charlie to the potential of FMT in treating a wide range of conditions, we've explored the many facets of this beneficial and emerging procedure.

But our exploration doesn't stop here. As we look to the future, we see a landscape of potential for FMT. With ongoing research and advancements, we expect to see more refined procedures, expanded applications, and improved patient outcomes. The city of our gut microbiome is ever-evolving, and with FMT, we have a powerful tool to help keep it thriving.

Upcoming “Designer Shit” Documentary

If you found this article insightful, you won't want to miss our upcoming documentary on FMT. This eye-opening film will dive deeper into the science behind fecal microbiota transplantation and share real-life stories of people who have undergone the procedure. 

To stay current on the documentary's release and receive more valuable information on gut health, subscribe to our newsletter.

Together, we can continue to learn and share knowledge about the fascinating world of the human microbiome and its impact on our health.