The Science Behind FMT: Meaning & Treatment

August 3, 2023

Good gut health is essential for overall well-being, but unfortunately, many people struggle with digestive issues that can significantly impact their quality of life. Fortunately, cutting-edge medical treatments can help restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut and alleviate symptoms. 

One such treatment is Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT).

In this blog post, we'll explore:

  • What is FMT
  • The process of FMT treatment and how it's administered
  • The effectiveness of FMT based on scientific studies and patient testimonials
  • Tips on finding FMT transplant centers near you
  • Addressing common concerns and questions about FMT

Keep reading if you or someone you know is interested in learning more about this innovative treatment.

What is FMT? 

In medical science, few treatments are as intriguing and potentially life-changing as Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT). While not widely known, this innovative procedure is making waves in gastroenterology and beyond. 

But what exactly is FMT, and how can it benefit your health? Let's dive in. 

FMT is a procedure that takes the concept of 'sharing is caring' to a whole new level.  In a nutshell, it involves transferring fecal bacteria from a healthy individual to a patient

Imagine your gut as a garden. Just like how a garden thrives with various plants, your gut needs a diverse range of bacteria to function optimally. But sometimes, this garden can get overrun by weeds (harmful bacteria), disrupting the balance. That's where FMT comes in, acting like a gardener who removes the weeds and plants beneficial flora.

The goal is to restore the balance of bacteria in the patient's gut, which can be disrupted due to various health conditions. FMT primarily treats Clostridium difficile infection, a severe and hard-to-treat condition that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions – but FMT is more than just a treatment for C. diff.

It's a pioneering procedure pushing the boundaries of what we know about the human microbiome. It's a testament to the power of bacteria, those tiny organisms that play a crucial role in our overall health.

What Can FMT Treat?

FMT has the potential to treat various conditions, such as:

Patients who have undergone FMT treatment often report the following:

- Improved symptoms

- Better overall health

- Enhanced digestion and nutrient absorption

- Overall quality of life enhancement

It is important to note that FMT primarily treats persistent infections with C. diff. Its use for other conditions is still being researched. The specific details of the FMT procedure may vary depending on the healthcare provider and the individual case. 

It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized information and guidance regarding FMT treatment.

Diving Deeper: How is FMT Done?

The FMT process begins with the selection of a suitable donor. The donor's stool is tested for various diseases and parasites to ensure safety. Once a healthy sample is obtained, it's mixed with a saline solution, strained, and prepared for transplantation.

But don't let the thought of 'transplanting' fecal matter scare you. The process is meticulously carried out under strict medical supervision. The donor material is thoroughly screened and prepared, ensuring that only the beneficial bacteria make their way into your gut.

How Much Does FMT Cost?

Fecal Microbiota Transplant procedures typically cost between $600-1000, covering both the stool material and procedure, but insurance plans may consider them separate costs. 

These cost estimates for FMT treatments are based on OpenBiome stool bank's prices in Boston, MA, but prices will vary depending on location and insurance coverage.

How is FMT Administered?

FMT is a versatile treatment with various methods of administration, each with its own unique benefits and considerations. Whether it's the simplicity of a capsule or the precision of a colonoscopy, the choice depends on the patient's condition and the doctor's expertise.

There are several methods of FMT treatment; these include:

  • Oral Capsules: Imagine taking a pill that contains the solution to your gut problems. That's what oral capsules for FMT are like! These capsules are filled with freeze-dried fecal material and taken just like any other pill. It's a simple and non-invasive method, but the capsules must dissolve properly in the stomach to work.

  • Colonoscopy: This method sounds more intimidating, but it's highly effective. A colonoscope is used to deliver the fecal material directly into the colon. While it requires some preparation and possibly sedation, it allows for precise treatment, especially for conditions affecting the lower intestine.

  • Retention Enema: If you're looking for a less invasive method, a retention enema might be the way to go. It's similar to a standard enema but with a special twist – the fecal material is infused into the rectum. The key here is to retain the enema for a while to let the material do its magic.

  • Upper-Gastric Tube (Nasogastric Tube): This method takes a more direct approach by using a tube inserted through the nose into the stomach. It's a way to get the material right where it needs to be in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Though it might sound a bit uncomfortable, it's a valuable method for certain conditions.

So, if you ever find yourself considering FMT, remember, there's a method that's just right for you. Always consult with a healthcare professional to understand the best approach for your specific needs. Happy healing!

How Effective is FMT?

FMT has successfully treated C. diff infections, with up to 90% cure rates. Moreover, emerging research suggests it may also be effective in managing other gastrointestinal conditions, such as:

  • Clostridium Difficile - 90% Success Rate
  • Ulcerative Colitis - 44% Success Rate
  • Crohn’s Disease - 61% Success Rate
  • Autism - 60% Success Rate

But don’t just consider the statistics. Here is the story of Charlie, a DIY fecal transplant recipient recapping his experience with FMT:

Watch Charlies Story

Strategies for Finding Fecal Microbiota Transplant Centers

Finding an FMT center near you can be as simple as doing a quick online search. However, it's important to consider:

- The center's reputation and reviews

- The experience and qualifications of the medical staff

- The safety protocols in place

Just like any other medical procedure, it's crucial to do your homework when choosing an FMT center. After all, you're entrusting them with your health, so it's worth taking the time to find the right fit.

We’ve compiled a massive list of resources surrounding the topic of FMT, clinics, and more. Check it out here for additional information.

Common FAQs and Considerations

FMT is a promising treatment, but it's not without its concerns and questions. Here are some common questions we get:

  1. Where does stool come from for fecal transplants?

    Stool samples used in FMT treatment are from healthy and carefully screened donors. To be eligible, a donor must undergo a multi-stage screening process in a clinical setting. Along with primary screening, each donation must be screened to ensure the donor is still healthy.

  2. Are there any side effects and risks involved?

    Significant risks of FMT are rare but can include intestinal perforation, physical injury during insertion, transferring parasites or pathogens, dysbiosis (unbalanced gut microbiota), and rare cases of moving characteristics such as obesity.

  3. Where can I get a stool transplant?

    If you have Clostridium Difficile, you may be able to receive FMT in a clinical setting, depending on your location. Fecal transplants are typically performed in clinical studies or by specialized doctors.

You can read more commonly asked questions on our FAQ page.

Remember, knowledge is power. The more you understand about FMT, the better equipped you'll be to make decisions about your health.

The Importance of FMT in Modern Medicine

FMT is more than just a novel medical procedure; it's a testament to the incredible power of our gut microbiome and its impact on our overall health. As research continues to unfold, we can only expect to see more of its potential in the future.

So, let's remember the importance of keeping an open mind. After all, the next big breakthrough in medicine could be just a poop transplant away!

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.   ‍  

"In the end, our goals with this film are to give a voice to those suffering from chronic illnesses and to help alleviate some of the shame and embarrassment around something we all deal with every day."

–– Saffron Cassaday, Director

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.