Forget Detox - Here's Why Poo Therapy Is The New Thing For January

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GUT BACTERIA
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Poo therapy: it's not sitting on the toilet uninterrupted with tinkling music and fresh scents emanating from your Glade plug-in.

Rather, it refers to a radical new treatment that looks at balancing your digestive system, which in turn affects your immune system and your appearance.

It's not new some new fad from Japan either. The Telegraph ran a recent feature on the concept of giving patients 'poop pills', adding credence to a story that ran last October, revealing the results of an experiment run by researchers at the University of Calgary in Alberta.

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The study took a group of 27 people who had serious gut infections which were not responding to antibiotics. The researchers then gave them pills with extracts from the poo of healthy people, and after a while, all 27 people were cured of their infection.

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Now, The Telegraph reports, a Boston-based company Seres Health is now developing the pills.

Anjana Ahuja writes: “The pill, which entered clinical trials last month, is the first of a new class of drugs nicknamed “ecobiotics”, which aim to treat disease by manipulating the balance of so-called good and bad bacteria so that the beneficial microbes always have the upper hand.

"The poo pill is a particularly eye-catching development in the wave of excitement about the human microbiome, the term given to the collection of trillions of microbes – a cocktail of bacteria, viruses and fungi – that teem inside and on the surface of the human body. Researchers across the world are uncovering intriguing evidence that bacteria and other microbes may be implicated in serious conditions ranging from digestive problems, such as Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), to obesity, diabetes, asthma and even mental health."

The study in Canada was conducted by Dr. Thomas Louie, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary looking specifically at Clostridium difficile, or C-diff infections, which healthy people can fend off, but people on antibiotics or who have other conditions cannot. It's often the bane of hospitals.

While the condition can be cured by a fecal transplant, these are often unpleasant and carry complications.

HuffPost Canada reported last year: "Dr. Curtis Donskey of the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who has done fecal transplants through colonoscopies, praised the work. "The approach that Dr. Louie has is completely novel — no one else has done this," he said. "I am optimistic that this type of preparation will make these procedures much easier for patients and for physicians."

"The treatment now must be made fresh for each patient so the pills don't start to dissolve at room temperature, because their water content would break down the gel coating. Minnesota doctors are testing freezing stool, which doesn't kill the bacteria, so it could be stored and shipped anywhere a patient needed it."

The question will be whether the NHS can afford it, and as The Telegraph conjectures, there is already an existing treatment.

Still, it does call into question our society's love of detox, when a pill to restore the complicated balance of our digestive systems with good and bad bacteria, has more benefits than a cleanse.

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