As medical information becomes more accessible to patients, many are taking their health matters into their own hands. The newest trend in the DIY health world are FMTs. In this blog we will talk about FMT’s, why they are becoming so popular, their risks and their benefits.
- What is FMT?
- The rise of DIY FMTs
- The risks of DIY FMTs
- Getting involved in an FMT study
- More information on DIY FMTs and microbiome health
First, let’s define what an FMT is?
What is FMT?
Fecal microbiota transplants, often shortened to “FMT,” are a medical procedure wherein stool, collected from a healthy donor, is transplanted into the colon of a sick person. The treatment works by implanting bacteria, from microbe rich stool, in order to enrich the gut microbiome of someone experiencing dysbiosis.
What do fecal transplants treat?
The treatment is used to treat an array of illnesses; most frequently it is used in the treatment of the dangerous bacterial infection Clostridium Difficile. In C Diff. the healthy bacteria imported from the stool transplant is able to fight off and eradicate the invasive and harmful Clostridium Difficile bacteria.
Though it’s functioning mechanisms in other microbiome related conditions are less understood and less consistent, they are none the less promising. Further research needs to be undertaken to determine the full efficacy fecal transplants, but for some disease sufferers the research is taking too long and many have chosen to undergo the treatment at home with DIY FMTs.
The rise of DIY FMTs
In recent years there has been an increasing interest in at home fecal transplants. Patients frustrated with the slow pace of regulatory boards and lack of sufficient treatments for their chronic conditions are choosing to take matters into their own hands.
So what exactly does an at home FMT look like and what are the risks and benefits?
Performing an at home FMT
A Google search of DIY FMT will provide you with all the information you need to perform your own fecal transplant. All the equipment you need is available at your local pharmacy. And you ideal donor may be your child, partner or neighbour. Though performing an at home FMT seems easy enough, it’s not to be taken lightly.
The most crucial step in having an FMT performed is to ensure that your donor is thoroughly screened. Though someone may look like a health superstar on the outside there is no telling whether they may carry dangerous bacterias or pathogens in their stool. And the risks of using an untested donor could end up making your sicker than when you began.
The risks of DIY FMTs
Apart from having an untested donor the risks of the actual procedure are few. Reported side effects and risks include cramps, abdominal pain, changes in stool, and the rare possibility of Intestine Perforation. As of now intestinal perforations are the biggest risk associated with FMT and they may be more likely to occur if the procedure is being performed without proper medical supervision.
Along with the immediate risks and side effects mentioned above there are have been some reports of anecdotal side effects but none are seen as broad safety risks of a stool transplant. As for the long-term effects of FMT, they have not yet been studied due to the relative newness of the procedure in clinical settings.
Getting involved in an FMT study
The safety of an at home FMT cannot be ensured. Results from an at home FMT also can’t be ensured. If you are considering FMT for a condition you are suffering from, we encourage you first to look up studies in your area and see if you qualify.
Not only is participating in a clinical study safer than trying a fecal transplant on your own, it is also crucial to its study. By participating in a study (if one is available to you) you are contributing to the realization of a possibly ground breaking, life changing procedure. The more studies that are successful, the sooner more people will have access to medically approved FMTs.
More information on DIY FMTs and microbiome health
If you are interested in hearing a doctors opinion on DIY FMTs check out this great Q&A from The Peggy Foundation with Dr Colleen Kelly.
Get all the answers to your FMT related questions on our FMT FAQ page. We will tell you all about how they work and where you can get one.
If you have a condition or live in a region where FMT is approved as a treatment, check out our clinics page. You will find the location and contact information for clinics that offer FMT.