Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT) are gaining attention as an effective alternative treatment for a whole host of microbiome-related conditions. Among them are C Diff, Colitis, Crohn’s, Autism and Obesity. Though FMT is not yet widely available for treatment of all those conditions, there are still ways one can get access to clinically-performed fecal transplants
FMT is a procedure involving the insertion of stool from a healthy donor into the colon of someone with a disrupted gut microbiome. It is an effective treatment for many microbiome associated illnesses and infections. They can be a useful treatment for a range of diseases – yet, they aren’t very easy to get. We will go over everything you need to know about where to get one in this article, and answer your questions, including:
- Where to get FMT
- Where do stool donations come from?
- 7 things to know before getting a fecal transplant
Where to get FMT
The best place to get a stool transplant is by participating in an FMT study. Currently, you can’t get a stool transplant in most regions around the world, as many regulatory bodies are still in the process of reviewing data to ensure the efficacy and safety of the procedure for a variety of conditions.
If you are infected with Clostridium Difficile, FMT may be made available to you in a normal clinical setting, though that may vary depending on your region of residence. Many of the fecal transplants being performed are either in clinical FMT studies, or by select medical professionals or fecal transplant doctors willing and able to provide the treatment. It is possible and preferable to get clinical access to the treatment, but studies are popping up all the time and are in need of participants.
Where do stool donations come from?
Stool donations are provided by healthy and carefully screened stool donors. The donor may be someone unknown to the recipient, just a kind stranger, or it can be someone the patient knows. In either case, the donor must go through multiplescreening processes to ensure their stool is safe to use.
Once the fecal transplant donor passes screening and provides their stool, it remains at a stool bank like OpenBiome in Boston, MA, until it is distributed to the patient going through will the stool transplant.
7 things to know before getting a fecal transplant
Stool transplants have been incredibly effective in treating Clostridium Difficile infections, but are still in the research stage for many other conditions.
The current results of FMT success rates are incredibly promising for a number of chronic illnesses that have been found to be associated with the microbiome, yet there is a reason it isn’t widely available. Here are some quick facts you should know about fecal transplant before you think about getting one:
- FMT has not been fully explored for all conditions it has the potential to treat, and therefore, has not yet been perfected. More study needs to be done to improve on the diversity of subjects, and study the long-lasting effectiveness of the treatment.
- FMT is best practiced by a medical professional. Without one the procedure cannot be guaranteed to be safe and proper follow up cannot occur.
- The exact method by which a stool transplant works is not yet fully understood by even the most prominent experts. Unlocking the genetic makeup of the millions of microbes in our bodies will first have to be tackled to know specifics.
- Long-term effects remain unknown due to lack of clinical follow up. Most studies on FMT have only occured in the last 5 years, so they have not had time to be reviewed for long-lasting effects.
- Fecal transplants are at least 5 years away from regulatory approval for many illnesses, so studies may be the main point of access for the foreseeable future. This timeline will also vary from region to region depending on the regulators.
- The donor effect is yet unknown. Some donors have demonstrated to be more effective than others, but the reason for this still remains to be determined. As more of the microbiomes genetic information is unlocked, more will be known about why donors work or don’t work.
- Treatment is most effective when done at an earlier stage of disease progression. Catching dysbiosis before it becomes normalized in the gut could make a difference in stool transplant results.
Doing your research is always important when making major medical decisions such as going through with FMT. Consider all the risks and consult with your primary care doctor about FMT if it is something you are considering having done.