October 23, 2018

Can fecal transplants treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Hi Michael,

I just purchased and read your ebook on how to do fecal transplants yourself and have some questions. My husband struggled for years from terrible acid reflux. It was so bad it affected his dental health. He was put on a proton pump inhibitor and that seem to stop the acid but increased his gas. He was on a PPI for about five years before he decided to go another route since his gas had gotten so bad.  He went on a low carbohydrate diet which eliminated  his gas and  acid but was impossible to stay on. So the last five years he has just put up with his symptoms. Oftentimes he can eat something with very little issues and other times he will have terrible gas for a week and constipation for a few days that ends in diarrhea. Accompanied by terrible abdominal pain. He’s had an upper GI that showed a little irritation, but nothing significant. His Dr just tells him it’s irritable bowel syndrome and gives him a restricted diet to follow. I will be scheduling him for a lower GI soon to make sure there isn’t something else going on. My husband has reached a point that he feels powerless and exhausted. He doesn’t want to be on a pill or restrictive diet that doesn’t work. Is it necessary to be on Wellbutrin or prednisone to do this. His dr doesn’t seem to be willing to prescribe medication and I’m sure would frown upon this procedure. She seems to think he just can’t eat anything.

Please advise if most people will have flare ups without the meds during ft. My husband is at his wits end and I really want him to follow through with this even if it takes a few months. Prob is so many things in the past have failed. Please advise.

Also would FT help someone with small intestine bacterial overgrowth or  do the enemas only help with large intestinal issues?

How did you determine that it was not Wellbutrin alone that  ended your  UC? You mentioned continuing FT after  being healed wasn’t a good idea. How do you know you are healed to where there isn’t a relapse? Sorry for so many posts but my husband and I are desperate for a cure.

– Sheryl M

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Hi Sheryl,

Fecal Transplants might have with what appears to be Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to the extent that it is caused by incomplete digestion. I noticed I had a major improvement with less gas and the ability to tolerate foods which had previously appeared to cause problems for me. The reason he is not able to properly digest many foods is likely due to a lack of bacteria in the small intestine or colon that is used to down and effectively ferment food parts that are not digested.

I don’t think Prednisone or Wellbutrin are not necessary for everyone who is having fecal transplants unless they are currently having or have recently had a major flare caused by inflammation. In your husband’s case if there is no inflammatory response that needs to
be suppressed it might not be necessary however I can’t say for sure, you. An option to consider might be to take a course of antibiotics such as Cipro or Vancomycin before you start the fecal transplants to eliminate any competing bacteria and allow the newly introduced bacteria from the donor to become established more quickly and completely.

It seems logical that fecal transplants could help with Small Bacterial Overgrowth by introducing new bacterial colony that balances bacteria and prevents overgrowth of certain kinds of bacteria that cause problems, however as far as I know there have not been any research studies on this.  To get the contents of a fecal transplant into the small intestine that can however you would have to use a nasal gastric tube or “poop pills” gelatin capsules filled with stool.

As for your question about my case, it’s hard to say for certain if the fecal transplants alone were
enough to lead me to get better.  I had taken Wellbutrin in the past while taking other medications for Colitis and it never
led to a sustained treatment like this. Since I did not know of Wellbutrin’s possible anti-inflammatory benefits, there is no way of saying if it ha positive effects at the time. I think for me it was a combination of factors but the fecal transplants were what allowed this to become a sustainable treatment that has continued after I stopped taking the drug. Another consideration is the extent to which your husband’s  IBS is caused by some degree of anxiety or depression. Even if he doesn’t appear to meet the threshold for depression of anxiety, it is possible that he is internalizing stress caused by having to deal with the illness. To that end Wellbutrin has been used to treat IBS as well as certain other anti-depressants.

As for his doctor not liking it, tough s#!t!  You have to take responsibility for your own care and pursue doctors who are willing to help you safely pursue treatment options that can work. My GI doctor and colorectal surgeon thought I was nuts for attempting the fecal transplants. However what was crazy to me was having surgery if I didn’t have to and risking another trip to the hospital for secondary infections for caused in part by drug side effects. Now its not really a doctor’s fault that they can’t prescribe this as a treatment. Currently in the U.S. doctors are prohibited by the FDA from performing this or prescribing fecal transplants as a treatment, with the exception of informed consent to treat Clostridium Difficile infection. So you are either going to have to go to a health care professional outside the U.S. (unless you already live outside the U.S.) or do it yourself.

Honestly, the only reason you really need a doctor is to get prescriptions drugs, prescribe tests for the donor and also perhaps for your own peace of mind. I describe  step by step how to do fecal transplants yourself in my ebook. If someone is using fecal transplants just once to treat c. diff it might make sense. However for other chronic illnesses it may take several weeks, so even if you had the first one in a clinic its not really practical to do them at the clinic everyday and you will likely have to do at least some of them yourself.