One thing that has come to my attention recently is that some people who have tried to use fecal transplants to treat their case of Ulcerative Colitis have not yet been successful in their attempts to do so. While fecal transplants were a huge part of my experience in recovering from Ulcerative Colitis they were not the only factor. I also did them for a longer period of time than Dr. Borody’s patients who did them for 5 days in a hospital setting using a colonosope. To the best of my knowledge this is the process that the few doctors who have done these for Ulcerative Colitis are most likely using.
As I cover in my book, I believe there were several keys to making this work for me and which might have been left out by anyone who has done these and not yet been successful.
- Do the fecal transplants for long enough to make sure the new bacterial colony has established itself.
I did the fecal transplants for almost 5 weeks every day and then stopped. I really can’t say if I needed to do them for this long or if after a week or two, tapering down the enemas to where I was doing them every other day, once a week or once a month would have been just as effective. However what I do think needs to happen is to keep the newly introduced bacteria at elevated levels to act an anti-biotic for what may be “bloom” cycles of various bacteria that reproduce from spores embedded in the intestinal walls. Basically do the FTs for a long enough period of time to really get the new bacteria established and dominant over the “bad” bacteria.
- Continue on maintenance medications while doing the fecal transplants and for a significant period of time you have stopped doing them.
The reason for this is to limit inflamation and manage immune system responses to new bacteria which can include a flare of symptoms, fever and more. A flare could result from the body actively fighting the inflamation causing bacteria or toxins released by dying of large amounts of bacteria. Your body’s immune system could be recalibrating and readjusting to a new mix of bacteria in the colon. Until it has relearned what is friend and what is foe, your body could attack some the new “good” bacteria in the process, triggering more inflamation. However know to expect that these symptoms are a part of the process toward restoring good health and keep going.
- Help retain the enemas and manage bloating from gas by using over-the-counter drugs like Immodium and Gas-x.
Retaining enemas can be a challenge at first, however you will get better at it with experience. Making sure to lie on your left side and then roll onto your back and then your right side will also help the fecal enema mixture navigate its way up the colon and reduce urgency caused by the enema mixture being in the lower colon or rectum.
- Treat symptoms like diarrhea, muscle spasms, and indigestion with drugs therapies like in IBS.
I believe this is an important step in the process however it may be more important to some people than others depending on the extent of Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, anxiety or depression. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs have long been used to treat IBS. Also flares of Ulcerative Colitis often appear to be triggered by extra emotional stress, change of seasons to fall or winter. Improper digestion and frequent diarrhea may also further fuel a mix of bacterial which triggers inflammation too. Other than blood in stool, Ulcerative Colitis shares some similarities with severe cases of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, especially diarrhea. In addition to helping newly transplanted bacteria become established, slowing diarrhea also helps drugs like Mesalamine work and could support a more helpful mix of bacteria.
- Get high levels of protein using supplements to help the intestine heal more quickly.
Just like the body needs protein to recover from surgery and body builders use it to build muscle, we need protein to heal the intestines, especially if we have been eating restrictive diets in an attempt to cope with the illness. More protein can help heal ulcers and regain elasticity lost during inflamation and resulting scar tissue. This is another key step that I believe some people are leaving off. I started drinking 3 protein shakes a day to prepare my body for surgery on the advice of the colo-rectal surgeon who would have removed my large intestine. However it turns out the same amounts of extra protein needed to recover from weight training workouts and surgery was also necessary to heal my colon and regain elasticity lost due to ulceration and resulting scar tissue.
Based on my experience and reports I have gotten from those who have been successful with fecal transplants I believe that most of the successful people have done some of all of the above steps and most of the people who have not yet been successful left out one or more of the above steps.