Hydrogenotrophic microbes which convert hydrogen into other substances may play a key role in the development of diseases like Colon Cancer or Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Research lead by Professor Rex Gaskin & Dr. Eugene Greenberg at the University of Illinois is looking to map Hydrogenotrophic(hydrogen consuming) microbes that while making up a small portion of the microbial ecosystem might play a big part in the development of diseases such as Colon Cancer or Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Continue reading “Hydrogen Eating Microbes Play Important Role In Digestive System” »

Those who develop Clostridium difficile along with their Inflammatory Bowel Disease may have a harder time treating it with Vancomycin.

A review study of 101 patients who had an Inflammatory Bowel Disease of one kind or another found that Clostridium difficile was more likely to occur in those treated with the antibiotic vancomycin compared to those treated with another antibiotic, metronidazole or a combination of both. Vancomycin goes by the brand name Vancocin while metronidazole is also known as Flagyl.

The review study showed a recurrence rate of almost 40%(39.4%) in those who took vancomycin compared to 14.5% in those who took metronidazole & 13.3% in those who took a combination of both. No obvious differences were found between patients & the vast majority(89%) were on immunosupressive drugs of some sort. Steroid use does seem to play a role as reinfection rates were approximately twice as high, 32% vs 15.7%,  for those receiving a steroidal treatment. Continue reading “Clostridium difficile Recurrence Higher For IBD Patients Treated With Vancomycin” »

There seems to be some continual confusion about the differences between Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

The main difference between the two is that Irritable Bowels Syndrome is a functional disorder, meaning there is little to no physical evidence of the disorder besides it’s symptoms. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are not functional disorders and are diagnosable based off of physical evidence. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is usually much less severe than Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Additionally “Inflammatory Bowel Disease” is not the actual name of a disease, but a classification for bowel diseases of an inflammatory nature. The two main Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are Ulcerative Colitis & Crohn’s Disease. They are not the same thing, though they have similar symptoms & treatments.

I made this handy chart below so people can get a better idea of the differences.

A recent study review found that 12 out of 16 probiotic studies saw better outcomes when using multiple probiotic strains instead of just a single strain. These studies covered many different topics such as inflammatory bowel disorder, Helicobacter pylori, gut function  & others.

I don’t find this terribly surprising as our digestive tract is teaming with all sorts bacterial flora. There is no jack of all trades probiotic that does everything for the digestive tract. There are also many different sub-strains of probiotics out there. If you go to the store you’ll probably see a lot of bottles labeled as being L. Acidophilus, however each company breeds it’s own strain(unless the companies outsourced from same lab) of L. Acidophilus so you might even get slightly different results depending on which brand you choose. There also may be a host of probiotic sub-strains we haven’t discovered yet. This is why something like fecal transplantation is interesting because it takes a working bacterial ecosystem and transplants it into someone who does not have one. It’s hard to slowly rebuild a healthy bacterial ecosystem with only a handful of bacteria, especially when we do not know which bacteria are most effective for each person & we may even be missing some.

I am sure your mind must be pondering, “that title doesn’t mean what I think it means”, well actually it means exactly what you’re probably thinking. The first time I heard about fecal transplantation was when my girlfriend discussed it after seeing an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I thought it was a joke, no way they would really do that. Thanks to the internet and research, it turns out it is indeed not a joke, but an actual procedure that has helped many people.

Fecal transplantation is simply taking stool from a donor who has a healthy, functional digestive system and implanting it into the affected patient. A poo slurry is created with saline, stool & in some cases added fiber. This is done with a blender(you probably won’t want to make smoothies in this thing afterward). Implantation can be done in different ways, such as via enema, colonoscopy or naso-jejunal tube. This is repeated for 5 – 10 days.

The idea behind fecal transplantation is that the sufferer with the disease is suffering from a bacterial/microbial imbalance in their digestive system. There are literally thousand and thousands of different types of microbes and bacteria in our bodies. If you are missing certain types then you will have an imbalance that will either cause problems with digesting food or allow harmful invaders to setup shop in your digestive system. Since you won’t have the good bacteria available to fight off the infection, this can cause long-term problems. This is the case with Clostridium difficile, a bacteria that is extremely hard to get rid of with normal antibiotics or by the immune system. Also in some cases Crohn’s Disease may be the bodies response to invading bacteria, but since it has trouble penetrating the gut to attack the bacteria, it instead inflicts damage on the gut itself.

One thing that is interesting is that many people who had a a history of taking antibiotics seemed more likely to see improvement after transplantation. Antibiotics are known to wipe out your bacterial flora. When I was little I went through many ear infections which involved many doses of antibiotics. I am wondering if this might play some part in my Irritable Bowel Syndrome. A lot of this is theory, but the facts are that fecal transplantation is real and has had beneficial results for many people.

Prof. Thomas Borody has been pioneering this technique in Australia at the Centre for Digestive Diseases. There hasn’t been much effort taking place in the United States, though there are some Gastro doctors who may be willing to entertain the idea. There have been suggestions that the University of Chicago has been holding focus groups regarding fecal transplants & possibly seeking a grant to do further research. There is nothing on their website right now confirming this though.

If you are in the US or UK or you’re not a character on a Grey’s Anatomy episode, you might try doing this on your own. Some enterprising individuals have taken up doing the job of doing it on their own by recruiting stool from their spouse or family. Some have had surprisingly good results as far as combating Crohn’s or Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. Here is a very informative discussion from the HealingWell.com forums with experiences from people who have done the procedure themselves.

Have you done fecal transplantation? Are you a doctor researching it? Comment or e-mail and tell me your story.


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