As if coffee enemas weren’t bad enough, one doctor is warning against another type of at-home treatment that’s growing in popularity on YouTube and blogs: do-it-yourself poop enemas, otherwise known as fecal transplants.
And the poop they’re using isn’t even their own.
It might seem ridiculous, but people who use them say they’re a godsend in their fight against intestinal problems and treatment-resistant bacteria that screw up their digestive systems (like the superbug Clostridium difficile).
“My fatigue had lifted, gone like a storm in the night, the sky blown empty and clear,” blogger Carrot Quinn wrote after giving herself two DIY enemas using fecal matter from a close friend. “I looked around me, at this brand new world I had been born into.”
The benefits of fecal transplants
Exaggeration aside, the results people like Quinn experience aren’t without scientific backing: Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) is often used to help restore healthy gut bacteria — and proper digestion — to patients using feces from healthy donors.
One recently published study showed that 80 percent of patients who underwent FMT to treat resistant Clostridium difficile were still free of it 22 months later. That’s the primary use of the treatment right now, but some studies show that fecal transplants might help obese people.
Why DIY fecal transplants are a bad idea
However, these benefits are a result of fecal transplants conducted in medical settings by doctors using donor fecal matter that’s tested for disease. And using poop that’s donated from untested donors raises the risk of transferring problematic microbes linked to serious diseases ranging from HIV to Parkinson’s Disease to patients.
A 2015 case study also showed that a woman who received a fecal transplant to treat Clostridium difficile ended up becoming obese after getting the stool sample from her overweight daughter.
“Given that we know that these are things that in mice, at least, can be transmitted by the microbiome, it is not cause for panic yet, but it is certainly cause for concern that the same might be true in humans,” Rob Knight, professor of pediatrics, computer science and engineering at the University of California San Diego, said last week during the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas.
Photo: Home FMT / YouTube
Websites like The Power of Poop (a real website) offers a service that connects people who want to go the DIY route with stool donors for a fee. The recipient can opt for lab testing on the donated stool before they get it, too.
It might sound appealing — especially to those suffering — but it’s best to leave the poop to the professionals.
WATCH: Fecal transplants at home are now a trend