Take a look at this simple, though wonderfully instructive, study of 30 people with intractable ulcerative colitis.
These are people, average age 34 years, who continued to experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, and sometimes intestinal bleeding despite taking drugs such as mesalazine, prednisone, azathioprine, and biologic drugs that block tumor necrosis factor, i.e., everything in the conventional healthcare arsenal, and thereby facing the irreversible and health-crippling prospect of colectomy, i.e., colon removal.
Every participant received a fecal transplant from presumably normal donors with endoscopic delivery of the donor sample into the ileum, i.e., the distal portion of the small bowel above the colon. 12 weeks later, 70% had responded favorably, with 43.3% showing complete remission. Due to budget constraints, bowel flora analysis was not performed on donors nor recipients.
Though small and with no placebo group, I believe this simple study illustrates that ulcerative colitis is a disease of the microbiome. It is not a disease of disordered immune response. It is not a disease of a dysfunctional colon. It is a disease of a disrupted microbiome. Unfortunately, due to the lack of bowel flora analysis, we can’t say, for instance, that people with ulcerative colitis lack Akkermansia or have excessive populations of Enterobacteriaceae. We also presume that donors were indeed normal, although you and I know that, given modern life, it is likely that nobody has normal bowel flora any longer, just degrees of abnormal.
We also cannot say that efforts to cultivate bowel flora such as taking better crafted probiotics, probiotic enemas, fermented foods, SIBO identification and eradication, prebiotic fibers, etc. would have achieved the same. And, of course, we would do so on the background of wheat and grain elimination that alone can sometimes lead to remission.
My point: The microbiome is a huge, perhaps the sole, factor in many conditions such as ulcerative colitis. I believe that we should extend the list of health conditions that are really varied manifestations of disrupted bowel flora to fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diverticular disease, colon cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and many others. But before you resort to fecal transplantation, let’s continue to develop our insights into how and what to do to rebuild a healthy microbiome. Are you beginning to also appreciate just how far we are drifting away from conventional medical notions of “treating” diseases?
Join our expanding discussions on purposeful cultivation of the microbiome that we have in the Undoctored Inner Circle, taking lessons from the unfolding science and learning from the shared experiences we discuss.