Poo: the cure for obesity, eczema and depression, among other things?

At the beginning of 2013, a publication by Dutch researchers appeared in the scientific journal The New England Journal of Medicine. The subject was poop. Or rather the medical success of fecal transfusions. Doctors and researchers worldwide are enthusiastic about the results of treatments with feces (poop). In 2012, a large number of patients with certain life-threatening intestinal disorders appeared to be cured the next day after treatment with someone else’s feces. It is expected that in the future, poop bacteria will also offer the solution against obesity, eczema and even depression. It is certainly a dirty idea, healing with other people’s poop, but at the same time there is worldwide interest in the developments because it is demonstrably very effective. After a very successful experiment, doctors and researchers from the AMC Amsterdam, Wageningen University and the Leiden University Medical Center decided in 2012 to conduct research into the medicinal power of feces. The recovery score in the previously untreatable patients turned out to be as much as 90 percent. The ethical committee that supervised the study ended prematurely because it was such a great success that this treatment could no longer be withheld from other patients.


Thanks to Dutch research and the publication in the scientific journal, fecal transplantation has entered modern medicine. However, it is not really new. It was already in Chinese medicine books thousands of years ago. Veterinarians also sometimes use fecal transplantation. In humans it has been used in very exceptional cases since the 1950s. However, there was never any scientific basis for the treatment.

100,000 billion

For a long time, the general view was that bacteria posed a threat to our health. Extermination was the answer. That insight is years out of date. It has now become widely accepted in medical science that bacteria are not always bad. The fact that they are sometimes extremely good and important is also increasingly recognized. Of the genetic material we carry, only 1% is human, the other 99% comes from the 100,000 billion bacteria in our body. Instead of eradicating them, the focus has been on controlling the bacteria.


Researchers are increasingly interested in the bacteria in our intestines. The micro-organisms that live there appear to have a major influence on our health. All those billions of bacteria together are collectively called the microbiome. Science already knew that this microbiome is essential for the processing of nutrients and vitamins, but people are increasingly discovering that it goes further. The billions of bacteria in our intestinal tract play a crucial role in the functioning of our immune system, fighting infection and even our brain chemistry. There are leading scientists who even refer to the microbiome as a second brain. According to them, the intestinal flora has such a major influence on our health that it is comparable to our brain, the first brain.


Scientists have found a link with the intestinal flora for approximately twenty-five disorders. Think of asthma, eczema, MS, Alzheimer’s, autism, depression, heart disease and obesity. American researchers bred mice without intestinal flora and gave them a fecal transfusion. One group of mice received a transfusion of slim mice, the other of fat mice. The result was astonishing: the last group became much fatter than the first. The researchers concluded that there is a link between obesity and intestinal flora. Through bacterial analyzes of human feces, Dutch researchers have also been able to establish links between certain bacteria and conditions such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.


Researchers can also predict whether a newborn will become a crybaby. By analyzing the feces of the child, the bacteria present are identified. Research has shown that when there are few species present, such as bacteria with an anti-inflammatory or pain-reducing effect, there is a good chance that the baby will cry a lot.


The scientific evidence of a medicinal effect currently only applies to certain intestinal disorders. A fecal transfusion is a recognized treatment. There is no point in asking your doctor for a transfusion for other conditions at this time. In the future, the treatment will proceed without feces. Ultimately, it’s all about the good bacteria in the poop. These will probably soon be grown and administered in different forms, in a drink, powder or pill.

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