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Fecal matter pills help cure deadly illness

Swallowing poop sounds like a crappy way to feel better, but for some suffering from severe gut infections, it could be life-saving.

Dr. Thomas Louie and other Canadian researchers carried out a clinical trial where sufferers of Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, took pills literally made of fecal matter to get well. (Via CTV)

According to LiveScience, C. diff can occur after people take antibiotics to treat other infections, which eventually wipe out good or beneficial gut bacteria. That’s where microbiota or fecal transplantation comes in.

Dr. Louie had been working on fecal transplantation for years, but found that patients had difficulty handling tubes down the throat or enemas. That’s when he decided to go with pills.

The tiny capsules contain healthy microbes extracted from stool samples of family members or donors. NBC quotes Dr. Louie who said, “There’s no smell. There’s no taste. … It looks like peanut butter.”

If you think that’s a little unordinary, consider the treatment regimen: “The patients had to quickly swallow up to 34 pills in a 15-minute period.” All the patients in Dr. Louie’s trial were successfully treated. (Via Salon)

I’d take a pill over an enema anyday, but it still sounds a little gross. Luckily Dr. Louie knows exactly what you’re thinking.

USA Today cites the lead researcher, who said, “I think in some ways the 'ick' factor is something we got out of the schoolyard. … It's really quite primordial, but we just need to get over it."

That’s a pretty mature suggestion for treatment of a very serious illness. C. diff causes diarrhea that kills 14,000 Americans every year. (Via CDC cites other researchers who say one the next steps in fecal transplantation is packing key microbes into fewer pills so patients won’t have to swallow quite as many capsules.

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