Page 3.14

Messing With No. 2

It’s not often that medical science seems nuttier than its alternative.  On Respectful Insolence, Orac dismisses the enema as a cure for all ills, writing that the “liver, colon, and kidneys” are specialized to remove toxins, and you won’t “become chronically ill if you don’t shoot water up your butt periodically to wash the poop out.”  On the other other hand, “bowel lavage” played an important role in a new study of patients infected by Clostridium difficile, which can cause chronic diarrhea and even death.  But critically, after flushing the patient’s poop out, researchers put someone else’s poop back in.  These “fecal infusions” proved remarkably effective at clearing the infection and restoring a healthy and diverse population of bacteria in the colon.  Vital gut bacteria are necessary to overall well-being, but they can be injured by antibiotic treatment, or say, washing out your intestine every time you get a headache.

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