A streamlined stack of supplements designed to meet your most critical needs - Adapt Naturals is now live. Learn more

Poop: The Cure of the Future?


Published on


Poop has been all over the news lately. (And no, I’m not talking about the recent election.) I’m referring to fecal transplant, the process of transferring a healthy person’s stool into a sick person’s colon in order to restore the bacterial balance. It sounds bizarre, and even a little crazy, but doctors and scientists all over the country are discovering just how effective fecal transplants can be.

Just last week, the Chicago Tribune wrote a story predicting that stool banks may one day be just as common as blood banks. Human stool transplants have been found to consistently cure up to 90 percent of patients who have had multiple episodes of C. difficile, an infection which causes serious diarrhea and affects about 3 million people per year. Typically, these infections are treated with antibiotics such as vancomycin, which can actually make the infection worse by killing off beneficial bacteria and allowing the resistant C diff. to survive. This recurring infection can be fatal, killing an average of 14,000 Americans every year. It’s especially dangerous for young children and the elderly who are more susceptible to the bacteria that causes the colonic inflammation and diarrhea.

Could poop save your life? Tweet This

Use of the procedure is simple and shockingly effective for patients with serious bowel infections. CNN recently reported on a young girl who nearly died from the infection, and was cured immediately by a fecal transplant using stool donated from her mother. This recovery was after nine rounds of antibiotics failed to eliminate her life-threatening infection. While the idea of receiving a fecal transplant may disgust some, the sickest patients aren’t fazed by the “ick factor” of the procedure. If it helps them recover from their serious illness, they’re willing to try it.

Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the procedure on treating not only C. difficile, but other conditions as well. (1) Various studies have shown fecal bacteriotherapy, to be effective in colitis, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and some neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease. (2, 3, 4, 5) Researchers in Amsterdam are even running a clinical trial to see if fecal transplants can help treat obesity. (6) I’ve written before that the composition of the gut flora is one of many factors that affects weight regulation, and fecal transplant could very well be a future obesity treatment. (7) There may be countless other conditions that could be helped by this simple, effective, and safe procedure.

I’m fascinated by fecal bacteriotherapy and have read all the studies on it. It’s a miraculous treatment in certain conditions, and we have yet to tap into its full potential in treating a number of gut-related illnesses. I’m excited to see how this therapy develops, and wouldn’t be surprised to see the creation of stool banks in a few years. Fecal transplant may be a disgusting concept to some, but who knows – one day it could save your life!

ADAPT Naturals logo

Better supplementation. Fewer supplements.

Close the nutrient gap to feel and perform your best. 

A daily stack of supplements designed to meet your most critical needs.

Chris Kresser in kitchen


Join the conversation

  1. People are always saying we should get back in touch with nature and this is NOT natural! It’s a good example of perversity caused by disassociation with our roots.

  2. Last year after a several of hospitalizations for ulcerative colitis did a series of DIY fecal transplants using my 6 yr old nephew as a donor. He has never been on antibiotics and is healthy by all accounts. I couldn’t find a doctor to support me in the matter so I took my chances. The very next day after the first transplant I had more energy. I was extremely underweight and malnourished. While I am not perfect, for over a year I have had blood in my stool only once and my hormones are much more balance. My mood is more stable and my bowl movements are mostly regular with occasional loose stool. I no longer have seasonal allergies which were incapacitating in and of themselves. After every previous flare I would gain weight and would bounce back to my former overweight self (I didn’t this time and it seems my body has a new healthy set point). For almost a year I had no PMS symptoms and cycled painlessly, which was a life long problem. I don’t know what this connection is, only that my cycle was closely linked to my UC flaring. I have recently been experiencing more frequent mood swings with PMS and more frequent loose stool. I may repeat the treatment soon.

    • I should add I had been doing SCD/GAPS for 3 years without control of my symptoms (straying only to experiment with other protocols for a month or 2). One thing I found is I tolerate starches much better than fibrous vegetables. I am just now reading more about FODMAPS and I think there was/is an issue with some of these, fructose for sure. I was tested for SIBO (breath hydrogen test) and it was negative. I want to understand all of this better!

    • Adina – If you do it again (or even don’t) I can highly recommend increasing the resistant starch in your diet to about 10-20g or more per day. I have had really bad intestinal troubles my whole adult life, short of IBD/Crohn’s–but doc said it was coming. Last fall I had my third colonoscopy–they found nothing…again. Doc mentioned more fiber and resistant starch. I had gone the high fiber route before with disastrous results, but had never heard about resistant starch. I did some googling and came across this guy on a website called Free the Animal doing a lot of research on resistant starch.

      You can get resistant starch from easy foods like green bananas and cold potatoes, but since I didn’t like those very much, I started just using potato starch, which apparently has about 8g per tablespoon. I take 2-3 tablespoons of the stuff every morning with my breakfast smoothie. I can say for the first time in years that my intestines have never felt better and I think I may finally by doing something that is making a difference.

      In the 4 months I have been doing this, I have not had diarrhea, constipation, or heartburn like I used to have almost every day. I think my last colonoscopy prep wiped out all my gut bacteria and eating resistant starch as they repopulated caused the good bacteria to grow faster than the bad stuff, that seems to be the theory anyway.

      Maybe you would benefit from more resistant starch, too.

      Not everyone likes the guy who runs this website, he’s kind of ‘out there’ on social issues, but his stuff on resistant starch is all rock-solid and research based, not just a crappy diet he’s trying to sell. Here is a link to latest article, follow the links and be sure to read all the comments.


  3. For someone who has a serious digestive illness, being able to avoid taking large doses of antibiotics and other types of prescription medication is definitely a huge plus!

    I’m happy for those who are benefiting from such a procedure, but my fear is that it will become just another one-size-fits-all approach that prevents people from making the necessary diet and lifestyle changes. With all the research being done on the microbiome (you recently shared an article from the Atlantic, and there was one in The NYT), there is growing awareness that there is a strong relationship between the health of the soil our food is grown in and the health of the digestive system and our overall wellness. We can replenish the beneficial bacteria and give our bodies and chance to detoxify and heal, if we choose to eat food from farmers who are using biodynamic, organic, pasture based farming methods.

    My daughter healed herself from a serious digestive illness by first using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and then transitioning to the Paleo. Most of symptoms disappeared within three weeks of removing all grains and refined sugars from her diet. Food wasn’t the only piece of her health puzzle, but had a lot to do with it, even though I thought I’d been giving her healthy, home cooked foods since she was born. I had been led astray by the plethora of conflicting nutrition misinformation that’s out there, as I’m sure many parents still are today.

    So, even though this is exciting news, and certainly a step in the right direction, I think we all need to keep in mind that the food, pharmaceutical, and health care industries are seeing dollar signs because of the recent microbiome research that’s confirming that there is a significant link between the health of the soil our food is grown in and our gut/overall health.

    Probiotic yogurt (with pasteurized dairy) is being touted as a superfood, and I’m sure we’ll see many more products with health claims. There is talk of tinkering with the microorganisms so that we can replenish already depleted soil. And, of course, medical procedures like these, that are promising for certain patients, might end up being overused like prescription drugs have been for so many years.

    I just hope that physicians who are doing these transplants will refer patients to qualified nutritionists as well. If patients don’t clean up their lifestyles too, it seems unlikely any such quick fix will provide lasting results.

    All and all, I agree with you though, that there’s so much potential here! When conventional medicine and holistic healing methods collide, anything is possible.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • bifidobacteria are not the only good microbes in the gut. Gut flora is a LOT more complicated than that, and milk based flora dies of in under 10 days so you cannot recolonize your gut using it.

  4. Are dogs ahead of the game? You know how some of them seem to have a need to ingest poop in the yard. Are they instinctively doing this to meet a digestive need?

  5. A fecal transplant healed me from ulcerative colitis in October 2012 after 3 1/2 years of suffering.

    Read my blog -http://healed-from-uc.blogspot.com

    It WORKS!

    I am symptom free and drug free!!!

  6. Journal of New England Med just published another case of a patient near death with C diff after all allopathic treatment failed who immediately began recovery after such treatment. Ongoing gastric banding research is revealing significant changes in the brain’s response to food after Banding, when MRI’d, giving pause for thought that the enteric nervous system undergoes significant hormonal changes and its not just about reducing stomach size.

    Apologies if this is already well known.

  7. This makes me wonder if administering probiotics the back way might also be useful. A kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut water or kefir enema, perhaps.

    Also, obviously, bacteria do survive the acidity of the stomach, or we wouldn’t have any gut flora in the first place.

    • Yes, probiotic implants are effective and I recommend them in my practice for patients who don’t do well with oral.

      • Dr. Kresser,
        Were you speaking of a probiotic enema for ibs or for some other condition. Would you recommend this enema for ibs as a possible therapy?

      • Cris,
        Do you or anyone else out there in cyberland know of a gastrointerologist or g.p. operating in the San Francisco Bay Area or thereabouts who follows Dr. Pimentel’s regimen for ibs-d/sibo? L.A. [Pimentel’s practice] is too far away. I’d love to try the elemental diet but only under a doctor’s care since I’ve heard of risks – post diet Candida, etc.
        I am disappointed in the current gastro I’ve been going to who does the protocol but his follow up has been almost 100% lacking and b/c of this the protocol has only helped at about 50% (which, even 50% is great since showing the protocol can work but disappointing since I could be doing much better @ this point.)
        BTW he administered to me the Refaxamine antibiotic and then the Eurithromycine to stimulate the mmc’s and I was doing great but no follow up to make adjustments and I have slipped back quite a ways. Doug

        • Anyone,
          Is there anyone reading from his forum who knows of a San Francisco Bay Area or thereabouts Gastrointerologist or general practitioner who follows (Cedar Sinai’s) Dr. Pimentel’s protocol for sibo and ibs? Please notify me if you have anything to offer me on this.
          [email protected]

  8. Thank you very much for this article.
    It was very useful.
    The most important thing, that our guts need probiotic bacteria to stay in health state.

  9. I also forgot to mention that my colon is real sick….and I believe it’s from the chronic candida infection along with a blastocystis hominis parastic infection I’ve had. What’s real sad is that I was treated by being put on a candida diet in 1991 but the doctor never checked my stool for parasites as to why I had the candida. I didn’t know I had a parasite even after coming back from Mexico with intestinal cramps, which I saw a GI doctor for who said I had IBS! The doctor who treated my candida was an orthomolecular MD. I thought after the candida diet I was cured but little did I know what was happening! I feel so sad…as I will probably lose my life because of the many errors that were made while I was under the care of many specialists back then in and around 1991. Coming down with Cytomegalovirus, wow! How could that happen? And where did I get that? So the candida and leaky gut I believe were both contributing factors! As well as drinking alcohol for 10 years…I don’t touch it now. I have had chronically elevated liver enzymes for the past 5 years and the doctor’s believe the liver is an innocent by stander. But lately the ALT is in the 80’s so they think I may have fatty liver disease, but the ultrasound shows negative for this! Very strange! I sure hope that I don’t have Cirrhosis now!

  10. Dear Doctor I too find this information very helpful to know. I have blastocystis hominis, unknowingly for 20+ years, along with nutritional deficiencies, candida/fungal systemic infection, severe leaky gut and now believe autoimmune issues. 7 years ago I saw 2 naturopaths who never checked for BH or leaky gut and I have a history of not being breast fed, terrible childhood allergies (hayfever) and tomatoes (food allergy). I came down with cytomegalovirus in 1991 and was treated with Cipro (I don’t know why as I had a virus). I was in Puerto Vallarta in 1987 where I believe I picked up the undiagnosed blastocystis. I was told I had IBS and I believe this was from the parasite and leaky gut. I drank wine for many years, 2-3 glasses per day. I had Mitral Valve prolapse and was always given amoxicillin prior to dental appointments! I am now extremely ill and need help….can you help me or know of someone in the bay area that can help me on an ongoing, real close basis. I dont know what to eat anymore as I am allergic to pretty much everything I eat, I just don’t know what to do and my husband is real tired. We had been to doctor after doctor after my gall bladder went south and I was told I had SOD which I still have due to an undiagnosed fungal bacterial overgrowth in 12/08, as my sphincter still spasms. The doctor’s just told me my inflammation inside was IBS and I was a psycho and needed counseling. The inflammation was from the leaky gut as I know now. I have one of the gluten genes, I can’t remember which number, I am missing a folate gene., a glutathione gene, 1A1,1B1, 2CYP2C19 gene synpettes. and have poor acetylization and methylization. I have spent thousands of dollars trying to figure out what was wrong and it all relates back to not being breast fed and having a leaky gut from the moment I was born! Can you please help me? If not I need help from someone right away! I have skyped with an Integrative Medicine Gastroenterologist in L.A. but need to have a doctor where I live to implement a treatment plan either his or yours. I am really sick! Thank you so much!

  11. Amazing, but just more proof that we need bacteria to be healthy. I hope it helps us move away from obsession with sterilizing everything.

  12. Hello Kriss,
    I am planning to administer FT due to UC. I couldn’t find a clinic in NY that would perform it.
    So I decided just to go for it , since symptoms do crush my life!
    My husbend went through screening. His stool is great!
    Blood has shown that he had in the past Epstein Bar Virus and Cytomegalovirus antigens.
    Is it safe to use him ad a donot for FT?
    thanl you soo much for all great information on your blog!

  13. If gut flora may effect allergies, is it possible that this poo transplant could be used to treat allergies as well? Or am I making some inaccurate assumptions?

  14. Hi Ursula-

    It’s interesting that you ask that. I think there is a connection between eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia and food intolerances or gut issues. People don’t eat (anorexia) because it feels bad when they do, maybe not physically but mentally. Same with bulimia- people sometimes binge-eat the foods they are sensitive or intolerant to, but then purge because they feel bad, either physically or emotionally. The physical and emotional reasons behind abstaining from food, or from binging and purging can certainly be linked to gut flora and the body’s reaction to foods. I know I have read about this link somewhere but can’t remember right now where… it’s certainly a possibility to be explored 🙂

    • Natasha Campbell-McBride addresses some aspects of eating disorders in “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” (I just finished reading it). Though some of the research she references has since been discredited, most of the research I’ve done on her research (yes, I know) seems to hold up well.

  15. The body’s ecology is so diverse that you often can’t get the probiotics you need in the right doses from simply eating yogurt or fermented soy or veggies. This treatment has been under wraps for years because of the gross out factor but it is definitely going to be a common, household treatment in the future. And poop is cheaper than pharmaceuticals!

  16. I just wanted to chime in here because I did home FMT after becoming very sick with infectious colitis from taking a six week course of antibiotics. This was definitely a last resort for me after trying everything herbal and diet-wise and not being able to turn around my chronic diarrhea and pain. Although it took some trial and error, this is a manageable process to do at home, and I think preferable to doing it in clinics as you can do the transplants regularly over a long period which specialists are beginning to think is preferable to doing a lot of them in a row at a clinic and then stopping. As long as proper screening and testing is done, there is no reason why people can’t do this on their own. I’m not saying there aren’t advantages to doing FT in a clinic, but if because of location or finances you can’t do that, there are still options. I have read of so many long-term cases of colitis being turned around by this procedure.

    And honestly, for me FT has not been a “quick fix.” I have had to still manage my diet extremely carefully and continue to take other medication, and the process alone was challenging in many ways and required a lot of planning, organization, and research, but it has brought me from feeling completely helpless in the face of my symptoms, to having another really helpful tool for healing.

    I also talked to a GI doctor recently who told me that research at the Mayo clinic has found that as far oral probiotics are concerned, kefir is the best source with the most strains.

    • Sita,
      You have blown this wide open with your home administered FMT. Can you explain your fecal matter source, preparation and method of administering? This is fascinating and totally logical. I hope you can provide links to information on this.
      I realize that this is not a quick fix.
      It must have made a difference to your health. I hope you can help us all with more information.

      • Hi Bill,
        To answer your questions, my fecal matter source was the three and a half year old son of some acquaintances. Since I don’t have a spouse or family nearby, I asked pretty much everyone I know about their digestive health and if they would be willing to be a donor. Many of my friends were willing but I discovered that very few of them have good digestive health. I moved on to asking people I didn’t know as well, and a family I know who is involved with WAP were very kind to offer to let me use their son as a donor.

        Luckily my doctor was on board with this although he isn’t a GI specialist, just a homeopathic MD who had heard of FMT and was willing to talk things over with me as I went along. We tested my donor’s stool extensively through Genova labs (and normally a blood test would also be recommended to rule out infectious diseases but because my donor was so young and I knew his parents we didn’t do this).

        Once we had the stool tested my donor’s parents would collect the stool, text me, and then I would go pick it up and prepare it. It would take me a really long time to describe the preparation and administration details on here, but there are some really good resources out there. http://www.naturaldigestivehealing.com/ – This is Matt Robinson’s website and he does coaching on FMT and chronic illness and the information I got from him was invaluable. Also if you go to healingwell.com and type in “fecal transplant” you will find a world of information and personal accounts on the subject of home-administered FMT.

        I did five home transplants and they were very helpful, but I had a couple of issues. Number one my donor, with the capriciousness of a three year old, decided he didn’t want to participate after the first couple of collections, and it became a real struggle for his parents to get him to go in any kind of receptacle. As well, he was very irregular so I had to be pretty much on call to do the transplants and that was really difficult. So after I did the five spaced out over about a month, I realized I needed to find a new donor who was an adult and knew what they were getting into, and I’m in the process of having my new donor tested. The five transplants I did were very helpful, and I have gone from having diarrhea every single day and spending half my life crouched up in a chair with pain and nausea, to having good days with normal stools alternating with days where I still have diarrhea, but a lot less pain. I’m hoping if I continue to do the transplants for a few more months, more of my symptoms will resolve.

        So yes, the whole process has been complicated and not a magic bullet, but it has really turned things around for me and given me hope that I can heal my gut. If you have more questions about the procedure you can email me at [email protected]

        • Sita,
          Thank you very much for your comprehensive reply.
          I hope Dr. Kresser will give some input to what you have said.
          I would imagine that if the prepared matter was syringed into the bowel via the rectum, that there is minimal risk of complications.
          Once again thanks for your reply. Best wishes for optimal health!

          • Hi Bill,
            I realized after I wrote my reply that you possibly weren’t asking for in-depth instructions about preparation and application, just to know what method I used. So basically, I blended the stool in a blender with saline, and used a jimmied fleet enema to administer rectally. Hope that helps! Sita

            • Hi all,

              I wanted to add to Sita’s procedure and include my procedure. My kid has a gtube, so it was very easy for me to put my poop into her tummy. I gave her a little less than an ounce and she was cured. Just like that. If you do not have a gtube I recommend getting a tube that you can insert into mouth and push it down into the stomach with a syringe. The process took seconds and within days she was a brand new person.

              • I’m so glad to hear that Ruby had success with this procedure. However, I want to emphasize that I don’t recommend performing it at home. There are risks to doing it without experience using a nasogastric tube. I certainly understand the urgency that people feel, and wish there were more options for getting FMT without antibiotic-resistant c. diff, but please keep in mind that oral or nasogastric delivery of FMT is not risk-free.

                • Dr. Kresser,
                  Were you speaking of a probiotic enema for ibs or for some other condition. Would you recommend this enema for ibs as a possible therapy? Doug

    • One issue with the DIY approach is that some of the bacteria that we require are anaerobic and die rapidly when exposed to the air. In a clinical setting this can be accounted for but at home it can’t so that may explain why home transplants aren’t as effective.

      • I’ve heard that as well, Michelle, although I’ve also heard stories of people who have had FMT done in clinics and not gotten better, and people who have had amazing recoveries from doing home-administered FMT. I think it probably depends on a lot of factors, and hopefully this treatment will continue to be researched so there will be a better understanding of the best protocol.