Can Bacteria Transplant Therapy Remedy Life-Threatening Infections?

On a daily basis, scientific studies emerge that further refine our understanding of gut microbiota.

This friendly bacteria that take up residence in our gastrointestinal tract are far more important to our overall health than most of us ever imagined.

Friendly gut microbes are called ‘friendly’ for many reasons.

There is plenty of evidence that good bacteria actually overrun bad, pathogenic bacteria. This is to say, one of the most powerful ways to treat an infection is to make sure that colonies of friendly microbes are well established.

Take, for example, an article published in The New York Times last year: Dr Khoruts, a gastroenterologist at the University of Minnesota, made headlines by moving a fecal implant from husband to wife in order to save the wife from an aggressive infection of Clostridium difficile.

Antibiotic therapy was doing nothing to save the woman, and Dr. Khoruts knew that as a result of losing 60 pounds in the last eight months, she was losing her grip on life. As uncommon as the fecal transplant therapy is, he had run the course of standard procedure for treating C. difficile infection and decided to try something unconventional. The results shocked Dr. Khoruts. In a matter of days, the beneficial microbes of the implanted stool had colonized, created a community, and cured the woman of debilitating diarrhea. (1)

It shouldn’t surprise scientists, then, to discover that infants without the friendly microbe Bifidobacterium longum colonizing in their guts contain pathogenic microbes like C. difficile and Klebsiella pneumoniae.  Likewise, scientists conducting the study determined that those infants who carried B. longum did not harbor the same harmful bacteria that B. longum-free infants did. (2)

Anne Collignon, who led the study, and her colleagues found that colonization of C. difficile in infants is common and usually presents no symptoms.

For better or worse, the bacteria that a mother carries will be passed on to her baby at birth. Cultivating healthy bacteria as a mom-to-be will equip your baby with a robust immune system as she enters the world!

In her study, Collignon looked at the bacterial populations from fecal samples taken from 53 infants, 27 negative and 26 positive for C. difficile. Collignon’s team showed that the C. difficile-negative infants’ gastrointestinal tracts contained the species Bifidobacterium longum, which was absent from the C. difficile-positive infants.

Although initial colonization of C. difficile in infants is typically asymptomatic, meaning there is an absence of persistent and sometimes deadly diarrhea, the problem arises when other pathogenic microbes follow. K. pneumonia is one such organism. Additionally, pathogenic microbes have a tendency to produce toxins, which burden the health of the gastrointestinal tract and pave the way for the entry of more pathogenic microorganisms.

The microbes the mom carries are passed down to her baby. We now know that at birth, babies are coated with the same bacteria that inhabit the mother. Within mere minutes of birth, depending on the environment and route of entry into the world (birth canal or Cesarean-section), colonies of microbes begin taking up residence.

Maria Dominguez-Bello, a microbiologist at the University of Puerto Rico, found that C-section babies are typically coated with microbes living on the skin of adults whereas vaginally born babies come into the world armed with mom’s internal microbiota.

Whether for better or for worse, the microbes that mom harbors influence the microbial community and inner ecology of her child.

Colonization does not only happen at birth. Every day of our lives, microorganisms colonize in every orifice and on every surface of our body. And, as recent studies show, gastrointestinal microbes have significant influence in our overall health. It makes sense, then, to choose foods and probiotic beverages that nourish the good bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract.

Because microbes never stop colonizing our bodies, including fermented foods into your diet every day is especially important. Additionally, a prebiotic supplement, like Body Ecology EcoBloom, is literally food for your gut microbiota. EcoBloom supports the growth and colonization of beneficial microbes in your gut. When fermenting your own foods at home, using EcoBloom is an excellent way to boost the microbial ‘zing’ of your fermented product.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Good bacteria in the gut have the power to overrun bad bacteria in the digestive system. One of the best ways to fight off disease and infection is to ensure that colonies of friendly bacteria are well established in your inner ecosystem!

Additionally, the microbes in the mother are passed down to the baby at birth. For good or bad, the microbes within the mother will influence the overall health of her child by establishing her immune system at birth. Bacterial colonization continues throughout our lives, and choosing fermented foods and probiotic beverages in your diet will help to support the growth of good bacteria in your digestive tract!

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  1. Zimmer, Carl. How Microbes Defend and Define Us. The New York Times. Jul 13, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/science/13micro.html
  2. C. Rousseau, F. Levenez, C. Fouqueray, J. Dore, A. Collignon, and P. Lepage, 2011. Clostridium difficile colonization in early infancy is accompanied by changes in intestinal microbiota composition.  J. Clin. Microbiol. 49:858-865. doi:10.1128/JCM.01507-10
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