Using Feces as Medicine

Ioana Tomici
May 18th 2016

Meet freelance-biophysicist Josiah Zayner. He's one of those people who decided to take matters into his own hands when his life became substantially affected by severe gastrointestinal pain. Taking the matter into his own hands proved to be quite messy, since the matter he was handling consisted of human feces, and not even his own.

Zayner is an ardent skeptic when it comes to western medical practice and big pharmaceutical companies. Having an academic background in biophysics and an all-round punk attitude, he didn't want to rely on doctors' opinions and traditional non-effective treatments. Instead, he decided to set an example and undergo a self-experimentation process which, if successful, would serve as a groundbreaking statement to an insufficiently documented treatment. His plan was to perform what he calls a "microbiome transplant" on himself: this procedure entails getting rid of the bacteria commonly found on the surfaces of the human body and replacing this flora with bacteria belonging to another healthier individual.

Despite the risks and disapproval received from doctors, Josiah found a donor willing to share his bacterial make-up with him and proceeded on a very DIY series of steps to become a biological "blank slate". Not only did he have to replace the bacteria inhabiting the surface of his body (skin, mouth and nose) but, more importantly, he had to start making changes from the inside out, namely the bacterial flora within his gastrointestinal system. Applying the foreign bacteria on his body proved to be the easiest part (only after an intense scrubbing with an antibiotic solution, though); in order to reset the microorganisms in his gut he would need a strong stomach. His donor didn't only provide him with bacteria cultures from the outer layer of his body, but also with samples of fecal matter, which would serve as base for replacing his own "faulty" intestinal bacteria.

Due to intense regulation of fecal matter treatments within the medical system, Zayner was not even eligible for this type of procedure and received some heavy skepticism from experts in the field. So he decided to experiment on himself and perhaps discredit the institutionalization of medical treatment. If the procedure will be successful, his hope is to make medicine less regulated and bring it more closer to the individual, in the sense of making people aware that there is a choice when it comes to our body and our health. His next nature attitude meant, in this case, getting his hands dirty with something which is very much connected to our first nature. Did he manage to transcend the taboo surrounding feces or did he go through all of this for nothing?

Read his full story on: fyoudontknownowyaknow.com

Source and image: The Verge

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Joyce Nabuurs: To me this question seems to be a logical next step in the emancipation movement of the past century. More and more women entered the workspace, but the responsibility for pregnancy and childrearing remained female.

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