Chinese physicians were implanting gut bacteria from healthy to ill patients centuries ago

“There is no new thing under the sun.” [Book of Ecclesiastes 1:9]  So true.  Well, except for I-Phones.  I take that back, Dick Tracy had wrist radios.

Fecal implants, used to quell life-threatening intestinal infection, was being practiced in 4th century China.  [American Journal Gastroenterology 2012]

Mentions of the practice of implanting bacteria from a healthy person’s stool are brought to our attention as evidence of how slow modern medicine is to learn from the past.  Chinese physician Ge Hong used the technique to treat food poisoning, severe diarrhea and malaria.  Modern medicine’s first report of this practice was in 1958.  The idea remained unpracticed until 2010.  Today it is saving lives.

Clostridium difficile, the nursing home infection, is very deadly.  Antibiotics are often ineffective.  Implantation of bacteria from a healthy person’s gut works far better than antibiotics for this bacterial infection.  Clostridium difficile infections cost more than $3 billion a year.   This bacterium is found in 15% of healthy adults! [Science Daily Sept 22, 2016; AACN Advanced Critical Care Sept 2016]

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