4th Century Chinese "Yellow Soup"

Comment: this is not about soup!

NYTimes: When Pills Fail, This, er, Option Provides a Cure

Transplanting feces from a healthy person into the gut of one who is sick can quickly cure severe intestinal infections caused by a dangerous type of bacteria that antibiotics often cannot control.

A new study finds that such transplants cured 15 of 16 people who had recurring infections with Clostridium difficile bacteria, whereas antibiotics cured only 3 of 13 and 4 of 13 patients in two comparison groups. The treatment appears to work by restoring the gut’s normal balance of bacteria, which fight off C. difficile.

The study is the first to compare the transplants with standard antibiotic therapy. The research, conducted in the Netherlands, was published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Fecal transplants have been used sporadically for years as a last resort to fight this stubborn and debilitating infection, which kills 14,000 people a year in the United States. The infection is usually caused by antibiotics, which can predispose people to C. difficile by killing normal gut bacteria. If patients are then exposed to C. difficile, which is common in many hospitals, it can take hold.

The usual treatment involves more antibiotics, but about 20 percent of patients relapse, and many of them suffer repeated attacks, with severe diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

Researchers say that, worldwide, about 500 people with the infection have had fecal transplantation. It involves diluting stool with a liquid, like salt water, and then pumping it into the intestinal tract via an enema, a colonoscope or a tube run through the nose into the stomach or small intestine.

Stool can contain hundreds or even thousands of types of bacteria, and researchers do not yet know which ones have the curative powers. So for now, feces must be used pretty much intact.

Medical journals have reported high success rates and seemingly miraculous cures in patients who have suffered for months. But until now there was room for doubt, because no controlled experiments had compared the outlandish-sounding remedy with other treatments.

The new research is the first to provide the type of evidence that skeptics have demanded, and proponents say they hope the results will help bring fecal transplants into the medical mainstream, because for some patients nothing else works.

“Those of us who do fecal transplant know how effective it is,” said Dr. Colleen R. Kelly, a gastroenterologist with the Women’s Medicine Collaborative in Providence, R.I., who was not part of the Dutch study. “The tricky part has been convincing everybody else.”


Fecal therapy has often been used to cure gut trouble in cows and horses. Books on traditional Chinese medicine mention giving it to people by mouth to cure diarrhea in the fourth century; one book called it yellow soup.

In 1958, Dr. Ben Eiseman, of the University of Colorado, published a report about using fecal enemas to cure four patients with life-threatening intestinal infections.
Comment: Missionary friend sent the article to me. I find it interesting that the concept goes back to 4th Century China. Glad I did not have to take orally! Also interesting that only 500 have been done. I was # 9 in the Park Nicollet system. About the effectiveness ... yes ... a complete cure. Consider that I was sick for 10 weeks ... thousands of dollars in pills ... 4 days hospitalized. Almost $ 15,000 in costs (although my max out of pocket threshold was $ 5000.). 7 weeks of missed work! (and that's just in 2012! I was sick for about the same amount of time in 2011!) To have a complete cure is amazing to me. I am praising the Lord and thanking my Doctor!

Two methods are mentioned in the article ... tube though the nose into the small intestine and the back door approach. I had the later.

About "yellow soup" ... that's about right .... but more like yellow broth. 1 liter of it.

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