A fecal transplant describes a procedure where a doctor transplants feces from a healthy donor into another person. Some evidence suggests that a bacterial imbalance in the gut may trigger Parkinson’s. A fecal transplant may help restore balance and treat the condition.
A fecal transplant, also known as bacteriotherapy and fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), is the transfer of stool from a healthy donor into someone else’s gastrointestinal tract.
The digestive system uses beneficial bacteria, known as the gut microbiota, to absorb nutrients and digest food efficiently. When there is an imbalance in the gut microbiota, a person may develop health conditions.
Growing evidence suggests that alterations in the gut microbiota may promote the development and progression of Parkinson’s disease, and FMT may represent a new and effective treatment option.
While more research is necessary, some evidence indicates that the treatment shows promise.
This article discusses FMT, whether it can treat Parkinson’s disease and other treatment options for the condition.
Parkinson’s disease refers to a movement disorder that impacts the nervous system. Symptoms of the condition typically occur when there are low dopamine levels in the brain.
An FMT procedure is a treatment option where a recipient receives a healthy stool transfer from a donor. People can receive the donation through a colonoscopy, nasogastric tube, or capsules.
The treatment aims to encourage the recipient’s body to replenish healthful bacteria and rebalance the microbiota. Ongoing research is testing whether FMT can help treat conditions, including Parkinson’s disease.
Growing evidence suggests a link between a gut microbiota imbalance and the development of Parkinson’s disease. The gut and the central nervous system may communicate, which scientists describe as the gut-brain axis.
Research notes that gastrointestinal symptoms, such as constipation, are
Therefore, FMT may be a
A healthcare professional first screens the donor’s blood and fecal sample for any pathogens. They then place the stool sample in a liquid carrier such as water or saline and either stir or shake the sample by hand or in a mechanical blender. They then strain the resulting mixture to eliminate larger particles.
A medical professional can deliver the sample using several different techniques. They may use a nasogastric tube or a colonoscopy procedure. People usually take sedative drugs before the procedure, so they will not feel any pain or discomfort. A healthcare professional may also deliver the processed sample through a capsule that a person can swallow, known as a poop pill.
There is currently no evidence to show that one delivery method is superior to others. However, some evidence suggests that colonic FMT may be more effective for treating Parkinson’s disease.
A person may have the procedure once or many times. The optimal number and timing of FMT procedures depend on an individual’s response and healthcare needs.
Beyond Parkinson’s disease, FMT may help treat other conditions, such as:
Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection
C. difficile is a bacteria that naturally occurs in the gut. At typical levels, doctors do not consider C. difficile to be an infection. However, certain antibiotics may alter the balance of bacteria in the gut. This can allow C. difficile to multiply and result in an infection.
A C. difficile infection can cause diarrhea and increase the risk of more serious illnesses. Evidence notes that FMT is a safe and
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition that also impacts the central nervous system.
Research suggests that the gut microbiota may act as a trigger to modulate immune and nervous system function in people with the condition. While more research is necessary, a 2022 trial suggests that FMT could beneficially alter the gut microbiota and help treat MS.
Conversely, transferring bacteria from the gut of older to younger mice accelerated certain aging processes. However, more research is necessary to confirm these findings in humans.
The study notes that changes to the gut microbiota can affect mice’s susceptibility to HBV. However, more human research is necessary to investigate if the human gut microbiota can also offer protection against HBV.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but several treatment options can help manage symptoms.
The medication levodopa is a common drug used to treat Parkinson’s symptoms. Levodopa can help reduce tremors as well as stiffness and slowness.
Dopamine agonists, such as pergolide and pramipexole, are another common option. A person may take these medicines at the same time as levodopa to help extend the period of levodopa’s effectiveness.
Surgical options, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), are also available and may help reduce tremors.
DBS involves a surgeon implanting electrodes into a certain region of the brain. Stimulation from these electrodes can help decrease tremors, particularly for individuals who do not respond to medications.
While more research is necessary, some evidence suggests that fecal transplants may be a beneficial treatment option for managing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Some studies indicate a link between a gut microbiota imbalance and the development of Parkinson’s disease. As such, a fecal transplant, which involves the transfer of healthy stool from a donor, may help to restore microbiota balance and could help relieve both motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.