Poop pills could be the cure for obesity—here’s how

All right class, get comfortable (but not too comfortable) because today we’re going to be talking about poop – but not just any poop! Today, we’re going to discuss special poop. Poop that’s, specifically, inserted into pills in the name of weight loss.

Several years ago, researchers became fascinated with this special poop when they removed gut microbes from a set of twins. One twin was lean and the other was obese. Their microbes were then transplanted into two sets of mice. One set got the lean twin’s and the other got the obese twin’s. Despite both sets having the same diet, the former stayed slim while the other became obese, leading one to believe that the microbes were involved.

Interestingly enough, something similar happened… but with human beings. Just in case you’re not already familiar, there’s a type of surgery called a fecal matter transplant (FMT), which is essentially a poop enema. This procedure’s currently used to treat recurrent bacterial infections. Last year, one woman underwent an FMT to treat one such infection and her daughter (who was healthy, but overweight) was the fecal donor. The result: the mom’s infection was cured, but she confusingly gained weight and doctors concluded that the transplant was at least partly responsible.

Essentially, the microbes in our gut are a major factor when it comes to our weight. Since this important breed of bacteria affects our behavior, our mood, how we digest, and even our metabolism, it’s no wonder why scientists are interested in if/how these microbes can tackle the rise in obesity.

This March, Elaine Yu –  an assistant professor and clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital – will be performing the first-ever trial to help us all learn more about the connection between gut microbes and weight. Her team will take fecal samples from healthy, lean donors (who have been screened for health complications), freeze-dry these samples, put a gram or two into capsules, and give them to some of their roughly 20 participants. All other participants will receive a placebo instead of the poop pills.

For six weeks, the test subjects will be given weekly poop doses. Then, over the course of 12 months, the patients will be asked to keep up normal eating and health habits, so scientists can keep track of their weight, wellbeing, body composition, and insulin resistance.

Once the trial is complete, it will definitely be interesting to see what the results are. Then again, it’s definitely good that every precaution is being taken… because no one wants to take poop pills that are anything but special.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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