I am neither a doctor nor a medical researcher, but I have a pretty strong hunch about what causes genes for digestive disease to be turned on. I believe in the hygeine hypothesis. I especially believe that antibiotic use, without a concerted plan to restore the microbiome after the antibiotics are done, may well be causing this increase in autoimmune and digestive disorders.

Although quality research in this area is lacking, there are what seem to be an increasing number of anecdotal stories of disease going into remission once the human microbiome is repaired.

The following story was in the Op Ed or Review section of today’s New York Times. It tells the story of a man whi was very ill with and perhaps dying of ulcerative colitis who figured out how to give himself a fecal transplant, found a gluten-free donor, and then proceeded to do the transplants twice a day, then once a day until his health returned pretty much to normal.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are agonizing conditions which have proven in meta-analyses to respond frequently to a gluten-free diet. That said, they are responsive, not cured. This is one of the reasons that stories like this one are so interesting to me.

Another reason I find this interesting is because my own stomach issues started right after my recovery from peritonitis due to a ruptured appendix. I was in the hospital on injected antibiotics for weeks. After that, my digestion was never “right” again.

I do not advocate that we ignore antibiotics. I would not be here today to complain about their overuse had they not saved my life forty years ago. I do however think that we need to do more research on what we can do to mitigate the side effects of hygeine, and I especially think we need to explore fecal transplants more.

Imagine if the cure for ulcerative colitis only cost about $50. That would be awesome.

The article can be found here