Brain and Body

Scientists Plan to Use Freeze-Dried Poop Pills to Help People Lose Weight

January 14, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

brown pills in a package
Photo credit: (CC by SA 4.0)

They’ve made it to human trials.

Unarguably, there’s been some strange weight-loss methods, but swallowing someone else’s frozen poop definitely tops the charts.

All weirdness aside, scientists seem to think it’s a promising idea, and a clinical human trial has been approved for later this year.

Why are they so convinced? There’s strong evidence that the gut bacteria or “microbiota” found in feces have a powerful influence over our bodies. What’s more, previous research has shown that poop pills can actually be more effective than antibiotics, according to a report in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Plus, looking to make a quick $13K? OpenBiome, a non-profit organization based in Massachusetts, seeks out people willing to donate their stool, and pays $40 per donation. There’s a $50 bonus if you can donate 5 times a week, so if you made the time to stick with it for a year, it’d add up to about $13,000 USD. Not bad.

The poop pill trial for weight-loss will also be run by researchers in Massachusetts at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and the trial will be controlled and randomized. The stool donors will be carefully screened to make sure they and their samples are as healthy as possible.

“Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) transfers intestinal bacteria by a "stool transplant" from a healthy, lean person to a person with obesity,” the researchers explain.

SEE ALSO: Personalized Diets Based on DNA Could Be the Future of Weight Loss

Since previous research has suggested that bacteria from donor poop pills can fight infections rooted in the digestive system of a recipient, the scientists will be testing if the pills could offer a feasible option for weight-loss treatment in the future.

The stool samples from the healthy donors will be freeze-dried, and then 21 obese patients will swallow the pills during the course of the trial, which will last at least 3 months and potentially continue for a year or more. The patients will be asked to maintain their regular eating habits and health habits.

So far, the science behind poop-based weight-loss treatments is largely based on animal studies and anecdotal evidence, but the belief that this kind of treatment could be successful is on the rise. Researchers speculate that it might be able to help with other types of metabolic disorders as well.

The researchers involved in this study hope that the findings will provide more information about the potential of the freeze-dried poop pill, but as lead researcher Elaine Yu told Ars Technica, that the team has "no idea what the result will be.” Either way, they’ll be able to learn more about how the microbes in our bodies affect us.

The results will certainly be interesting, but above all, bravo to the 21 brave study participants who will voluntarily consume poop pills in the name of science.

Hot Topics

Facebook comments