Weird Medicine

Share A Poop For Parkinson's Disease: Good Or Bad Idea?

Fecal transplant has been found effective in helping reduce symptoms in some patients with Parkinson's disease. However, researchers raised concerns that the treatment may not work in all patients and the medical community has yet to determine its potential side effects. 

To date, fecal microbiome transplantation (FMT) is used to treat constipation in Parkinson's patients. It involves transferring liquid feces from a healthy individual to a patient using a special tube, enema or colonoscope. 

However, a new review of previous studies warned that fecal transplant still has some limitations. Researchers analyzed data from previous studies to determine the current state of knowledge about the use of fecal transplant and pre- and probiotics to restore microbial balance of the gut in patients with Parkinson’s. 

The team found no solid clinical data are available about the possible effects of the treatment on motor symptoms or progression of Parkinson's disease. The review highlights more research is needed before supporting its use, especially in restoring the microbiome of patients with Parkinson's disease. 

"FMT is an interesting option for restoring the changes in the microbiome of PD patients," Teus van Laar, lead researcher and director of the Parkinson Expertise Center at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, said in a statement. "However, no rigorous clinical trials have been performed yet, which leaves multiple questions open about the presumed optimal content of FMT, the route of administration, the volume of FMT and the long-term effects."

Researchers said that patients should wait for better clinical data to become available before they consider FMT treatments. The review, published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, shows that there are knowledge gaps that need to be addressed first.

The medical community has yet to prove that fecal transplant could effectively reduce motor progression or symptoms of Parkinson's as well as the possible adverse effects of the treatment.

"FMT is a black box with too many unanswered questions at the moment, also with respect to safety concerns," van Laar added. "FMT or the use of pro- and prebiotics might become standard treatments in selected subgroups of PD patients in the future, but there are no good data yet in the public domain to support their use in PD patients.”

The first clinical trial on the use of fecal transplant in patients with Parkinson's Disease is still ongoing at the University of Ghent in Belgium. The team leading the study aims to complete tests by the end of 2019. 

Parkinson’s The Parkinson’s Foundation estimates that 1.2 million people will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S. by 2030. Pixabay