• Gut Health
  • Heart Health
    • Heart Health

      The stats tell it all: The number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. That’s right, more than any other disease – even cancer (a close second) – heart disease is the most likely to kill you. The United States is currently facing a “diabesity” epidemic, or a substantial increase in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes and obesity, all serious risk factors for heart disease.

      According to the American Heart Association, every 34 seconds someone in the US dies of a heart attack. By the time you finish reading this paragraph, another person will have lost their life. Sadly, many people do not even know they have heart disease until they experience a heart attack. These facts alone make Heart Health a critical topic to understand.

  • Skin Health
    • Skin Health

      The gut-skin connection is very significant. Inflammatory processes present in the gut may manifest on the skin. Toxins are expelled with sweat, and can cause the skin to react. Like the inside of the digestive tract, the skin is covered in microbes which can be neutral, protective or pathogenic. Skin reaction may reflect what is going on inside the body. Therefore treating skin conditions only from the outside will often be ineffective and lead to other chronic issues.

  • Brain Health
    • Brain Health

      The gut-brain connection occurs in two directions—from the brain to the gut, and from the gut to the brain. When a person has a “gut feeling,” or an emotional upset causes a stomachache or loss of appetite, they experience examples of the first, most familiar direction. When the gut is out of balance, inflammation results leading to a condition commonly known as leaky gut. A leaky gut will allow undigested food particles and toxins to enter into the bloodstream. Some may cross into the brain, setting the stage for diseases like Alzheimers and dementia. Recognizing the underlying contributing factors that created the gut imbalance in the first place is the first step to achieving optimal brain function .

  • Skinny Gut Diet
  • About Brenda
  • Blog
  • Shop
  • Cart

Getting the Poop Scoop on Autism

Filed in Autism, C. difficile, Children, fecal transplant, General, Human Microbiome, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/25/2017


Autism Hope

A report in Science Daily entitled “Autism symptoms improve after fecal transplant, small study finds” caught my eye immediately.

You see, in one of the episodes of my recent PBS special, Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson, I interviewed a woman who had undergone fecal transplant with great success. She had been extremely ill with recurrent C. difficile bacterial infections when this innovative treatment was suggested. She felt she regained her life through this process. Now I see it’s being used to help young people with autism!

For those of you unaware of this procedure, fecal transplantation is done by processing donor feces and screening it for disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Then the “healthy” microbes are inserted into the participant’s digestive tract to rebalance the gut, known as the microbiome.

The boys and girls diagnosed with autism, ages 7 to 16, initially were administered a two week course of antibiotics to essentially wipe out existing bacteria, with hopes to start with a “clean slate”. Then doctors then gave the participants a high-dose fecal transplant of healthy donors’ bacteria and viruses in liquid form. Over the 7-8 weeks that followed the youngsters drank smoothies blended with a lower dose powder.

Although it was a small study (18 children), the results appeared to be extremely positive. Diarrhea and stomach pains decreased markedly – up to 82%, and parents also reported that behavioral autism symptoms significantly changed for the better. The study followed the participants for 8 weeks after the implantation, and positive results appeared to continue.

Researchers were also able to use laboratory testing to compare the autistic children’s bacterial diversity with their healthy peers following treatment. The participants’ bacterial diversity had improved to the point that the test results were indistinguishable from healthy children. This is such an important finding since previous research has shown that children with autism typically have less diversity of bacteria in their guts, and are also missing some important bacteria that are regarded as markers of a healthy microbiome, as I discussed in this blog.

The relationship between mental health and gut microbes has been researched often as well. So it seems logical that attempts to restore balance to the autistic child’s gut, as so many parents have worked to do over the years with great results through diet and probiotics, would and does result in better health.

It’s exciting to see that research may offer a more direct tool in the future with the potential to improve so many lives. As larger studies are done, it is hoped that researchers will uncover the precise bacteria and viruses that impact very specific diseases. What an interesting future we have to look forward to!

Bacteria and the Elderly – Better Days Ahead

Filed in Adults, Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, C. difficile, Conditions, Dementia, Diet, Digestive Health, Environmental Toxins, General, Human Microbiome, Immune System, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Road to Perfect Health, Urinary Tract Infections | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/23/2015


Recently I was pleased to come across an article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed the very positive shift away from overuse of antibiotics in nursing homes.

Being the defender of the microbiome that I am, when I read that up to 70% of nursing home residents receive one or more courses of antibiotics every year and up to 75% of those prescriptions are given incorrectly – well that information had the hair all over my body on end! It was reported that the prescriptions were written for the wrong drug, dose, or duration – and this information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oh my!

Apparently, one of the biggest antibiotic misdiagnoses is for treatment of suspected urinary tract infections. Believe it or not, antibiotics to treat supposed UTIs are being given to the elderly for vague symptoms like confusion, the discovery of bacteria in just one urine sample, or even in the case of a random misstep resulting in a fall.

Sadly, since women are much more likely to develop UTIs then men, many of us ladies have experienced the misery of a UTI. Although it’s possible to have a UTI and not experience obvious symptoms, that is much more the exception than the rule. In the companion book to the public television special The Road to Perfect Health, I list symptoms for UTIs. A few are a persistent urge to urinate, painful or burning urination, frequent urination, and the list continues with other very clear indicators. Finding bacteria in the urine is just one piece of a diagnosis. “Confusion” wasn’t even on my list. So does this mean that confusion is only a symptom of UTIs in elderly people? How can this be?

Dr. Christopher Crnich, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health states that generally 50% of women and 25% of men in nursing homes have bacteria in their urine. He then emphasized that didn’t automatically indicate a UTI. Bacteria can develop for many other reasons – immune system and hormonal issues for example. I’ll include an imbalanced gut here, resulting from a diet containing too many sugars. By the way, this is true for people of all ages.

This article really got me thinking as I approached the end. According to Dr. Diane Kane, chief medical officer for St. Ann’s Community, a not-for-profit health-care system in Rochester, NY, who is a passionate critic of UTI over-diagnosis, “When you have dementia, you’re going to have good days and you’re going to have bad days. When you have dementia and you have a bad day, please don’t send a urine, because it’s going to be positive.”

As I interpret Dr. Kane’s statement, “bad days” of dementia (more confusion) will physically manifest as an increase of pathogenic bacteria in a person’s urinary system. Following that line of thought, a decrease in the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the body could potentially alleviate some symptoms of dementia or confusion. That could certainly explain why a patient’s confused mental state may seem to improve while on a round of antibiotics.

Unfortunately, if no effort is made to repopulate the gut with good bacteria after antibiotics, research has shown that bad bacteria and yeast readily re-establish. Upon the return of a confused mental state, further urine testing would reveal more bacteria, perpetuating another misdiagnosis of UTI and laying the groundwork for additional antibiotic treatment. Round and round we go.

In my mind, a much better and more logical step toward improved daily function and cognition for the elderly in nursing homes might be to dramatically increase the amount of good bacteria provided to the gut on a daily basis. The good bacteria will displace the bad, supporting and maintaining the integrity of all the organs of elimination, bladder included. And perhaps positively impact confusion and dementia. I’d love to see more research studies created that look at these parameters. Are you with me?

I’ve blogged often on how declining gut health, toxicity and dementia seem to go hand in hand. I’ve also shared research highlighting how probiotics can be effective treatment for that dreaded C. difficile infection that occurs most often in hospitals and long term care facilities, haunting the weak and elderly.

Let’s all envision a day when antibiotics are the last resort should a person be confused, perhaps has fallen, or mild amounts of bacteria are found in their urine. Instead let’s picture a standard of care designed to increase the good bacteria in the body through daily probiotics, kefir, fermented veggies and/or kombucha. Now that’s HEALTH care!

Give a Poop this Holiday Season with OpenBiome

Filed in C. difficile, Human Microbiome | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/22/2014


“Give a sh!t. Save a life.” Literally.

If you have yet to make end of the year charitable contributions, I have just the organization for you.

OpenBiome’s slogan, although crude, couldn’t be more true. In an effort to raise funds the nonprofit organization is educating the public about the use of fecal transplants for treatment of refractory (resistant to treatment) Clostridium difficile disease. C. diff is responsible for up to 30,000 deaths annually, and is usually triggered by the use of antibiotics, which throw off your balance of good bacteria, putting you more at risk for pathogenic infections. Studies have found that fecal transplants have about a 90 percent cure rate for C. diff, a rate much higher than the standard treatment of yet more antibiotics.

Fecal transplants are just as they sound: stool is transplanted from a healthy donor into the digestive tract of someone suffering from C. diff. While it sounds unappealing, if you are suffering from recurrent bouts of this disease, the idea of changing the bacteria in your gut makes all the sense in the world. Fecal transplants contain a rich diversity of beneficial bacteria, which is key to its success. Gut bacterial diversity is a marker of good digestive health. When C. diff takes over, that diversity is decreased—thus the need for repopulating with a rich community of good bacteria.

We interviewed James Burgess from OpenBiome for my upcoming public television series set to air by summertime next year. He and Mark Smith founded OpenBiome after watching a friend and family member suffer through 18 months of C. difficile infection and seven rounds of antibiotics before finally receiving a successful, life-changing fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). They launched OpenBiome in 2012 to make FMT easier and faster to attain for patients and doctors alike.

OpenBiome provides hospitals with screened, filtered, and frozen material ready for clinical use, which helps to make the treatment easier, cheaper, safer, and more widely available. They aim to partner with doctors in 601 cities in the United States, which would put 90 percent of the country’s population within a two-hour drive of treatment. They also want to transition their treatments from implanted tubes to pills, which would make it even easier for patients to receive care.

They have launched an IndieGogo campaign in order to raise funds to help achieve their goals for growth. Check out their campaign to learn more about the important work they are doing.

Taking the “Yuck” Out of Fecal Microbial Therapy

Filed in C. difficile, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by lsmith on 10/16/2013


Fecal microbial therapy (FMT), or fecal transplant, involves the transfer of stool from a healthy donor (usually a family member) to the intestines of an individual suffering from an illness—usually Clostridium difficile infection, although other conditions have been treated with FMT, including ulcerative colitis, autism, and even obesity.

One of the hurdles the medical establishment faces when deciding on the use of FMT is the “yuck” factor. The idea of transplanting poop from one person to another is not exactly charming. That may be, in part, why the therapy is being resisted in some circles. But when you consider that over 90% of the people with recurrent C. difficile infection who are treated with FMT completely recover—some within 24 hours—even the yuck factor starts to fade.

FMT involves the delivery of fecal bacteria either via an enema, during a colonoscopy, or via a naso-gastric tube. None of these methods is comfortable, however. Thomas Louie, MD, of the University of Calgary, has developed a work around for the delivery of fecal bacteria without use of these invasive methods.1 He has been treating patients with FMT for a number of years, and when he encountered a patient who did not respond to enemas and for medical reasons could not receive a nasogastric tube, “a bright light went on,” he said. He decided to figure out how to put the fecal bacteria into pill form that the patient could take orally with no problem.

He designed a process that isolates the bacteria from feces, separating bacteria from fecal matter. The bacterial concentrate is then placed inside three layers of gelatin capsule so that the capsules do not open until they are in the small intestine. Dr. Louie began doing this therapy in 2010, and has since treated 31 other patients. He says the therapy has been effective in eliminating the C. difficile infection in all but one patient, who experienced a slight recurrence. “It seems to be a convenient way for the patient,” he noted.

Talk about a super probiotic. The rich diversity of bacteria found in the stool of healthy people is likely what makes this therapy so effective. We will certainly hear more about the progression of this therapy in the near future. C. difficile infection claims 14,000 lives each year, and that number continues to rise. If FMT has a cure rate of over 90 percent, think of how many lives could be saved.

I think we will soon see “designer super probiotics” derived directly from healthy donors’ stool and that contain strains that are not currently available as probiotics. The type and amounts of bacteria will be studied to see which are the best individual bacteria strains, and what specialized combinations are most effective to help treat many disease conditions. The combinations can then be saved and stored to create products that do not come directly from the stool, but have been grown in special microbiology labs.

 

References

  1. O’Connell PM, “Fecal transplantation pills show promise for treatment of C. difficile.” The American Academy of Pediatrics. 4 Oct 2013.