S- - T! Folks may soon have to eat this word and run around looking for another to replace what it stands for ... anything that gives them a pain … you know where! No throwing up, please. For, human excreta is the latest finding to rock the medical world and offer a big ray of hope to those out there dying of cirrhosis of the liver. The only snag…you cannot have your own stuff, it needs to be from a donor who is perfectly healthy. Revolting as it sounds, the treatment is bound to be a life-saver bringing in a whole lot of possibilities in treating chronic liver disease borne out of excessive drinking and damage due to jaundice. Looks like Kerala’s ever-growing sozzled population has something to say 'cheers' to.
All set to usher in a revolution with this unthinkable medical possibility are scientists at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in New Delhi, whose initial research has borne fruit. Helming the research is young Cyriac Abhi Philip, associate director of the Department of Hepatology, PVS Hospital. A chip off the old block, Dr Philip is the son of renowned gastroenterologist Dr Philip Augustine.
The offbeat treatment veers around the following cycle. The excreta collected from a healthy donor is fed into the nasal tube of a patient, which goes to the large intestine. The excreta destroys all the harmful bacteria which lie sedimented in the intestine. The sick and swollen liver then shrinks and goes back to its original form in a week. The liver is thus cured of its jaundiced state.
Dr Philip comes up with a pertinent question. Why not opt for this cure when all you need is Rs. 10,000 for treatment; whereas you have to shell out Rs. 25 lakh to Rs. 30 lakh for a liver transplant?
Alcoholic hepatitis is the third stage in patients who’ve had to suffer due to excessive drinking. The patient’s liver gets inflamed followed by jaundice, loss of memory and consciousness. The brain too gets affected. In the conventional way of treatment, such chronic and no-hope cases were put on steroids, the effect of which would last for only 28 days. The liver then suffers further damage from bacterial attacks and starts disintegrating. As the patient’s condition worsens, the only option is a transplant. This is the time when patients and their kin face the stark reality… the prohibitive cost of transplant.
Here is where Dr Philip’s research comes in as a cure. The first tests were carried out on eight patients in the institute in Delhi. Human waste from a healthy donor was turned into a liquid consistency. Thirty gm of this was fed into the nasal tube to reach the large intestine. Administered once every day, the 'medicine' was fed for seven days consecutively. The patients were discharged on the eight day. They were given just two instructions… no booze and no antibiotics during the seven-day treatment.
The patients recovered very well within a week, Dr Philip said. There are bacteria aplenty in human excreta, numbering more than 10 crore in just 30 gm of the stuff. The healthier the body, the wealthier and healthier the bacteria! The harmful bacteria in the large intestine spawned out of heavy and uncontrolled drinking gets killed by the good bacteria in healthy human waste. Once the deadly bacteria get neutralized, the patient will start showing visible signs of improvement.
Of the eight patients treated in the pilot project two years ago, the health of seven has improved considerably, says the doctor. Dr Philip has done extensive research on how the bacteria works on the body and the changes found after that. He has published his research findings in the renowned US Journal of Gastroenterology.
It was in the same Delhi Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences that Dr Cyriac Abhi Philip did his advanced studies in hepatology and transplant medicine.
To a generation which said 'ugh' and 'yuck' to a prime minister who credited his good health to a daily glass of his urine, this new 'wonder' cure for booze addicts should be an immediate relief. If urine comes, can - - - - be far behind?