Faecal transplants are at the cutting edge of medicine – with the confronting procedure being used to successfully treat digestive complaints, and it is also being used experimentally with conditions as wide-ranging as MS, autism, mood disorders and Parkinson's disease.
But according to experts, the procedure – which sees a donor’s ‘good’ gut bacteria transplanted into the patient’s bowel via a faecal sample – may have some pretty strange side effects, including allegedly impacting personality, or even resulting in the patient adopting the donor’s body shape.
Patrick Charles, Associate Professor from the Department of Infectious Diseases at Austin Health, tells the ABC the practice - which has existed since the 1950s - has recently been observed to result in some fascinating outcomes.
‘What we're learning about this now is the change in the mix of bacteria when you get this transplant can alter the person who is getting it to take on some of the characteristics of the donor sometimes,’ says Charles, who has presented the evidence to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians congress in Melbourne.
‘There have been people who have taken on the shape of the donor, such as if the donor is either overweight or underweight they've become more like that,' he told the national broadcaster.
‘There’s even been reports of some people who have never been depressed getting a transplant from someone who’s had depression and ending up with their first episode of depression after that.’
This discovery opens the door to the possibility that faecal transplants may one day be used to successfully treat weight and mood issues. While science isn’t quite there yet, the prospects are exciting.
This article originally appeared on New Idea.