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What’s the Diff?

The outhouse for the Star Peak Lookout is a classic. (Rich Landers)
The outhouse for the Star Peak Lookout is a classic. (Rich Landers)

An unusual remedy is performing miracles for people who suffer with a potentially fatal infection called Clostridium difficile or “C. diff” as it is known in health care settings. The gastrointestinal infection kills 14,000 people each year and is caused by anti-biotics that kill off other present and needed bacteria. The result: toxins are produced causing persistent diarrhea. And the toxic bacteria are becoming resistant to conventional treatments.

The unconventional remedy? A donor’s stool is treated and placed in the intestine or colon of a sick patient. The healthy bacteria from the donor are “transplanted” via an enema, colonoscopy or nasogastric tube. The healthy bacteria from the donor help to normalize the bacteria in the stomach and fight the C. diff evil one.

While the remedy sounds disgusting, the results are impressive. People get well, almost immediately. Once again, the cures for our illnesses may be found within ourselves more often than in the complexity of synthetic chemical combinations. 

(S-R archive photo)

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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.