Could transplanting someone's faeces into your stomach cure diseases of the bowel? Dr Mark Porter investigates the amazing world of gut bacteria and their role in our health.
The idea of taking faeces from someone and transplanting it into the bowels of a loved one might sound disgusting. Medically, it might make good sense though. In fact a number of doctors have discovered that this procedure cures intestinal infections when all other treatments have failed. As Dr Mark Porter discovers, it's an illustration of the power of 'good' bacteria.
Our bowels are home to an ecosystem of billions of bacteria and other microbes. Many of these gut bugs perform vital jobs for us, such as helping to digest food, making vitamins and priming the immune system. In the last few years, researchers have gathered evidence that a range of health problems and conditions arise from there being an inbalance between beneficial bacteria and potentially harmful ones. These conditions include Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Clostridium difficile infection, allergies and possibly bowel cancer. Dr Mark Porter talks to researchers and doctors about some of the latest findings and treatments based on these insights.