Frozen Poop Pills Can Cure Intestinal Infections

By Carl Engelking | October 13, 2014 4:35 pm
The poop pills (Courtesy: Hohmann Labs)

The poop pills (Courtesy: Hohmann Labs)

The healing powers of poop are now available in pill form — and a new study has found that just two days of the treatment can cure a dangerous infection that kills 14,000 Americans per year.

The pills take the place of fecal transplants, which have gained credibility in recent years as a method of treating Clostridium difficile infection, but which require delivery by enema or a tube down the digestive system. Scientists say the pills, which contain filtered, healthy fecal matter, offer a cheap, convenient and safer way to “make the medicine go down.”

Encapsulating Excreta

The pills, created by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, start with stool from healthy donors in a saline solution. The contents are filtered to extract helpful bacteria, and the cocktail is then piped into pill capsules and subsequently frozen. Patients pop the pills straight out of the freezer, where they can be stored for up to 250 days.

In a small and preliminary trial, the pills cured the diarrhea symptoms in 19 out of 20 people with mild to moderate C. difficile infections. Each patient popped 30 of the pills over a two-day period, and their bowel movements fell from a median of 5 per day to 1 per day eight weeks later. Fourteen of the 20 patients were cured after the first two-day treatment, and five others — sicker than the rest — were cured after a second two-day, 30-pill treatment.

Further, not a single participant showed adverse side effects due to the pills. Researchers published their findings Saturday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

What’s Next?

The team from Boston isn’t the first group to put poop in pill form, but they were the first to rigorously test the oral treatment’s efficacy. The next step is to replicate the same success on a larger scale. And although the pills aren’t marketed, the authors of the study are making them available to qualified patients without participating in clinical trials, the New York Times reports.

The treatment may sound like a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s certainly better than the alternative.


Photo credit: /Shutterstock 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health
  • grackle1

    May I be the first to wonder aloud if this product will be called a Poop-sicle.

  • alphaomega

    Where exactly does one apply and/or sign up to be a “poop donor”?

    • hammermann

      Are you full of it??? I gave a sperm bank- much more product here.

  • AlisonCummins


    • Rick C

      This is no laughing matter. My father lost his colon due to C-Diff earlier this year. This could have saved him much suffering. The Pharm industry won’t like this becuase they caannot make money on these pills or sell there over price vancomycin to treat C-Diff.

      • grackle1

        I agree it’s not a laughing matter medically speaking despite the fact that it provides an obvious pun, which I couldn’t resist noting. I know someone who suffered for years and who got a fecal transplant and had her life transformed, so I know this is a serious medical development. And that many species of animals actually ingest droppings from their parents and thus become inoculated with their gut bacteria. It totally makes sense that by putting in place beneficial bacteria, they could crowd out and overwhelm invasive, illness-causing bacteria, just as beneficial bacteria on the skin can crowd out disease makers (one of the arguments against constantly using liquid soaps with major antibacterial properties).

        • hammermann

          Including human babies when they’re born, another argument against C-section

      • Jack Smith

        What makes you think they can’t make money on these pills? They will make craploads(get it) of money on this. The will refine it, patent it, get it approved, and sell it for a lot money. It costs almost a billion dollars to get a drug FDA approved so they obviously need to charge a lot.

        Those vancomycin pill are definitely not overpriced either. It is a very strong antibiotic normally only useful by I.V. Basically the only thing the pill form is useful for is c-diff. Getting something approved that will only be sold for one thing requires it to cost a lot more then something used more often for more things.

      • Fernando

        What she meant is “where is the control group included in the study?”

        • DonnyM

          the control group would be every patient for the last decade that’s been treated with the up to now only real treatment, vancomycin

      • Heather Goodman

        Vancomycin is useful for MANY other things besides C-diff, and the less patients are prescribed it, the longer it will remain a lifesaving drug for other antibiotic-resistant bacterial diseases. The more we can get C-diff patients cured using something else, the more Vancomycin will be kept useful for other applications.

        • hammermann

          Because it’s only IV, it’s very rarely prescribed, it’s saving grace. We may have to go back to some of the early toxic injectibles to find good treatments

  • Uncle Al

    Isn’t’ this what Big Pharma has been saying all along when they started charging $1000/pill or shot ($5-10K/shot for macular degeneration pharma)?

  • Mr. Fade

    All of you can eat shi.. and LIVE!

    • hammermann

      Wouldn’t it be much better to administer it in suppositories- all the acids of digestion can’t be good for the poor alien biome.

  • booyah

    WHY on earth it had to be transparent capsule??

    • Alberto Cano

      I’ve Being wandering the same thing…why?…why??

    • surgeen

      It’s part of the healing process – the visual effect, in this case, is the key to fast healing

    • hammermann

      Ha ha. Well they can’t sterilize it, but how can they possibly test for all the deadly things people can be carrying- it is sht after all.

    • Guest

      Why not? Sheesh.

  • Guest

    I know they state in the article’s conclusion that further studies are needed to confirm the results. But why on earth didn’t they included a control group? They could have easily done that already, and the study would have been a controlled trial (small one though). They did included patients with a prior vancomycin failure, but still. In my opinion this study doesn’t tell us anything.

  • Fernando

    I know they did state in the article’s conclusion that further studies are needed to confirm the results. But why on earth didn’t they included a control group? They could have easily done that already, and the study would have been a controlled trial (small one though). They did included patients with a prior vancomycin failure, but still. In my opinion this study doesn’t tell us anything.

  • gendotte

    When I first read this I thought It was a speech from John McCain

  • Overburdened_Planet

    This is some interesting sh*t!

  • southwestsam

    I am all for improving gut biome before you need to digest another’s poop. We should all be consuming sauerkraut, kefir, miso, yogurt and kimichi to name a few food products that are high in helpful micro organisms to improve our own gut flora. Then increasing consumption of fruit and veges to keep the little buggers happy (pun intended).

  • Crazy Catlover


  • Crazy Catlover

    The: ‘Healing powers of poop.’ Seriously?

  • David

    Apparently these pills go through the stomach without being killed. Why are they not killed by the stomach acids? Isn’t that one of the purposes of the stomach acid – to kill any bacteria?
    I know that the way the treatment used to be used was by putting it in the other end – thus bypassing the stomach. This method looks much easier, and less messy – to put it mildly!!!
    Can someone answer this question.

    • Hanna

      A company known as OpenBiome was the first to put these capsules on the market and they came up with a “recipe” for the capsule that allows it to be broken down properly by the time it gets to the intestines, where the bacteria are needed, and also prevents it from being broken down as fast as other capsulated pills. Honestly, if the capsule was taken orally and broken down before the bacteria could do their job then it would be really pointless and, even though it’s the cheapest type of treatment option (when compared with the price of performing an enema or colonoscopy), it would be a waste of money.

  • Ayesha Prajapati

    Why are the capsules frozen? If the bacteria can survive in human body in gut then why do they need low temperature?


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