So after the patient got the fecal transplant, his personality changed Sounds crazy, but it’s true!
Perhaps I should back up a few steps. What is a fecal transplant? It is a legitimate (and increasingly common) procedure where stool from a healthy person is placed into the colon of a patient. It is a new treatment for a variety of conditions including Crohn’s colitis and C. difficile infection , which has had success in many. The basic theory behind the procedure is that the ill person has an imbalance in their gut microbiome, the vast collection of bacteria and other organisms which reside in every person’s gastrointestinal tract. Bacteria in the colon contribute to health in a number of ways. They help with the digestion of food. They can also produce and regulate the synthesis or absorption of various important substances – neurotransmitters like serotonin and vitamins like B12.
When standard treatments fail, a stool transplant may be done to introduce a healthy microbiome into sick person, which helps them heal. However, as mentioned above, an unexpected side effect to stool transplantation has been noted…. personality change! Of further interest, the personality changes seen have been to align with the personality of the donor! If the stool donor was an anxious personality, then the recipient became more anxious. If the donor struggled with depression, the recipient developed issues with depression.
So now it may be becoming more clear why you would find a post about fecal transplants on a mental health blog site. It seems that personality and mood are even more complex than we had previously understood, and that one’s microbiome most certainly plays a role in determining both.An imbalance in your gut microbiome could be affecting your physical health….. It could also be affecting your emotional health. We are at the forefront of beginning to understand these factors, but they are clearly worth looking at.
In the near future , don’t be too surprised if your mental health practitioner suggests a stool analysis test , or proposes a botanical or supplement gut cleanse such as grapefruit seed extract or caprylic acid or a powerful probiotic like VSL 3. There may be some hidden critters that are bringing you down.
Anne Mathew, MD