Strawberry Ripple FroYo and Bacteriotherapy: Interview with Dr. David Suskind of Seattle Children’s Hospital

Comfy Belly: Strawberry Ripple FroYo (5 of 5)

What do frozen yogurt and bacteriotherapy have in common? Good bacteria.

Strawberry Ripple FroYo

A few months ago I attended a presentation for families affected by pediatric IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) at Seattle Children’s Hospital . The CCFA (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America) and Seattle Children’s GI department presented a day-long seminar on several topics, including a new therapy and diet. I actually hesitated to go and finally dragged myself downtown. It turned out to be the one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

So much good stuff came out of it, including an opportunity to find out more about bacteriotherapy (also known as fecal microbial transplant or FMT).

Comfy Belly:  Dr. David Suskind

Seattle Children’s Hospital was the first research center in the nation to receive federal approval to test bacteriotherapy for Crohn’s and colitis. I’m honored that Dr. David Suskind, who is leading the study of bacteriotherapy at Seattle Children’s, has taken the time to answer some questions regarding this study and the work the team is carrying out. The team is also looking for funding to research the impact of SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) for IBD.

At the end of the interview is a recipe for strawberry ripple frozen yogurt. I’ve been living on this treat ever since I first made it. The addition of lemon and salt make this lip-smacking good. I’m not a huge fan of froyo that even hints at the taste of yogurt, but this tastes like strawberry ice cream. And is it me or does it seem like strawberries are available almost year-round on the west coast of the U.S? We’re a bit spoiled over here. But in case you’re thinking of moving to Seattle, it does rain occasionally. And in the summer it rains sunshine and berries. Summer is good to us. And so are our research institutions. I’m grateful that the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s take good care of us.

And now for the interview…

I’ve been following the media’s coverage of bacteriotherapy/FMT for a few years in the hope that it might be an alternative therapy for IBD so it’s great to find out that its being studied. What inspired you to launch a study of bacteriotherapy in pediatric bowel disease?

I have always been interested in trying to improve treatment for inflammatory bowel disease while also bringing deeper insight into the disease. We have known for many years that our genes play an important role in the development of IBD but our genes, which we have inherited from our ancestors, have been the same for over a thousand years, while Crohn’s and UC (Ulcerative Colitis) are relatively new diseases of the 20th century.   This means something has changed in our environment to bring about these disorders. The most likely culprit is the bacteria within our bowels. With the change in diet as well as increase use of antibiotics, the bacteria which have developed within us have changed significantly. It is this change which is likely a major trigger for IBD and by studying bacteriotherapy and fecal microbial transplant (FMT), we are able to test this hypothesis.

Besides the team at Seattle Children’s Hospital, are you working with other research groups, hospitals, or organizations, or is each study carried out independently?

We are working with a team at UW (University of Washington) to examine the changes in the microbiome that occur with IBD as well as changes which occur after fecal microbial transplant for our Crohn’s and UC patients. This will hopefully give us insight on which bacteria play an important role in potentially triggering the body’s immune system to cause inflammation within the bowels.

What are your goals for this study and for future IBD therapy?

This is the first study to examine bacteriotherapy or FMT in patients with Crohn’s and UC.  We are getting very encouraging results.  As this is the initial study, many questions still need to be answered such as how much stool do we need to transplant, how often we need to transplant, who would be the optimal donor, what type of pretreatment is best. This is the beginning of a very fascinating area in medicine.

Which patients would you recommend consider taking part in the study?

Any child with uncomplicated Crohn’s or UC aged 12 to 21 with active disease who would like to avoid steroids or increasing their immunosuppression.

How does this effort relate to the Human Microbiome Project?

The human microbiome project is an amazing project put forth by the National Institutes of Health to define what makes up the human microbiome. Over 100,000 separate samples from over 300 healthly men and women will answer the question what is “normal” for the human microbiome. This is important because we have over 100 trillion bacteria in and on us. These bacteria are active. They are communicating with each other as well as interacting with us. In our bowels they help digest our foods, produce vitamins, and help prevent pathogenic bacteria from infecting us. It is so very important to understand what the human microbiome encompasses as well as how it works to better our own health.

I’m intrigued by the recommendation that to sustain the therapy it might be necessary to follow dietary guidelines. Is there anything you can share regarding the use of diet as a therapy, either apart from this study or in step with it?

There is strong evidence that IBD is triggered by a dysbiosis or “bad” bacteria in the intestinal tract. This dysbiosis is likely caused by a number of things including antibiotics and diet. Although we don’t have studies to let us know what is the optimal diet for an individual with IBD, we do know that diet can have a dramatic affect in IBD. The research that has been done so far involves formula therapy in Crohn’s disease. We know that complete nutritional therapy in the form of formula is as good as steroids in achieving clinical remission in children. We also know that it is much better than steroids in achieving mucosal healing. This is extremely important because mucosal healing is associated with long term remission. There is also a large amount of anecdotal evidence to  suggest that other diet therapies such as the SCD diet have a positive impact on disease activity as well. In fact we have recently submitted a paper for publication where we report the benefits of the SCD diet for 7 children with Crohn’s disease. This is another area of interest for me. In general, more resources and more research needs to be done in the area of nutrition and IBD.

Thanks to Dr. Suskind, Heather Vendettuoli, and the team at Seattle Children’s!

To find out the not-so-gritty details of the procedure which is surprisingly quick and odorless, go to Seattle Children’s website.

If you’re interested in helping support further bacteriotherapy (FMT) and SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) research studies go to Seattle Children’s Foundation and earmark your donation to Pediatric FMT/SCD research.

Comfy Belly: Strawberry Ripple FroYo

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    Posted in Dairy-Free, Desserts, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Interviews, Lactose-Free, Nut-Free, SCD, Vegetarian, Wheat-Free  |  19 Comments

    19 Responses to Strawberry Ripple FroYo and Bacteriotherapy: Interview with Dr. David Suskind of Seattle Children’s Hospital

    1. Sheila Holland says:

      Wow, nice interview. Thanks for posting it. It is very encouraging that medicine is now taking this path. About time they realized that their traditional approach is not working.

    2. We have been using FMT to treat my 10 y/o daughter’s ulcerative colitis. It has worked where medications did not. After a 7 month flare, she has been in remission for 11 months! I am so happy to see articles written about this research. Our success story can be found at The Power of Poop (http://thepowerofpoop.com/kathys-story/#respond), and, recently, an article came out about us on Everydayhealth: http://www.everydayhealth.com/ulcerative-colitis/one-familys-personal-experience-with-fecal-transplants.aspx I hope with all of my heart that this disease gets figured out soon. Way too many people are suffering.

    3. jacquie says:

      thanks for the post. the timeing is interesting since i was just listening to a piece on NPR this morning regarding the whole Human Microbe Project and how far reaching the effects of the change in flora even raising the possibility that it is related to increase in dementia and autisim. The did point out that it was going to be a long time before the understanding was complete enough to really answer the questions and start trying to develop therapies. It is good to hear that someone is already moving in the direction. I might be nerdy but i have to say i find it all very fascinating.

      oh thanks for the recipe – strawberry season is finished here but i think this would work lovely with peaches, blueberries or even roasted apples come fall.

      • Shari Mother of child with IBD says:

        So the mystique is medicine IS advanced, but the REALITY IS, it isn’t…When medicine tells you food has nothing to do with your intestinal tract disease? Apparently the hope is you are too distraught, because your kid is so sick, to realize the LACK of science and stupidity of this statement. A statement that SO MANY OF US PARENTS of children with IDB have heard. We have paid big money to hear these statements. Grateful to see a step in the right direct.

        • Erica says:

          Yes, so grateful that things are progressing! Sometimes it takes a change agent and I believe physicians like Dr. Suskind are change agents.

      • Erica says:

        Thanks. yes, I’m going to use raspberries next so I think you’re right – this recipe will work with a variety of berries and other fruit.

    4. Jill says:

      Fascinating information. Thank you for sharing this interview!

    5. D's mom says:

      removing starches and processed sugar from my son’s diet was key to his remission from IBD. He has probably the first ever RX from a GI doc in Seattle for SCD diet. I almost framed it, after years of getting eyes rolled at me. My son simply can’t digest processed sugar and starches. Personally, I believe the vaccines he got as a child were the first insults to his immune system, beginning with Hep B vaccine on his day of birth. After he suffered ALTE’s from his 2 month vaccines, he began having digestion issues, which continued getting worse Years later, after no help from any doctor, I took the plunge and removed gluten,dairy and soy. He improved- AND made even more gains when I also removed corn and white sugar. finally, his gut recovered after going on SCD diet.

    6. Judy says:

      Thanks for this post, I am passing it on to many. My son is fortunate to have Dr. Suskind as his GI doc and is participating in the study. He has had some improvement so far.
      I am really interested in the SCD. When he was first diagnosed, three years ago, we were told that diet really didn’t play a role in Crohn’s. I am so hopeful that he may someday cruise through life without flares and less medicine.

      • Erica says:

        Thanks Judy. Glad to hear you son has had improvement. I definitely suggest looking at SCD and similar diets that reduce the amount of grain and sugar dependency. And of course fresh food from reliable sources.

    7. Mary says:

      Thanks for this great recipe. Can’t wait to try it.

      The article is also really interesting. Things are finally changing in the right direction. My son was diagnosed with CD in June of this year, and his pediatric GI docs at Stanford support our use of the SCD diet without meds. He’s doing very, very well. They’re also doing a research study on the diet right now, both diet and meds, and diet alone. I think it’s very promising that more and more docs are willing to consider what people have been figuring out for themselves all along.

      Speaking of figuring things out, and people sharing anecdotal evidence about their IBD, check out crohnology.com. So interesting and packed with valuable info–people powered!

    8. Leslie says:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24048168

      Erica – Have you seen Dr. Suskind’s SCD study that just came out a few days ago?
      Loved reading your interview. My daughter, dx w/severe Crohn’s has been on SCD for 3 years with normal labs.

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