Research Study Perhaps Supporting Using Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Weight-Loss

Many individuals find that following a successful diet they gain their weight back. This “yo-yo” phenomenon is partly due to an inability to adhere to dietary principles which keep weight off; that returning to the previous diet that promotes weight gain still promotes weight gain. However, there is more to the picture than this. More and more research is being done showing the connection between obesity and the gut microbiome, and recent recent research on gut flora is showing a similar link to the phenomenon of “recurrent” obesity.

In a study performed by a team from the Immunology Department of the Weizmann Institute, the link between “yo-yo” weight loss, and gut microbiota was analyzed. The study was very conclusive in showing that following a successful diet and weight loss, the microbiome stores a “memory” of previous obesity(1). This occurred even after all other body systems were restored to normal after the weight loss. The gut microbiome of mice were shown to maintain an “obese” microbiome for six months after weight loss.

The study then conducted a functional analysis of the microbiome of the obese mice, and a therapeutic approach was developed. The therapeutic approach closely resembles a fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) protocol that many naturopaths are already using for C. difficile, and suspect may be beneficial for many other conditions which relate to altered or unhealthy gut flora. They implanted mice who had previously been obese with gut microbes from mice that had never been obese – very similar to the transplantation in C. difficile with microbiota that has never been exposed to antibiotics. The transplantation seemingly knocked out the “memory” of obesity in these mice, and when they were re-exposed to a high-caloric diet, they didn’t return to their previous weight as rapidly.

This research may support the use of FMT for other conditions, such as obesity.

  1. Thaiss CA, et al. Persistent microbiome alterations modulate the rate of post-dieting weight regain. Nature. 2016 Nov 24. doi: 10.1038/nature20796.


email-photoNode Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision. 

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