Latest Money Making Fad: Fecal Matter Transplant Postbiotics….

This is a hot new area is a speculation, first suggested in Postbiotics: what else?[2013] which states “Recent work on relevant probiotic strains has also led to the isolation and characterization of certain probiotic-produced, soluble factors, here called postbiotics, which were sufficient to elicit the desired response.”. To translate, culture probiotic and separate out the chemicals they produce (for example, lactic acid for lactobacillus cultures), you do not alter their composition. It appears that marketing types are using the same term for something different that they are trying to sell.

There are just two clinical studies in progress. All from 2022 or later, a few examples:

There have been no results published.

Some Key Word

Lysate Probiotics: See Lysis – Wikipedia. This is caused by gently breaking down a bacteria (probiotic) often using bacteriophages.  It keeps all of the components intact, but the cell is no longer alive. This has had clinical studies, for example

Sterilized: This is cooking the bacteria to kill it. It changes the factors or metabolites that would be there if the bacteria had been killed by a bacteriophages.

The new Snake Oil

A reader asked me about one new product, Thaenabiotic being pushed by Flora Medicine in Portland, OR. This is described as:

ThaenaBiotic® is a fecal-derived, sterilized, full-spectrum postbiotic that contains metabolites from a unique, healthy ecosystem of microbes originating from special, hand-picked donors.

This is the second time in a month that I have been asked about sterilized fecal matter postbiotics (or similar names). I roll my eyes for several reasons:

  • Being sterilized means “He’s dead Jim”. Not just changed but well cooked (perhaps very char-boiled!). This is a clever way to attempt to get around the FDA limits on the matter of Fecal Matter Transplants — it’s dead material!
  • Even if some metabolites survives, whether it has any results beyond placebo effects is very questionable. At best, the effect may last one or two days — hence you will need to keep reordering! An excellent business model!

The metabolites may cause effects, but the persistence of the effects is the key question. With appropriate living probiotics (or live FMT), sufficient bacteria takes up residence — not possible with killed bacteria.

“This suggests that it is the host response to probiotics, rather than microbial metabolism that facilitates the molecular changes in the brain and downstream behaviours.”

Live or heat-killed probiotic administration reduces anxiety and central cytokine expression in BALB/c mice, but differentially alters brain neurotransmitter gene expression [2023]

This is being run out of a Naturopath office with the three sole people that can “prescribe” appearing to be members of that same office. You must pay for a consult with them before you can order.

“Fecal Matter Transplants” and “Post-Biotics” are hot words in trade magazines. If you want to make money fast, you create a product wrapped in those words without needing any evidence that they work or are safe. It will be at least two years before the FDA will shut you down.

And not surprising, they are looking for investors and venture capitalists. To paraphrase John Paul Jones, “Give me Research or Give me Money”

P.S. I have emailed them asking for “Can you provide published clinical studies on the use of your ThaenaBiotic product? As well as details on the composition… which metabolites and chemicals are in it and the amount of each.” – I expect stonewalling or no answer back.