Josiah Zayner has a dyed mohawk and a tattooed body. As a former biochemistry researcher at NASA, this bio-hacker and businessman for DIY science kits seems to come straight out of a bio-punk SF novel. As does his latest hack! Eating someone else’s fecal matter to solve your own gastrointenstinal problems sounds like something only a mad scientist would do… In January 2016, exposes The Verge, Josiah Zayner performed an experiment whereby he ingested fecal microbiomes from a donor in order to fix his gut. (Bon appétit!)
The idea didn’t come out of nowhere. “Since the early 2000s, research has emphasized the major role of intestinal microbiota in human physiology and, once altered, in a number of gastrointestinal diseases,” writes the French group for fecal transplants (GFTF). Transplants of healthy intestinal microbiota from donors has existed for a while now. Practically speaking, the operation consists of treating the patient with an enema and antibiotics before introducing a stool sample into the intestine.
Josiah Zayner developed a more punk protocol, which involved following a (therapeutic) diet based on fecal matter. He began by prescribing himself a bunch of antibiotics on the Internet, strong enough to eliminate millions of microbes and restore him to a virgin biological state. He then sampled parts of a turd from a donor, in order to pour liquid extracts into gelatin capsules. Then he holed up in a hotel room in San Francisco, swallowing the eight capsules little by little over three days.
A few days later, he reported feeling the benefits, namely in terms of digestive and gastrointestinal well-being. That said, will it be enough to spark the next fecal biohacking trend?