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GUT MICROBES TRANSPLANT
Surprisingly, a recent study has found that the gut microbiota, the trillion or so microbes that live in our guts and which shape our health in ways we’re only just beginning to understand, may play a part in chronic pain.
Researchers at McGill University in Canada discovered this after comparing the gut microbiota of 178 people, 77 of whom had fibromyalgia (which causes widespread pain, often accompanied by muscle stiffness, extreme tiredness headaches and bloating). Fibromyalgia can take many years to diagnose and is difficult to treat)
By comparing Poo samples taken from people with and without fibromyalgia, researchers were able to identify a signature pattern - 20 different species of bacteria that were present in either higher or lower amounts in people who have this condition, compared to those who don’t. The relationship turned out to be so close that they could predict, with nearly 90per cent accuracy, whether someone had fibromyalgia or not. Simply by analysing their poo samples, .reported the journal Pain.
The team plan further research to see if gut bacteria are implicated in other conditions such as chronic headaches or lower back pain.
Quite how bacteria might cause pain is unclear, but one possibility is that they interact with parts of our immune system and cause widespread inflammation - particularly in our central nervous system, where pain signals are transmitted to the brain.
The hope is that this discovery will lead to new treatments, which might include a faecal transplant - where a patients gut microbes are largely replaced by microbes collected from healthy donors.
Dr Michael Mosley