Michael Harrop Q&A (Nov 2023)

Michael Harrop

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An artist sent me some questions. I thought they were good questions so I took the time to answer in depth.

In your opinion, what is the long term vision for saving our modern guts?


I like this question. The vast majority of futuristic predictions/scenarios I see are completely wrong because none of them take into account that the vast majority of people alive today are defective and malfunctioning. They assume that people will always be defective, and thus problematic, but that is nonsense. Intelligent, well-functioning people generally do not get into severe conflict with each other, and largely come to the same conclusions, especially if they are presented with the same/similar data.

An example I recall from high school is the teacher putting up a math equation on the board, and a few of us just looked at it and immediately knew the correct answer. But the majority of the class did not. The majority gets B's, C's, and D's. IE: they're given the exact same information but come to the wrong conclusions. This problem doesn't disappear after high school and college. On the contrary, the problem is magnified because people start to make important decisions that impact everyone else.

So the long-term vision is fixing our dystopia/Idiocracy by improving people's function. I believe that the vast majority of problems we have today are due to the poorly functioning majority. It is human defects that cause problems. So the future should be quite utopian in comparison if we can cure stupidity, sociopathy, etc.

I don't know if FMT alone can solve this, but the gut microbiome seems to have this potential.


What might it look like to have FMT widely integrated as a treatment with a network of donors?


If my super-donor hypothesis is correct, the vast majority of prescription drugs and doctor visits would be a thing of the past. The healthcare crisis of doctor, nurse, and drug shortages would disappear. People would simply purchase stool from a catalog of stool donors, and use it as prevention & treatment for most medical conditions. They may not even have to purchase it; it would be much cheaper for insurance to cover FMT than to pay for drugs and surgeries that only target the symptoms of chronic diseases.


How can we increase the available pool of donors?

For example, is it possible to restore one's microbiome through lifestyle and diet alone? Could we incentivize the repair of one's microbiome like we incentivize the repair of biological macro ecosystems through mitigation banking & credits?

It is possible to improve one's microbiome with lifestyle and diet, but you cannot restore lost microbes or kill off problematic ones with those interventions. The bacteriophages in FMT can kill pathogens, and FMT is the only way you can restore the host-native microbes that have been evolving alongside us for millions of years. We've been extinguishing them via antibiotics, junk food diets, c-sections, lack of breastfeeding, and more.

Once we find a 10/10 donor we'll likely try upgrading 7/10 donors by giving them FMT from the 10/10 donor. Hopefully that will be a viable way to start reversing the chronic disease crisis.

I support incentives to improve public health, but I think it's primarily defective people who require such incentives. Most well-functioning & well-developed people have an intrinsic motivation to stay healthy. Eg: an unhealthy parent creates an unhealthy child, and that child starts off with a terrible hand that they have to work extra hard to improve, and usually do not because it's all they've known since birth. I think this is widespread and extremely unethical.


What is a common misconception about FMT?


Hmm, I would say there are quite a few still. In general, most people have no clue how to identify a high-quality donor, and thus many people are convinced they've found a perfect donor and don't get better, or even get worse, and they blame FMT when the problem was their lack of knowledge and their donor.

People are downplaying the potential of FMT. Usually due to ignorance about the gut microbiome's impacts on the whole body, as well as the rarity of high-quality donors.

People are still incorrectly claiming that top-down FMT causes SIBO, when in fact FMT is likely a cure for "SIBO", and the lower route is likely incomplete.

That FMT is disgusting. From countless FMTs from more than a dozen donors, I learned that this notion stems from those of us in poor health having unhealthy stool. Healthy stool is not repugnant.

That you need to take antibiotics beforehand to make room for the new microbes. This may actually be detrimental rather than beneficial.

That stomach acid will kill the microbes. I think that this notion is overblown, and host-native microbes that get passed down generationally have evolved to thrive in our guts. Animals do FMT by simply eating the feces, and so far it seems to be viable in humans as well.

That you need to eat prebiotics to feed the new microbes.

That "official sources" of FMT, such as clinics, doctors, clinical trials, and hospitals are the best place to get FMT. I would go as far as to say that "official sources" of FMT are some of the worst options due to widespread donor quality deficiencies.

Many clinical trials are still only using 1-2 doses of FMT, but for most conditions, it's likely to require many months of daily FMTs.

The vast majority of official sources are not taking donor's stool type into account at all, and are still using woefully inadequate screening questionnaires/criteria.

There are "top FMT specialists" who give out harmful advice such as "you only need to find someone healthier than you", and "relatives are the best choice". [Citations to the contrary]


What is something that you wish more people understood about FMT?


I listed most of them above, but a big one is that our irresponsible abuse of antibiotics, c-sections, lack of breastfeeding, junk diets, etc., has made high-quality donors extremely rare. And given the fact that I've screened nearly a million donor applicants and still haven't found an ideal candidate, it may even be too late. Especially considering examples like this top athlete who seems ideal in every way, yet had their gut destroyed by antibiotics. Something that seems quite common.

Look at the children of Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Mohammad Ali, Ray Allen, Shaquille O'Neal, and so on... They're all a downgrade from their father, and many of them have health problems. Chronic disease is spreading and the human race is decaying. More people need to recognize this and be alarmed.

FMT may not be the silver bullet that can simply erase the past century of harm we've been doing to ourselves and our planet. I'm trying my best but it seems like the whole world is against me [Eg: 1, 2].

I've always stressed the importance of prevention, by avoiding unnecessary antibiotics, and other non-FMT methods of avoiding gut dysbiosis. Yet I've gotten major, hostile pushback from people who have somehow become convinced that they need antibiotics for so many things or they and their children will die. People who rate 1 in 200 infants potentially dying as worse than rampant chronic disease and all the suffering and problems associated with it. People who think they should be able to do whatever they want in regards to c-sections, breastfeeding, diet, lifestyle, and their choice to use their unhealthy body to create another person. And that there are/should be no consequences for their choices. And these erroneous beliefs and desires make them eschew all the evidence of harm. It's been both alarming and enlightening to observe these people. It really highlighted the mess we're in and helped explain how it came to be. "Happily bumbling towards extinction with their eyes blindfolded and fingers in their ears."
 
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