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Back many years ago, I've read a mushroom guidebook, which I don't have anymore. I was unable to find the name of a particular mushroom. The book comprises listing of edible and poisonous mushroom species. One particular mushroom was said to be "poisonous to some people". the effect is not allergy-based, but rather straightforward poisoning. What drew my attention was the phrase:

If you haven't tasted it before, do so in small doses first. Each family member has to do it regardless of how other family members responded, because the condition is not genetic

This has lead me to think, that if condition is not genetic, then it may depend on which gut flora you have. Gut flora is very helpful in digesting many substances in our food, and possibly even toxins. This has lead me to ask the question Can a human be inoculated with gut flora from another animal and thus be able to eat food otherwise poisonous to humans?

Supporting evidence:

  • I have read that pronghorns can browse on sagebrush, a herb that is poisonous to ordinary cattle. The toxins kill the cattle's gut flora, that is supposed to aid in their digestion. It is not, however toxic to the pronghorn's gut flora, which can digest the toxins.
  • Changing your diet abruptly may result in embarrassing stomach upsets. These upsets are transient, however. This may reflect a change in the ratio of bacterial species which reflects optimal adaptation.

Putting that theory to the test:

  • Attempting to inoculate Pronghorn's gut flora to cattle -- Will the cattle be able to feed on sagebrush?
  • Diversity of gut flora in humans: One may expect some difference in gut flora between that of city dwellers, such as in Europe, and that of tribes in the rain forests of the Amazon and Africa. Can a city dweller in Europe eat anything the forest dweller may eat? Does he/she need some bacteria inoculation to adapt to certain foods?

Limitations

Not all poisoning cases may be avoided by introducing gut flora that is supposed to digest the toxins. Failures to avoid poisoning may include:

  • Poisons that are absorbed by the body and the animal eating the plant or mushroom is not affected by it. Floral gut from the animal will not avoid that type of poisoning in a human eating the plant/mushroom.

  • Poisons that are digested by the animal's own digestive enzymes.

  • Environmental incompatibility: The introduced bacteria must be compatible to the type of food the host feeds on, as well as the chemical environment of the guts. For humans, this limits us to gut flora extracted from animals with diet similar to ours (Not counting processed food and cooked food). Ruminants and predators are out, Omnivores are in.

  • Poisons that an animal avoids by excreting it rather than absorbing it, and the bacteria does nothing in digesting it.

  • Host compatibility: The introduced gut flora must do its job in the guts, and not turn against its host. In turn, the host's immune system must "leave it alone".

DISCLAIMER -- a somewhat-related breakthrough research is underway at the Weizmann Institute of sciences. Conditions such as diabetes, Krohn's disease, obesity, resistance to infections, behavioral and psychiatric tendencies among others were once considered issues on their own, and unrelated to gut flora diversity (or lack of). This research shows otherwise. The research even includes a custom diet which is unlike common diets. Rather than counting calories, your diet is tailored to suit the type of gut flora you have. You may assume that some bacteria may secrete toxins which cause organ damage, such as kidney, liver or pancreatic failure. The healthy gut flora may keep those harmful bacteria in check. On the other hand, it is possible gut flora may digest some of these toxins before they are absorbed by the body.

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