There was a time when Candida overgrowth was the go to diagnosis for all manner of symptoms, both digestive and systemic. Thankfully our understanding of the microbiome and ways to test it have advanced, and we can be much more assured in identifying when Candida or other fungi is overgrown in the gut.
Candida and other fungi, such as Geotrichum, Rhodotorula, Trichosporon, can be normal inhabitants of our gut and, when in balanced numbers, won’t cause a problem. However, if the gut microbiota is disturbed, by antibiotics, stress, infection, poor diet, lowered immunity, etc., this can create an environment where yeast overgrows and crowds out more beneficial microbes, creating digestive disturbances.
Candida and other fungi is usually kept under control by the good bacteria that live in our gut. Some bacteria such as Lactobacillus species can interact and inhibit both the virulence and growth of Candida species in the gut by producing hydrogen peroxide .
Yeasts, as part of their metabolism, can produce up to 80 byproducts such as gasses, ethanol, acetaldehyde, and Gliotoxin, which may be involved in the cause of a number of symptoms such as:
- Bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain
- Vaginal thrush, oral thrush, dandruff, athletes foot, fungal infections of nails
- Chemical sensitivities, headaches, stiff joints, muscle aches,
- Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching, or vaginal itching
- Seasonal allergies, sinusitis, itchy ears, itchy eyes
- Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate craving.
- Acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, rashes
- Anxiety, depression, mood swings, poor concentration, feeling spaced-out, poor memory,dizziness, inability to focus, poor memory, brain fog, irritability, panic attacks, low libido, persistent extreme fatigue
What Causes a Candida/Fungal Overgrowth?
- Chronic stress
- Overuse of certain medication like antibiotics, PPI’s, corticosteroids and hormone therapy (including the contraceptive pill).
- Excessive alcohol consumption, particularly beer and wine.
- Over consumption of sugary food and beverages and foods high in refined carbohydrates
- Lowered immunity.
- Altered digestive secretions.
How do I find out if I have a Candida/Fungal overgrowth?
The most accurate way to test for Candida or yeast overgrowth in the large intestine is a comprehensive stool analysis. At the Digestive Wellness Clinic I use PCR/DNA stool testing to measure genetic material from organisms in the digestive tract. This is by far the most advanced method for detecting Candida or yeast, it also quantifies the amount of yeast present, letting us know the severity of overgrowth. This test also looks for parasites, pathogenic bacteria, levels of beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, and other digestive markers like secretory IgA.
Learn more about the stool test here.
Small Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth (SIFO)
It’s only in the last few years that Small Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth or SIFO has become more well known, with recent studies revealing that SIFO can cause symptoms such as belching, bloating, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, and gas.
SIFO is the presence of excessive number of fungal organisms in the small intestine associated with gastrointestinal symptoms. Two studies showed that 26 % and 25.3% of a series of patients with unexplained GI symptoms had SIFO. The most common symptoms observed in these patients were belching, bloating, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, and gas.
That means that up to a quarter of patients with unexplained gut problems may have a fungal overgrowth in the small intestine.
How do I find out if I have SIFO?
A stool test can only let us know if there is a fungal overgrowth in the large intestine. In the small intestine, the only method for a diagnosis of SIFO is to perform an aspiration and culture of juice from the third or fourth portions of the duodenum or jejunum, via an endoscopy. Unfortunately this is a costly and invasive process, which is not done routinely outside of research settings.
For now we must diagnose SIFO based on a patient’s clinical picture and trial treatment.
If a patient has significant digestive symptoms that correspond with symptoms of SIFO and if testing for bacterial overgrowth is negative, we can suspect SIFO.
If SIFO is suspected, the best approach is to try an antifungal treatment and see if it works. If your digestive issues start to resolve, then we can assume it was SIFO.
Natural anti-fungals for SIFO are quite safe. This makes a trial treatment a good choice for SIFO.
How do you treat Candida/Fungal overgrowths?
If we find a Candida or fungal overgrowth on your stool test results then we implement a natural treatment protocol which includes:
- Removing foods from your diet that feed yeast overgrowths, such as simple sugars.
- Reducing yeast overgrowth with herbal antifungals and nutritional supplements.
- Enhancing the growth of beneficial flora with prebiotic fibres, probiotics and prebiotic foods.
- Enhancing gut immunity and repair the gut lining with herbs and nutritional supplements.
When the overgrowth is reduced and conditions in your gut are improved then it naturally keeps an overgrowth of yeast at bay, healthy balance is restored and symptoms resolved.
Book Your FREE Consultation
To learn more about the testing and treatment options available it is recommended you take a free 15 minute phone consultation. During this call you can learn more about the programme and have all your questions answered. This call is to determine if we are a good fit for one another rather than a history or complete consultation. There is no obligation, and no strings attached.
It is quick and easy to book your free 15-minute phone consultation using the online calendar. Just click the button below, choose a date and time convenient for you, enter your details, and Matt will call you at your chosen time.