There are two common kinds of intestinal overgrowth of undesirable bugs.
The first most common, Candidiasis, is when the fungus, candida—which naturally occurs in the intestines—decides to overgrow and overtake populations of beneficial bacteria.
The second most common type of overgrowth is called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO. This is when bacteria from the large intestines migrate up into the small intestines and disturb the natural balance of beneficial microbes in the small intestines.
Both of these conditions can wreak havoc on mood, energy, digestion, brain power, joint health, and much more.
In 1984, when I first went into practice, candida had become the condition that made headline news. The treatment plan was (and still is to some extent) to kill off the candida overgrowth, and then flood them with probiotics which yes, were popular, even 30 years ago!
The problem with that plan is that most of the candida-killing agents, whether anti-fungal medications or natural anti-microbial agents like wormwood, grapefruit seed extracts, or Rifaximin, always left the intestinal tract more irritated and raw.
Once the therapies were stopped, opportunistic and now resistant bacteria and candida would re-populate in a hurry in the damaged intestinal theater.
Today, we know that many of the antibiotics and antifungals are indiscriminate and kill the beneficial microbes as well, which leaves the door open for the re-population of bad bugs.
Unfortunately, science did not know how delicate the intestinal microbes were, and after years of eating indigestible processed foods and enduring heavy-handed therapies and medications, most westerners have a microbiome lacking diversity and functional intelligence. (1,4)
This has left us vulnerable to the proliferation of numerous intestinal imbalances like indigestion, candida, and SIBO.
Watch/listen to/download my podcast on this topic, “Troubleshoot Your Intestinal Bacteria, Candida and SIBO.”
5 Major Causes of Intestinal Overgrowth, SIBO, and Candida
1. Overuse of medications.
Antibiotics and antacids have been shown to alter the intestinal bacteria. Alternatives like Saccharomyces boulardii support healthy flora in cases of SIBO and candida. (3)
2. Weak stomach acid production, which allows undesirable bacteria to safely enter the small intestine.
When there is a lack of stomach acid, foods can linger in the stomach and cause more gas and bloating. Without adequate stomach acid to initiate the digestive process, bile is not flowing and intestinal enzymes are not producing, allowing undesirable bacteria to proliferate. (2)
3. Years of untreated elimination and gastrointestinal issues.
The intestinal skin is like the three little bears — it cannot be too dry or too wet, it has to be just right for the proper bugs to thrive. (2)
4. A lifetime of processed and sweetened foods.
Processed and packaged foods feed the undesirable microbes and disturb a healthy microbiome. (1,4)
In Ayurveda, stress causes a reverse flow of the digestion called “udvarta,” where there is upward, instead of downward, intestinal pressure. This can damage the ileocecal valve (ICV) and allow large intestinal microbes to migrate into the small intestinal. Today, this is called SIBO. Thirty years ago, we called it an “open ileocecal valve.” (2)
Change Your Gut Environment, Change your Gut Bacteria
Ayurveda maintained that the key is using kind and gentle therapies to restore an environment conducive for a healthy microbiome.
This was the original Ayurvedic strategy when addressing bacteria gone wild! Thousands of years ago “krimi” or bacterial imbalances were described, and the treatments were not to “kill anything,” but to change the environment. (5-7)
This insight is only now, thousands of years later, beginning to be understood by western medicine.
Addressing all of the issues mentioned above are critical in this process, but changing the intestinal environment is the always the first step. I call it starting from scratch inside the digestive tract.
With regard to balancing the intestinal environment and the microbes who reside there, I would be severely handcuffed if it were not for two LifeSpa Formulas: Slippery Elm Prebiotic Tea and Gut Revival probiotic. I often recommend these be taken together for just one month.
The goal here is to restore balance and not create a dependency on herbs, pills, or powders.
The Slippery Elm Prebiotic Tea contains chopped slippery elm, marshmallow root, and licorice root. This formula is boiled from 2 quarts of water to a ½ quart to make a thick, viscous, soluble fiber slime that is taken in tablespoon dosages throughout the day to coat the intestinal lining from top to bottom with a natural prebiotic soluble fiber slime.
These cooling herbs protect, soothe, soften, and lubricate the entire intestinal tract while laying down microbial superfood for a new stable of microbes. (9)
As soluble fiber is a no-no in cases of SIBO or candida, it is critical to do this only with the addition of the ingredients in the Gut Revival.
Gut Revival is a probiotic containing microbes that are antagonistic to the growth of candida and undesirable microbes who may want to take advantage of the soluble fiber just laid down. It also contains colonizing probiotics that adhere to the intestinal wall and support the proliferation of new and more diverse beneficial bacteria. (8)
This one-two punch is the kick-start needed to shift the gut microbiome back into balance.