5 Major Causes of Candida & SIBO

5 Major Causes of Candida & SIBO

In This Article

What are Candida and SIBO?

There are two common kinds of intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

The first, and most common, is when candida—a yeast, or fungus, that naturally occurs in the intestines—decides to 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 intestine migrate up into the small intestine and disturb the natural balance of beneficial microbes in the small intestine.

Both of these conditions can wreak havoc on mood, energy, digestion, brain power, joint health, and much more.

How to Treat Candida and SIBO and Maintain a Healthy Microbiome

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 the gut with probiotics, which, yes, were popular even 30 years ago!

The problem with that plan is that most of the candida-killing agents, whether antifungal medications or natural anti-microbial agents like wormwood, grapefruit seed extracts, or the antibiotic 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 It turns out that many 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 gut microbiome that lacks diversity and functional intelligence.1,4 which has left us vulnerable to the proliferation of numerous intestinal imbalances.

Listen to my podcast on this topic: Troubleshoot Your Intestinal Bacteria, Candida and SIBO.

5 Major Causes of Intestinal Overgrowth, SIBO, and Candida

Here are the most common dietary and health habits that lead to candida and SIBO vulnerability.

  1. Overuse of medications

Antibiotics and antacids have been shown to alter intestinal bacteria. Alternatives like Saccharomyces boulardii support healthy flora as they fight SIBO and candida.3

  1. Weak stomach acid production

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, which allows undesirable bacteria to proliferate and enter the small intestine.2

  1. Years of untreated elimination and gastrointestinal issues

Your intestinal skin is like the three little bears—it shouldn’t be too dry or too wet, it has to be just right for the proper bugs to thrive.2 Years of untreated constipation, gas, bloating, and more can result in intestinal imbalances that prevent good gut bugs from taking hold.

  1. A lifetime of processed and sweetened foods

Processed and packaged foods feed undesirable microbes and disturb a healthy microbiome.1,4

  1. Stress

In Ayurveda, stress causes a reverse flow of digestion called udvarta, in which 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 intestine. Today, this is called SIBO. Thirty years ago, we called it an “open ileocecal valve.”2

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The Ayurvedic Solution: Change Your Gut Environment, Change your Gut Bacteria

Ayurveda maintains that the key to healthy digestion 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

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.

There are two LifeSpa Formulas that can help: Slippery Elm Prebiotic Tea and Gut Revival probiotic. I often recommend taking these 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 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 kickstart you need to shift your gut microbiome back into balance.

Thank you for visiting LifeSpa.com, where we publish cutting-edge health information combining Ayurvedic wisdom and modern science. If you are enjoying our free content, please visit our Ayurvedic Shop on your way out and share your favorite articles and videos with your friends and family.

Dr. John


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9549102
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890937/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002586/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685866/
  5. http://www.jahm.in/index.php/JAHM/article/viewFile/353/pdf_143
  6. https://www.exoticindiaart.com/book/details/parasitology-in-ayurveda-NAE342/
  7. https://www.ancient.eu/The_Vedas/
  8. https://lifespa.com/gut-revival-back/
  9. https://lifespa.com/tea-psychic-bugs-slippery-elm-prebiotic-tea-formula/

43 thoughts on “5 Major Causes of Candida & SIBO”

  1. I’d like to know what dietary recommendations you have while trying to heal the digestive track. Thank you.

  2. John Hopikns Univ. study using herbs to Tx SIBO as opposed to Rifaximin showed it is as successful . I’m doing this herbal protecal now after tx with Rifaximin then SIBO returning. What probiotics are suggested after Tx as most are derived from dairy . Thank you ?

    • Hey Kathy, maybe try fermenting your own cabbage. It’s verrrry easy, just takes a couple days, maybe up to four. This would be fresh homemade sauerkraut. Most people react well to it, even if they have sensitivities. Once you have it made, you can either eat it straight OR (my favorite), juice some cabbage with a juicer in the morning and add some of the sauerkraut juice to it, let sit for a couple hours, then drink. Tons of different types of bacteria like to grow in ‘Kraut – more than you’d find in a reasonably-priced probiotic. Plus, if you don’t eat a lot of dairy, you can’t depend on dairy-based bacteria to keep healthy in your digestive system when you have infections of the bad ones. With Sauerkraut bacteria, you can continue to eat pretty much any sulfury green (kale, collards, brussels, broccoli, onion, chives, on-and-on) and the bacteria will literally thrive, inhibiting the bad stuff. As with any good probiotic supplement, you may have to adjust at first, so you might get strange tastes in your mouth after eating for a while. That’s a good sign, though! Sauerkraut isn’t the only good alternative to dairy probiotics, but in my opinion it’s the most effective for the smallest amount of time and money. (Also, if you find raw sauerkraut at the store, you can speed the process along. Just don’t depend on store-bought kraut solely for your bacteria – you know how much processing all that has to go through!)

      Hope this helps! 🙂 (Ps- all the above is just my opinion based on experience.)

  3. Are there any other way to prepare home made probiotic. I have thyroid problem and cannot eat lot of veggies like cabbage. Fermented foods give me an uncomfortable feeling. The dosas and Idli’s made from Rice + Urad Dal are too heavy on my kidney. Curds give me migraine in whatever form I eat. I tried taking as spiced up buttermilk but that also gives me terrible headache. All these problems have started only 5 years on wards. I suspect I have a leaky gut developed because of weak digestion.
    Currently I am trying to repair my gut. I am on veggies and fruit only diet. I have eliminated sugar , salt, oil and all root vegetables completely from my diet. From your blogs, I believe probiotics are important to rebuild the flora. But the probiotic ideas are not suiting me and I am determined to heal myself naturally.
    I intend to fix issues like inflammmation, gout, indigestion, constipation etc using only natural remedies. Is that possible at all?

    • Hi…

      Please search die off…Good foods (containing probiotics) might cause fungus/ yeast candida to die and while die-ing yeast releases toxins..your symptoms while eating fermented foods and yoghurt seems to be a die-off for you..

    • For your migraines, you must get Magrafew – it is a feverfew herb product. Stopped my migraines.
      Also for headache in the base of the brain and neck – get homeopathics: Natrum Sulphuricum 6x – complementary to Nat Sulph is Thuja 30c and Arsenicum 30c.
      For symptoms from curd, Colocynthis 30c (bitter cucumber), may work well with Staphysagria 30c first.
      A homeopath could help you, if you need more.

  4. Dear Dr. Douillard.
    Thank you for your steady offering of thoughtful and accessible explanations of deeply complicated systems!
    I have researched and managed my wavering candida and gut issues for many years….but a light bulb went on when I heard you describe ileocecal valve syndrome!
    Here s my question….
    Based on palpation, my doctor diagnosed my with an inguinal hernia on the right side, just where the valve is located. I was set to have the mesh repair surgery, but cancelled it because of travel opportunities and upcoming work teaching yoga. I also wanted to do more research.
    Could there be a misdiagnosis here? Given my history, my symptoms are more consistent with the SIBO and ileocecal issues.
    What should I request to get an accurate diagnosis? (Tests, etc.)
    Also, thanks for the left side sleeping tip…I have noticed that my digestion works better while sleeping on the other side of the bed on vacation!! Another light bulb…
    Thank you so much.

  5. I have both Candida and Sibo. Very high numbers of Sibo in the 90’s – both methane and hydrogen dominant after 3 cases of Cdiff. I had bought your Prebiotic tea and it greatly hurt my stomach. I had massive amount of pain, gas, bloating and severe discomfort so I discontinued. Do you think combining the Gut Revival with the Tea will continue to exasperate SIBO/Candida condition or I should try both in tandem for healing?

  6. My baby granddaughter was born with gastroschisis. Bowel outside. Her small intestine was damaged and was almost entirely removed. She is almost two now and still on feeding tube. On antibiotics constantly for bacterial overgrowth. Whenever they try probiotics for a week in between she gets terribly bloated and had to get back on antibiotics. Is there something that can be done for our little angel?

    • This is just a wild guess on an idea, but rather than standard probiotics, consider experimenting with organic barley malt and apple cider vinegar – mix a spoonful or two or barley malt with maybe 1-2 Tbsp bragg’s brand (or equivalent) apple cider vinegar. Let this sit for 10-20 minutes, and add hot water (just barely steaming). If you think this will cause cramping, bloating, etc, you can also add a little fennel seed powder (up to a teaspoon for a 2 year old – very gentle spice), maybe up to a half teaspoon of regular anise seed powder (not star anise). The idea of this is to get a small amount of probiotics from a natural source, but also to act like a very gentle multivitamin (barley malt gently fermenting from the vinegar) and digestion-enhancer. Kids generally take to barley malt very well, though some need it warmed up in water. In your daughter’s case, there’s a chance this combo will cause gas or too much fermentation, even if it’s very gentle – which is the reason for fennel and/or anise, which will both slow that all down and inhibit bad microbes.

      My best guess is that your granddaughter will need to focus on this throughout her life, but I think with your kindness and a good start, it can be manageable! And in some ways, it may turn out to be a blessing in the end, as things like this often do. It may not seem like it now of course, but my experience tells me that the ones who have the greatest struggles more often than not are the ones who have the richest lives, or make the biggest impacts on other people. Have faith and don’t give up! 🙂

      If probiotics don’t tend to “take” well, you can still get many of the benefits of probiotics without the bloat. Heavily fermented foods can be cooked (essentially pasteurized by boiling or heating), and served as a regular non-probiotic food, which will give your granddaughter a big boost of fermented nutrition without much risk of gas and bloating. This could be essential for her, as she won’t be making her own (in the bowels) at the same rate as other people.

      As for natural antibiotics, there are many good ones, some more gentle and some much stronger – and plenty of them will handle antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, which your granddaughter is likely to struggle against later due to the antibiotics. Blackseed (nigella sativa), black walnut hull, clove bud, essential oils (mainly external application, on skin with a carrier oil like sesame oil, but peppermint oil in 1-3 drop quantities may be fine to drip into something sweet like sugar or honey and take before meals to drastically reduce bloating – maybe 1-2 drops for a 2 year old), as well as low-dose oregano oil, pau d’arco, cat’s claw (uncaria tomentosa), tulsi (especially gentle; good as tea), and many, many more.

      To reduce problems that might occur due to her special situation, try to avoid very hot spices like cinnamon, as these are likely to increase fermentation and activity in the colon – even though they are also fine antibiotics. Play with them to see what works, but maybe avoid black pepper, and possibly avoid fenugreek too. Red pepper (and other very hot peppers, like jalapeno, etc) should probably be avoided to prevent cramping and problems, and to allow the remaining intestinal tract peace and quiet to do its job the best it can.

      Raw honey is a possible option as well, especially if it’s gently spiced with cardamom or dried culinary herbs like peppermint, basil, etc. These will help to prevent the wrong microbes from eating the honey, allowing it to act as a digestive, antibiotic, and maybe even a gentle probiotic for the right bugs. Honey is unlikely to cause bloating, especially with some gentle culinary herbs added. Tulsi’s another good one for this.

      At some point, you might try replacing the antibiotics entirely, either with your own herbal pills (guides available online to make your own capsules – don’t use gelatin capsules), or with some gentle herb-based antibiotics. When she’s older, of course, the herbal antibiotics could be used in greater amounts, or a stronger version could be used. But it’s best for her growth right now to focus on the gentlest medicines possible to achieve good results. Zinc lozenges (life extension or Ebby’s brands) cut into small pieces, maybe to go after a snack, could also be useful for preventing antibiotic-resistant microbes and calming troubled bowels – just careful not to overdo this, especially for kids – zinc does compete for absorption with other important minerals that kids need to grow. But whether or not she can tolerate zinc now, she should be able to in the future, and a high-quality variety (as mentioned above) could be a great health aid for her.

      One gentle probiotic that might be tolerated well is white miso. This is also called “shiro miso,” a variety mostly based on fermented rice. It’s less likely than standard probiotics and ferments to cause gas. People are often guided away from miso and other “koji spore” fermented foods, because of a negative view of fungi like molds used to create them. Koji is a mold, but will essentially replace or “shove out” candida and other problem-causing fungi, and will not generally cause problems itself. Fungi (like yeast) are always going to be present in a healthy digestive system, and some of them are quite useful and healthful. We can shove out the bad by introducing some good varieties. The safety of healthful fungi in fermented foods can be seen in Japan and China, where this type of probiotic is used on a daily basis by millions of people without ill effect. White miso can be served raw (make sure it’s labelled as raw, rice/soy based and traditionally fermented for this purpose) with rice, quinoa, and vegetables, or cooked (as in miso soup) in many different ways if you just want the nutrition without much probiotic-effect. Just keep in mind, cooking probiotic foods will generally not destroy all the probiotics within – just like humans, these microbes are fighters, and it’s nearly impossible to kill off all probiotic effects simply by cooking! Simply using them in cooking is still a great idea – sometimes smaller amounts of good bugs are better, which also seems to be what’s called for with your granddaughter.

      Organic sodium is another option for calming down a restless or gassy tummy. Miso contains an organic form of sodium (organic meaning “bound to organic molecules” like proteins), and like many vegetables is a gentle delivery food for healthier versions of glutamine, which is essential for troubled bowels. The bowels need larger amounts of glutamine to recover than most parts of the body, usually (and ironically) in the form of glutamates present in ferments, vegetables, etc. While all glutamate sources should be avoided in processed and pre-prepared foods, getting it in larger quantities from vegetables and other natural sources is going to be one priority for your granddaughter, either now or later in life. What remains of her digestive tract is going to have to break down and build up more than usual. Back to sodium: organically-bound sodium can be found in a number of watery foods, such as celery. You can’t always be sure there’s enough of this type of sodium in the diet, because of growing practice variation. For this reason, and because your granddaughter is more likely to be intolerant to milk (a great source for organic sodium), my recommendation is to be sure to find some more watery, ripe produce that suits her fine. Consider juicing milder vegetables, like cucumber, celery, and carrot – but maybe avoid the packaged juices at the store for this purpose, unless they’re tolerated far better.

      Licorice root is one medicine that could do a lot of good. Real licorice root (not the candy, and not “DGL” licorice) strongly protects the digestive system from bad microbes, and assists the good microbes in calmly co-existing with the body. It also helps the stomach and intestines to repair, and the liver to handle indigestion. Two year old girls can handle licorice, just in very small doses – maybe no more than a single capsule of licorice root powder with a meal. Oregon grape root (note: not grape seed extract) is another that can act as a digestive protectant with natural antibiotic properties – at maybe 1-3 capsules, only once per day, with a snack or something sweet, no more than two days per week for a two year old. Dosage and frequency can increase for both licorice and Oregon grape root when she’s older.

      Aloe vera is another that can help irritable bowels. This should be absolutely fine for your granddaughter, and should be fine to use in larger amounts. However, I don’t recommend the “bitter” variety for your granddaughter – distilled would be better. George’s brand could be a really great thing to try, as it contains zero bitterness, and almost zero taste – but amazingly, it does work quite well. It can be added raw to smoothies or practically any type of meal, just uncooked, or mixed with juices. In much larger doses it may cause water retention, a bit like licorice root – so for this type of aloe, simply try a very small dose to check her tolerance, and work her up to something like a half cup, even up to 5 times per week. George’s and other distilled aloes will not cause bathroom urgency like bitter aloe can sometimes do. It’s remarkably gentle compared to standard aloe.

      Ginger, coriander, fennel, anise, most culinary herbs (particularly sage and basil) – these are more gentle digestive aids that also inhibit bad microbes. Ashwagandha is great for children, though it doesn’t taste good. They might not notice it as a powder in stronger-tasting juices and foods – could be worth a shot. Ashwagandha will protect the immune system from antibiotic drug damage (as will licorice root, miso, pau d’arco, cat’s claw, and some of the other things I’ve mentioned).

      That’s what came to mind. Hope some of this helps you or others!

      • Oh, I forgot the part about a feeding tube. Still, there are creative ways to use the above mentioned foods and medicines. You’ll have to think outside of the box for this one for sure…!

  7. I have SIBO and I would like to try slippery elm prebiotic tea. HOWEVER, I have a strong sensitivity to licorice….it raises my blood pressure. Can you tell me the proportions for making the tea myself with just slippery elm bark and marshmallow root?

    • WOW. just read your comment…it’s now 2021. If you get this, I was diagnosed with HH and Barrett’s though I’ve been hugely health conscious most of my life. I don’t have an IC valve due to cecal valvulus. Started getting reflux 1.5 yrs ago and have Candida/SIBO. Despise cutting back on veggies but not sure if the fermentation of veg is aggravating things and just totally confused on what to eat at this point! Any advice, greatly appreciated.

  8. Hi John,
    After 13 years of an eating disorder, I am finally beginning to recover now the past 2 years. As a result, I have been diagnosed with SIBO and have a massive histamine intolerance too. I have amenorrhea and all the symptoms of hypothyroidism (however, thyroid levels are fine). Would you recommend particular products for the treatment of SIBO? I am trying to increase my agni as it is almost non existent. Thank you for your help. Jess

    • Hi Jess I just saw your comment. It’s been a few months but how are you faring? I work specifically with Ayurveda & healing from eating disorders ❤️

  9. I have sibo c and candida and parsites not the worm kind though any way would your product you mentioned above help all that? I have high histamine my adrenals are down I have leaky gut too.please reply

    • Hi Donita,

      Thanks for reaching out. It sounds like these protocols may help with the sibo and candida, however, to be sure, work closely with your doctor before starting any new protocol. You can also consider scheduling a consultation with Dr. John directly about this to get an individualized plan to address everything and find your appropriate balance.

      LifeSpa Staff

  10. What do you recommend for Chron’s? I have inflammation of the descending colon. I have been in remission for 5 years, but bloat easily and experience constipation about twice a week.

    • Hi Conchita,

      Medical advice is complex and often requires a dialogue best handled in-person or over the phone. You can call the front desk to be added to Dr. John’s consultation wait list and in the meantime work with your primary care physician.

      LifeSpa Staff

  11. I thought most probiotics except for soil based are bad for SIBO because there are already too many bacteria in the small intestine.

      • There is no such thing as ”bad’, bacteria in SIBO or Candida. Those are just bacteria that are not in the right amount, not in the right place. Stating that the bactaria are bad, seems very misleading…

  12. Hello sir
    Dealing with lot of gi issues gastritis gastropathy no galbladder rash candidiasis inf suspecting sibo veg not sure what food to take n medicines digestion very bad n bloating

  13. Would it be a good course of action to take these two supplements as a quarterly/2x year/1x annually to just keep good balance even if you weren’t necessarily suffering from candida or sibo? And if yes, how many times per year?

    • Hello Pam,

      Great question. That is all dependent on each person’s preferences and personal needs. Dr. John would be able to specifically see what your needs are in a consult.


      LifeSpa Staff

  14. Wonderful info as always. I’ve struggled with gut issues my whole life after years of antibiotics for acne, (what they prescribed in the 60’s/70’s.) Lots of constipation as a kid – terribly refined diet. Super health conscious since age 17…but constantly “putting out the latest fire.” In 2010 I had cecal valvulus and no longer have an IC valve. Struggling with what the heck to eat to prevent reflux, SIBO and Barrett’s esophagus. Thoughts?

    • Hi Stutee,

      Most of our formulas are not intended for use by pregnant women, however they possible can be used if breastfeeding. It would be best to consult you doctor!


      LifeSpa Staff

  15. Hi,

    I’d like to do the protocol that you are recommending in this article but I would like to have a bit more precise instructions.

    Do I take the Gut revival on an empty stomach or not? Shall I take them at the same time or apart from each other?

    Thank you for your answer,
    Dori Jo


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