I’ve discussed the extremely important health condition, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, a number of times, as it is present at epidemic proportions and for the most part not being diagnosed nor managed in conventional doctors’ offices. The Wheat Belly and Undoctored lifestyles provide a powerful start in reversing this condition, but additional steps are often necessary. A number of people in our Undoctored Inner Circle, for instance, have identified their own SIBO and then managed it successfully with the help of our Virtual Meetup discussions, even after doctors advised them that there is no such thing, or it was stupid, or received other unhelpful responses.
There is a related condition, intestinal fungal overgrowth, in which fungi proliferate, most commonly Candida albicans, in the colon, small intestine, stomach, even esophagus and mouth. Like SIBO, fungal overgrowth is common. While we know more about SIBO than fungal overgrowth, there are some important features to fungal overgrowth you should know about:
- Fungal overgrowth is caused by many of the same causes as SIBO, such as prior grain and sugar consumption; too much alcohol; antibiotic exposures; herbicide/pesticide exposures; any form of intestinal inflammation.
- Fungal overgrowth is associated with many of the same symptoms as SIBO such as IBS-like symptoms; persistent skin rashes, especially eczema; persistent allergies; persistent or new autoimmune conditions—even after all the components of the Wheat Belly lifestyle or Undoctored Wild, Naked, Unwashed program have been followed.
- Any inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease is associated with a high likelihood of fungal overgrowth. (It is not clear whether irritable bowel syndrome is associated.)
I won’t kid you: Managing SIBO on your own is sometimes a bit complicated. Our weekly Undoctored Virtual Meetups, I believe, are therefore helpful to navigate the finer points to know, for instance, when empiric management is acceptable without H2-breath testing, how to choose an herbal antibiotic regimen, how to stack the odds in your favor to prevent recurrences (which are common) and perhaps monitor with the new Aire device.
Fungal overgrowth is easier to identify than SIBO, as we have easy stool tests to identify the condition. Treatment options have also expanded enormously in the past few years. We now have these wonderfully concentrated phytochemicals called essential oils that are not just effective anti-fungal agents, but are more potent—and safer—than conventional anti-fungal drugs. For instance, if you were in the hospital with a serious Candidal infection of an artificial heart valve or other prosthesis, the device has to be surgically removed and you are treated with drugs like Amphotericin B, a highly-toxic anti-fungal drug. Several essential oils are more effective than even Amphotericin B against Candida and other fungi. (Essential oils cannot be used as intravenous treatment, but can be taken orally and topically.) The mixture of terpenes and terpenoids that are contained in essential oils also disrupt the biofilm that Candida loves to produce, i.e., the mucousy film it produces that makes it difficult to eradicate, something that conventional anti-fungals do not do. Unlike our discussions about SIBO in which we question whether addition of a biofilm disrupter such as N-acetyl cysteine is helpful, essential oils have their own built-in biofilm-disrupting capacity. There are also some moderately effective herbal choices to reduce fungal populations such as turmeric.
The Wheat Belly and Undoctored lifestyles achieve extraordinarily positive results. But, like SIBO, there can be issues that can persist even after these powerful strategies. Add fungal overgrowth to the list. If you would like a more extended conversation with details on how to test for fungal overgrowth, which essential oils and herbal preparations are the best choices and at what dose, I invite you to join the discussions on our Undoctored Inner Circle.