Treatment of Yeast Overgrowth
A previous article spoke about the damaging effects on our overall health and functioning caused by yeast overgrowth. This article will focus on the treatment of yeast overgrowth. In general, treatment of yeast overgrowth can include medication, supplements, special diets, or a combination of these. If you suspect yeast overgrowth, it is important to begin a course of treatment as soon as possible.
In review, the most common symptoms of yeast overgrowth include:
- Distended stomach
- Constipation or Diarrhea
- Yeast infections (vaginal, nail fungus, athlete’s foot, or thrush)
- Itchiness in warm moist areas such as elbows, knees, or genitals
- Fogginess, difficulty concentrating, poor memory
- Irritability or restlessness
- Inappropriate laughter
- Seeming drunk
- Craving for sugar and fruits
- Continual nasal congestion or runny nose
One thing that can be done right away while seeking further treatment is to eliminate all sources of sugar from the diet, including fruits and fruit juices. Yeast survives on sugar. This will not eliminate the yeast that is already present, but it will assist in preventing more yeast from being created. If you suspect yeast, but are not sure your child has overgrowth, there are a few courses of action. You can begin by having a test done to look for signs of yeast. There are a few different tests that can be run. These include the urinary organic acid test (OAT), digestive stool analysis, or a blood test for candida antibodies. Sometimes more than one test may be necessary, as yeast may not always show up on a single test. It is possible for a person to have a negative result on a test but still suffer from yeast overgrowth, which leads to the second way of determining if yeast is present.
Trying a yeast elimination diet and protocol is another option for testing for yeast overgrowth. Some parents choose this route in addition to, or instead of an actual medical test. The following are “typical” yeast elimination protocol.
- Yeast Elimination Diet – There are a variety of yeast elimination diets that can be followed, and it can sometimes be difficult to know which one will work best for your child. The best course of action, if you are not working with a dietician or nutrition consultant is to research each of the diets, before choosing one. Try the diet for a minimum of six weeks, and note any changes you see during this time. If there are no noticeable changes after six weeks of faithfully following the diet, it may be worth trying another diet. Most yeast elimination diets recommend doing them for 3 months or more. Some people are able to be on a yeast elimination diet for 3 months, and then are able slowly to resume eating forbidden items. Others must remain on the yeast elimination diet for a longer period, or even for life. Each person is different and it can be difficult to determine who will respond within a few months and who will need a longer course of treatment. Some of the more popular yeast elimination diets include the Yeast/Body Ecology diet, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), GAPS, and the Paleolithic diet.
- Antifungals– Many people suffering from yeast overgrowth need a prescription antifungal in addition to changing their diet. Antifungal medications include Nystatin, Diflucan, Nizoral, Sporanox, and Lamisil. If you work with a DAN (Defeat Autism Now) doctor, you may also be prescribed Amphotericin B; but this can only be obtained from a compounding pharmacy. The most effective protocol seems to be a rotation of several of these antifungal medications over a 3-6 month or longer period, depending on the severity of the yeast overgrowth.
- Herbal Remedies – There are a variety of herbal remedies that can be used alone or in conjunction with antifungal prescriptions. These remedies can be used to support elimination of yeast, combat yeast die off, protect liver function, and/or relieve headaches, muscle or joint aches. Some helpful herbs include grapefruit seed extract, garlic, oregano oil, Oregon grape root, and Indian fire tree bark.
- Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes – Probiotics help to crowd out yeast, and provide an environment that does not allow yeast to grow. They are a key part of the anti-yeast process, but will not effectively eliminate yeast on their own. Digestive enzymes work to kill yeast. Utilizing both digestive enzymes and probiotics can be very effective in creating a healthy digestive environment.
- Daily multivitamin and mineral supplement – Utilizing a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains biotin, vitamin C, and selenium will assist in keeping the immune system strong.
The elimination of yeast overgrowth can be a slow process; but without it, the overgrowth can have long lasting physical and behavioral effects. Recognizing the signs and symptoms as early as possible can make a world of difference in the overall health and well-being of the person affected.