From the Desk of Carolyn Dean MD ND

I’m sure my several years of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) was a combination of yeast overgrowth, the birth control pill (BCP), and stress with a history of childhood sugar addiction, leading to lots of colds, and consequently antibiotics.

Carolyn Dean MD ND

Irritating the GI Lining

Sugar is the best-loved food of yeast. Some people have been known to overeat sugar to such an extent that they produce alcohol from the yeast in their intestines and appear drunk. The Japanese call it drunken syndrome.

Yeast can create a leaky gut by irritating the GI lining. In some people, that irritation can be enough to cause symptoms of IBS. It also serves as a vehicle for toxins from yeast and abnormal bacteria to get into the bloodstream and cause widespread symptoms.

The yeast called Candida albicans naturally makes its home in the gastrointestinal tract; it is kept in tight control by the trillions of bacteria in the intestines. Periodically, under the influence of a variety of factors, such as antibiotics the BCP, steroids, cortisone, a high sugar diet, and stress, the yeast go wild. Budding yeast crawl up from the large intestine into the small intestine and morph into thread-like mycelia poking holes in the small intestine lining.

In medical school, doctors are taught that yeast is either a pesky vaginitis or an overwhelming blood infection in cancer or AIDS patients but actually yeast are lurking in our bowels and crowding out good bacteria.


Over the past several decades, the U.S. population has grown dependent on antibiotics to treat even minor infections. Their overuse has resulted in the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that have learned to outfox the most brilliant pharmaceutical scientists.

Antibiotics kill small, one-celled organisms; that’s their job. When we take them to stop a bad bacterial infection, however, they aren’t smart enough to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. Thus, even the good bacteria get wiped out. The fact that the good bacterial count diminishes with antibiotic treatment isn’t the end of the story. In the vacuum left after antibiotics wipe out the bacterial population of the gut, a normal gut fungus or yeast called Candida albicans takes up residence and can act as a trigger for IBS.

78 Waste Products

If a trillion bacteria are killed with a week’s worth of antibiotics, a trillion yeast can grow into that space. So far, scientists have identified 78 waste products of Candida albicans. The waste product that has been studied most is zymosan.

Zymosan is a constituent of yeast cell walls and consists of protein-carbohydrate complexes. It is so pro-inflammatory that it is used in experimental research to induce inflammation, including acute liver damage. Specifically, in macrophages it induces pro-inflammatory cytokines, arachidonate mobilization, protein phosphorylation, and inositol phosphate formation. Zymosan has been associated with psoriasis, and non specific skin rashes.

Another waste product is arabinitol, which has been shown to produce toxic effects on the brain and nervous and immune systems of animals.

Alcohol is also a byproduct of yeast overgrowth, so the bad joke here is that your intestines become a brewery. You can even have measurable blood alcohol levels with a bad case of Candida overgrowth! Japanese doctors call it the drunken disease.

Yeast Overgrowth

Yeast overgrowth can cause widespread symptoms that range from headaches, head congestion, depression, and anxiety to throat and chronic cold symptoms, swollen glands, coated tongue, gastric upset, gas and bloating, constipation or diarrhea, vaginitis, arthritis, cystitis, muscle and joint aches, and numbness and tingling of the extremities.

When you go to your doctor with gas and bloating but describe a whole laundry list of these other symptoms, his or her eyes may glaze over because they may not think of yeast overgrowth as the common and devastating problem that it really is. However, they may latch onto the alternating diarrhea and constipation and label you with IBS.

How do you prevent or combat an overgrowth of yeast? Here’s a hint: First, you starve it by avoiding sugar (even fruit sugar), gluten, and dairy. Next, you add probiotics -good bacteria -to your diet, either by eating yogurt or taking probiotic capsules like humic/fulvic acid. Then you move in for the kill, eating lots of garlic, taking natural antifungals like Saccharomyces bourlardii and anti-infective formulas that include stabilized ions of picometer silver.

Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future