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In last month’s column we discussed the most important natural agents for killing Candida overgrowth in the body. We reviewed some of the recent studies highlighting undecylenic acid, oregano oil, clove oil, and berberine and found that these nutrients not only inhibit the growth of Candida but they also prevent Candida from converting into its more harmful state (hyphae). In this column we will look at the use of probiotics to treat Candida overgrowth.

What are Good Bacteria?
Our GI tract is lined with billions of our own cells. Along this lining is billions or trillions of bacterial cells. There is actually more cells of bacteria in our GI tract than our own cells in the GI tract. We have a relationship with these bacteria where in exchange for a place to live (inside us) the bacteria are expected to perform a number of duties. These responsibilities include producing vitamin B12, filtering wastes, and killing pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and yeasts.

How does an Imbalance Effect Candida Overgrowth?
If the balance of microbiotic life inside our GI tracts gets out of whack, digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea may result. These symptoms typically arise in part because of the harmful effects of the wrong type of bacteria and yeast species overpopulating the GI tract. The naturally beneficial bacteria are supposed to keep things in check but if they are out-competed by Candida or other less desirable species further imbalances are likely.

What is a Good Probiotic?
A good probiotic supplement should have a number of attributes. It should contain billions, not millions of bacteria per serving. In fact, it takes at least 30 billion to make a therapeutic impact. A good probiotic should be resistant to acid and bile so that it can pass through the stomach and make it to the intestines. A good probiotic should contain multiple strains of bacteria, including the most dominant species like acidophilus and bifidus. Using only one or two strains is not as effective as using 5–10 strains in a product. Finally, a good probiotic should be tested to ensure the claims on the bottle are true.

What Probiotic Do I Prescribe?
I prescribe a few different types of probiotics depending on the patient and the condition. When it comes to treating Candida, I use a probiotic that contains certain bacterial strains that have research showing their effect against Candida. These strains include Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus casei.

In next month’s column we will investigate the importance of detoxifying the body during Candida treatment.

Dr. Brent Barlow

Dr. Brent Barlow is a naturopathic physician and author of the book series, To Feel Well. The first book in the series is now available. Click Here for more information or to purchase Improve Your Digestive System. He is an expert in the field of integrative and holistic healthcare and has a special interest in treating cardiovascular, hormonal, inflammatory, and digestive system disorders. He is board certified to utilize advanced integrative procedures like intravenous nutrient infusions, prolotherapy, neural therapy, and hormone prescription. Dr. Barlow is a graduate of the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver and practices in Kelowna, British Columbia.