Candida and acid reflux are connected : I’ve seen many references to yeast overgrowth, or candidiasis, or Thrush, in the intestine being a cause of acid reflux.
Candida is thought to contribute to acid reflux by causing an excess of gas in the gut, thereby putting pressure on the valve at the top of the stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter. This, in turn allows highly corrosive stomach acid to escape into the esophagus, or food pipe, which can be damaged as a result.
Candida is the term for a group of organisms including moulds and fungi which live all around us. One family, Candida Albicans, lives in all mucus membranes, i.e. intestines, eyes, ears, bladder, stomach, lungs, vagina, etc. It is one of the billions of friendly organisms that serve a useful purpose in the body.
One of its important functions is to recognise and destroy harmful bacteria, but if it gets out of control it can cause (it is claimed by a wide body of people) a whole range of ailments (see ref 1. below), including acid reflux and heartburn.
A highly popular treatment course for acid reflux and heartburn, Jeff Martin’s “Heartburn No More“, is based on eliminating excess candida in the body.
Read on below…
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How are Candida and Acid Reflux Linked?
The mechanism which links candida and acid reflux is thought to involve the larger colonies of candida in the gut and stomach producing gas, which in turn puts abnormal pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing gas and some of the contents of the stomach – including acid – to escape into the esophagus.
This mechanism is also thought to be a principal contributor to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Other commentators also contribute the excess production of gas to other micro-organisms, such as the H.Pylori bacteria, which is widely connected with GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease) (ref 2.)
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Causes of Yeast Overgrowth
So what causes the normally balanced colonies of friendly candida to run amok, thereby associating candida and acid reflux? It is thought that there are 2 principal reasons, both of which are endemic to our modern way of life:
The first is related to killing off the other friendly bacteria, which normally keeps the candida in balance, through the use of antibiotics; candida seems to be particularly resistant to antibiotics.
The second is the epidemic of excess sugar and carbohydrate intake in our diets – candida feeds off these food groups, and accordingly multiplies at an excessive rate.
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There are a number of recommended ways of tackling excessive candida, and thereby relieving heartburn. These broadly fall into the following steps: removing the causes, killing the overgrowth, and replacing the “good” bacteria.
- Removing the Causes
There is a huge list of possible causes of candida overgrowth which touch on almost every aspect of modern life, from silver (mercury) fillings to flouridated water.
One list can be found at ref 3, below. I have to say that I think a sense of proportion is required if you’re to avoid being overwhelmed by the problem, and there seems to be little evidence that many of the “causes” can be linked to yeast overgrowth.
However, antibiotics do seem to be mentioned consistently as a prime cause, so it is probably best to resist their use unless absolutely necessary, and a wholesome, low carbohydrate diet, at least for a while, would be advisable. Also, cutting back on sugar in all its forms – including fructose in fruit – is widely suggested.
- Killing the Overgrowth
There are prescription medicines available through your doctor which will tackle candida quickly – these are outlined in the table below (source ref 4, below), but the side effects should be discussed with your doctor, as they could put stress on the liver.
- eating raw, crushed garlic (though for some people this could be a trigger for acid reflux – you will need to experiment).
- Drinking raw apple cider vinegar – more on this here.
- Taking Olive leaf extract. A highly rated brand can be found on Amazon here.
- Drinking Pau D’Arco Herbal Tea , Taheebo or Lepacho tea – the bark of a rainforest tree. Pau D’Arco tea can be found on Amazon here
- Taking the probiotic Saccharomyces Boulardii. Amazon’s choice can be found here.
- Using Caprylic Acid, which is a natural dietary fatty acid. Studies have shown that Caprylic Acid helps inhibit the growth of candida. Amazon’s choice, which is highly rated, can be found here.
Replacing the good bacteria
Once the process to eliminate the candida has started, advice suggests replacing the good bacteria which have been lost, and to achieve a balance in the gut. There are a number of ways of doing this, including taking live yogurt, and eating bacteria rich foods such as Sauerkraut. A highly rated, organic, sauerkraut can be found on Amazon, here.
There is substantial comment upholding the benefit of probiotics, not just in general health, but especially in fighting candida and replenishing the good bacteria in the gut (ref 5.). A best selling multi probiotic can be found here.