3 of My Favorite Ways to Treat Candida and IBS

By Dr. Nicole Cain ND, MA


Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) isn’t uncommon. In fact, about 10 to 15% of adults in the US suffer from IBS, which makes it one of the most frequent digestive problems. But did you know that this condition can be related to having the common fungus Candida in your body?

Candida is a yeast-like fungus that usually lives in your mouth, gut, vagina, or skin and is a normal part of the body’s microbiota. The small amounts of this fungus are not harmful to your health, and even more — it strengthens your immune system. However, the same can’t be said about Candida overgrowth in your body — a condition that poses a serious threat to your digestive health.

In this article, we’ll explore the connection between Candida and IBS, find out the reasons for Candida overgrowth in your body, and discuss possible ways to reduce the severity of your IBS developed as a result of Candida fungus.

What is Candidiasis?

Candida is a type of yeast that is naturally found in the human body, particularly in the mouth, gut, and vagina. In small amounts, candida is harmless and even beneficial, helping to aid digestion, protect us from heavy metal and other types of environmental toxicity, and fight off harmful bacteria. However, when candida overgrows, it can lead to a condition called candidiasis, which can cause a variety of health problems.

There are many reasons candidiasis may occur, here are some of the most common reasons for the overgrowth of candida:

According to the CDC statistics, about 25,000 individuals develop candidiasis (candidemia, in particular) every year. It turns out that this infection can develop in all age groups, including infants.

Candidiasis can occur in several forms, including:

  1. Oral thrush: A fungal infection of the mouth and throat that can cause white patches on the tongue, throat, and gums.
  2. Vaginal yeast infection: A fungal infection that affects the vagina, causing itching, burning, and discharge.
  3. Skin and nail infections: Candidiasis can also affect the skin and nails, causing redness, itching, and scaling.
  4. Systemic candidiasis: In rare cases, candidiasis can become systemic and spread throughout the body, potentially causing serious infections and complications.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

If you chronically struggle with symptoms such as bloating, cramps, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, or constipation, chances are you’re among those suffering from a condition called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

The exact cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a complex interaction between various factors, including:

  1. Abnormal gastrointestinal motility: People with IBS may have abnormal muscle contractions in their gut, causing food to move too quickly or too slowly through the digestive system.
  2. Visceral hypersensitivity: People with IBS may be more sensitive to pain and discomfort in their digestive tract, even feeling discomfort from normal contractions.
  3. Gut-brain axis dysfunction: There is a strong connection between the gut and the brain, and people with IBS may have an abnormality in this bidirectional communication pathway.
  4. Intestinal inflammation: Some people with IBS may have inflammation in their gut.
  5. Psychological factors: Stress, anxiety, and depression may all play a role in the development and exacerbation of IBS symptoms.
  6. Food sensitivities: Some people with IBS may have specific food sensitivities that trigger their symptoms.
  7. Microbial imbalances: The gut microbiota (the community of microorganisms that live in the gut) tends to be less diverse in individuals with IBS.

It’s important to note that IBS is a complex condition and the causes can vary from person to person.

Let’s explore the gut-brain axis component in a little more detail.

According to Premysl Bercik, professor of medicine and psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, disruption in the gut-brain axis– the bidirectional communication between the central and enteric nervous systems–can lead to abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation (both of which are some of the most common symptoms of IBS).

Clinical trials have also revealed that the gut microbiome plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome. For instance, a 2019 study published in Frontiers aimed to examine the potential role of the gut microbiome in the development of this syndrome (Gu et al., 2019). The results suggest that people who have an overgrowth of Candida and decreased mycobiome diversity have high levels of inflammatory markers. The reason is that pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) activate proinflammatory reactions to fight against Candida’s overgrowth.

However, people can’t always notice the signs of inflammation in their bodies. This can be explained by hyperpathia or a reduced threshold for pain sensation. This condition is known as “enhanced visceral perception” in the gut. And as it turns out, candidiasis is associated with this condition — since uncontrolled inflammation damages the intestinal wall, and pathogens, yeasts, and other agents enter the blood.

How is IBS Connected with Mood?

Even though Irritable Bowel Syndrome isn’t directly related to mood disorders, there is a statistically significant connection between these two conditions.

According to research, individuals diagnosed with mental health disorders such as depression, anorexia nervosa, anxiety, autism spectrum, and schizophrenia commonly also have corresponding candidiasis overgrowth in their digestive tracts (Gu et al., 2019).

The gut microbiome also affects the cortisol level in our blood, contributing to conditions associated with imbalances in our hormones, altered function of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

3 Ways to Treat Candida & IBS

Considering that the comorbidity of candida and IBS is a complex problem, the treatment options vary from individual to individual.

While oral antifungal medications can effectively reduce some of the symptoms, patients also need to discuss other symptoms with their doctors and consider possible accompanying problems such as a lack of diversity in the gut microbiome, visceral hypersensitivity, depression, or anxiety.

Let’s explore three holistic remedies to treat candida and IBS:

1.   Probiotics to restore microbial health

While probiotics can help you maintain a healthy balance in your body and strengthen your immune system in general, they can also promote your microbial health by reducing inflammation and restoring the gut cells.

According to a systematic review of the effectiveness of probiotics in the treatment of IBS (Li et al., 2020), probiotics improved the symptoms of IBS, such as bloating and flatulence, in the majority of participants. Omni-Biotic 10 tends to be one of the most effective probiotics for this condition (use code DrCain15 to get 15% off every order). Keep in mind that the probiotic should contain active strains of the following substances:

2.   Antifungal medications

Taking anti-fungal medications is a typical treatment for candidiasis, as they can eliminate the infection in your body. Some studies prove that peppermint, caraway oils, and other natural antifungal remedies may also effectively relieve candida and IBS symptoms (Li et al., 2019).

3.   Natural supplements to prevent “leaky gut”

And the third way to support your gut integrity and relieve candida and IBS is by taking natural supplements. For example, studies suggest that L-glutamine can help patients avoid “leaky gut” and accompanying inflammation. The reason is that it takes part in restoring tight junctions in the gastrointestinal wall (Bertrand et al., 2015).

You can find supplement options at my supplement shop here!

(You will need to create an account to browse and order, it’s free to create one and gives you access to 1,000’s of high quality products!)

Concluding Remarks

There are amazing gut-healing, candida and IBS soothing recipes that you can gain access to in the Holistic Wellness Collective! Register today!

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Whenever considering changing your protocol whether it includes a change of medications, supplements, diet or lifestyle, always speak with your primary care physician first.

Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational free resources, online courses, and membership group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.