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Is Candida Overgrowth Real?

Published date: June 6, 2023 | Modified date:
by Dr Stephen Wangen


In my long career as an IBS specialist, I have been continuously fascinated by how common and how much impact Candida can have on the digestive tract, and how slow the general medical community has been to recognize it’s significance. There are many reasons for this, so let’s find out, Is Candida overgrowth real?

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 25 years learning about and studying the affects of Candida on the digestive system as well as the entire body, and I’ve learned a few things and continue to be surprised by impact that this unique organism has on us.

Candida is a yeast, or a fungus, or you can even call it a mold.   Whatever you call it, it’s a type of microorganism, or microbe, that is distinctive from bacteria. Everyone has heard of bacteria, but not everyone is as familiar with Candida. Candida and bacteria are similar in that they are both microscopic and can both cause problems, but they are also very different in how they behave.

Candida OvergrowthCandida are very common, as are bacteria. They are everywhere in our environment. But that doesn’t mean that they are common in our digestive tract, at least not in large amounts.

However, in my practice Candida is one of the most common problems that I encounter. And yet most other doctors say that it’s normal to have Candida, or that it really isn’t a problem, or that the problem doesn’t even exist. So how do I know it’s a problem?  Because when we treat those patients for Candida, they get better.

So why don’t most doctors believe in or understand the significance of Candida overgrowth in the digestive system?  For one, their medical training doesn’t cover it.  I had to learn most of what I know through experience, not in medical school.

Secondly, it’s very difficult to test for. Candida loves to hide, and it’s not easy to pick up on tests. And sometimes we even have to rely on your history and your symptoms in order to figure out if you have it.

As an example, you may have heard of oral thrush. This is when you have a white coating on your tongue.  This white coating is usually Candida in the mouth. But you can’t just swab it and send it to the lab for diagnosis. You have to literally scrape the tongue in order to get an accurate sample.  That might give you some idea about how difficult it is to test for. So most doctors, even when they can see it, treat it under the assumption that the Candida is present.

As an aside, I’d like to remind you that the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the digestive system. If you’ve got Candida there, then you usually have it further down, because you’ve been swallowing it. Although you don’t have to have it in the mouth in order to have it lower in the digestive tract.

Another challenge with understanding the significance of Candida is that you have to use unique medications or treatments in order to treat it. It does not respond to the kinds of antibiotics that you use for bacteria. And even when you do have the proper treatment, it’s still very challenging to treat. It doesn’t go away easily.

Taking all of these things into account, it has been very difficult for the medical system as a whole to develop a clear appreciation for Candida overgrowths in the digestive tract. And ironically, the anecdotal information that you can find on the internet about Candida overgrowth is often correct and is generally WAY ahead of the medical system. I can’t say that about a lot of things, but it this case it’s true.

So don’t despair if your doctor poo poos the idea that you might have a Candida overgrowth. They simply don’t understand it. You’ll need to see someone who does, and hopefully someone who has a lot of experience treating it.

I realize that I left a lot of questions unanswered. In this video I just wanted to give you a sense about why Candida in the digestive system is such a challenging topic in the medical community.  Look for my other videos on The Symptoms of Candida, How to Test for Candida, How to Treat Candida, The Candida Die Off problem, Brain fog, and Why We Are So Susceptible to Candida.