Here’s what we’re going to cover
I’ll also describe the 4 different ways to test for Candida in the digestive tract, the challenges with each test, and when those tests work and when they don’t work.
1. The Stool Test
First let’s talk about what your regular doctor will probably do. When your regular doctor does a stool test, they specify to the lab what they want the lab to test for. And most doctors do not ask the lab to report on Candida, so you won’t get a Candida result. This is usually why it doesn’t show up.
And this is often true even when you ask them to test for Candida, because it’s not in their wheelhouse. That’s the first thing to know. Even your gastroenterologist probably has little interest in a Candida overgrowth in the digestive tract. It’s just not part of their specialty.
And even if they do test for it and see it, they’ll probably tell you that Candida in the digestive system is always normal, so they won’t want to treat it. That’s the first thing that you are up against.
Second, and this is really critical, even when you do look for Candida in the stool, about 50% of the time it won’t show. And I’m talking about that happening when you use super high quality DNA analysis of the stool that I’ve run on thousands of patients. It still won’t show up, and we later prove that it’s there.
Say what? That sounds like a lot of BS, right?
Well, it took me a lot of years to learn this, but that is exactly what happens. Candida can embed itself into the lining of the digestive tract and into biofilms, and not shed. And if it doesn’t shed into the stool sample, then there is nothing to be found, and the test results will be negative.
So even a negative stool test does not prove that you don’t have a Candida overgrowth. And I know this because I’ve treated hundreds, and probably over a thousand patients with antifungals when they had a negative stool test, and they got better! And those antifungals don’t treat anything else other than yeast. So it had to be there.
And keep this in mind. When Candida does show up in the stool, it’s often way worse in the digestive tract than it is in the stool sample, for the reason I just mentioned. The amount of Candida in the stool is just a small representation of what is actually present in the body.
2. Antibody Tests
You can also look for Candida antibodies in the blood. Candida antibodies, such as IgG and IgA antibodies against Candida, indicate that the immune system has formed a reaction against Candida, which means that Candida is present or has recently been present in the body.
It’s a nice supportive test, but in my experience Candida antibodies are very often low or not present, even when Candida is showing up in the stool test. So it’s not a very accurate test for Candida overgrowth in the digestive tract.
And unfortunately you can’t rule out a Candida overgrowth in the digestive tract with a Candida antibody blood test. But if you do have elevated antibody levels against Candida, it is usually a pretty good indication that Candida is present.
3. Urine Tests
Candida produce a lot of interesting chemicals, some of which can be measured in the urine. These include Arabinose and other organic acids. These chemicals are absorbed from the intestinal tract into the body, and then excreted in the urine.
Only very specialized and unique urine tests look for these kinds of chemicals in the urine. The urine tests run by your regular doctor or the gastroenterologist do not evaluate these kinds of organic acids. It’s probably not even worth asking them about it. You’ll need an IBS Specialist to help you with this.
But ironically, I”ve found that one of the better tests for evaluating a Candida overgrowth in the digestive system is a urine test!
4. Treating Presumptively
This is one of my favorite ways to find out of there is a Candida overgrowth. We treat you and find out what happens. This is how I figured out how important Candida overgrowths really are. I treated patients as if they were there, even when I only had symptoms to go on.
And low and behold, a lot of people got better. This is a great tool in the right hands, but I need to point out that treating Candida is a lot easier said than done. And if you think you’ve already done that, there’s an excellent chance that you haven’t. I have a separate video on that topic.
But here I’ll just say that there are many nontoxic ways to treat Candida that often tell us a whole lot more than most tests will tell us. Tests are great, but I’m more interested in the outcome of my patients than I am in the test results.
And keep in mind, that even after you’ve treated Candida and are feeling much better and the tests all look great, there is a high risk that it will come back. Candida just seems to be that way.
So don’t give up. As you now understand, it’s a challenging problem to assess and to find someone to help you with. And if you think that you might have a Candida overgrowth, you might be right! We’re here to help you figure that out if you need it.
Dr. Stephen Wangen is the award winning author of two books on solving digestive disorders, and a nationally recognized speaker on IBS. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio. He was recently named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.