I just finished reading a great blog post[i] (by a post-doc scientist at the NIH) on the current state of research into the mycobiome and its effects on inflammatory bowel disease. I learned several new things…and some things are just so important, they’re worth repeating:
- Those with inflammatory bowel disease have higher levels of antibodies in their blood to a yeast called Saccaromyces cerevisiae. Those with IBD also are more likely to have mutations in genes that are needed to activate an immune response to fungi. Thus, dysbiosis of the mycobiome is common in those with IBD, including higher levels of Candida and an abnormal ratio between various fungal species.
- It is not yet known whether this mycobiome dysbiosis is the cause or an effect of IBD.
- Research in mice shows that giving S. Cerevisiae to germ-free mice exacerbates the symptoms of IBD. The yeast causes a build up of uric acid in the intestines which, in turn, over-excites the gut’s immune cells so that they start to attack the intestine itself.
- As I’ve written about before, there is a bi-directional relationship between the bacteria and the yeasts of the gut. Giving anti-fungals changes the amounts of different bacteria in the gut and giving antibiotics causes alterations in the mycobiome. In fact, antibiotic use can cause such an overgrowth of yeast that it can lead to something called “fungal bloom” (a term I’d not heard before). Apparently, a fungal bloom can potentially lead to blood poisoning (systemic candidiasis) which, even when treated, as a 50% mortality rate.
- Perhaps most importantly of all, simply giving those with IBD antifungals does not work. What seems to happen instead is that the medications only kill off the weakest of the fungi, leaving the resistant strains to grow unchecked. In mouse experiments, those with IBD treated with anti-fungals actually developed worse IBD. This fungal dysbiosis is exactly what is seen in humans with IBD.
As I read this, I thought about the vast amounts of antibiotics thrown at those with Lyme, autism, PANS/PANDAS, etc, which is especially destructive when the antibiotics are given often so early in life. It’s no wonder, really, that recovery from these is so incredibly difficult.