Candida, SIBO and… Silver?

A brief bit of background: my mother took lots of antibiotics, from the 1950s onward, and was on Tetracyline when pregnant. I got my gut flora from her, as anyone would, but was born prematurely and spent 2 months in an isolette. This means I acquired the rest of my microbiome in a hospital, before heading home. I think it’s safe to say I’ve have had yeast issues for most of my life. My entire family did.

The standard medical attitude about candida continues to be “it doesn’t exist in anyone unless they are immune compromised”. My gut flora was damaged pre-birth, then I had a family doctor who prescribed antibiotics for a simple cough, or the sniffles, I’ve since been hit with Cipro and Levaquin (fluoroquinolone antibiotics) at least a dozen times, so from a modern understanding of gut-immune function, I am immune-compromised!

I got toenail fungus at an early age, developed sinus trouble (more antibiotics!) and have since read reputable sources saying most sinus issues are fungal. Candida? Maybe so, but the type of fungus is moot. Next I got asthma, seasonal allergies, then ulcerative colitis, then severe food intolerance. At no point along that path did any doctor say I needed to heal my microbiome, or go on a paleo diet, so if they didn’t understood something so basic, I can’t put much stock in their wholesale dismissal of candida overgrowth.

Here’s the good part — I’ve been getting better ever since I started paying attention to gut health. It’s simple. Lower carb is healing — sugar is bad. Probiotic foods are a “yes” — antibiotics are an emphatic “no” (unless utterly essential). It’s been a wonderful road back for me, with every single health condition.

I’ve recently discovered antibiotics very likely destroyed the fragile, butyrate-producing bacteria in my gut, and butyrate heals inflammation  — while also being anti-fungal. No wonder homemade sodium butyrate enemas have been so helpful for my ulcerative colitis flares. I believe butyrate could certainly help others with IBD, including Crohn’s disease. It may even play a role in protecting the upper gut (small intestine) from development of SIBO. Speaking of…

Early this week, a Monday, I’d just started a new job. I didn’t have time to fix my own lunch from home, so I had to fend for myself in the usual higher-carb, sugary restaurants. I found a beef roast with sides. The meat portion was tiny, covered with a sweet gravy. Roasted potatoes and green beans rounded it out, but that same sauce was all over the veggies. I was so hungry I ate every potato. Normally only eat about 3 oz of them a day. I’d been in good shape, gut-wise, for so long, I could afford to cheat, right? Wrong! By morning, I could tell I had yeast overgrowth. My gut had zero peristalsis, I had bad tinnitus, which for me is usually a sign of SIBO returning, my breathing was restricted, sinuses were inflamed, and energy was in the tank.

I’d had had such luck with yogurt, in recent weeks, I decided to eat two pints, the following day at work. Apparently the candida had done such a job slowing down my gut, the yogurt just sat there. Candida has been slowly digesting us since day one. I believe it uses “host manipulation“, which is what many successful parasites do. People with yeast overgrowth often crave sweets and alcohol. I know I have in the past, and I didn’t lose that until I started removing yeast from my body.

Hyphal Form Candida

It makes sense: if candida creates sweet tooths to feed itself, why wouldn’t it also emit chemicals to slow down gut transport, to more effectively eat our food? This may explain why so many of us are underweight, or constipated, and could be a strong hypothesis for alcoholism. Here’s a very interesting thread exploring a connection between SIBO and candida. Normally benign, its invasive (hyphal) form is thought to just be a symptom of dysbiosis. A healthy array of commensal bacteria should curb overgrowth. However, for those who’ve had hyphal form for decades, we need to deal with it.

I am hosting hookworm right now, for food intolerance, asthma, IBD, so I can’t take oregano oil, olive leaf, berberine, even peppermint, without killing them. Colloidal silver is an antibiotic, but it will just stun them for a few days.  Numerous articles discuss a rare condition called agyria, where people who consumed massive amounts of silver turned their skin a bluish tint. I have taken only 3 courses, a few weeks at a time, in the last 4 years. I’m not worried about changing color!

So back to the problem at hand, by the end of day 2 my entire back was sore, where it was nearly impossible to walk. I have a specific pull-pattern where one rib gets dislocated, and it happens most often when my gut is unhealthy. Lipopolysaccharide, a bacterial endotoxin, may be the root of this inflammation. That night, I simply couldn’t find any position to lie in, and insomnia made everything worse. I spiked a fever from the SIBO, which is rare for me, and my lungs felt like bronchitis was developing.

Most people would have gone to the doctor at this point, and been prescribed antibiotics, but I don’t tolerate most of them, and would rather use an antimicrobial that kills both bacteria and yeast.

The morning of day 3, I still had a fever, and started with 1 ounce of 500 ppm (parts per million) colloidal silver in a pint of distilled water, which makes it about 33 ppm. This is a safe level, in my opinion, especially since I take it very rarely. It has had a long history as an antibiotic before the modern pharma-industry developed conventional antibiotics. Here’s a study showing silver’s effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant strains. I’ve read other sources claiming it “smothers” both good and bad bugs. Its effect on candida is confirmed by several studies.

To deal with my lungs I used 30 ppm silver in a miniature glass spray bottle. 5 puffs every two hours. So how did it all go? Interestingly, the oral silver seemed to get my gut moving, and my stools were soft but formed. I’m thinking this relates to a lower yeast population in the gut. A few hours after starting inhalation, my lungs were clear, the fever broke, and I’m still feeling pretty good. I’ve read articles where doctors used CS in a nebulizer to treat people with AIDS-related lung infections, so this seems like a solid approach. It protects weak patients like me (who are immune compromised) from gut-damaging systemic antibiotics.

What’s my takeaway? Buying silver is expensive, and I normally make my own, using a cheap generator, that tests out about 17 ppm. The cost of home-brewed is pennies per pint. I plan to use the silver orally and as a spray mist only if needed, for the next few days, then I’ll go back to cultured foods like homemade kefir, raw sauerkraut. Silver is best used sparingly. I prefer adding healthy flora to my gut, not killing friend and foe alike. I also take Prescript Assist, VSL #3, and LifeStart powder now, as probiotics, plus an occasional butyrate enema. This is what works, and I’ll keep it up, but perhaps the moral to this story is, the next time I’m late for work, I’ll stop and cook my own, sugar-free, lower-carb lunch!

PS: for those interested in learning more about colloidal silver, here’s a great group on Facebook: Colloidal Silver, Pro & Con, where all points of view are appreciated. And keep in mind all the usual caveats apply: ask your doctor before trying any new therapy.

Chronic Fatigue/POTS/IBD & the Gut-Neck Axis

“I worked with a chiropractor prior to my orthopedic neck surgery. As I described my FM/CFS symptoms, he said, “What did you do to your neck?” I mentioned I’d been in a serious car accident 10 years earlier, sustaining a whiplash injury. He said he had yet to meet a patient with CFS who didn’t have a history of neck trauma. He said there was a theory that any sort of injury to the cervical spinal column either released a component that led to the disease, or allowed one to enter the spinal fluid.”

 

The quote above was lifted from the comments section in a 2007 article on chronic fatigue, which is interesting in its own light, as it discusses a viral hypothesis for CFS/ME. Rather than going into this now, which is plausible to me based on the positive impact of FMT on CFS, considering a healthy microbiota is likely to be inherently anti-viral, I’d rather stick with a discussion of the biomechanical overlap between IBD/CFS-ME/POTS, and then relate that to gut ecology.

I suffer from CFS/ME in addition to ulcerative colitis, asthma, and other inflammatory conditions. I also, as many of you know, have a history of neck trauma, caused in a traffic accident years ago. For me, the neck injury acted as a trigger for most of my health issues, so I have recently suspected vagal nerve damage as a possible root problem. The VN mediates inflammation and immunity in the body, to a large extent, and controls heart rate/BP, hormonal output (adrenals, chief among them), organ function, including gut transport (suggesting constipation, GERD may be related to VN damage), so it’s easy to see where a wide range of symptoms could have this common thread.

I’ve dubbed it the “Gut-Neck Axis” because I’ve found healthy alterations to my gut flora are just as curative (or at the least, beneficial) as achieving proper alignment of my neck! Either will provide relief, whether it’s a glass of home-brewed kefir, a chiropractic adjustment, or a manipulation I can do on my own.

Why would this be? Does an adjustment of my neck release electrical “noise” in my central nervous system, a bottled up energy produced by pathogenic or translocated gut flora (SIBO), or is it simply taking pressure off my vagal nerve, which could allow it to engage more bandwidth in performing its tasks?

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My guess is both are true, because the neck is the physical fuse box between the brain and the enteric nervous system, the “gut brain”.

When hyperadrenergic POTS kicks in for me, my blood pressure and heart rate accelerate, I get obvious tinnitus, a stuffy nose, my gut stops moving, and I get very heat-intolerant. Much to my amazement, in recent days the use of a posture pump will stop all these symptoms, and quickly. Right away, I can feel peristalsis occurring, my nose opens up and I can feel my blood pressure dropping.

If I’m in the car and don’t have access to the device, often times just relaxing my neck, jutting my lower jaw forward a bit, and tilting my head back slightly will do the same. I’ve found it’s important to also try to elongate my neck as much as I can, by using muscles that extend it, whilst I simultaneously try to keep it limber, not stiff. At other times I get relief from just gently pushing in on my lower jaw (while it’s very relaxed), which seems to realign upper cervical vertebrae. There’s a zen to achieving this posture. It has taken practice, but luckily I get instant feedback when I’m doing it right, so I’ve made good progress.

By the way, it should be noted since we’re all different, I’m not recommending anyone try what works for me. This is not medical advice, and anyone reading along should consult their physician before attempting anything described herein.

The third leg of the stool, in this Axis, is active stress reduction. In any situation where I feel a high sympathetic state coming on, calming my mind, paying attention to breathing ( in for a count of 3, out for a count of 4) will act as a brake, and slow things down. For me, CFS/ME feels like a cardiovascular issue. I notice when hyperadrenergic POTS symptoms are flaring, I find it exhausting to stand; with my neck aligned properly I have much more energy.

One theory regarding a trigger for CFS is a vagal nerve infection, and I am not discounting this, but what if it’s also an impinged nerve, a transient impairment, that can be corrected with a spinal adjustment? It’s pretty clear to me my health issues have multiple avenues for healing, and there’s likely to be more than one root cause.

So to my broader point: in an attempt to simply feel as good as possible, I’ll continue to do each and every thing I’ve learned is having a positive impact on symptoms, whether it’s biomechanical or more related to gut flora. Since we know it’s a feedback loop, my theory is a neck injury can create a pro-inflammatory state in the gut that discourages the growth of vital gut flora. Stress can, too. Each of these, in turn, creates an inflamed gut that further discourages a healthy microbiome. It’s a vicious cycle. But by adding in cultured foods, probiotics, FMT, perhaps this reduces the electrical “noise” in the CNS, which makes mechanical manipulations less important.

I do know when I’ve done FMT a few times, it’s as if I’ve been seeing a chiropractor regularly. It’s all about relaxation, tilting over into a more parasympathetic-dominant mode, and a happy neck creates a happy gut, creates a happy brain. Furthermore, getting back to CFS, I notice FMT gives me a lot more energy. I can see where in the study cited above they may have had a much higher response rate with CFS/ME if the participants had simply done FMT for a longer period of time, say 6 to 8 weeks, rather than merely two to three days. I’d love to see another FMT study where participants were also given gentle chiropractic adjustments with an activator tool, massage therapy, and participated in guided meditation.

In the comments section I’d appreciate hearing from you. What are your own coping methods for cooling off the gut brain, staying in a more parasympathetic (restful/restorative/digesting) state? Also, if you have identified a neck-related trigger for IBD or CFS, which biomechanical approaches help the most? Have any of you had cervical spinal (neck) surgery? If so, what results have you had? I figure someone out there with IBD (ulcerative colitis or crohn’s) has had cervical spinal surgery and I’m very curious if this may have alleviated or improved the IBD.

 

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