How undiagnosed food sensitivities led to my yeast overgrowth

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by Brianna Albers |

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Note: This column describes the author’s own experiences with naturopathy. Not everyone will have the same response to treatment. Consult your doctor before starting or stopping a therapy.

I started naturopathy over a year ago without much hope. I was living with a skin condition that no one but the internet seemed remotely familiar with. I was tired all the time and dealing with chronic sinus issues on top of everything else with my SMA.

I was, in short, miserable. But the symptoms were only part of my frustration. I’d tried every avenue of relief I could think of, from over-the-counter supplements to specialists dedicated to holistic care. No one seemed capable of helping me.

Naturopathy was a breath of fresh air. I had my reservations going in — I’m wary of any medical professional who claims they can “fix” me — but I was pleasantly surprised by the process. My naturopath went all in, working with me to identify the underlying causes of my symptoms in light of my SMA. She prioritized my lived experience and was quick to acknowledge when she needed to do more research.

Over several months, we addressed my perioral dermatitis through the use of herbal hormone supplements. Heady with success, we then turned to one of my more inexplicable issues: a stubbornly persistent rash on my chest and shoulders.

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The search for answers

I’ve had skin issues my entire life, from the aforementioned dermatitis to particularly nasty cystic acne. Accutane (isotretinoin) helped with the acne, but there were problems that no dermatologist could solve, namely the rash with no apparent cause and no obvious cure. I figured that if anyone could put it to rest, it was my naturopath.

We experimented with several different protocols, but I eventually remembered that, while in the hospital last December, the rash mysteriously cleared up. I was on a lot of antibiotics at the time — six, to be exact — but I’d been on antibiotics before with no real difference in the rash. It was something else about that hospital visit.

To give credit where it’s due, it was my mom who figured it out. Because the hospital was unable to procure my normal food formula, they put me on an alternative.

The main difference between the two? My normal formula was whey-based while the alternative was not.

I was tested for food sensitivities, which turned out to be revealing. I’m highly sensitive to gluten, dairy, and whey, the latter of which comprised 98% of my diet.

My naturopath had suspected since we started working together that I was struggling with candidiasis, caused by yeast overgrowth. It explained almost all of my symptoms. Funnily enough, it also explained why the rash cleared up while I was in the hospital: They’d put me on a round of Diflucan (fluconazole) for a urinary tract infection.

Three steps forward, two steps back

I scheduled a consultation with a dietitian in the hopes of starting a new formula. We chose Kate Farms, a plant-based, whey-free alternative to my previous formula, Peptamen.

I knew better than to expect immediate results, but I was still disappointed with how little things changed. The rash was still present. My sinuses, while maybe a little clearer, were still causing trouble. It was nothing like the miraculous turnaround I’d seen in the hospital.

I spoke to a doctor, who prescribed a round of Diflucan to address any lingering yeast. We followed that up with a round of prednisolone (also known by the brand names Millipred and Prednoral), which turned out to be a bad idea — my body does not take well to steroids. I spent the next two weeks in a haze, struggling with everything from fatigue to brain fog and tachycardia, or a racing heartbeat. I felt like I had the flu, which was exacerbated by the fact that yeast die-off is often associated with flulike symptoms.

There’s no way of knowing if all of this care will have an effect. All I can do is hope, and try, and somewhere along the way, thank God for my naturopath, who has been invaluable throughout this entire process.

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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