The Gut-Garden Analogy

I came up with this analogy, comparing the Gut to a Garden, back when I was fighting the worst of my son's candida and gut bugs.  It helps my understanding and problem-solving process a lot to think of the gut as a garden, and that's what I wanted to share with you.

In bodies with healthy intestines, our 'good plants' (good bacteria, yeast) i.e. vegetables, flowers and fruits, are very vigorous, and grow strong enough to keep the weeds (bad bacteria) down to a controlled level, although never gone. But if we take antibiotics or something, (broad spectrum herbicides) it kills off a bunch of the good plants as well as bad, and we have to either put in some 'good plant seed' (probiotics) that we hope will 'take root', or just hope that the good plants are strong enough to triumph over the weeds (bad bacteria) that will try to take hold in the empty areas.

In our kids' gut 'gardens', there are a lot of problems:

1. The 'good plants' (good flora) aren't very strong, so they don't keep bad plants out very well.

2. The balance of the soil is way off, so the weeds get a lot of opportunities to start, and the good plants don't take root or thrive all that easily.

3. The ground is ripped up (leaky gut).

4. Sometimes there are gophers or bugs (parasites, toxins, bad bacteria) that eat up or destroy a lot of the plants, giving the weeds more of a foothold. These bugs develop a resistance to any pesticide (antifungals, etc.) that is used to try to kill them.

So if you weeded just one kind of 'plant', i.e. by taking just one strain of probiotic, such as saccaroumyces boulardii, it would kill off that plant all right, but there would probably still be some seeds in the ground (bacteria in other parts of the intestines or stomach or body tissues), that might grow later, given the right environment.

Yeast is a particularly tenacious type of weed, in this analogy, like maybe crabgrass, that develops a resistance fast, and is hard to pull out. A certain amount of it is expected, but when it gets out of control ("overgrowth"), it's a big problem, and crowds out good bacteria (plants).

If you used a single particularly powerful pesticide (prescription antifungal) for awhile, it might wipe out huge amounts of weeds and good plants, leaving a very empty, fairly unhealthy soil, just waiting for hardy weeds to take over. Alternatively, the most adaptable weeds, like crabgrass (yeast), might develop a resistance to it, so the pesticide would keep killing everything else, and the yeast would completely engulf the garden. This can also happen when yeast moves in as soon as you stop using prescription antifungals.

Here are the most successful strategies I know to fight yeast:

1. Try to crowd out yeast with probiotics (good plant seed)

2. Put "bugs" in the garden that eat parts of the weeds to weaken them (enzymes that eat the cellulose of the yeast cell wall)

3. Add supplements (and foods!) to help oxygenate the gut and make it more alkaline. (these two things both make the environment less hospitable to the candida, and better for the good flora... I guess this would be like adding soil amendments to make it better suited to the flowers you're trying to grow than to the weeds you want to eradicate.

4. Use several different moderate level pesticides (natural antifungals), switching them frequently, trying to weaken and kill the crabgrass using different mechanisms, not giving it time to get strong enough to build up a resistance. This is what worked the best for me with my own son.

I find it very helpful to my own thinking to build myself visual and practical ways of looking at these conceptual ideas like healing the gut for my own continuing education, to try to help my son and others like him. I hope that you find this helpful as well.