By Raising Children Network
spacer spacer PInterest spacer
spacer Print spacer Email
At a glance: Managing yeast overgrowth
Type of therapy
The claim
Reduces the characteristics of autism
Suitable for
Children with ASD
Research rating

Find out more about this rating system in our FAQs.

Not yet reviewed by our research sources.
Warning Requires careful monitoring for liver toxicity and skin conditions.

Estimate of the total time for family in hours per week and duration.

0-10 No recommended length of time for treatment has been established for this approach.

Estimate of cost to family per session/item or week.

Visit the Autism Service Pathfinder to browse Service Providers information.

About this intervention

What is it?
This intervention involves managing the growth of yeast (a type of fungus found in the intestines) in the person with autism. Any ‘yeast overgrowth’ in the person is controlled by using antifungal agents, probiotics and diet.

Who is it for?
This approach is for individuals with autism.

What is it used for?
It is claimed that people with autism may have a yeast overgrowth in the gut, which contributes to the characteristics of autism. This approach aims to treat the overgrowth, thus reducing the characteristics of autism.

Where does it come from?
This approach gained popularity based on anecdotal reports and very small, poor-quality case studies in the 1990s.

What is the idea behind it?
Yeast is amicro-organism commonly found in the human body in areas such as the intestines. Probiotics are other micro-organisms that live in the intestinal tract and can also be found in supplements and some foods. Probiotics are considered to be ‘good bacteria’ – they promote a healthy balance in the intestinal tract and prevent yeast overgrowth. 

When an imbalance occurs, the number of probiotics is reduced, and yeast overgrowth can occur. It is claimed that toxins from the excess yeast enter the bloodstream, which causes negative outcomes such as autism (or aggravates the characteristics of conditions such as autism).

The idea is that treating the yeast overgrowth and restoring the balance between yeast and probiotics will remove the toxins from the body, reducing the characteristics of autism.

What does it involve?
This approach uses antifungal agents, probiotics and changes in diet. Antifungal agents (Diflucan or Nizoral) are given to the individual (usually orally) to kill the yeast in the intestines. Some foods with anti-fungal properties (such as garlic and grapefruit seed extract) may also be used in this approach. Probiotic agents (including acidophilus and lactobacillus) are added to the diet in an attempt to restore a healthy balance in the intestine.

Finally, dietary changes such as limiting sugar and yeast are also incorporated as part of this approach. It’s claimed that eating these foods promotes yeast overgrowth.

Cost considerations
Some cost will be associated with purchasing antifungal agents and probiotics, and making dietary changes.

Does it work?
This therapy has not yet been rated.

Warnings: Long-term use of Fluconazole (Diflucan) requires a doctor to monitor liver function to make sure there are no toxic effects. Skin conditions have also been associated with this anti-fungal agent. Side effects, including diarrhoea, have also been associated with long-term use of Nystatin (Nizoral).

Who practises this method?
Although this approach can be implemented at home, it is best to speak to your GP or paediatrician, or a dietitian, before using antifungal agents or changing your child’s diet substantially.

Parent education, training, support and involvement
Parents will need to learn about appropriate doses of the antifungal agents for their child, and ensure that potential side effects such as liver toxicity are monitored.

Where can I find a practitioner?
It is best to speak to your GP, paediatrician or a dietician about this therapy.

  • Last updated or reviewed 10-09-2012