What is yeast overgrowth management?
Yeast is a type of fungus commonly found in the human body, including in the intestines. This therapy involves managing the growth of yeast in autistic people. Any ‘yeast overgrowth’ is controlled by using antifungal agents, probiotics and a yeast-free diet.
Who is yeast overgrowth management for?
This approach is for autistic people.
What is yeast overgrowth management used for?
Supporters of this therapy claim that autistic people might have a yeast overgrowth in the gut, which contributes to the characteristics of autism. By treating the yeast overgrowth, this therapy aims to reduce the characteristics of autism.
Where does yeast overgrowth management 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 yeast overgrowth management?
Yeast is a micro-organism commonly found in the human body in areas like the intestines. Probiotics are other micro-organisms that live in the intestines. They’re also in supplements and some foods. Probiotics are considered to be ‘good bacteria’ – they promote a healthy balance in the intestines and prevent yeast overgrowth.
When an imbalance occurs, the number of probiotics is reduced and yeast overgrowth can happen. It’s claimed that toxins from the excess yeast enter the bloodstream, which causes autism or makes the characteristics of autism worse.
The idea is that treating the yeast overgrowth and restoring the balance between yeast and probiotics removes the toxins from the body, reducing the characteristics of autism.
What does yeast overgrowth management involve?
This approach uses antifungal agents, probiotics and changes in diet. The person takes antifungal agents (usually orally) to kill the yeast in the intestines. Some foods with antifungal properties, like kefir, garlic and grapefruit seed extract, can also be used in this approach. Probiotic agents including acidophilus and lactobacillus are added to the diet to restore a healthy balance in the intestines.
Dietary changes like limiting sugar and yeast are also part of this approach. It’s claimed that eating these foods promotes yeast overgrowth.
There are no standard guidelines for how long this treatment should go on.
It costs money to buy antifungal agents and probiotics, and to make dietary changes.
Does yeast overgrowth management work?
This therapy has not yet been rated. There’s no research evidence that yeast overgrowth causes autism or that managing yeast improves the characteristics of autism.
There are some warnings about the use of yeast overgrowth management therapy:
- People who use the antifungal medication fluconazole (Diflucan) over a long period need a doctor to monitor their liver function to make sure there are no toxic effects. Skin conditions have also been associated with this antifungal agent.
- Side effects including diarrhoea have been associated with long-term use of the antifungal medication nystatin (Nizoral).
Who practises yeast overgrowth management?
Parent education, training, support and involvement
If your child is taking antifungal agents, you need to learn about appropriate doses for your child. You also need to ensure that your child is monitored for potential side effects like liver toxicity.
Where can you find a practitioner?
It’s best to speak to your GP or paediatrician or a paediatric dietician before using antifungal agents or changing your child’s diet substantially.
There are many therapies for autism. They range from those based on behaviour and development to those based on medicine or alternative therapy. Our article on types of interventions for autistic children takes you through the main therapies, so you can better understand your child’s options.