A Silent Problem - Is It Yeast?

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Is it Yeast in chronic Lyme treatment Image by Marty Ross MD

Problems from Intestinal Yeast Overgrowth in Lyme

Too many yeast in the intestines lead to a number of problems in Lyme disease. Here are a few.

  • Increased cytokine (Lyme) symptoms. Yeast overgrowth leads to inflammatory cytokine excess. Just like white blood cells responding to Lyme make too many cytokines, white blood cells make too many cytokines responding to yeast too. Excess cytokine symptoms give most of the Lyme disease symptoms. This means that too many yeast in a person's intestines can make it look like Lyme is worse. But the problem could be yeast triggering more cytokines. Read more about cytokines in Control Cytokines: A Guide to Fix Lyme Symptoms & The Immune System.
  • Food allergies. Food allergies and sensitivities can be the result of yeast overgrowth too. Too many yeast is one of the major causes of leaky gut syndrome leading to food allergies. For more information see Leaky Gut Syndrome: A Video Treatment Guide.
  • Immune suppression. Excess cytokines and allergies to yeast may lead to immune suppression.

Marty Ross MD Discusses Yeast Problems and Diagnosis

For more information, read the whole article below this video. For information on how to treat yeast see Kills Yeast: A Brief Guide. This video was recorded while Dr. Ross was still practicing in Seattle, Washington.

Video Thumbnail


How to Diagnose Yeast Overgrowth of the Intestines in a Lyme Disease Treatment

At the Beginning of Treatment

There is not a useful diagnostic blood test or stool test for yeast overgrowth. While some may test for antibodies in the blood to intestinal yeast. Yeast antibodies are common even when yeast are in balance. In addition, it is normal to have stool cultures grow yeast; so a culture does not indicate if yeast are in excess. For this reason, yeast are diagnosed using a yeast screening questionnaire. This questionnaire evaluates for the possibility of yeast overgrowth based on yeast overgrowth risk factors and intensity of symptoms. In general, based on my experience, people benefit from treatment if the score is 140 or higher.

Often before antibiotics are started in a Lyme disease treatment it is essential to treat yeast. Doing so can limit the severity of Herxheimer die­-off reactions from treating Lyme. This is because removing yeast removes one source of inflammatory cytokine excess.

In the Middle of Treatment

Note:  If a person has a sudden decline after doing better, there is a good chance yeast is the cause. The excess cytokines triggered by yeast give most of the same symptoms that occur in Lyme disease. So yeast can imitate a Lyme decline.

The yeast screening questionnaire is not reliable in the middle of treatment. I make a decision to treat yeast in this situation based on symptoms.

 Symptoms of yeast in the middle of treatment include:

  • sugar carvings,
  • increased brain fog, 
  • doing worse after having sugar,
  • increased intestinal gassiness or bloating,
  • vaginal itching or discharge,
  • rectal itching,
  • worsened skin rashes or acne,
  • difficulty swallowing, and/or
  • white patches in the mouth.

You do not have to have all of these symptoms to diagnose too many yeast. If a person has a number of these with a decline, then there is a strong possibility of intestine yeast overgrowth.


The ideas and recommendations on this website and in this article are for informational purposes only. For more information about this, see the sitewide Terms & Conditions.


View Citations

  1. Kumamoto CA, Inflammation and Gastrointestinal Candida Colonization. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2011 August; 14(4): 386-391. Doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2011.07.015 (View)
  2. Bowe WP, Logan AC, Acne Vulgaris, Probiotics and The Gut-Brain-Skin Axis - Back to The Future? (View)
  3. Olmstead S. et al., Candida, Fungal-Type Dysbiosis, and Chronic Disease: Exploring the Nature of the Yeast Connection. Townsend Letter, June, 2012 townsendletter.com/June2012/candida0612.html.
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About the Author

Marty Ross, MD is a passionate Lyme disease educator and clinical expert. He helps Lyme sufferers and their physicians see what really works based on his review of the science and extensive real-world experience. Dr. Ross is licensed to practice medicine in Washington State (License: MD00033296) where he has treated thousands of Lyme disease patients in his Seattle practice. 

Marty Ross, MD is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine and Georgetown University Family Medicine Residency. He is a member of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS) and The Institute for Functional Medicine.

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