This blog post has been a long time coming.  I remember thinking at some point over the summer how exciting it would be to eventually write a positive post about my health.  That thought was fleeting at the time, as I knew how long of a journey I still had to go, but upon receiving good news this past week, I am elated to finally, FINALLY write about my SUCCESSFUL battle against Candida and SIBO.


Last October, right before John and I got engaged, I’d been having a lot of GI discomfort.  I was often bloated, in pain, anxious, etc.  My symptoms were worsening by the day and the doctors weren’t sure what was up.  I was told over and over again that nothing was wrong with me and I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  Not only was I disappointed with this answer, it made me angry.  I was 24, in a huge amount of discomfort, and was given a blanket diagnosis with no solution aside from IBS and pain medication.  I refused to take Western Medicine’s answer for granted and was determined to find out why a healthy woman like myself was suffering so much from an unknown GI issue.

I started out by cutting gluten completely from my diet in early October.  It offered immediate relief and I was excited that maybe I had found the root of the issue when I dropped two pant sizes in a week while my weight remained the same.  I had been so bloated that despite not losing a pound, my pants and clothes were baggy!  My excitement quickly faded, though, when just a week later, my symptoms began to flare up again, now worse than ever.

The rest of the year was interesting.  I watched what I ate, but despite how careful I was, everything that crossed my lips would bring me pain.  I’d eat broccoli and be doubled over with gas.  I’d eat rice and sit over the toilet willing myself to keep it down.  I’d eat a steak and not go to the bathroom for a week.  I’d eat a tomato and couldn’t leave the toilet all morning.  I was often so distended that I looked six months pregnant, my stomach so swollen that the skin would ache from being stretched so thin.  With each passing day it became increasingly difficult to force myself to eat.  My body knew what food meant – crippling pain – and it was tired of it.  I began gagging with every bite.

By February I’d gotten so weak and could eat nothing without serious discomfort.  It was so bad that I knew something drastic had to be done.  I visited the doctor three times over the course of a month and demanded that my case be treated as an emergency.  I wanted the full spectrum of tests, and was blessed with a nurse practitioner who had no problem writing me scripts for every GI test under the sun.  I had blood tests, stool samples, tried different diets and protocols.  I had allergy tests, fasted for tests, and ran urinalysis.  With each normal result, I was thankful, yet increasingly desperate to know what was wrong with me.

I begged for more serious procedures and my sweet nurse practitioner was able to finagle a next-day emergency colonoscopy/endoscopy – (it may or may not have had something to do with the fact that I cried hysterically upon finding out I’d have to wait three months for an appointment.)  Regardless, I was thankful to have gotten in for the procedure on such short notice.

However, to both my relief and disappointment, the colonoscopy and endoscopy came back clear.  Of course, I was happy that my biopsies came out negative, and major GI issues like blockages were off the table, but jeez, is it frustrating not knowing what’s going on!  The only thing discovered was yeast growing inside my esophagus and stomach, something the doctors brushed off as normal.  I once again found myself begging for more tests and was fortunate enough to have an emergency CT scan and ultrasound.  Again, neither resulted in anything, my results were normal, the doctors couldn’t find a thing.

Amongst growing anxiety, the pain was also worsening by the day, and at the end of February, one morning on the way to work, I stopped on the sidewalk literally doubled over in pain.  Hot tears streamed down my cheeks and I felt that death would almost be a comfort, a relief.  I was in anguish and I didn’t know what to do or how to fix my problem.

My emotions on that day were insane.  I now know what a horrible situation it is to live with an undiagnosed health issue.  As if the anxiety of just feeling like shit isn’t enough, having to deal with not knowing what you have is so much worse.  I lost count of the amount of times I was told by doctors that my GI issues were mental.  On multiple occasions I was asked if I was anorexic, had an eating disorder, or if I was using hard drugs like heroin.  I’d insist that those played no part in my issue, and was always faced with an expression of disbelief.  I felt like it was me against the world, and on this day in particular, the weight of my health burden was simply too great.

In that moment, as I barely kept myself from falling down onto the sidewalk in an exhausted heap of discouragement, I knew I needed to take matters into my own hands.  I knew there was something inside me that was destroying me.  I knew I couldn’t live like this anymore, yet I also knew that I didn’t want to rely on medicine to mask my symptoms for the rest of my life.  I wiped the tears from my cheeks, walked past my work, and right into the nearby health food store.  I threw away the lunch I’d packed, and purchased a package of eggs.  I decided that from that moment forward, I was cutting out all forms of sugar.  I walked back to my office, sat at my desk, and called a local Naturopath.


I started working with Brooke almost immediately.  Not only is she an amazing Naturopathic Doctor, Brooke has also become a great friend.  She made herself available to me not only as my doctor, but as an emotional support and endless wealth of information.  She was the kind of doctor I could text at 10:00 PM asking if my symptoms were dire enough to go to the hospital, and she was the friend I called crying after being told by Western Medicine that I was mental and my issues were in my head.  I could tell her about my pain and symptoms without being discounted, I could cry to her and release my anguish, and most importantly, not once did she ask me if I was doing heavy drugs or had an eating disorder.  She understood what I was going through.

With Brooke’s guidance, I started on a very strict Candida Cleanse protocol at the beginning of March, which included cutting out all sugars, starch, fruits, dairy, gluten, grains, vinegar, certain vegetables, and the list goes on and on.  The foods that I was allowed to eat consisted mainly of certain vegetables and lean proteins like poultry and rabbit.  Because of the dramatic change in diet, and how swollen my body had been from my sickness, I dropped over ten pounds in a week, which was nearly 10% of my body weight.

I found myself buying hundreds of dollars worth of pills, supplements, treatments, protein powders, and healthy foods.  Items that I never thought I’d own, like pill containers, mason jars, and heating pads, littered my apartment and work desk.

For months, I diligently kept to my diet – I was so proud of that fact that I hadn’t cheated once!  But despite all my hard work, the Candida we were fighting (which is overgrowth of yeast in the stomach) didn’t seem to be getting any better.  When symptoms weren’t fully gone by July, we decided we needed to make sure I wasn’t battling something more serious than just the Candida.  We tested for SIBO, which stands for Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth, and I nervously awaited the results.  On one hand, I didn’t want the results to be positive – I knew I’d have to start a whole new, extremely strict protocol with different rules and food restrictions, and honestly, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that it’d be a whole new fish to fry.  But on the other hand, I almost hoped the results did come back positive, so we’d have some solid reasoning as to why I was still in so much pain.

I was sitting at my desk one afternoon when the call came through.  Brooke had called to tell me that the results were in.  My heart sunk as I found out that I not only had SIBO, but an extreme case of it.  The SIBO test determines bacteria overgrowth based on the gasses your body produces when they’re active.  My test had shown that not only were my results incredibly high, the bacteria in my gut were producing methane, nitrogen, and hydrogen gasses in very high doses.  No wonder I’d been so loopy, anxious, and emotional!  A normal person’s SIBO level should be 0, the test considers 35 to be extreme cases, and I was at 56.

I couldn’t keep the tears from spilling down my cheeks so I left work, went for a walk, and had John pick me up somewhere on the sidewalk where I ended up.  I was heartbroken.  After months of so much hard work already, I now knew I’d have months ahead of me too.  I remember crying a lot as I passed Hodad’s and the smell of delicious burgers and french fries wafted past my nose.  I cried hot angry tears as I wondered how long it would be before I’d be able to eat my next burger.  I was a mess, but I needed to have a moment.  I wandered around downtown for a bit, sobbing silently as I walked aimlessly, until John came to my rescue and ushered me into our car.

Once I was done being comforted by John and had stopped feeling sorry for myself, I mustered up the gusto to get started on the SIBO cleanse and protocol.  I’m not going to lie, it was rough, my friend.  I was sick.  Very sick.  Every. Goddam. Day.  I woke up running to the bathroom, and every day I’d wake up with the first thought in my head being “I wonder if today’s the day I’ll feel better”, only to be hit across the face with a wave of nausea and stomach cramps that had me sprinting to the bathroom.

At the end of August, I had a particularly bad week.  I fell flat on my face outside a grocery store, had a very stressful situation happen with one of my investments, and my position was eliminated at the company I’d been working for.  That week was a hard pill to swallow on top of everything else.  I cried for days wondering why the world had such a tendency to kick me while I was down.  I was depressed, I’m not ashamed to admit it.  I was hurt and upset and had so many unanswered questions about life.

After the first week or so of feeling sorry for myself, though, I started to feel more at peace with my life and all that had been happening to me.  During my morning meditations, I was beginning to see the silver lining of my situation.  Based on how bad my treatments had gotten, I knew I would have had to ask for a medical leave at work.  Despite the sting of being let go, it was beginning to dawn on me what a blessing in disguise it had been.  I needed the time to recover – after all, my treatments and diet were a full time job, and I could barely get out of bed in the morning at this point, let alone carry on a demanding and stressful work position.

People ask me all the time what I spent and currently spend my time doing.  It’s honestly a hard question to answer.  My health turned into my full time job once I got let go from my position.  I spend hours of my day in the bathroom, each meal takes me about two hours to eat, and every meal needs to be prepared fresh, from 100% organic and healthy ingredients.  I can eat nothing canned, nothing processed, nothing “easy”.  I need a lot of sleep.  Some days I am in so much pain, I can’t move, and spend my day on the couch with a heating pad, some defrosted chicken soup, and a day full of Friends reruns.  People are always like “wow, sounds like you have a lot of free time”.  Yes, I guess in reality I do, but it’s not the kind of joyous unemployment we all dream of having, it feels a lot like work to me.

My SIBO treatment intensified soon after I lost my job, as I began an eight week supplemental detox treatment.  Since the antibiotics used to treat SIBO only have an 80% effectiveness rate, we wanted to try to kill off some of the bacteria naturally if possible.  For eight weeks, each day became worse than the last.  I was able to remain pretty positive about all things life until this point, when the detox became extremely bad.

From our naturopathic remedies, I started on a very high dose of Rifaximin, an extremely strong antibiotic.  I was on Rifaximin and another antibiotic for three weeks.  I obviously haven’t ever gone through a heavy drug detox, but I felt exactly as I imagined it would feel.  I’d wake up some mornings with my stomach feeling like it was on fire, shaking uncontrollably while sweating, as though I had been poisoned.  I guess the best way to describe it would be to say it was like I had the flu for months on end.  I was nauseous, had headaches, muscle aches and pains, lack of appetite, was lightheaded, anxious, spacey, and out of it.  I felt like shit.

Finally, the treatment was over and I transitioned to Phase II of the treatment plan, which was dietary.  Basically, bacteria live in a thirty day life cycle, so I needed to maintain an extremely strict diet with absolutely no cheating for a minimum of 30 days to see if we had killed off all the bacteria.  The diet was extreme, but I was determined to make it work.  My number one and two priorities each day were: 1. Eat the right foods, and 2. Try to eat 2,000 calories worth of them.  It’s hard getting enough calories when you’re on such a healthy, restricted diet!

Just two weeks ago, I finished up the 30-day cleanse, and retook the SIBO test.  I mailed it off and eagerly awaited the results.  My, was I nervous!  This was it, the test would show if my SIBO had gotten any better, and if so, how much!  It would determine if I could move on to Phase III of the treatment plan, or if I’d have to start over with Phase II.  I was hopeful that my results had improved, but I was definitely not expecting the test to come back clear.  I did not want to get my hopes up!

While waiting for the results, just four days before receiving them, I started to feel a little bit better!  I had eight different doctor procedures over the course of a week, and I think something, or a combination of everything, clicked, because I started to feel a little more human every day!

After having a few “good days” in a row, last Thursday, I received a call from the doctor that sent me into a day full of happy tears and a roller coaster of emotions.  My test had come back negative!  So completely negative that the nutritionist needed to have the other doctors at the practice look it over to make sure it was correct!  I had successfully beaten the SIBO!

I called my family and friends and delivered the good news, sobbing happy, joyful tears the whole time.  I was laughing and crying and dancing around the apartment like a crazy person with Boots.  I blasted the music and sang at the top of my lungs and felt alive.  It was the first concrete sign or positive result I’d gotten in the year I’ve been working on this!  And it felt SO GOOD!


This whole year, I’ve been very sick.  At times, I’ve had to muster the courage just to face another day.  But hell, I can look back on my life and say that I’ve never had to work so hard at something than I have had to this past year.  I was fighting for my life each and every day – not only physically, but mentally too.  I now have a deeper understanding of what those with illness go through, and I am thankful for each painless breath I take. 

I’ve learned so much about myself, and know it’s only the beginning of my self-understanding.  I’ve never had to spend so much time by my lonesome, lost in my own thoughts.  I told John that this illness was my opportunity to face all my inner demons – to meditate and work through toxic energy I’ve been holding with me for a long time.  It’s been a year of cleansing both body and mind, and I know that when all is said and done, I’m going to be one hell of a woman!

Over the course of this past year, my health has cost me over $12,000 in out of pocket costs.  I purchased 13 jugs of protein powder, drank down 6 bottles of betonite clay, purchased over a hundred cans of coconut milk, and swallowed over 9,500 pills and supplements.  I underwent procedures normally reserved for people in their fifties, like colonoscopies and endoscopies.  I saw a nutritionist three times, met with Brooke five times, received six IV nutrient infusions, got twelve stress-relieving massages, had eleven doctors appointments, thirteen colonics, and was hypnotized twice.  I had procedures I hadn’t ever heard the name of like a Cranio Sacral and Lymphatic Drainage.  I learned how to prick my finger like a diabetic to test my blood sugars.  I had to test the PH in my saliva and urine for weeks.

It’s been an incredible journey so far and I’m so ridiculously PROUD of myself that I’ve made it to this point.  I know that I still have an incredibly long road to recovery and I also realize that it is going to take time to be able to do things like go to the gym and eat out at restaurants.  But hell, if I’ve got anything, it’s the motivation to keep going, the support to take it on, and the gusto to do it, because if I’ve made it this far, I can definitely make it the whole way!

Although my diet is still the same today as it has been for the last eleven months, I was able to reintroduce my first food just yesterday – onions!  If this battle has taught me anything, it is to be thankful, as I never thought I’d be elated just to taste the flavor of an onion in my food.  I even teared up the other day at the market as I was purchasing myself a grapefruit – it’s been nearly a year since I’ve eaten my last piece of fruit!


Just last week I was finally given exactly what I needed to see – the light at the end of my tunnel.  The knowledge that progress has been made and results have come of my hard work.  I’m ready to take on what each new day brings and I hope my story inspires you to do the same!

This week, with Thanksgiving upon us, I can’t help but be grateful for the life lessons I’ve been taught this past year.  Looking back on it already, I know that beating this health issue is going to be one of my greatest life accomplishments.  I’m thankful to have learned so much about myself, and about those around me.  I have lost some friends because of it, yet gained the most amazing, supportive group of buds I could have ever imagined.  I’m thankful that despite this year being just as hard for John as it was for me, our relationship is stronger and better than ever.  I’m thankful that despite reaching my lowest lows, I know I’m on the path to reaching my highest highs. I’m thankful that because of all the bad, I now so easily recognize when things are good.  And I’m thankful for being taught the most important lesson, that life is precious and every moment should be enjoyed.  Despite still having bad days, I’m always able to identify beauty and goodness in so many moments throughout my day.  It is this that I am most grateful for.

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61 Responses

  1. Dara

    Hi there–
    Reading this blog entry literally made me cry, it felt like I was reading my own story in someone else’s words. I’m currently at the stage where I’ve stopped eating all forms of sugar and am waiting to hear back from the naturopath about my test results, though I’m fairly certain I have both candida and SIBO, as even a handful of soaked almonds makes me sick. I would really love to talk to you and hear more specifics about what you did to overcome this. I am feeling so discouraged– I’ve tried so hard for so long to be as healthy and fit as I can but I feel like my body is working against me.
    In solidarity,
    Dara

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Dara,

      Oh my poor darling, I certainly feel your pain! :( Please email me at Rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com. I would love to talk to you about what you’re going through! I can share with you the dietary protocol my nutritionist had me follow to beat both the candida and SIBO, so at least while you’re waiting for your results, you can hopefully find some relief. The foods are extremely restrictive, but I was amazed at how much I was eating that I shouldn’t have been – even including some vegetables that had been feeding the bacteria in my intestines! I’d love to know where you currently live, and who you are working with! My nutritionist has been a God sent, I can’t recommend her enough. She works with patients remotely, as well, if you aren’t local to San Diego. I hope to hear from you soon Dara, hang it there, it WILL get better, I promise! It just takes a lot of willpower, but if you’re in the pain I was in, that’s motivation enough! My thoughts are with you, you can do it!

      In Encouragement,
      Melissa

      Reply
      • Mary

        This is so strengthening to read. Although I don’t feel physically or mentally strengthened. I feel emotionally – but to actually conjure up that word I was feeling through my never ending brain fog almost diminishes that emotional strengthening. I hope I am making sense. I have been sick for so long. So, so long. And recently after my wedding – my body feel apart and my skin went mad. That is when I was diagnosed with extreme candida and leaky gut. I had this smarmy, extremely expensive doctor who said I wouldn’t take it seriously if he didn’t charge as much as he did…um i think I would. Ive been on pills, shakes and the diet for 3 months now and I don’t feel much better. I went to a party at the weekend and ate two sausages and felt like i’d been poisoned so I ended up going for a colonic. The practitioner said with the amount of gas in me it could be SIBO. I asked my doc and he said ‘yeah, sure, go for it. order a test off the internet and if it comes back positive it only confirms what we already know.’ I cant tell you how much i dislike this man. Because as Ive read from you both – SIBO and candida are two different diets! And Ive been eating chickpeas and then the gas…Im sorry but my doctor just laughed at me. Needless to say we parted ways today. I wish I could have said what I really thought of him. Now I m just on my own. not sure what to do. I don’t feel this is just candida. I create gas and bloating with EVERYTHING I eat and the smell – I can’t tell you. It could be also the anti depressants I have been on for many years but I just don’t know where to start. Even writing this is hard. I just wanted to reach out. Thank you for being so giving with your experience.

      • Melissa

        Thanks so much for reaching out! I’d love to help! Email me at rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com so I can share my dietary guidelines along with the contact info of a friend/colleague who might be able to help you and be a replacement for that one doctor that sounded like an absolute asshole! I’m sorry you had to go through that. Can’t wait to hear from you. :)

      • Kerri

        Hi Melissa,
        I am facing similar issues and looking for a nutritionist. I am based in NY, but perhaps your nutritionist does phone consults. Could you reply with the contact info, and even send over some of the dietary protocol?
        Thank you!!!

  2. joy

    Melissa – thank you so much for sharing this. I am so glad I read your blog! I have been researching sibo, candida, and h pylori – trying to figure out what I have. I have so many of the symptoms you describe (not to the intensity that you had) but I didn’t have health insurance so I never went to the doctor. In October – I started having an irregular heartbeat. By February of this year it was so bad that I felt it every 10 seconds. Finally I got health insurance and went to a Cardiologist. After many tests he said “your heart is fine but it is responding to an issue in your body”. I told him of all my digestive problems and he said it could definitely be connected. I went to a GI and he told me I have IBS. He said I should take Xifaxan just to see if that helps. After being on that for 3 days my irregular heartbeat started to get so much better. As soon as I finished the Xifaxan I started taking Mastic Gum to keep getting the antibiotics naturally. About 3 weeks ago my bloating was so bad that I thought I must have some terrible cancer or something and I went for an ultrasound only to find nothing wrong. I finally got and endoscopy and I get the results this week. The problem is I don’t really trust my GI doctor and I have to pay for half the procedure of endoscopy. So I can’t get it done again. I am worried he won’t test for candida, h pylori, and sibo – because i am convinced I have one of those if not multiple. I used to be bloated only at night and now I just have constant bloat. I can’t wear any normal pants. I only wear leggings. My GP gave me diflucan and I started that this week out of desperation. The problem is – i am only guessing what I have – but I am so desperate. I know I must have had sibo since the antibiotic cleared up most of my heart issues. I read so much about treating this naturally is better than medicine. So right now I am taking the Diflucan for 10 days along with oregano oil (in case I have candida and then once the diflucan is done I will double up on anti-yeast supplements) and I am taking mastic gum (in case I have h pylori). I don’t know if its ok to combine these things but i am desperate for the bloating and digestive discomfort to go away. I am so itchy I want to rip my skin off. I just want answers. I have 3 boys and a full time job. I can’t wait to feel better again. I am eat very good – no corn, wheat, or rice. I eat barely any fruit in case I have candida and the only sugar I eat is an occasional piece of very dark chocolate. Hopefully the GI tested for all these things from the endoscopy and I find out this week. Do you have any thoughts about the supplements I am taking or ones that really helped you?
    Again – thanks so much for taking the time to write this blog!
    Sincerely,
    Joy

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Joy!

      Thanks for your comment, I’m so glad you reached out! I share my story because I know how frustrating it is trying to find the answers – and I want to help any way I can! I think your heart issues are definitely connected to your gut – the gut can cause issues all over the body, including the brain and heart for sure. I have also experienced heart palpitations and for years had a heart that seemed to “skip beats” I also had a full range of tests done, including endoscopy and colonoscopy, but since western medicine doesn’t recognize candida and SIBO as common ailments for “normal” people like me and you, it’s very difficult to discuss results with them. For example, even though my doctor found copious amounts of yeast in my stomach and esophagus, I was told after my endoscopy, that they could not discuss the possibility of Candida with me, unless I was immunocompromised with AIDS. Since I don’t have AIDS, they wouldn’t discuss candida as a possibility for me. It was incredibly frustrating.

      As far as what you’re taking, it’s hard for me to judge. I do know that any sort of gum is usually hard on the gut, so not sure if mastic gum would be helping or making things worse. I know that h-pilori can be tested for in a simple blood test, maybe you should ask your doctor about that. If you do have SIBO, the rifaximin (Xifaxan) probably helped, but if you were only on it for three days, it may have actually made things worse if the bacteria were able to resist the medicine and keep growing. I was on the highest dose of Rifaximin for three weeks, and then was on a strict anti-SIBO cleanse for 30 days after to ensure the bacteria wouldn’t regenerate in their life cycle.

      I worked with dozens of doctors, both western medicine, and naturopathic, and finally found my saving grace in my nutritionist Julianna. Julianna works in-person (and remotely, if you aren’t native to San Diego), and was able to cure me of my ailments within two months of working with her, while it had been a year of unanswered questions with other doctors. I noticed you also emailed me, so I’ll give you her information over email.

      Best of luck Joy, I know you’ll get through this!
      Melissa

      PS. I only wear leggings too – good thing they’re comfy! ;)

      Reply
      • Dawn

        Hi Melissa, can you please provide me with Juliannas contact information? I have Sibo and candida. My hydrogen level was near 300. I’m desperate. Please,

        Dawn

      • Melissa

        Hi Dawn, sorry for my delayed response, I don’t check my WP account too often. :( Shoot me an email at rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com if you haven’t already and I’d love to pass along contact information for who I am currently working with.

  3. Katie

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have been battling SIBO for a year now and I am suspecting that I have Candida growth as well. I am young too, only 25, and I recently had to quit my job because my fatigue related to these illnesses got so bad. Reading your story gives me hope and reminds me that many young people struggle with this. Although it can be isolating and very depressing at times. Keep up the good work!

    To your health!
    Katie :)

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Katie, great to hear from you, despite the unfortunate commonality we share. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been battling SIBO for so long. It is definitely isolating and depressing, I still struggle, but try to stay as positive as possible. With my upcoming wedding, my stomach has been quite iffy, and I’m petrified the SIBO is going to creep back. Shoot me an email at Rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you, get connected, and support each other through our battles. Looking forward to talking more. xo Melissa :)

      Reply
      • Loretta

        I sent you an email too. Thank you so much for sharing. There are so many suffering and so many docs that don’t get it at all and many that continue to suffer….so encouraging to read your story. Gives me a new hope!

      • Melissa

        Thank you for the encouragement Loretta! I’ve been recently diagnosed with both SIBO and Candida again just last week, so I’m gearing up for round two. You are in my thoughts, I hope you are feeling better!

  4. ivan

    Hi Melissa, I’m 29 year old, I tested for SIBO with very high positive results. I’ve been Rifaximin 1,200 per day during 7 days without reactions or anything weird. Then I repeated the test and still have positive results (only a slight improvement). It’s been a year now fell worse. I bought and made a home test for Candida, and I also gave positive result, but not sure of its accuracy. I go to see a doctor next week and say I want to do test for H. pylori. Can you please share with me your protocol? I’m so depressed, I really appreciate your help.
    Regards.
    Ivan.

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Ivan, please email me at rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com. I’d love to help, but unfortunately don’t have many answers myself. I was just diagnosed with both SIBO and Candida for the second time last week. It is so hard, because neither has a known root cause. I’d love to support you in your journey, and understand how depressing and isolating it is. Hope today is a good day, all the best.

      Reply
  5. Eric

    As I was reading your journey, I was thinking: “This is my exact story. I am going through the exact same journey as you have…” and have been for over 2 years.

    It’s a struggle, and hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Eric, I completely agree. I was just diagnosed last week with SIBO and Candida again, and have been having a really hard time with it myself. Thanks for reaching out and reading my story, I completely understand what you are going through. I hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us.

      Reply
      • Sarinna

        Have you been tested for heavy metals? If your candida is not going away then you might have some heavy metal problems the body uses candida to protect it self from heavy metals so you actually never get rid of Candida cause the body just keeps growing it to protect itself. I know I have Candida and possibly sibo and maybe even h.pylori all from heavy metals from vaccines and amalgam fillings. It’s a journey and I’m bout to embark on mine. Thank you for your story :)

      • Melissa

        Yes, I have been tested for heavy metals and a majority of my cleansing and treatment was heavy metal detoxing. Thanks so much for the idea, though, it’s always important to explore every avenue! :)

  6. Leslie

    Hi Melissa,
    Thank you for you post. Its the first thing ive read in two years that sounds so much like what i have been going through. I’ve been on a candida and hypothyroid diet for over two years and still have daily issues. I was diagnosed with sibo this week. After a day of crying that the strict regimen ive been following is going to change again i realized i am really confused on the dos and donts to treat sibo and candida. It does now make sense why everytime i added berries i got extremely ill. I am having trouble finding a nutritionist. I would be really interested in hearing what you strict diet entailed.

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Leslie, Thank you so much for reaching out. I completely feel your pain, and I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been diagnosed with SIBO. I know it’s not much of a consolation, but at least now you know what you’re up against. Getting ill from berries would be indicative of candida. If you email me at rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com, I’d be happy to share my nutritionist’s info (she works remotely with patients), and my protocol. Looking forward to hearing from you, hang in there! xox

      Reply
  7. lee Jenkins

    Hi Melissa,

    I can relate to your story. I was diagnosed with SIBO a year ago (hydrogen 58, methane lower at 15). I’ve “cured it” 3 times and gotten it back each time after about a month. SIBO isn’t a disease, it is the RESULT of a disease or dysfunction, so you have to figure out what is causing the SIBO. I’ve been on a super strict diet for more than a year. Had all the same experiences re weight gain ect. I now know when SIBO is back because my weight starts climbing for no reason. I haven’t found the answer yet. Mine is complicated by Celiac and Hashimotos. My next procedure is a Brava Endoscopy, which is a specialized endoscopy that will monitor the acid levels in my body for 48 hours. I also have a problem digesting protein and fat, which could be the result of low Hydrocloric acid. My homocyseteine levels were also very high (19) and iodine very low. My Dr thinks its all being caused by the MTHFR gene mutation which causes methylation issues. Haha, so low carb, low protein, low fat,no sugar diet. And i’m autoimmune to gluten, dairy, soy, chocolate, eggs and commercial cellulose (found in most vitamins and meds.) I had leaky gut (i tested with high antibodies to every food i commonly ate), which seemed to have cleared up, but could have been triggered again by the antibiotics. All of these things are inter-related, but once you cure each thing, you still have to find the root cause. Have you been tested for Hashitomotos? My thyroid numbers were ok, but i had high thryoid antibodies, low iodine, low b12, high homocysteine (with no normal cause) , so my Dr diagnosed me with it and then we had to find the particular foods that were bothering me individually. (The list is above.)

    But that is again just another element. I’m really hoping they find that i have an acid production problem, bc that would be the root cause of everything else. Some of these issues also cause infertility (they did in me — I’m a lot older than you) so keep plugging away to find the answers! I wish i knew in my 20s what i now know. Best, Lee

    Reply
    • Patty

      Hi Lee Jenkins,

      I also live in the Boston area. I have SIBO and have failed antibiotic treatment. I’m positive in both hydrogen and methane. I’m curious who you are seeing – is there a way you could share that with me? Thanks!

      Patty

      Reply
  8. lee Jenkins

    Ps. I would consult with your health practitioner again before taking such a high dose (and cocktail ) of antibiotics. If your SIBO is caused by h pyhlori, a high dose of antibiotics will sometimes do the trick to get rid of it forever. If, however, your SIBO is caused by other disease or dysfunction, it will get rid of the SIBO in the short run, but so will a much milder dosage. I take xifaxan 550mg twice a day for 2 weeks and i test zero afterwards. Taking the high dosage can also cause other issues which create a looping affect back to SIBO. I live in the Boston area (Cambridge) and am being treated by a number of doctors, both MD and alternative med drs. I first tried the herbal route and again it killed the SIBO but then came back. So the focus is to keep the SIBO at bay while trying to find the root cause. My highest numbers are at the end, which means my illioscecal value is likely opening and letting in back flow. This can be the result of poorly digested foods, causing laceration and also literally hitting the valve and making it open. Also, be careful what probiotics you take bc SIBO is often a colonization of good bacteria, mostly lactase D strain. This is the most typical strain in commercial yogurt, probiotics etc. If you go to the SCD website they have a link to a yogurt starter than has no D-lactade. I make my own almond milk and then make yogurt from that. You can also get probiotics without d-lactade strain.

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Lee,

      Thanks so much for your comments! I do know that SIBO is only the result of another issue, and my doctor and I both agree that my most recent relapse was probably caused by the fact that we hadn’t addressed the candida properly, and it was never actually gone (I was working with a different naturopath to treat the candida initially). You should take the HCl challenge if you think your stomach might be producing low acid – I did it myself and was able to get down 12 HCl pills per meal before having any reactions. I then took 12 pills per meal until I was able to wean myself off of them. Now if I even take one, I get indigestion, so my acid levels are finally up to par. As for the rifaximin (same as xifaxan), it is an antibiotic that only treats gut bacteria, so it’s relatively safe for the rest of the body (although I’m so against antibiotics now that I’ve learned so much about them). I do not have h pyhlori, I’ve been tested for it. And I have also been tested for most of the other ailments you suggested, nothing came back positive. I make my own yogurt every day from raw cows milk and yogurt culture. It is amazing. :) Hope you continue to get well, and keep plugging along! We will both get through this! :) Thanks so much for your message.

      Best,
      Melissa

      Reply
      • Anna

        Hi, I have a question, maybe you could help me…I have biggest health problems since almost a year after takin antibiotics and PPIs for a long time and very stressfull time in my life… I’ve been tested for h. pylori (positive) and I’m going to be tested for SIBO soon. My main symptoms are stomach pain after meals, heartburn, blenching after many meals food sensitivity, constipations. Along with those symptoms started problems with general health like tingling/ burning skin, muscle twitching, fatigue, ear ringing, hair loss (It stopped after B12 suplemets) so I generally have some malabstobtions of vitamins and minerals. I’m not sure If I may have candida too..What kind of test should I do to rule out candida? I had endoscopy twice and everything was fine. I was taking suplements like Betaine HCL but i gives me more pain i my stomach, I suppose I may have SIBO but I’m waiting to get tested for it. I also notices a big inprovement after probiotic….but as I stop taking it symptoms ate back again… What do you think is best to treat first H pylori or SIBO? teratmen is a little bit different because h pylori is treated with antibiotics and PPI but PPI are very bad for SIBO…..so I’m confused….I’ll be gratefull fo ging me an answer.

      • Melissa

        Hi Anna, thanks so much for reaching out. First of all, I’m so sorry to read about all the health issues you’ve been having. It is so frustrating not knowing what’s going on, while dealing with a number of side effects. I hope you can figure out what’s the root issues are soon so you can treat it properly and start feeling better! To test for Candida, I took a stool test with my nutritionist. It was a 3-day stool test. I’m honestly not sure what to do as far as timeline for treatment (with h-pylori and SIBO). I never had h-pylori, but gut issues are often connected once there is an imbalance. My nutritionist sometimes works remotely with patients and she is awesome. Maybe you should try making an appointment with her? Email me at rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com for more info. Sending healing vibes your way, I wish you all the best! xo

  9. Jacquie

    Melissa,
    I applaud you on making it so far. I found out I had SIBO when I was 17. Although my case isn’t as extreme as yours I do still suffer. I have been exactly in your shoes, from starting with stomach pains and going to my primary Doctor, to only be told it’ll pass. I would return multiple times, until I finally saw a GI specialist at UCLA. Not knowing what made me feel so sick killed me. I too felt like death could ease it all. I would cry wondering why probiotics, teas, and other supplements weren’t working alone. Finally when I had a breath test done we found I had SIBO. It was relief to finally start the rifaximin. And over time I felt like I was getting back to normal. I take the rifaximin monthly, but I am now at the point where I do not want to live my whole life depending on medications. I never really modified my diet(besides trying to exclude dairy). But I know the exact pain, discomfort, and discouragement you felt. People would say it’s all in the head, and it hurt to be in so much pain. I applaud you for coming so far & being so strong. It’s so peaceful to know someone has struggled my exact situation. I would love to talk to you about overcoming this as I still struggle with it. I would love to live my life SIBO free too & get rid of these symptoms forever. Hope to hear from you soon.

    God bless & well wishes,
    Jacquie

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Jacquie, it is so wonderful to hear from you, thank you kindly for your thoughtful message. I’m so sorry to hear about the gut issues you’ve had over the years, and I know all too well how frustrating it is living dependently on medicines to make you feel better. I too would love to talk. If there has been one blessing that has come from my sickness, it’s that it has connected me with beautiful souls from all over the world who are experiencing their own issues. If you’d like to chat more, please email me at rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com. I noticed you said you saw a GI specialist at UCLA – are you located in California? I’m right in San Diego! Sending healing vibes and love your way, Melissa xo

      Reply
    • Tara

      Jacquie, could you please share the GI you saw at UCLA? Was it Lin Chang, or someone else? I’m trying desperately to find a GI to work with, as I also have IBD.

      Thanks!

      Reply
    • Diana

      Hi Jacquie.
      I am Diana and I am in the same situation as you are. I had seen 3 different GI doctors, 2 at UCLA and one a Cedars Sinai. Could you please tell me what Dr did you see at UCLA?
      Wishing you well

      Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Mandy! I would love to recommend my nutritionist and would enjoy meeting in person sometime! I’ll shoot you an email :) xo, Melissa

      Reply
  10. tom

    Hi mellisa great read there am going through the same stuff my self at the moment, just wondering have you gotten any better since the second treatment and do you get more good days or bad days now?

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Tom, thanks so much for your comment! I’m sorry to hear you are going through a similar experience. I relapsed this past July, so since then have been working on another round of treatment. I’d say I have an equal amount of good days and bad days right now, but I’d love to start having more good than bad. I’d love to chat more and see if there’s any way I can help you. Email me at rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com if you’re interested in chatting more! Wishing you all the best!

      Reply
  11. maggie

    this literally made me cry. Thank you for sharing. I too have systemic Candida and Sibo. My life is a nightmare right now and its good to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Maggie, I’m so sorry you’re going through such a hard time. I’d love to connect with you – shoot me an email at Rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com if you want to chat more. I relapsed myself in July and have been undergoing “treatment” ever since but it’s been a rough road for me too, I completely feel your pain. Hope you start feeling better soon, keep me posted! xox

      Reply
      • Maggie

        Im on my second round of xifaxan and just finished my third round of diflucan. Along with very strict diet. I have had a few goods days lately but today has been a challenge. Im so nauseated and tired i cant hardly stand up. I too was told i had IBS and had to seek answers myself. I have been sick now for a steady year. Your blog was like me writting it. Our stories are almost the same. Its definitely the hardest thing ive ever had to do. Stay strong

  12. Alusine

    Its really motivational stories.. thanks guyz.. Mastic Gum, Manuka Honey and Iberogast are also very effective herbal option to treat SIBO

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Alusine, thanks for the suggestions! I’ve never tried any of those options, have you also had SIBO and did these help you treat it?

      Reply
  13. Sara

    Melissa,

    I’m so inspired by your blog! I too have been diagnosed with SIBO and Candida overgrowth. Went through multiple of tests. Unfortunately I’ve been my own advocate as I can’t seem to find a doctor or dietician that can point me in the right direction as far as my diet. I sit here now trying to prepare for grocery shopping and have no idea where to begin. I’ve read so many articles online and printed out so many lists buts it overwhelming! I was also told that I has some type of genetic gene that made me predisposed do this :-( So it seems this will be a lifelong battle! I would really appreciate if you shared your diet plan with me as it will relieve so much stress! Thank you for all your hard work and creating this blog, you have given me hope!

    Sincerely,
    Sara

    Reply
  14. V

    Hi. Thank you so much for your post. Really resonated with me. I am 2 weeks into a first round of treatment with antimicrobials for hydrogen dominant SIBO and was surfing the Internet for stories. I’m wondering if you were given a prokinetic after the bacteria were cleared? It seems they are recommending that now (http://www.siboinfo.com/prevention.html). I truly hope you are feeling better now and am sending positive vibes your way!!

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Ronnie, how have you been feeling during your treatment? I hope you are doing ok despite the die-off. I never took a prokinetic, but I did follow VERY strict dietary restrictions after my rifaximin treatment. Bacteria have a 30-day life cycle, so I followed a strict protocol so that any bacteria that “hatched” after my treatment would starve and not flourish on any food that I was eating. I hope you are feeling ok! Shoot me an email at rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com if you have any further questions that I can help you answer!

      Reply
      • V

        I am feeling subtly better day by day. I’m nearing the end of my herbal treatment and will retest three weeks after that. Fingers crossed! I was also proscribed iberogast (prokinetic) and I am supposed to try a probiotic again and I hope I tolerate this one.

  15. Maura

    Melissa
    Wow I literally cried at your post, thabj you for sharing. I’d love to talk to you if you have a moment I myself have been dealing with sibo for 2 years I blew a 80 and then 6 months later a 67 on the hydrogen breath test, I did 2 rounds of xifaxan at 550mg and still have horrible symptoms bloating, acid reflux, constipation, I’ve tried bone broth soup, sauerkraut, probiotics, ginger, digestive enzymes, caprillyic acid and only very small improvements. I had lost patience and feel alone. My Gastro doctor has been no help and wants to send me to an infectious disease specialist. Can I email you?

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi Maura, I’m so glad you sent me an email so we could connect further. I’m so sorry that you’ve also had a long and strenuous journey with SIBO. :( I understand how lonely the journey can be, email me any time you feel the need to talk, I’m always here. <3

      Reply
  16. J

    Thank you for sharing your story. I needed to hear that and to know my experience is not unique. I would love to hear an update on your SIBO journey. So heartbreaking so many people are suffering with this.
    After years of digestive problems, a year of debilitating symptoms seemingly unrelated to the gut, obsessive researching, and multiple doctors, I was able to figure out it was SIBO. I found a new doctor and asked her to test me for it, she didn’t think my symptoms matched, but she agreed anyway. My numbers were off the charts. I was so relieved to have an answer, to know I wasn’t crazy. When the diagnosis came I was suffering from a deep depression and believed all the symptoms were in my head. I had actually asked my partner to take me to a psychiatric hospital, because I thought I was going crazy. This has been a rough ride, to say the least. I started treatment, took the rifaxamin, started the diet and herbal protocol, and now I’m in pain. The realization that this isn’t just going to away is a hard pill to swallow. I’m routing for you, and everyone else dealing with this.

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Thanks so much for your comment! I feel you on the mental aspect, at times I felt like I was crazy too! Especially since western medicine seems to offer that as the only answer to extreme gut issues! I’d love to hear how you’re doing now, email me at rhythmofourlivesblog@gmail.com. :)

      Reply
  17. Tori

    Hi Melissa I literally cried at this post! You have great way of expressing emotion when you write. Currently I am active sibo and candida I tried xifaxin for 10 days initially I felt better. I also was taking fluconozole for candida. Everything came back twice as bad about 3 weeks after treatment. I started feeling so good and back to my normal self. I am so depressed and discouraged… Getting the test re done but I am positive it’s back. Starting back on the fluconozole again tomorrow. The die off symptoms made me miserable so dizzy that standing was a chore. Yay looking forward that. NOT!!!! Thanks for the post I hope you are doing better now? I read you relapsed as well. *hugs*
    Tori

    Reply
  18. Patty

    Hi Melissa,

    How are you doing? Feeling a little down in the dumps about SIBO/Candida, so I started googling and landed on your site. I was here back in December 2015 and left a short message. Still plugging away at it. How about you?

    Reply
  19. Joseph

    Hi Melissa,
    I completely understand you. I’m going through this hell as well. Maybe my situation is even worse. My SIBO values were 147ppm (not 56 like you) and I am dealing with Candida Krusei (which is a very resistant strain of candida . I wish it was the albicanis like everyone else). So far eating only fish and meat is helping me but even drinking an orange juice makes me feel terrible.
    I’d be happy to chat with you to share our diet protocols and treatment plan if you want. Keep up with your battle because you’re not alone in that.

    Good luck.
    Joseph

    Reply
  20. Lynnsey

    Hi there! Your case is so extremely similar to mine it makes me hopeful to read this. But I just want to know what else you were taking during the time of taking the rifaximin? I’m on my second round of rifaximin and I want to do it right this time. I have a biofilm disruptor, I follow a no starch no sugar diet (I can actually only eat about 10 food items anyway), I take betaine during meals, and I just ordered a prokinetic to keep things moving. I have been struggling for over a year now with SIBO, Candida, and mold toxicity (caused leaky gut)…so really nothing is going to heal while I still have the mold toxins surrounding me…but I definitely am interested to hear what else you took during the treatment. Thank you!!

    Reply

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