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What is dysbiosis?

Dysbiosis refers to an imbalance in the microbial community (microbiome) living in your body, particularly in your gut. These microbes include bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, etc. An imbalance of these organisms can involve an overgrowth of harmful microbes, a decrease in beneficial microbes, or a disruption in the overall diversity of the entire microbial community. 

What can dysbiosis result in?

As the medical community learns more about the microbiome, relationships between the microbial community and illness are beginning to be understood. While the research is still emerging, it's likely that many conditions, especially those involving the gastrointestinal system, are related to a disruption in your microbiome. 


Some of these conditions may include:

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis have been linked to dysbiosis. Changes in your gut microbiome may contribute to the inflammation seen in these conditions, and likewise, addressing microbial imbalances with herbal medicines may help to reduce bowel inflammation.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Individuals with IBS may have an altered gut microbiome compared to people with normal bowel movements. Dysbiosis may play a role in the symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel habits.

Type 2 Diabetes: An altered microbiome may also affect glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which are two key processes that influence diabetes. 


Autoimmune Diseases: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus have been linked to dysbiosis. The immune system and the gut microbiota have a complex relationship, and dysbiosis may trigger or intensify autoimmune symptoms.


Allergies and Asthma: There is emerging research suggesting a link between dysbiosis and an increased risk of developing allergies and asthma, particularly in early childhood. This is partially why it's important to eat a variety of whole, nutritious foods, which supports gut microbiome diversity and bowel regularity. 

Mental Health Disorders: Some studies have suggested a connection between dysbiosis and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. The gut-brain axis, which involves communication between the gut and the brain, is likely influenced by the microbiome.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Dysbiosis has been observed in some individuals with CFS, though the exact nature of this relationship is still being studied.

What are the main causes of dysbiosis?

There are a few key factors that may contribute to dysbiosis:

  • chronic infectious disease, e.g. Lyme, EBV

  • recurring acute infections, e.g. Strep, UTIs

  • frequent use of antibiotics, antimicrobial drugs, or other pharmaceuticals

  • poor nutrition and dietary habits

In some cases, you may have a genetic predisposition for gut issues or lack microbial diversity, so dysbiosis may develop seemingly unrelated to another issue. 

Is dysbiosis the same as leaky gut?

No, leaky gut and dysbiosis are two different medical concepts. However, dysbiosis can contribute to leaky gut and might be one of the main causes.

Leaky gut occurs when the spaces between your gut cells becomes too wide. The gaps between these cells are tightly regulated by certain proteins such as zonulin, which prevents food and toxins from travelling across the intestinal wall, "leaking" into your bloodstream before being appropriately processed by your liver. The end result of this is an inflammatory process that may lead to nutrient absorption issues and a host of systemic symptoms.

How do you treat dysbiosis?

One approach is to reduce the population of harmful microbes by using natural medicines with antimicrobial properties. These medicines are typically more gentle than antibiotic drugs and can also help restore the regulation function of your gut cells.  Secondarily, detoxification is also important in order to clear out the microbes that were destroyed and to lower the overall burden on your liver and gastrointestinal system. 

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