A state of imbalance of the intestinal flora (bacteria and other micro-organisms), which may lead to excessive bacterial fermentation in the gut and ‘autointoxication’ from endotoxins (toxins produced by undesirable bacteria within the body). In the 1980s an increasing number of reports began to be published about injury to intestinal cells by intestinal bacterial toxins. Bacterial growth appears to destroy enzymes (such as the disaccharidases which are needed to digest sugars) on the intestinal cell surface, thus preventing carbohydrate digestion and absorption, and making carbohydrates available for bacterial fermentation. Excess mucus may then be triggered as the intestine attempts to flush out the microbial toxins and acidic by-products, and the partially digested, unabsorbed carbohydrates. The result may be chronic diarrhoea or ‘mucus colitis’.
Dysbiosis is promoted by the consumption of antibiotics, which destroy ‘friendly’ (useful) bacteria such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria much more readily than undesirable putrefactive varieties such as E coli and Clostridium. A reduced ability to produce gastric acid may also lead to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Such an overgrowth may promote nutrient malabsorption, particularly that of vitamin B12.
One particularly common form of dysbiosis is known as candidiasis, where the intestinal tract becomes colonized by the yeast Candida albicans.
Natural medicine practitioners treat dysbiosis and conditions promoted by autointoxication, by using herbal antimicrobials, gut healing products, and probiotics together with an appropriate dietary programme.