by Lynn Hinderliter CN, LDN
Candida Albicans brings a mind-boggling list of of health problems in its wake.
Candida, a form of yeast cell, (more than 150 different strains have been isolated) is naturally present in our bodies at all times, and therefore its mere presence cannot identify it as an enemy: if you fall sick, there are few tests your Doctor can do which will definitely fix it as the cause.
If you have taken antibiotics frequently or for lengthy periods of time, have suffered from fungal infections of the nails, digestive tract or genitals, feel sick all over with no explanation, are bothered by memory problems, have taken birth control pills for more than 2 years, are really bothered by exposure to cigarette smoke or chemicals, feel worse on damp, muggy days, - consider Candida as the cause.
An imbalance, a state of dysbiosis caused by yeast overgrowth, brings about a disturbance in the natural order where the friendly organisms in our gut designed to control the level of Candida organisms in our body fail in their task.
This disturbance can be caused by
* antibiotic use
* faulty diet,
* nutritional deficiencies
* poor liver function
* birth control pills*
or a combination of any of these.
* (Estrogen/ progesterone imbalances increase Candida's tendency to attach to the cells lining the vagina, and therefore both pregnancy and oral contraceptives can increase one's risk. Oral contraceptives containing 75-150 micrograms of estrogen are most likely to cause the problem; low-dose products are seldom implicated.)
Antibiotics,may be the worst villains, since they cannot tell the difference between the friendly bacteria our internal balance requires, and the bad ones they have been taken to fight: they kill them all. The situation is aggravated by high carbohydrate diets, which feed the yeast organisms, allowing a population explosion.. When overgrowth occurs, several things happen:
* Firstly, C. Albicans is a highly allergenic bacterium. Clinical studies have shown that its presence in the intestinal tract can lead to "leaky gut" syndrome, where food antigens and toxins can be absorbed directly into the blood stream, leading to that "sick all over" feeling. This happens because over time, Candida can behave like a fungus, developing rhizoids that can grow into the wall of the intestine, and contribute to its gradual weakening and permeability: it is possible that this highly toxic state of affairs can contribute to conditions as diverse as asthma and CFS through its effect on the immune system..
* Secondly, the toxins produced (among them ethanol, acetaldehyde - which can damage organs, cause emotional disturbances, memory loss and mood swings, and formaldehyde) may act as immunosuppressants to prevent your defenses from doing their job. This may mean not only that you are rendered susceptible to re-infection by Candida itself, but also that auto-antibodies may form, and hormonal dysfunctions may follow (Witkin, Ph.D. Cornell Univ. Med. Coll 1985) together with a medley of seemingly unrelated health problems.
* Thirdly, the Candida may become systemic in nature. Having breached the intestinal lining, it now has access to the bloodstream and from there any part of your body, where it can set up its home and multiply. Some of the symptoms of systemic Candida are digestive problems, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, skin eruptions and rashes, and recurrent urinary tract infections.
Fortunately, there is now an inexpensive stool laboratory test (see bottom of page) which will determine the balance between yeast roganaisms and good bacteria, and can also determine parasite infestation.
The following are some serious illnesses which have sometimes responded favorably to treatment for Candida: they include MS, lupus, myasthenia gravis, multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis and cystitis, and endometriosis.
I hasten to add that I am not suggesting that they are cured by this means, but that some of the symptoms lessen in intensity.
Nor is it my intention to suggest that the serious diseases mentioned above such as MS, lupus, CFS, etc., are caused by Candida. What I see happening here, (and much of my information comes not only from my own clients, but also from Dr. Crook's wonderful books, The Yeast Connection and The Yeast Connection and the Woman) is an accumulation of insults to the body which result in illness.
Consider the changes that have occurred in our life styles over the past 50 years - increased exposure to chemicals and toxins, the almost casual intake of antibiotics and synthetic hormones, the decrease in healthy nourishing food and the increase in pesticides, preservatives, sugar, hydrogenated fats, food colorings - the list goes on and on.
How can we not expect our bodies to pay a toll? Lowered immune systems, alkaline/acid imbalance, and digestive disorders are high on the list of first responses to these health stressors, and Candida feels right at home in these conditions: once an imbalance starts, the body reacts in many different negative ways.
What does this mean? When a scientist reaches a destination, he needs to know the road he traveled by, and that it leads only from there to here. It is difficult for a trained scientist to accept that one road can lead to many destinations, or that one destination can be reached by many roads. Dr. Truss in his book The Missing Diagnosis says: " you may seem neurotic ... but do you experience ... depression, anxiety, irrational irritability, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, indigestion, loss of self-confidence, inability to cope, lethargy, symptoms from contact with food and chemical odors, acne, migraine, headaches ... urethritis, cystitis, repeated vaginal yeast infections, premenstrual tension, and menstrual problems? .. These may be symptoms of a treatable illness."
It can be hard for an allopathic Doctor to accept not only that Candida can cause so many and such diverse health problems, but that its cause and correction are also multi-faceted.
Treatment of Candidiasis is truly not simple, but the first step is the proper diet avoiding sugars in all forms, even limiting complex carbohydrates usually thought to be good for you, (see bottom of page for a detailed list).
Candida is a yeast, and anything that might feed it must be avoided; this means cutting out all sugars (even honey), fruits, starches, vinegar and alcohol. No more maple syrup, corn syrup, white bread, soft drinks, or cereals. They should be replaced with vegetables and lean proteins. No more dried or fresh fruits, mushrooms, pizza or pastries. As and when the condition improves, some of these things may be added back in - but many people feel so much better without them, they want to keep the improvement permanently!
An interesting exception to this rule is Xylitol. Dr. Ward Dean states that this sweetener is not metabolized by humans OR yeast: "Yeast gobble it up, thinking they're getting sugar, and die". He considers it one of the best anti-candida strategies!
The next steps are detoxification, enhancement of digestive and immune function, balanced nutritional supplementation and herbal and medicinal anti-fungal agents . I usually recommend the following protocol:
* First, cleansing and detoxing.
* Second, attacking the yeast with a selection of herbs that have natural anti-fungal activity, such as Olive Leaf, Garlic, Pau d'Arco, Grapefruit Seed Extract and Oregano.
The more diverse your weapons, the better your chance of success.
* The wall of the Candida yeast cell is composed largely of cellulose, and it is vulnerable to digestion by Cellulase enzymes. It has no defense - it cannot change the structure of its cell wall. These enzymes should always be used between meals, otherwise they will be wasted digesting the cellulose in your food. IT IS ESSENTIAL TO TAKE THEM SEPARATE FROM FOOD . For more information about Candex, see Resources at right.
* Saccharomyces Boulardii is in effect a friendly yeast that fights Candida: it is much used in France, where they refer to it as the yeast- fighting yeast. If your Candida is connected to food allergies, this may be especially helpful for you; it releases IgA which helps heal the lining of the gut. Saccharomyces is helpful to prevent and relieve diarrhea, particularly when medication related.
* Third, rebuilding the colon and repopulating it with friendly bacteria such as Bifidus and Lactobacillus .
* Fourth, maintenance. I recommend HSOs/ Primal Defense, continued use of probiotics, and cyclical use of Candex.
* Fifth - aiding digestion: deficiencies of HCL or pancreatic enzymes can mean that you are not absorbing your foods properly. Improve your absorption, and there will be less to feed the yeast.
* There is also a connection with Gallbladder malfunction, since a healthy supply of bile helps keep Candida Albicans in check. Generally, there is some reason to suspect that Candida impairs the digestion of fats. This is why it may be a good idea either to limit diary, or to add a LIPASE enzyme as well. If you have Candida, and have had your gallbladder removed, and NOTHING seems to control the infection, consider adding a source of ox bile.
* Sixth - balance acid/alkaline. Interestingly, while many Candida sufferers have very acid pHs, some people suffering from recurrent Candida infections are found to have a highly alkaline body chemistry: this is usually in conjunction with a low metabolic rate, and can occur even if the diet is high in acid foods.
An acid pH in the body can also cause excessive alkalinity in the colon, which encourages the growth of yeast. In fact, one of the means by which acidophilus controls yeast overgrowth is by acidifying the large intestine.
In other words, disturbance of the pH balance IN EITHER DIRECTION, whether acid or alkaline, can facilitate opportunistic Candida overgrowth.
However, Candida is absolutely happiest when the acid environment of the body means that the stomach is paradoxically LOW in acid, or HCL. and the bowel is alkaline.
... Homeostasis is a state of balance, when the entire body is in harmony and functioning perfectly. Disturbance of this homeostasis leads to disease.
* Each step should be supported and enhanced by proper diet and supplements to support the immune system such as Moducare, Colostrum, OPCs, and B Vitamins. Add also a multi-vitamin and mineral, since many Candida sufferers compound their problem by not absorbing the nutrients they need for basic good health.
* Determine the cause of the Candida: whether it be diet, allergy, stress, hormones, medications - unless you find out what caused it and eliminate that cause, the problem WILL RETURN!!
Some people manifest their yeast problems not only internally, but by overgrowths of thrush in the mouth, disfiguration of the nails on hand or foot, and sometimes even malodorous rashes on the skin, under the breasts and around the genitals being favorite sites . I have come across a solution of Silver which is proving to be very helpful for such problems, as a gargle, or as a topical application.
I am amazed, too, at the frequency with which I find that people with really intractable Candida also have parasites. I would recommend testing for this (see the UroKeep Test for Candida and parasites) .
Dr. Morton Walker's book about Olive Leaf Extract points out that hospital acquired infections from pathogenic fungi, mainly Candida Albicans, increased from 6 to 11 percent between 1980 and 1990. Most anti-fungal drugs work by inhibiting the growth of fungi: this means some fungal cells survive in the body, becoming resistant to the drug treatment. Olive Leaf is a fungicidal substance which kills the invading fungus rather than just slowing it down - this means that fewer of the cells survive, and resistant mutations are also fewer. It also means less risk of relapse after ceasing treatment with the Olive Leaf.
There is a mistaken belief that people with Candida overgrowth need to adhere to a yeast free diet. In fact, there does not appear to be any connection between the consumption of food yeasts ( Saccharomyces Cerevisiae) and the overgrowth of Candida yeast. Dr. Jack Sobel, who has a list a yard long of qualifications to speak on the subject, says "There is no association between Saccharomyces in the diet and systemic Candidiasis .... I never put patients on yeast free diets, as they are painful, non-nutritional, extremely difficult to comply with, and ill-advised in my opinion". (my italics) (Interviewed by Dr. Passwater, Whole Foods Magazine July 99 p. 60)
If the Candida still persists, consider an elimination/ rotation diet to spot possible food allergies or intolerances, which may play a large role in this scenario. The Coca Pulse Test can be very helpful. The most common offenders are yeast, (and if yeast is an allergen for you, then it should be avoided) milk, wheat, corn, eggs and citrus.
Candida overgrowth is definitely an under-diagnosed problem in allopathic circles. Most nutritionally oriented Doctors who are addressing this imbalance have concluded that the way to diagnose Candida, is to treat the symptoms, and determine from the results whether or not the diagnosis was correct. This might seem an irrational approach, were we talking about strong drugs that could be harmful to the patient, but Candida can be tackled. and often conquered, using measures which actually contribute to overall health.
The advantage of the natural approach is that you are not only much more likely to control the yeast permanently, but you will also put your immune system back on track, able to help you resist other problems that may come your way.
* Breads, pastas, baked goods, sauces soups and dressings thickened with flour, and/or sweetened with sugar, candy, chewing gum, and sugar in all forms (fructose, sucrose, honey, maple syrup)
* Dairy products such as milk and ice cream. Unsweetened yogurt, without fruits, is acceptable, some cheese and cottage cheese is OK.
* Fruits and berries
* Sweet vegetables such as corn, yams, sweet potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, beets.
* Many prepared foods. Read the labels! Even canned hams and imitation seafood can be a carbohydrate problem.
YOU MAY SUSPECT, BUT DO YOU KNOW? There is a simple test that can be done to determine whether you have a Candida problem: we have the kits here. The cost of the kit is $15.96 plus shipping, and you then send a stool sample off to the lab. You are personally responsible for the lab fee of $80.00. The results are sent directly to the Health Care Provider you select. I have often found that those with the most serious Candida problems also have parasites,