What is Candida?
Candida (pronounced can’-di-duh) is a form of yeast (fungus) which is present in a normal healthy lower intestine or colon. Candida Albicans is the most common form of yeast in the Candida family. Candida thrives in the colon because it loves the warm, dark, moist environment. It also feeds on our diet and particularly likes sugars and other forms of mold or fungus.
Why should we be concerned about Candida?
Although Candida is normally part of a healthy gut flora, the colon’s naturally healthy balance between beneficial bacteria and Candida sometimes becomes Candidiasis or a yeast infection. A yeast overgrowth in the gut can not only interfere with normal digestion, it can lead to a wide range of health problems and symptoms.
The Candida organisms produce waste by products that are toxic to the human body. These neurotoxins can have wide reaching serious effects. Medical studies have shown a direct correlation with behavior and mental disorders such as Autism and found an anti-candida treatment to show significant improvement in such diagnosed individuals. In a person with chronic Candida overgrowth, the body’s immune system constantly has to deal with these toxins.
When a person is suffering from an external yeast infection, commonly known as Thrush, there are obvious symptoms which usually get treated right away. An internal yeast infection occurs more slowly over time and the symptoms are widespread and often misdiagnosed. Symptoms may be further complicated by the presence of food allergies or sensitivities. Dr. Warren Levin MD states: “It is not only the presence of these disease-causing fungal organisms that results in illness. Symptoms are often the result of the body’s allergic response to the organisms. It is this chronic Candida infection mixed with the body’s allergic response that results in what is called Candida Related Complex, or CRC.”
- Foggy Brain or Poor Concentration
- Intestinal Problems
- Body Aches and Pains
- Athlete’s Foot
- Chronic Fatigue
- Prostate Infections
- Bladder Infections
- Chronic Vaginitis
Are There Tests Available to Determine if We Have a Problem?
One favorable method of determining if there is a yeast overgrowth problem is an Organic Acid Profile Test or OAT. This is a urine test that screens for several known yeast by products. The presence of these by products confirms the presence of candida and estimates levels of population. Consult your doctor to order these tests.
Labs that specialize:
Great Plains Laboratory
Another test which uses a blood sample may be done by a company that specializes in food allergy testing:
Immuno Labs and Better Health USA
Why Do We Get Yeast Overgrowth
- The Standard American Diet (SAD). Excess refined and processed foods, sugar and chemicals.
- The overuse of antibiotics.
- The overuse of steroids.
- Birth Control Pills.
- Drugs that suppress stomach acid production.
- Heavy metals especially mercury.
- Alcohol and drug abuse.
- Stress and an unhealthy lifestyle that promotes leaky gut.
Dr Levin uses a great analogy when describing a chronic yeast infection. Think of weeds in a lawn. The dandelion is the Candida. A healthy lawn may contain a few weeds and the weeds are usually kept in check by a healthy lawn. If the lawn is allowed to get unhealthy, the weeds start to proliferate. Eventually the weeds take over and choke out the grass. If you treat the weeds by simply cutting off their heads, they will just come back. You must kill the roots. In extreme cases lawns are completely killed and new seed is put down to start again. Chronic Candida treatment uses the same principal.
Understanding the Food Allergy Connection
Some doctors are now realizing that food allergies are not merely allergies but a combination of allergy and addiction. It is important for several reasons. For one, the symptoms you experience like foggy brain, joint pain, body aches and so on, can all be attributed to an allergic reaction. It may be more an allergic reaction than anything you experience from the toxins from the yeast.
This is why the cleansing diet is a vital part of the healing process. When a person is living with delayed food allergies or sensitivities, the symptoms seem unrelated and chronic. IgG antibodies build up in the body and can be found virtually anywhere. They manifest as the symptoms we have discussed. The antibodies cause irritation and inflammation in areas such as the brain and in joints.
Candida is a particular problem for a couple of reasons. One, the damaged wall of the intestine gets worse when the Candida overgrows and roots into the lining. This can cause leaky gut or maybe the lining was damaged first and helped the Candida take hold. Either way it is a problem which leads to more serious problems. Leaky gut is just what it sounds like, toxic substances that are supposed to stay in the colon leak into the body and get in the bloodstream. This causes all sorts of problems with the immune system and creates or worsens allergies.
On top of that, the body may be or become allergic to yeast. The overgrowth of yeast in the gut contributes to a viscous cycle of food allergy addiction. The addiction is interpreted as cravings by the mind. These cravings are really the cravings of the yeast. This makes the diet all the harder in initial stages.
How Can We Cleanse the Body from Candida?
There are 2 main objectives to the Candida Cleanse:
- Destroy the Candida Albicans with a combination of diet and supplements/medication.
- Repopulate the intestinal tract with “friendly” bacteria and restore the intestinal wall to good health.
First Stage of Candida Cleansing
The first stage of a Candida cleanse is the hardest. It takes knowledge and understanding, time and dedication. The Anti-Candida diet is very challenging and dieters experience strong cravings for the foods that are not allowed to eat. A better understanding of food allergy/addiction helps to understand the cravings. The Candida diet virtually eliminates the food that the Candida Albicans like to feed on and attempts to starve the Candida out. Major foods to be avoided on the yeast free Candida diet are:
- All forms of Sugar and Simple Carbohydrates including Fruit
- Yeast Containing Foods such as Breads and also Vinegars, Wine, Beer and Condiments
- Mold or Fungus containing foods like Cheese, Mushrooms and Processed Meats
- High Starch Vegetables like Potatoes and Carrots
Several prescription anti-microbial medicines are available through your doctor. These include:
- Diflucan (Fluconazole)
- Nizoral (Ketaconazole)
- Sporanox (Itraconazole)
- VFend (Voriconazole)
Things to know: The “azole” family of anti-fungals are effective at treating systemic Candida. This is because they work through the blood. This is also why they may have some negative side effects. There is a higher risk of liver toxicity and should be monitored by your physician. Nystatin is effective at killing the Candida in the intestinal tract but does not enter the bloodstream. This makes it safer but may leave the roots of the fungus embedded in the intestinal wall and the Candida will eventually return. This is like cutting off the heads of the dandelions but leaving the roots.
Many naturopaths recommend natural supplements with anti-microbial properties. These include:
- Oil of Oregano
- Grapefruit Seed Extract
- Pau d’Arco Tea
- Caprilyic Acid
- Golden Seal
Second Stage of Candida Cleansing
Prebiotics, probiotics, minerals and amino acids will be used to replenish friendly bacteria and create a healthy gut flora.
Prebiotics: Serve as a fertilizer for the friendly bacteria. They consist primarily of Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin.
Probiotics: Lactobacillus and Bifidus help inhibit yeast overgrowth and help with overall gut health.
Molybdenum: a mineral shown to help with the breakdown of Candida toxins
Restore colon health with nutrition and added supplements.
Glutamine: an amino acid that aids in repairing the lining of the intestine
Butyric Acid: provides energy for the cells of the intestine
Supergreens: “green” foods which deliver nutrition and promote an alkaline environment may be beneficial
- THE CLINICAL PRACTICE OF ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE MAGAZINE,
VOLUME 1, NUMBER 1, SPRING 2000 PAGES 15-26
Assessment of Antifungal Drug Therapy in Autism by Measurement of Suspected Microbial
Metabolites in Urine with Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
William Shaw, PhD, Ellen Kassen, MT(ASCP), Enrique Chaves, MD
Referenced from Great Plains Laboratory
- Newsletter:Candida Related Complex by Scott Forsgren, Townsend Letter – October 2008
- Naturopath Physician Website Accessed Feb 12, 2010 http://www.drweyrich.com/disorders.html
- Food Allergy and Candida Testing Labs:
www.betterhealthusa.com Immuno Health Guide, Better Health USA