In the previous article, “Chronic Candida Syndrome (Part 1)” we initiated the discussion of candidiasis and its manifestations of symptoms in various illnesses. In review, Candida Albicans is both a fungus and yeast, naturally found in the mucous membranes of the body (most heavily concentrated in the digestive/intestinal tracts). When accelerated overgrowth of Candida colonies occur, called Candidiasis (KAN-di-DY-uh-sis), it can become the root cause of many health disorders.
An overabundance of yeast can disrupt normal body functions. In time, the immune system becomes impaired, symptoms begin to occur, and the individual becomes more susceptible to illness and disease.
Incidence of Candidiasis is rapidly increasing. Several reasons for this are:
- Excessive use of antibiotics destroys the “friendly” intestinal bacteria that keep the yeast in check.
- Use of other steroidal compounds, such as corticosteroids, oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy contribute to the overabundance of Candida.
- Many pharmaceuticals will kill other organisms that combat Candida, while still others will actually encourage the yeast to multiply.
- Lack of proper digestive enzymes in our diet.
- Large consumption of sugar and other sweeteners, natural and artificial alike, rapidly increase Candida growth.
- Levels of stress continue to increase in our lives.
Indications of Chronic Candida Syndrome can be as varied as each individual patient. Localized symptoms, which may commonly occur as vaginal infections in women, are usually referred to as “yeast infections”. Whereas systemic infections, commonly described as Candida, indicate that the entire body can be affected with this abundant “colonization”. This more often occurs in the digestive and intestinal tracts, where the yeast would be most abundant.
This month, we will consider if there is a correlation between Candida overgrowth and other more serious ailments. Can Candidiasis weaken the immune system and provide the proper environment for more serious disease to occur? Or does another factor weaken the immune system, promoting the disease, which then provides a haven for Candida colonies to multiply – in turn, aggravating the symptoms? Is Candidiasis found to be directly associated with chronic disease?
As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, Chronic Candida Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. In 1989, Douglas H. Sandberg, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Miami commented on the relationship between Candida Albicans and various illnesses.
He stated, “Confirmation of the diagnosis (Candidiasis) remains difficult . . . I am convinced that this disorder exists, and that it is important . . . some patients will have to be treated without a firm diagnosis prior to institution of therapy . . . The potential importance of Candida-related illness demands intensive research into all aspects of its diagnosis and treatment.”
It may be that as yeast colonies multiply, and toxins are released into the body, the immune system breaks down leaving the person prone to a variety of illnesses and ailments, such as:
Can Candidiasis weaken the immune system and provide the proper environment for more serious disease to occur? Or does another factor weaken the immune system, promoting the disease, which then provides a haven for Candida colonies to multiply – in turn, aggravating the symptoms?
- Obesity, thyroid or hormonal problems
- Susceptibility to viruses, bacterial and other infections
- Pollen allergies, sensitivities to foods, chemicals, and/or molds
- Disorders in the digestive/intestinal tracts, including weight gain, gas, bloating, colitis
- Energy imbalances or insomnia
- Emotional upsets and depression
- Body aches, headache
- Skin disorders – such as acne or psoriasis
- Reproductive organ disorders
- Lung problems, allergies and ear infections
- General feeling of being “sick all over”
- Hyperactivity, Attention Deficit Disorder, “foggy” brain, and other psychological problems
- Hypoglycemia, Diabetes
Some health care practitioners believe that over a period of time Candidiasis can lead to, or be directly associated with, the onset of chronic illnesses. (When referring to “chronic illness – or disease” in this article, it will be in regards to the following diseases.) Some of these diseases are:
- Chronic Fatigue Symptom (CFS), Fibromyalgia
- Epstein Barr Virus, Lupus, M.S.
- Crohn’s disease
- AIDS – (Candidiasis of the lungs, esophagus, trachea, or bronchi is considered to be an indicator disease for AIDS)
Elmer Cranton, M.D., former editor of the Journal of Advancement in Medicine found there was a correlation between the patients he treated for Candidiasis and their susceptibility to viruses. Dr. Cranton’s belief was that Candida overgrowth weakens the immune system, allowing viruses (including Epstein-Barr Virus) and other chronic ailments to take hold.
An opposing opinion by Joge D. Flechas, M.D., states that an overgrowth of Candida Albicans was found on the mucous tissues of most of his Chronic Fatigue patients. Dr. Flechas theorized that Candidiasis occurs because of the weakened immune system brought on by the various chronic diseases. In turn, Candida would aggravate the symptoms, but not be the direct cause of the disease. However, he did recommend that patients suffering from chronic illness be placed on an anti-yeast program to help improve the overall immune system.
Dr. Belinda Dawes in her book, “Why M.E.?” states, “Without doubt, Candida infection plays a role in the ill health of almost all patients I see. Although, their illness may not be directly related to the Candida problem, eliminating Candida from their body and its related consequences has certainly been one of the factors in their recovery.”
Some doctors conservatively estimate at least 50% of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patients demonstrate Candida overgrowth. Others believe the numbers are actually much higher. As discussed last month, most medical tests are not definitive in diagnosing Candida. The probability that CFS is linked to Candida can be more readily determined by patient history and response to anti-yeast treatment.
Evidence continues to point toward a cause and effect relationship between Candida and chronic disease. C. Orian Tuss, M.D., in his book – “The Missing Diagnosis” reported positive results when treating his autoimmune disease patients with anti-yeast therapy. Even one patient with systemic Lupus experienced remarkable improvement in symptoms.
At a conference on Autism in 1995, William Shaw, PhD, from the Children’s Mercy Hospital and the University of Missouri, presented laboratory studies showing a relationship between Candidiasis and Autism. They found that the children received positive improvement when treated with anti-yeast therapy.
From my own experiences with Candidiasis, the yeast/fungus overgrowth, brought on by an overuse of antibiotics, dramatically weakened my immune system. It took years of vague and odd symptoms before I was led to Candidiasis being the diagnosis. In my case, Candidiasis left me vulnerable to almost every virus that I came in contact with.
Once I found out the problem, it was necessary for me to correct my nutritional habits. The most important changes I made were in regards to my diet. Most of the dietary changes were listed in last month’s newsletter, but in review:
- Concentrate on avoiding foods with little or no nutritional value, because nutritional deficiencies will compound the problem.
- Eliminate simple carbohydrates, including sugar, corn syrup, Nutrasweet, or any other natural or artificial sweeteners from your diet. Yeast thrives on simple carbohydrates, which will rapidly increase Candida colonization.
- Eliminate alcohol, caffeine, nicotine
- Instead of carbonated beverages, drink pure filtered water.
- Avoid breads and other products that are made with yeast.
- Avoid dairy (other than plain, unsweetened yogurt, which is very beneficial).
- Be aware of foods that may cause allergic sensitivities, such as wheat, corn, eggs, or chocolate.
- Remove foods from the diet that are processed and contain preservatives, artificial coloring, additives, chemicals and even insecticides. These will weaken the immune system and promote an increased Candida count.
- Foods and beverages that are loaded with saturated or partially hydrogenated fats and oils are stressful to the body and can also be a contributing factor to weakening the immune system.
- Avoid medications when able to do so, such as: antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills, synthetic hormones and other substances that encourage prolific yeast growth.
- Consider removing any mercury/silver amalgam dental fillings, which are toxic. Hair analysis can determine the level of mercury and other toxic metals in the body.
Candida symptoms can be caused or aggravated by environmental pollutants. With this in mind, clean up the environment in which you live. Many substances give off toxic fumes.
Even though outdoor air pollution can worsen the symptoms, indoor air pollution from household products, building materials (sometimes containing asbestos or formaldehyde), and tobacco smoke can be even more dangerous due to constant exposure. Also included in this list of items to avoid should be:
Cleansing products, dry cleaning chemicals, Insecticides, Molds in air conditioning systems, and Perfumes
Many chronic health disorders have improved when the exposure to environmental toxins has lessened.
I realize that these changes can be intimidating. However, it is important that you do not give up. Start by cutting back on the more serious offenders, such as sweetened foods or alcohol.
As I eased into the lifestyle modifications, I noticed several changes. The first was that by slowly changing my diet and taking herbal remedies, I found my symptoms improving dramatically. This helped me be more determined to clean up the rest of my weaknesses. The second change I noticed was I started losing weight and that “bloated” feeling – also an appreciated result.
There are a few anti-yeast/antifungal prescriptive medications on the market, such as Nystatin, but they have side effects and can weaken the immune system. These medications may have a short-term benefit, but usually the Candida will mutate into more invincible forms. Many patients who have used pharmaceutical anti-yeast/antifungal medications often become frustrated with the results. Also, these medications can destroy helpful organisms that control Candida growth.
As always, we prefer to recommend more holistic methods for our readers. However, remember that it is important to rotate even natural therapies, because resistant strains of Candida mutate easily.
Awareness of the intestinal/digestive area, where Candida is most concentrated, is vital. When foods do not digest properly, they will ferment creating a perfect breeding ground for yeast. The intestines need to properly function and rid the body of toxins, thoroughly. A sluggish liver will encourage yeast growth, and also Candidiasis will cause a sluggish liver – a vicious circle.
For me, when Candidiasis begins affecting my health again, my first plan of attack is to increase my intake of Lactobacillus acidophilus (probiotics), along with a high quality aloe vera juice. Lactobacillus/acidophilus helps replace the proper flora (“friendly” bacteria) in the intestines.
Aloe vera has strong antifungal properties. Remember, Candida is both a fungus and yeast, so remedies with natural “antifungal” properties can be very effective. I usually consume two to four ounces, along with a couple of probiotic capsules, approximately twenty minutes before a meal when my stomach is empty. I find this most beneficial when I remember to do this three times a day, before each meal.
Within a couple of weeks, I can tell a noticeable difference in my symptoms. I try to stay on this for a few weeks after I am back to normal, just to be sure the Candida is under control. Actually, if I were less forgetful (or maybe even less “lazy”), I would continue this dose at least once a day, as a preventative measure. Doing so continues to strengthen the immune system.
In addition, other highly effective anti-yeast/antifungal/ antibacterial remedies, which can be found at most health food stores, are:
- Essential Fatty Acids – important for healing and preventing fungus from destroying cells, (best from cold-pressed olive, flax seed, and black currant seed oils)
- Caprylic Acid – derived from coconut and kills fungus on contact
- Garlic – powerful antifungal properties
- Black walnut seed extract – potent antifungal remedy
- Oriental wormwood – another great antifungal remedy
- Pau D’Arco – analgesic, antiviral/antibacterial/ antifungal (be sure to purchase potent, high quality brand, containing “lapachol”)
- Cloves -similar properties to Pau D’Arco (alternate between them)
- Barberry fights Candida overgrowth, normalizes intestinal flora and stimulates the immune system.
- Golden seal and Echinacea extracts – take no more than two weeks at a time, and then off for two weeks, so the body does not build up a resistance to these remedies.
- Ginger – antibacterial and antifungal
- Chamomile – soothes and heals tissues harmed by Candida
- Tea tree oil – strong, “natural” antibiotic properties
- Colloidal silver – natural, broad-spectrum antiseptic that fights infections (can be taken by mouth – carefully referring to dose recommendations)
Nutrients and antioxidants that support the immune system are also important, such as:
- Digestive Enzymes – supports thorough digestion of foods
- CoQ10 – powerful antioxidant and improves tissue oxygenation
- Grapefruit seed extract – rids the body of harmful microorganisms
- L-Cysteine – potent antioxidant and free radical destroyer
- Vitamin C/Bioflavanoids – protects the body from damage by the toxins released from Candida (Ester form of Vitamin C is more readily absorbed.)
- Magnesium, zinc and calcium (citrate form) will help reduce irritability and calm the nervous system.
- Vitamin A, E, B complex – highly important for immune system
- Colostrum, a relatively new product on the market, is noted for reversing Candidiasis, while providing an overall strengthening of the immune system.
(Make sure all the nutrients you consume are of the best quality and yeast-free.)
The debate continues as to whether Candida weakens the immune system and causes various diseases, or if the various diseases weaken the immune system – in turn encouraging the proliferation of Candida colonies. Clinical trials and studies are needed to determine the answer.
In the meantime, we know the problem exists and what the more common indications are. We also know that patients’ symptoms improve when they are put on an anti-yeast program.
Even though it is logical to assume that changing to an anti-yeast program will strengthen your immune system, you will still want to check with your holistic health care provider, who can give more specific instructions for controlling Candidiasis.
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[reprinted from Applied Health Journal No.60]