Do I have Candida Overgrowth and What Can I Do About it?
There is a topic I’ve been dying to discuss that conventional medicine sweeps under the rug. Patients are dismissed, shuffled around in the system, and ultimately end up learning what works for them on their own. There is a big culprit causing chronic fatigue, gut issues, and seasonal allergies. It is Candida.
What is Candida?
Candida is a yeast. It behaves similarly to Epstein Barr virus (EBV) and Cytomygalovirus (CMV). These different viruses and yeast, under ideal conditions live symbiotically within the body in the gut, vagina, mouth, and skin. Under ideal conditions, they are healthy in adequate amounts. With the proper food, detoxing and diet, the immune system stays strong and resistant to foreign invaders. Once our immunity has been compromised due to pesticides, poor food choices, and environmental toxins/fillers, these opportunistic viruses can take over and multiply without checks and balances.
Our beneficial bacteria usually protects us from invasion but when the Microdome is imbalanced, Candida can become a huge issue. Once this occurs, one must be concerned about fighting potential Candida overgrowth syndrome. Yeast and fungi are stubborn too-just think about how long it takes to get rid of a toenail fungus! We are made up of billions upon billions of bacteria and yeast. We are nothing but walking organisms.Candida is so detrimental when it attacks the gastrointestinal tract. Many holistic doctors and practitioners believe that Candida causes far reaching, systemic symptoms although it resides in the GI tract or vagina. This occurs due to release of toxin by-products from live Candida as well as die off. These are the vague but persistent symptoms that many people never have diagnosed-brain fog, rashes, etc. In fact, there are nearly 80 toxins released by Candida alone. Two of these toxins, alcohol and acetaldehyde (the breakdown products of alcohol that causes hangovers), are in such high amounts in people with chronic yeast problems that you may actually end up feeling “drunk” or hungover. Acetaldehyde also interferes with the brain neurotransmitter, dopamine, causing anxiety and poor concentration.
In western medicine, doctors often ignore general Candida in the urine, stool or even some mild overgrowth on areas of the skin. So with all the conflicting expert opinions, how are we supposed to know when to be concerned or if we even have Candida? Symptoms are quite vague and encompassing. Yeast has even been implicated in cancer and autism. When Candida multiplies to high levels it also can enter the bloodstream. “Once that happens, your immune system has to develop an immunity to yeast in order to wipe it out of the bloodstream. But once the immune system has been sensitized to yeast, it can tell when it is in the gut and will attack it in the intestines. When that happens, Candida releases chemicals that are absorbed by the body and make you sick.”
Here are a few telltale signs of the Candida overgrowth
1. Vaginal yeast infections, oral thrush, vulvar itching, diaper rash or toenail fungus are a clue that a bigger process is occurring internally. These are parts of the body that are exposed externally but wonder what is occurring internally?
2. Recurrent sinus infections/sinusitis/colds. Candida (and other fungus) can burrow into sinus cavities, impeding flow of mucus, causing swelling and inflammation. A study done by the Mayo clinic looked at a group of 210 chronic sinusitis sufferers. They collected mucus from the nasal cavity of each patients, and tested each sample for fungi and bacteria. The result? They found that an incredible 96% of those patients had fungi in their mucus.
3. Bloating or fatigue after meals, nausea, diarrhea, & undigested food in stool are a common sign. Many practitioners who have studied eastern medicine and nutrition believe that Candida burrows into the wall of the gut, creating microperforations and leaky gut which impedes proper digestion and mineral absorption.
4. Brain fog, inability to concentrate, disorientation, irritability, depression, severe fatigue and headaches are also some commonly reported symptoms. The toxic by products are thought to affect cognition as well.
5. Sensitivity to chemicals, perfumes, colognes, and any synthetic odors.
6. Perirectal itching-yep I said it. Yeast and parasites affect the length of the GI tract-that means from the mouth to the anus! Thrush occurs in the mouth and steroid inhalers are a risk factor that predisposes to overgrowth.
7. Prostate and bladder infections are the most common symptoms in men. Yeast affects their urinary tract and sex organs as well.
A whole host of other symptoms can develop from Candida overgrowth including chronic fatigue syndrome, IBS, weight gain, depression, and migraines.
So now that we know the signs, we can see many people have Candida overgrowth or some form of yeast overgrowth. You might guess that a weakened immune system is one risk factor for Candida and you’d be correct. What are some other main risk factors for Candida overgrowth? With strong immunity, pro activity and the proper diet, Candida overgrowth can be avoided or successfully treated.
1. A big one is antibiotics. A modern marvel in themselves, they alone are proof as to what can happen when the truth about health is hidden in lieu of medicines. It’s a terrible thing to see and be a part of, considering that much of this could be avoided with diet and nutritional support. Antibiotics kill off gut bacteria. In babies, thrush is often a problem if the mother is on antibiotics. Thrush is Candida overgrowth and the baby is exposed to the mothers choices as well. Antibiotics also cause an issue when acne prone or sickly children are prescribed multiple rounds while their immune system is still maturing. This wreaks havoc later in life as the delicate gut balance is interrupted during a crucial building phase.
2. SUGAR! Sugar lowers immunity and feeds these little critters until they can proliferate unchecked. It also feeds cancer. Bacteria, parasites, yeast, viruses and cancer all choose sugar as their preferential energy source (proven by Otto Warburg in the 1930s). If you do have Candida overgrowth, be advised that the craving for sugar and sweets is nearly unbearable sometimes. Studies are now showing that the gut is the second brain and sends more signals to the brain then the brain does to it! Yeast and bacteria can actually control and induce cravings.
3. Oral or inhaled steroids cause proliferation of yeast. Patients on an inhaled corticosteroid like Advair or an oral steroid like prednisone, for example, are at an increased risk of thrush-the white coating on the tongue caused but yeast overgrowth.
4. Birth control pills or pregnancy-a large part of humans’ immunity comes from properly secreted sex hormone levels. I know plenty of patients and friends who go onto birth control pills and begin to get vaginal yeast infections due to the change in hormone levels. Although birth control is necessary, the risks of increased cancer and yeast overgrowth are real.
5. Concurrent infection with Epstein Barr Virus, CMV, cancer or HIV also all lower immunity. Up to 95% of people are seropositive for EBV and upwards of 80% have been exposed and are positive for CMV. It is postulated that EBV and CMV work by releasing their toxic by-products systemically throughout the body, lowering immunity enough that Candida can help take over. If there’s too much yeast, it breaks down the lining of the intestines and let’s allergens and byproducts interrupt digestion. Thankfully HIV and cancers are not as common as EBV and CMV, but are still potent alterers of the immune system. Chemo also kills off all immunity needed to fight infections.
If all these signs are present, why is Candida overgrowth syndrome so under diagnosed? Why does conventional medicine deny that Candida can invade and overtake the intestines and colon? Unfortunately, Candida symptoms are vague.
Because post-medication recurrence is common, most experts suggest that anti fungal medications and supplements be viewed as only one ingredient of a more holistic, longer-term recipe that includes reducing or temporarily eliminating certain foods and then following a rotation or maintenance plan once you begin reintroducing certain foods into your diet.
So we’ve discussed symptoms and causes, what can we do to prevent this pesky invader from taking over?
Treatment should aim to starve the yeast, kill it off, repopulate the gut, support the body’s ability to detoxify and—so important—ensure that the patient is able to emotionally cope with all the physical effects of detoxing, also known as Herxheimer reactions.
Here are some tips and lifestyle changes to beat out yeast
1. Be sure to eliminate sugar, corn syrup, white bread and other white flour products, soda pop, most ready-to-eat cereals, and all sweet and salty snack foods. They contain nutritionally deficient simple carbohydrates encourage yeast overgrowth and promote poor health. You will also want to cut out all natural fruit sugar for a couple weeks-especially high glycemic fruit like bananas and melons. Berries are thought to be acceptable. After two weeks, try to slowly add lower glycemic fruits back into your diet. Avoid alcohol which converts to sugar in your body, and peanuts which often contain mold and yeast. Skip out on milk, which now contains pus and antibiotics that feed Candida due to the horrendous factory farm conditions.
2. Begin an exercise program. Regular exercise will help improve your overall well-being and enhance your immune system. Increasing circulation and sweating are both natural detoxes for the body.
3. Reduce stress. Learn how to do yoga, t’ai chi, or meditation, and practice them consistently. You must find stillness to find your center and true self.
4. Avoid inorganic feminine products. Some douches, feminine sprays, and perfumed tampons can make COS worse by irritating the delicate vaginal membranes and interrupting bacterial balance.
5. Wear organic cotton underwear. This is particularly important if you are susceptible to recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Nylon or other polyester fabrics can trap moisture, creating the ideal place for fungal growth. Pesticides are sprayed on much of the cotton fields and then this is exposed to an entrance inside the body.
6. Eat fermented foods, take a good probiotic like Prescript Assist, Culturelle or Dr Natura Flora to replace the beneficial bacteria in the gut. If you are not vegan then try some organic yogurt. Check the label to be sure it contains active or live cultures of acidophilus.
7. Get the bowels moving. Increase dietary fiber, try colon hydrotherapy or coffee enemas to clean out the intestines, psyllium husk, magnesium supplementation, amla, berberine all help. This will help eliminate the organisms and the toxins that the Candida yeast produces. This is Important because you don’t want to kill off Candida without moving the bowels. Otherwise the toxic byproducts sit in the colon and fester, finally leaking into the bloodstream.
8. Candida ass kicking foods including papaya and pumpkin seeds, beets, onions, leeks, leafy greens, carrots, kimchi, miso, cabbage, chia, flaxseeds, coconut oil, organic yogurt, and cayenne pepper.
Herbs that kick Candida to the curb
1. Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) boosts the immune system and helps the body battle candidiasis. This herb works best when taken in alternating cycles with other immune-enhancing herbs, such as astragalus or goldenseal.
2. Garlic (Allium sativum) both enhances immunity and kills off Candida in the body. In test-tube studies, garlic has been found to inhibit the growth of C. albicans. Garlic keeps vampires away in legends and there’s a reason for this saying! Parasites and yeast are definitely vampires!
3. Goldenseal and other berberine-containing herbs like Oregon grape and barberry have been studied for their ability to effectively kill Candida albicans. Combinations of these herbs are widely used by naturopathic doctors for chronic candida infections. There’s some evidence that goldenseal is also effective for candida-related diarrhea.
4. Oil of oregano is an excellent anti Candida killer. The only issue is that it also counteracts good bacteria in the gut as well. Therefore I do not recommend more than a couple weeks of oregano oil. Recent laboratory studies have actually shown that oil of oregano is many times more potent than caprylic acid, although more research into this oil is needed, it is thought to be nature’s antibiotic.
5. Caprylic acid is a fatty acid with antifungal actions. It’s what gives coconut oil and palm oil their anti fungal properties. It breaks down the cell wall of the Candida.
6. Saccharomyces boulardii as well as both Lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidis and Lactobacillus bifidus promote a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, bladder, and vagina. They also fight “bad” bacterial strains. Research shows that L. acidophilus may help prevent vaginal yeast infections, replacing the natural biodome that antibiotics destroy. These friendly yeast produces lactic acid, which acidifies the intestinal content and reduces the candida population. They also naturally rev up immunity.
7. Lipotropic supplements, which include betaine, choline and methionine) and Milk Thistle are often recommended by naturopathic physicians, who believe that candida-related toxins suppress the liver’s normal ability to detoxify. This accounts for the multiple chemical sensitivities and food allergies associated with yeast overgrowth as the liver becomes sluggish. Lipotropic combinations help protect and detoxify the liver.
8. Wormwood or artemesin and black walnut hull are also effective at killing Candida and parasites.
9. Digestive enzymes may also be suggested. Many holistic physicians believe low stomach acid is an issue leading to Candida overgrowth. Malabsorption from low stomach acid can lead to hindered immunity and an inability to fight Candida properly. If there’s evidence of inadequate stomach acid or pancreatic enzymes, supplemental enzymes may be prescribed along with other remedies.
10. Biocidin is an amazing synergistic product . It works on total gut health and has only the most top notch, wild harvested ingredients. In fact, most are the ingredients listed above! It works effectively against Lyme disease, Candida, parasites, fungi, and chronic conditions related to overall gut health. Due to its effectiveness, it can produce die off, or Herxheimer reactions from the yeast. Therefore, strict guidance is needed and a brief skype consult with yours truly to ensure your system can handle the protocol. Independent laboratory testing has concluded that Biocidin has broad reaching effects, including addressing hidden biofilms formed by yeast. The formula is available in liquid, liquid filled capsules, liposomal delivery and as a throat spray and is some of the best around.
Check out the Ingredients for yourself: Bilberry extract (25% anthocyanosides), Noni, Milk Thistle, Echinacea (purpurea & angustifolia), Goldenseal, Shiitake, White Willow (bark), Garlic, Grapeseed extract (min. 90% polyphenols), Black Walnut (hull and leaf), Raspberry, Fumitory, Gentian, Tea Tree oil, Galbanum oil, Lavender oil (plant & flower), Oregano oil (plant & flower).
Other useful ingredients in the Candida cocktail include: Colloidal silver, microgreens like algae and chlorophyll, vitamin C, pau d’arco, D3, and Lugol’s iodine.
Rest assured that Candida overgrowth can be cured with pro activity and diligence from the patient.