What is Candida?
Candida is a fungus/yeast found in the normal flora of the body, skin, mouth and other mucous membranes of the body, in particular-the vagina. Under the right conditions, it can become overgrown and cause disease. This overgrowth can weaken the intestinal lining causing leaky gut syndrome. The yeast releases toxins that are absorbed in the blood, weakening organs, especially the liver. The liver will then have an impaired ability to detoxify the body. These toxins also can stimulate an immune reaction. Candida overgrowth disrupts the delicate balance of the flora in the gut and an unhealthy gut leads to dis-ease as the gut is home to the majority of your immune system. Cravings occur to assure the feeding of the yeast overgrowth. Often, Candida overgrowth is overlooked by the medical community, unless it dangerously spreads to the blood. Most of the time, people are not even aware of their Candida infection. They will go to the doctor for some other condition such as cancer, not realizing that there is a coexisting Candida infection that will impede their road to recovery.
Candida overgrowth or Candidiasis has different forms depending on the areas of the body affected. You may be more familiar with the vaginal Candida infection that afflicts many women, or the white coating found on an infant’s tongue that is referred to as Thrush.
The different forms are:
Vaginal Candida-Genital/Vulval Candidiasis – the vagina is normally a more acidic environment. If it becomes too alkaline, yeast can thrive in it and create a Candida infection with itching, burning and a cottage cheese-like, white discharge. One way to treat this is to make the vagina more acidic with Boric acid.
Thrush-Oropharyngeal Candidiasis – this is commonly found in bottle fed babies.
Candida overgrowth-Candidiasis- Candida produces ethanol from fermenting sugars in the gut. Patients can appear drunk after eating carbohydrates. This form of Candida infection is termed “auto brewery syndrome.” Acetaldehyde is a metabolite of ethanol. This produces symptoms similar to a hangover.
Systemic Candidiasis – Candida enters the blood and spreads throughout the body, causing infection. Conditions with a compromised GI system such as IBS, Colitis and Diverticulitis produce bleeding allowing the Candida to get into the bloodstream. It can also become systemic in a person with a compromised intestinal lining such as in leaky gut syndrome. Systemic Candida can become life-threatening in the immune-compromised patient.
Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth
Candida’s symptoms can be subtle. Some of these symptoms are even considered to be “normal” in today’s society but really they are not a part of good health. Brain fog and fatigue are common symptoms as Candida can pass the blood brain barrier. This is due to the acetaldehyde from the Candida which impairs production of neurotransmitters. Gas, bloating, allergies and carb cravings, muscle soreness, headaches, fragrance and tobacco sensitivity, are among the many symptoms of a Candida overgrowth. Today’s toxic environment has led us to accept that a less than perfect feeling is a normal state of being. Many of our diseases of modern living can be the result of a Candida overgrowth. The list includes: ADD, ADHD, insomnia, anxiety, depression, impotence, irritability, memory problems, metabolic syndrome, GERD, hypoglycemic, constipation, bloating, cravings (sugar, chocolate, milk, cheese, vinegar, pickles, alcohol, bread, nuts, fruits) , vaginal yeast infections, toenail fungus, athletes foot, ringworm, eczema, psoriasis, asthma, sinus infection, autoimmune disease, fatigue, cold extremities, fibromyalgia, PMS, endometriosis, infertility, miscarriages, pre-eclampsia and vulvadynia.
Signs of Candida Overgrowth
A physical exam can reveal red areas under the armpits or at the bra line, and/or genitalia or anus. Fingers and toes also need to be examined for yellow or thickened nails. Treatment for nail fungus includes drops of tea tree essential oil on the nail. Tea tree oil can be diluted with water to make a douche for yeast vaginitis.
Candida overgrowth and invasion happens when normal bacterial flora is killed by: antibiotics, processed foods,diet high in sugars, alcohol and yeast ,stress, mercury in vaccinations and silver amalgams, pesticides sprayed on non-organic produce, birth control pills- a woman’s natural hormonal pattern has more oscillating levels of progesterone and estrogen which is a less desirable environment for yeast overgrowth . Immune suppression by steroids used for auto-immune disease and steroid inhalers used for asthma and allergies, chemotherapy, and long term exposure to environmental mold also help propagate yeast. Chlorinated swimming pools and hot tubs are designed to kill bacteria but unfortunately this chlorine will also kill our bodies own natural flora. Before any healing can happen, this Candidiasis needs to be treated and the gut flora balance needs to be restored.
In our office, Candida is often diagnosed clinically based on the symptoms the patient is experiencing. See our questionnaire, along with their exposure to known risk factors such as use of steroid drugs, chemotherapy for cancer, birth control pills, antibiotic use, and alcoholism or processed foods consumption.
Here are some of various tests that we are using:
- Elissa Candida Antibody test IgG, IgA, IgM & Ag from US Biotek. Indicates a current infection and possible severity of infection.
- Comprehensive Stool Analysis detects the presence of pathogenic organisms such as yeast. Offered by Doctors Data, Great Plains Laboratories and Genova Labs.
- Organic Acid Test by Great Plains laboratory. This test evaluates metabolic markers which includes several yeast metabolites or by-products.
- Simple Candida home test. This is a simple test you can do at home that was put together by Robert Harrison.