Most doctors, and perhaps people, when they think about candida think about candida albicans, the most common form. However, there are many forms ... and often when I myself refer to candida, I am referring to a state of bacterial overgrowth in the body that is trying to take control and overwhelm the system. Candida is a yeast-like fungal organism that is found in small amounts in the normal human intestinal tract. It is normally kept in balance by the body's own helpful bacteria, but when out of balance, the bacteria-fungus shape-shifter can create yeast infection in the GI track and invade other parts of the body.
How does candida become a problem?
When the helpful bacteria gets killed off or injured by our modern lifestyle, surgery, antibiotics, coffee and/or in other ways, the invasion begins. Fungal yeast, when set free from the flora that normally keeps it in check, actually changes form or "morphs" to create a more aggressive, harmful type of fungal cell and develops long, burrowing legs. Without bacterial balance this candida yeast proliferates in our intestines. This new yeast cell is able to move throughout the body, actually burrowing through the intestinal wall. It clogs systems, gets into organs, causes candida yeast infections from vaginal to anal to penile - anywhere on the skin but more often in moist areas. It can even cause fungal sinus infections that cannot be helped by antibiotics.
Staff at Candida Support have heard just about everything from their customers in the 4 years since running their website. People complain about having candida yeast infections in their mouths (called thrush - common in babies who give it back to their mothers in a vicious cycle), in their ears, eyes and even on their scalps, making their hair fall out! Candida becomes fungal yeast cells which ingest sugars and carbs eaten by the host and then they make alcohols and a large variety of poisons called mycotoxins (myco - fungal, toxins - poison) and slowly the host gets poisoned in various and unique ways. This is best said by Ann Brooch, N.D. (Naturopathic Doctor):
In a study conducted by doctors at Biolab in London, UK, a number of chronically unwell patients were tested for blood ethanol levels an hour after ingesting a sugar solution. The study found the patients consistently had high blood levels of ethanol which the researchers concluded came from small intestinal candida yeast overgrowth. Today's food industry packages "convenience" foods for long shelf-life and easy sales and shipping. The types of foods that fit into this model are highly processed and made mostly from refined sugars and carbohydrates. Refined carbs are not much better than sugar as they turn into sugar at an unnaturally fast rate once ingested ... and feed the growing yeast problem becoming more and more apparent in the western world.The standard American diet (SAD), top-heavy in sugars and highly processed carbs, along with the overuse of antibiotics are huge factors in the number of people suffering from yeast overgrowth. Candida yeast produces a lot of alcohol (ethanol) and acetaldehyde (chemical responsible for the main symptoms of a hangover) as its major products of metabolism, and over time the body can no longer cope with detoxification, resulting in liver overload and stress.
"You're not only dealing with candida yeast overgrowth but also the fact that Candida albicans puts out 79 toxic by-products, all of which weaken your immune system. One of the major toxins produced from candida albicans is acetaldehyde, which is transformed by the liver to ethanol (alcohol), creating the feeling of intoxication and brain fog. There have even been cases where candida patients have been pulled over and tested positive with elevated blood alcohol levels above normal."
Candida is a tenacious tenant in the body that can hide in the joints, organs, sinuses and other body tissues where many candida treatments do not reach. Candida thrives on foods common to the western diet, particularly sugar and refined carbohydrates, which alter the body pH towards the acidic (acidosis), which sets up a perfect environment for ill health and candida yeast overgrowth.
Antibiotics, steroids, or oral contraceptives can also trigger the change from good candida to bad. Chlorine in drinking water, while killing harmful bacteria, also kills the good, and thus encouraging yeast overgrowth. Stress contributes to the proliferation of candida. Heavy metals like mercury and other toxins in the body do likewise. Candida is also easily transmitted from close person to person contact when someone is "ripe" and susceptible (weakened with illness, overly acidic, using antibiotics).
Nystatin, the preferred prescription drug for treating candida, is not so effective; Diflucan, with side-effects like possible liver damage, is hardly a choice for treatment. Skin creams and ointments for intimate areas only provide temporary relief and do not eliminate the yeast problem.
The Candida Doctor Vacuum
In our modern times, there is a huge "glitch" in the medical system. Candida overgrowth in the body is not a "disease" that they can be traced to a familiar pathogen, and medical doctors usually don't have the understanding to diagnose candida. In fact, no medical specialty dealing with fungus in the human body exists. It's just not taught. And when most people in the western world relying on doctors explain their problem to medical personnel, they find only frustration. Treatment are not difficult but following careful protocol, the following 4 treatment categories can work to alleviate/eradicate the problem (must be done in conjunction with careful diet control):
This group of products relies mostly on anti-fungal agents in its ingredient base: caprylic acid, oregano oil, grapefruit seed extract, Pau D'Arco, olive leaf, coconut oil, garlic, black walnut, collodial silver, etc. These anti-fungals will send a person into a spiral of "die-off" (so it seems like they are working!) but anti-fungals do not eliminate the problem, but they sure do point the person in the right direction for recovery. Rotating the anti-fungals so the yeast cannot build up immunity is vital.
Category 2: Enzymatic Products
Enzymes work on the cell wall of candida and can attack candida almost anywhere in the body, at least this is the theory. Certain enzymes do dissolve the type of cell wall common to these fungi but enzymes need to be supported by other eradicating products to achieve balance as the "fungal factory" deep in the intestines keeps churning out new yeast cells to such an extent that enzymes by themselves can't effectively curtail the activity.
Category 3: Probiotic (acidophilus) Products
Some probiotic products offer huge numbers of bacteria or are blended with herbs, enzymes or anti-fungals to make them "candida fighters". However, many probiotics are poorly designed. Good probiotics have the following two aspects:
- The friendly bacteria in them must be alive and kicking. Many studies of late reveal that the acidophilus-type flora in some/many probiotics is dead or largely dead. (From a ConsumerReports study on probiotics: "All products contained the major groups, or genera, of probiotic bacteria labeled, but seven supplements - four pills and three liquids - had far less than the amount claimed at the time of manufacture."
- The bacteria must have some sort of guaranteed delivery system that gets them through the stomach without being digested and into the colon where they are needed. Always check the labels. Most do not have any delivery system at all.
Some new products on the market tout the benefits of mushrooms, and new scientific research has shown these mushrooms contain polysaccharides, sometimes called phytonutrients, glyconutrients or essential sugars. The essential sugars are: Mannose, Galactose, Fucose, Glucose, Xylose, N-acetylneuramic acid, N-acetylgalactosamine and N-acetylglucosamine. A study of the ingredient labels show that these sugars are derived from a group of mushrooms that over 5,000 years of history are believed to be very healing. (These sugars are also found in lesser amounts in Aloe Vera).
The original content (much edited) came from the blog site Gripes of Wrath. I post it here as a compliment to my previous entry also on anti-fungals, enzymes, probiotics and polysaccharides posted here last month. These two articles should be read in conjunction with one another.