- Do you regularly experience any of the following symptoms- bloating, headaches, depression, fatigue, memory problems, impotence or loss of libido, unexplained muscle aches, brain “fogginess”?
- Do you crave sweets, products containing white flour, or alcoholic beverages?
- Do you have repeated vaginal infections?
- Do you repeatedly experience any of these health difficulties- inappropriate drowsiness, mood swings, rashes, bad breath, dry mouth, post-nasal drip or nasal congestion, heartburn, urinary frequency or urgency?
- Do you have repeated fungal infections (“jock itch,” athlete’s foot, ringworm)?
- Have you recently taken repeated courses of antibiotics or steroids (e.g. cortisone)?
- Have you used birth-control pills?
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions then you may be suffering from a common yet drastically under-diagnosed condition: Candidiasis. It is estimated that one in every two people will be affected by Candidiasis in their lifetime but many will not be aware of it or may even think that the symptoms are all in their head. The unfortunate reality is that many people who seek medical advice from their health care providers are told that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. This is due to the fact that the mainstream medical establishment has been slow to recognize Candidiasis as a real issue; the Integrative Medicine community, however, has been treating the condition successfully for decades. If you feel that you’re one of the many who have suffered without validation or relief from this life-altering illness, please read on.
Candidiasis is the medical term for yeast overgrowth. We all have bacteria living in our intestinal tract- some of which we consider to be “good”, such as acidophilus and Bifidobacteria, and some of which we consider to be “bad”, such as Candida albicans. Candida albicans is a form of yeast that can be dangerous to the body if it spreads. In order to prevent this from happening, the “good” bacteria produces antifungal substances that keep the “bad” bacteria in check. This “good” bacteria also ferments carbohydrates into lactic acid, which maintains an ideally balanced pH within the intestines to keep Candida albicans at bay. As long as the “good” bacteria co-exist with the “bad” bacteria in healthy ratios and the intestinal pH is correctly balanced, the GI tract can live in peace. Havoc occurs, however, when the pH balance shifts and the “good” bacteria become attacked.
Proper pH balance is vital for so many reasons. If the body becomes too acidic (a condition known as acidosis), it adversely affects the functioning of all its parts: heart cells, blood cells, brain cells, nerve cells, muscle cells, bone cells, skin cells, hair cells and hormonal levels. It also creates a hostile environment with less available oxygen – a condition key to the growth of microorganisms such as Candida albicans. As the bacteria fueled by these new, toxic conditions die off, the toxic waste produced by their decomposition further contributes to the already acidic environment. This cycle continues on and on into a situation with potentially grave consequences. Researchers suspect that most degenerative diseases including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, acid reflux and heartburn can be contributed to chronic acidosis.
While an imbalanced pH creates the perfect battleground for the “bad” bacteria to spread, a number of other enemies are waiting in the wings to take aim at the “good” bacteria.
The single largest enemy of “good” bacteria is sugar, which can single-handedly weaken the immune system, thereby weakening the “good” bacteria. But the sugar doesn’t stop there! This sweet invader packs a dangerous one-two punch and feeds the “bad” bacteria, encouraging it to proliferate throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Since a weakened immune system generally goes hand-in-hand with illness, antibiotics or steroids may be administered, which further takes its toll on the “good” bacteria, killing the illness-causing bacteria along with the vital “good” bacteria. Once the “good” bacteria are out of the picture, the “bad” bacteria are able to take over and sink its teeth into the intestinal walls, eventually breaking down the barrier that exists between the bowel and rest of the body. This intestinal breach then opens up the flood gates for toxic debris, yeast waste products, and partially digested proteins to enter the bloodstream, resulting in allergic and toxic reactions all over the body – the symptoms of which could manifest themselves differently for every person.
Dietary factors play a key role in the survival of Candida albicans. These “bad” bacteria thrive on sugar and as a result, intense sugar cravings may ensue. Likewise, dairy foods can be excellent supporters for Candida albicans for two reasons: (1) Non-organic dairy products contain traces of antibiotics, which can kill the “good” bacteria that have managed to survive and (2) dairy products contain the sugar lactose, which is one of Candida albicans’ preferred meals, feeding the bacteria and further encouraging it to grow and spread. Other products that cause Candida albicans to grow are yeast and glutens that also convert into sugar.
Environmental factors can also be big supporters of Candida alibans’ proliferation. Exposure to pollutants such as pesticide residues, car exhaust, industrial chemicals and heavy metals (particularly those found in mercury amalgam dental fillings) may encourage the growth of these “bad” bacteria.
Because Candidiasis suppresses the immune system, symptoms of the illness span a broad range and include chronic fatigue; weight gain; mental issues such as depression, anxiety, irritability, confusion, loss of memory, and severe mood swings; digestive problems including gas, bloating, cramps, chronic diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn; respiratory issues including food and airborne allergies, asthma, nasal or lung congestion, sinus pressure, hay fever, coughing; recurrent fungal infections (“jock itch”, athlete’s foot, ringworm, fingernail or toenail fungus) or vaginal/urinary infections; skin problems including rashes, hives, acne and scaly skin; migraines, headaches and sleep disturbances.
Everyone is at risk of developing Candidiasis; however, people with weakened immune systems (whether from severe illness or chronic stress), those with diets high in sugars and carbohydrates, anyone who has taken repeated courses of antibiotics or steroids, women currently taking oral birth-control medications or who have taken them in the past, and women of child-bearing age are most at risk.
Diagnosing Candidiasis can be tricky as the symptoms of this condition mimic the symptoms of many other illnesses. I generally consider several factors before pronouncing a diagnosis of Candidiasis: medical history, a physical examination, lab test results and failure to respond to previous treatments. If I am then able to come to an adequate conclusion, I immediately begin my patients on a treatment protocol. Catching the condition in its early stages and commencing treatments immediately can be vital to heading off the more serious diseases that yeast overgrowth can lead to (diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, acid reflux, heartburn and even cancer).
My Healthy Recommendations:
Treating Candidiasis requires a degree of commitment but with dedication it is completely possible to reverse the condition.
The first step in any treatment plan begins with some key dietary changes. Sugar is the main fuel for Candida albicans, therefore it must be removed out of the diet completely. A “Candida Diet” requires that sugar; alcohol; milk and dairy products; and foods containing mold and yeast must all be avoided. These foods actively encourage the growth of Candida albicans and the condition cannot be properly resolved as long as the “fuel” remains in place.
Supplements for Candidiasis:
Because the problem with yeast overgrowth is directly linked to imbalanced pH levels, it is necessary to attack the problem from both angles. Therefore, I also recommend that people take a combination of supplements that target both of these issues.
1. pH Plus™ by perfectlyhealthy: The cesium chloride and rubidium chloride in pH Plus™ are alkalizing minerals and, when combined with potassium penetrate, into the cells, raising their pH and oxygen content to a more normal, healthier, disease-resistant state.
2. Mega Greens with MSM™ by perfectlyhealthy: Mega Greens plus MSM™ contains alkaline forming ingredients to help balance your body’s pH, while providing you with the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and plant proteins you need for cell support.
3. Metabolic Rx™ by perfectlyhealthy: Metabolic Rx™ is a synergistic blend of glandular tissues, vitamins, minerals, herbs, digestive enzymes and antioxidants formulated to support the pancreas function and help regulate blood sugar levels. This important supplement can help boost your immune system if blood sugar is an issue while also minimizing those sugar cravings that tend to occur in people with Candidiasis.
4. Flora Med™ and Flora Max™ by Advanced Naturals- FloraMed™ is good for everyday and Flora Max™ for more advanced cases. Both of these supplements utilize BIO-tract™ delivery technology to safely deliver “good” bacteria to the intestines where they are able to repopulate the environment with beneficial microorganisms.
Other targeted Candida treatment includes: Cumandra, Candida Plex, Phytostan, ThreeLac or Freeze Dried Garlic.
To learn more about my Candida Treatment Protocol, the Candida Diet or any of the supplements mentioned above, please visit my website at http://www.perfectlyhealthy.net. When you suspect that you may be living with a Candida problem, don’t put off speaking with your physician. While this condition is entirely treatable, the consequences of delaying treatment are too high to ignore. See your doctor and begin the process of restoring balance in your intestines, your body and your life!
Dr. Connealy is the medical director of South Coast Medical Center for New Medicine in Irvine, California. The center strives to look at the whole person and explore the effects and relationships among nutrition, psychological and social factors, environmental effects and personal attunement. Visit them online at http://www.scmedicalcenter.com.