What You Need to Know About Candida

What is Candida?

Candida albicans is an overgrowth of yeast in the body. It can invade every tissue in the body as well as the brain. Candida grows and thrives on what you eat and makes your body crave what it needs to survive. This is the reason candida can be difficult to eradicate from the body, but it can be eliminated with proper steps.

Interestingly, about 80% of fibromyalgia sufferers also have candida. Candida can however, occur alone. Symptoms of both conditions are exactly the same, with the exception of hot spots or touch points common to fibromyalgia sufferers. Both candida and fibromyalgia are auto-immune disorders. Someone with both conditions should address and eradicate candida before addressing the fibromyalgia.

Candida albicans is one of several different types of yeast. Yeast cells can grow on the surface of every living thing and are virtually everywhere. We literally eat, drink and breathe yeast cells on a daily basis. We all have yeast growing in our skin, on other body surfaces as well as in the intestines. Ordinarily, the body’s immune (defense) system keeps the total number of yeast cells under control. Therefore, candida colonies in the intestine are nothing to worry about. However, an impaired, sluggish or weak immune system or poor nutrition hampers the body’s ability to keep yeast colonies at bay. Environmental pollutants and stress can also play a role in reducing the body’s ability to control candida. When the body isn’t able to stay on top of candida, yeast colonies grow rapidly and can result in candida.

Causes of Candida

There are more than 900 strains of yeast and candida albicans is one of the major ones found in the body. In some ways, it is very much like yeast used in bread. Scientists are unclear why yeasts are in the body and what their role is. Scientists know that yeast helps decompose the body when we die. However, if they multiply in the body too rapidly, they begin the job of decomposition early. Some of the more common actions that can lead to candida are:

  • Steroid drugs (such as cortisone)
  • Hormonal birth control pills
  • Long-term use of antibiotics
  • Consumption of alcohol, caffeine, gluten, meat and sugar
  • Stress and aging

Antibiotics

Antibiotics can reduce the number of beneficial bacteria that ordinarily help keep the yeast under control. Antibiotics kill both the good and the bad bacteria in the body. Beneficial bacteria are like police officers in the body, keeping the bad bacteria in check and preventing it from spreading in the body. Provided the body maintains a sufficient number of helpful bacteria to counterbalance the harmful bacteria (or yeast), all is well. The body remains healthy.

Antibiotics kill the weakest link and then the next weakest link and so on. The strongest bacteria survive and remultiply. When an antibiotic or a specific candida drug (e.g. Monistat) are used, the yeast and bacteria left become a stronger strain. New strains and a new generation of mutant viruses, bacteria and yeast are created. These are difficult to eradicate. Drug companies create stronger antibiotics and antifungals to kill the stronger mutant yeast and bacteria. The more of these chemical substances one uses, the harder it is and the longer it takes for the body to naturally eradicate the candida. Microbial resistance to antibiotics is a major health crisis today for this reason. Antibiotic drugs also suppress immune cell production and diminish the strength immune system overall.

 Alcohol, Caffeine, Gluten, Meat, Sugar

Consuming alcohol and caffeine destroys friendly bacteria in the gut. This sets the stage for a yeast overgrowth. Sugar, meat and gluten encourage growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines.

Stress and Aging

As with alcohol and caffeine, stress and aging take their toll on friendly bacteria in the gut.

Effects of Candida

When there is an overabundance of yeast in the body, there may be local yeast infections in the mouth (thrush), gastrointestinal tract (gas), vagina (yeast infection), urinary tract (bladder or kidney infection), prostate gland, skin (hives, rashes), finger- or toenails (fungus of the nail bed). This overabundance of yeast can cripple the immune system and in turn lead to chronic, recurring viral and bacterial infections and/or allergies. Yeast can also damage the wall of the gut (e.g. leaky gut), allowing food particles and toxins to enter the blood stream. Toxins in the blood stream trigger the body to produce antibodies to fight these substances. Typical allergy reactions can then occur such as eczema, hay fever, headache, dizziness, heart palpitations, anxiety, fatigue and muscle aches.

Changes in the cells can contribute to and exacerbate the candida. Two very toxic yeast by-products or waste are ethanol and acetaldehyde. These two toxins alter cells in the following ways:

  • Red blood cells have difficulty passing into small capillaries. This can cause fatigue, dizziness, muscle aches or headaches.
  • White blood cells have trouble enveloping bacteria and foreign matter, making it more difficult for the body to fight infection
  • Sugar has trouble passing through cells. Insulin cannot do its job properly, causing low blood sugar and often, weight gain.
  • Thyroid hormones have trouble passing through cells, which causes the metabolism to slow down, often causing low body temperature, fatigue and cold intolerance.
  • Minerals have trouble passing through cell walls, causing fluid retention and electrolyte imbalance.
  • Cells have difficulty passing messages to one another. This can cause nerve and muscle problems.
  • Enzymes are destroyed. Enzymes are the chemical helpers in the body that help to build, break down, and produce energy and heat. Yeast toxins can inactivate or destroy some of the enzymes, and can result in slowing down ALL functions of the body. As an example, enzymes help break down sugar stores to help keep the blood sugar at ideal levels; when enzymes are destroyed by yeast overgrowth, abnormally high or low blood sugar levels may develop.
  • Allergic reactions including nasal congestion, hives, headache, dizziness, diarrhea, weakness, cramps, arthritis, irritability or depression, increased sensitivity to foods or chemicals.
  • Gastrointestinal problems including gas, bloating, abdominal pain, gastritis, gastric ulcer, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and spastic colon.
  • Respiratory problems including frequent sore throat, mouth or canker sores, sinus infections, bronchial infections, chronic cough and asthma.
  • Cardiovascular problems including palpitations, rapid pulse rate. Candida does not effect the heart directly, but rather the hormones regulating the system.
  • Genitourinary problems including yeast infections, itching or burning in the vagina or prostate, urinary burning, frequent urination, bed wetting, lack of bladder control, menstrual cramps and PMS.
  • Musculoskeletal problems including muscle weakness, night leg pains, muscle stiffness (especially neck and shoulder), slow reaction time, poor coordination, poor motor skills, falling, tendency to drop things. Yeast impairs cells from receiving nutrients and eliminating waste.
  • Skin infections including those of a rash type in nature, often under the breasts, groin area, diaper rash, hives, etc.
  • Central nervous system problems; headache, sinus headache, tension headache, migraines, low blood sugar headaches, rapid blood sugar changes.
  • High levels of stress hormones can cause anxiety

Symptoms of Candida

Following is a list of symptoms of yeast overgrowth. However, presence of any or any combination of these symptoms does not guarantee Candida albicans is present. (If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, check with your primary healthcare provider for a complete diagnosis and treatment plan.)

  • Allergic reactions including nasal congestion, hives, headache, dizziness, diarrhea, weakness, cramps, arthritis, irritability or depression, increased sensitivity to foods or chemicals.
  • Gastrointestinal problems including gas, bloating, abdominal pain, gastritis, gastric ulcer, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and spastic colon.
  • Respiratory problems including frequent sore throat, mouth or canker sores, sinus infections, bronchial infections, chronic cough and asthma.
  • Cardiovascular problems including palpitations, rapid pulse rate. Candida does not effect the heart directly, but rather the hormones regulating the system.
  • Genitourinary problems including yeast infections, itching or burning in the vagina or prostate, urinary burning, frequent urination, bed wetting, lack of bladder control, menstrual cramps and PMS.
  • Musculoskeletal problems including muscle weakness, night leg pains, muscle stiffness (especially neck and shoulder), slow reaction time, poor coordination, poor motor skills, falling, tendency to drop things. Yeast impairs cells from receiving nutrients and eliminating waste.
  • Skin infections including those of a rash type in nature, often under the breasts, groin area, diaper rash, hives, etc.
  • Central nervous system problems; headache, sinus headache, tension headache, migraines, low blood sugar headaches, rapid blood sugar changes.
  • High levels of stress hormones can cause anxiety

Western Medical Approach to Candida

It’s not uncommon to finish a course of antibiotics or steroids and shortly thereafter end up with a yeast infection. Antibiotics kill not only the bad stuff in the gut, but they destroy the beneficial bacteria as well. This gives yeast the opportunity to flourish and they begin to colonize in vast numbers. The yeast also becomes more drug-resistant.  As they yeast grows and multiplies, it produces toxins that attack the immune system. What friendly flora there may be in the gut is also destroyed by the more powerful candida albicans, further weakening the body’s ability to defend itself.

Drugs prescribed to address symptoms of Candida albicans – antibiotics, steroids, anti-fungals -  eliminate the weakest yeast. But yeast mutates and the strongest cells among the colony survive. With conventional Western medicine, higher and higher doses of drugs are prescribed. The vicious cycle of killing off weak yeast and allowing stronger and stronger yeast cells to remain and multiply doesn’t stop. The symptoms may be kept at bay, but these measures are just that -  symptom treatment only.

The other important thing to keep in mind is that EVERYTHING that enters the body is processed by the liver, including prescription medications. Prescription medications can overtax the liver and create other health challenges, including skin problems.

Treating Candida Naturally

Candida and other yeasts are all around us, so for this reason, they can never be totally eradicated. However, they can be brought under control WITHOUT prescription medications. The best outcome is achieved by starting with a clean slate through detoxification, appropriate diet and increasing friendly bacteria (probiotics) in the gut. (Always check with your primary care physician before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.)

Cleaning the Gut with Calcium Bentonite Clay

Dr. Bernard Jensen was a pioneer in detoxification and natural cleansing. He used the analogy of putting clean water in a dirty bottle to illustrate how important it is to have a clean gut in order to make the most of a clean lifestyle, including diet and regular exercise.

Cells and tissues in the body are fed via the bloodstream and the bloodstream gets nutrients from the bowel. If the bowel is clean and nutrient-dense foods pass through, the body responds accordingly. On the other hand, if waste is not regularly eliminated from the body, fecal matter can putrefy and linger in the gut. Think about a glass full of a nutritious green smoothie. Drinking the smoothie removes most – but not every drop – of the nutritious drink. Imagine leaving the glass – unwashed – on the counter. Over a few days, the inside of the glass will be hard and crusty and may even smell from the leftover contents decaying. Even kitchenware used to prepare healthful foods need cleaning.

According to Dr. Linda Nelson, the first step in remedying candida is to cleanse the body through detoxification. Drinking calcium bentonite clay will help to eliminate mucus, toxins, bad bacteria, yeast, putrefied fecal matter and other wastes from the intestines. Calcium bentonite clay has a strong negative ionic charge which gives it the ability to attract and capture toxins, which have a positive ionic charge. It is not absorbed by the blood stream, but works like a vacuum cleaner as it moves through the gut, collecting toxins through adsorption and adsorption. The clay and toxins bind together and then exit the body through ordinary elimination.

Keeping Candida in Check Through Diet

Candida needs to be fed in order to flourish. Dr. Linda Nelson recommends eliminating the following foods from the diet while working to get candida under control:

  • Red meat and pork
  • All sugars and sugar-containing foods (table sugar, fructose, corn syrup, molasses, honey, maple sugar and rice syrups)
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • All white flour and products made with white flour (pastries, bread, crackers, pasta, etc.)
  • Brewers yeast and B vitamins made from Brewer’s yeast
  • All cheese and dairy except butter, plain, unsweetened yogurt, ricotta cheese, cream cheese and cottage cheese)
  • Alcohol
  • All fruit and fruit juices until the body is rid of candida. Lemon or lime in water is acceptable and can be used as a vinegar substitute in salad dressings.
  • Coffee and tea (including herbal tea)
  • Fungus foods such as mushrooms and blue cheese
  • Peanuts and pistachios and products made with these nuts
  • All processed meats
  • All vinegar-soaked foods and vinegar dressings
  • Corn and products made from corn

Healthy Bacteria in the Gut

In our blog post Not All Bacteria is Bad, it was pointed out that the gut is home to both good and bad bacteria. Good bacteria - probiotics - are essential for key bodily functions. These include:

It's not enough to rid the body of harmful bacteria and toxins. Mindful, healthy living requires a conscious effort to ensure there is enough good bacteria in the gut regularly. Read our blog post Not All Bacteria is Bad for more information on how to get more good bacteria working for you.

Summary

Candida albicans is a yeast overgrowth that many people may suffer from and not even know it. Not only is it harmful to the gut, but it can invade other tissues in the body including the brain. Once it's gotten hold of a host, it creates cravings of substances that help it to colonize and multiply, often with highly toxic symptoms resulting.

It's important to know the symptoms and to work on eradicating the yeast from the body. There are natural ways to achieve this including detoxification with calcium bentonite clay and dietary changes. Supplementing the gut with a high-quality pro-biotic can also help prevent Candida albicans overgrowth. 

References

M’lis Professional Training and Product Guide

Michael Muarry, N.D., and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised 2nd Edition, Rocklin: Prima Health, 1998. Print

 

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