Great Smokies Medical Center of Asheville

Archive for the ‘Candidiasis (Yeast) Disorders’ Category

Treating Yeast-Related Health Problems

Sunday, September 11th, 2005

The cornerstone of the medical treatment of candidiasis is diet. For a patient suffering from yeast overgrowth, eating sugar is like pouring gasoline on a fire. The patient needs to avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates, including white flour and rice, and to eat foods rich in protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Additionally, many substances are known to be antifungal, including grapefruit seed extract (GSE), caprylic acid, garlic, berberis vulgaris, and Pao d’Arco tea. Essential fatty acids and lactobacillus (the friendly, beneficial bacteria in healthy colons) are usually required to restore health.

Prescription antifungal drugs including Diflucan, Nizoral, Sporanox, and Nystatin may also be used. Strict avoidance of sugar is necessary to first reduce the population of yeast to avoid uncomfortable symptoms of toxicity from a Herxheimer reaction or "die off."

Candidiasis doesn’t develop overnight, and its treatment similarly must often be sustained for a long period of time.

Dr. Wilson: Herxheimer or “Die Off” Reaction

Sunday, September 11th, 2005

In the 1890s, two dermatologists, Karl Herxheimer and Adolph Jerisch defined a cluster of symptoms that are now known as a Herxheimer or “die off” reaction. Herxheimer symptoms resemble flu symptoms: chills, fever, body aches, headaches, and rashes. They occur as a result of therapies that kill “bugs” such as bacteria, viruses, or, yeast. The symptoms usually occur from four to 24 hours after taking a drug or other therapies that kill the “bugs.” The symptoms are not side effects of a therapy, per se, but are proof of both the effectiveness of the therapy and the existence of an infection, as it is the toxins that are released from dying organisms that result in Herxheimer symptoms. The load of toxins can be so great that the body’s natural detoxification processes can’t keep up with the toxin load. Natural support of the body’s detoxification processes is recommended. Drink plenty of water and get light exercise. Avoid constipation and eat a light diet. Consider getting lymphatic massage or colonics. Take internal-grade absorbent clay to absorb toxins from the digestive tract, Epsom Salt baths, Vitamin C, and GSMC’s Detox Offset, a homeopathic remedy formulated to treat detoxification symptoms. The dose and frequency of the drug or therapy that resulted in Herxheimer symptoms can often be adjusted to slow toxin release so as to not overwhelm the body’s detoxification ability.

Probiotics: Beneficial Bacteria and Yeast

Sunday, September 11th, 2005

Supplemental beneficial bacteria are called probiotics for their ability to support life, the opposite of antibiotics which are designed to kill bacteria. Unfortunately, antibiotics kill both harmful and beneficial bacteria.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is the most commonly supplemented species of the bacteria genus Lactobacillus. It is used to treat health problems, including traveler’s diarrhea and imbalances of healthy bacteria in the colon following antibiotic therapy.

Lactobacillus, as the name suggests, has the ability to ferment milk sugar, lactose, into sour byproducts. These include lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which make the intestines and stomach an undesirable environment for disease-causing bacteria, including H. Pylori, the bacteria that causes gastric ulcers.

L.bulgaricus is a Lactobacillus species that ferments milk into yogurt. Since it’s not a normal inhabitant of the colon, its benefits disappear quickly when a person stops eating yogurt.

L. plantarum ferments cabbage to give sauerkraut its sour taste. It is normally a beneficial inhabitant of a healthy colon, so its benefits can persist for a long time after you eat sauerkraut. Lactobacillus supplementation decreases the incidence of colon cancer, infectious diarrhea, and food allergies. It also lowers cholesterol levels, and activates the immune system to ward off infections. Bifidobacteria is the most common beneficial bacteria in the large bowel. Eating vegetable fiber, especially from asparagus, garlic, onion, and artichokes, favors the growth of Bifidobacteria.

Saccharomyces boulardii is related to baker’s yeast and is used to treat acute diarrhea caused by antibiotic use. Rarely, patients with mold allergy may react to it.

A lack of beneficial bacteria is diagnosed through a stool analysis. GSMC carries high quality Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces, and Bifidobacteria, all of which require refrigeration since they are living products.

Back to the Basics: Yeast Related Health Problems

Sunday, September 11th, 2005

Many physicians who have made the transition from a conventional to an integrative medical practice have done so as a result of having seen a patient who feels "terrible all over" and for whom conventional medical testing can find nothing wrong. "All your tests are normal" can be discouraging words for such a person to hear. Adding insult to injury, patients are apt to be told that their condition is due to "stress." The doctor who believes that the patient’s symptoms can be caused by something other than a psychological disorder may eventually diagnose candidiasis as a result of his willingness to think outside the box. Candida albicans is the king pin of yeasts (molds) that affect health. It is an opportunistic organism, preying on cells weakened by frequent courses of antibiotics or prednisone (cortisone), overexposure to environmental molds, excess alcohol (especially yeast-derived beer and wine), birth control pills, and a diet high in sugar and processed foods. Like other molds, C. albicans thrives in a warm, dark, damp environment, making the colon particularly vulnerable to its overgrowth. Candida and other molds are responsible for ailments including athlete’s foot, thrush, chronic sinusitis, jock itch, yeast vaginitis, asthma, allergy, fatigue, numerous gastrointestinal symptoms, toenail fungus, sensitivity to cigarette smoke, and mood disorders, including depression.

Candidiasis can co-exist with other diseases such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and various gastrointestinal ailments.Candidiasis can be life threatening to a person with diseases that severely compromise immune function, such as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS); but it more typically compromises the quality of life for its sufferers, who end up with symptoms of fatigue, irritability, brain fog, being run down, difficulty concentrating, bloating, gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and achy muscles and joints. The neurological symptoms resulting from candidiasis are likely due to the more than 300 known mycotoxins that are generated and circulate through the bloodstream during the life and, especially, the death of C. albicans.

Candidiasis is diagnosed through a history, physical exam, stool culture, skin allergy testing, and, if there has been a sustained exposure to high levels of Candida, elevated Candida antibody titers. However, since low levels of Candida exist normally in the colon, many doctors don’t recognize that Candida is capable of causing disease.

Candida Overgrowth

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

Candida is a genus of fungal organisms that normally inhabit a healthy intestinal tract at low levels. Candida is also found in the environment, especially on plants and plant by-products (dried herbs and spices, paper, drywall, fabrics, etc.) and in soil and water. There are more than 200 species of Candida, including the most well known and most prevalent, C. albicans. Candida is normally kept in balance by abundant healthy bacteria in the colon and a healthy, whole foods diet, but it can quickly overgrow when healthy bacteria are decreased through poor nutrition, diets high in sugar, prolonged stress, imbalanced hormones, birth control pills, antibiotics (especially repeated courses of broad-spectrum antibiotics), alcohol, or environmental toxins, including those from moldy environments.

An overgrowth of Candida is seldom considered or diagnosed by mainstream medical doctors as a cause of severe or generalized health problems (other than in seriously immune-compromised patients or visible, localized outbreaks on the skin and mucus membranes). This lack of awareness can result in patients being clueless about the cause and solutions to their concerning symptoms, being told their symptoms are “all in their head,” and being frustrated with the lack of getting help with what ails them. The diagnosis of Candida-related health problems is controversial in mainstream medical practice.

Symptoms of Candida overgrowth range from mild to severe. Yeast overgrowth may be present as rashes and eruptions on the skin and mucus membranes: vaginitis, jock itch, thrush, fungal nails, diaper rash, fungal infections of toenails and fingernails, sinusitis, etc. (A 1999 study of chronic sinusitis at Mayo clinic showed that 96 percent of chronic sinusitis is caused by fungal infections, even though it is still routinely treated with antibiotics that treat bacterial infections.) When Candida overgrowth affects the intestines, symptoms including constipation and/or diarrhea, pain, rectal itching, gas, and bloating can result, and they can either mimic or contribute to Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel disease, gastritis, or gallbladder disease.

Candida overgrowth further results in the release of more than 70 known toxins, including ethanol and acetaldehyde that impair nerve and liver function. Candida-Related Complex (CRC) or Polysystemic Candidiasis are terms used when toxins from the digestive tract enter the general circulation and affect numerous body systems including lymphatic, immune, circulatory, musculoskeletal (e.g., fibromyalgia), neurological, and endocrine systems. Sleep, mood, emotions, cognition, and memory may be affected.

The use of antifungal drugs is inadequate as a stand-alone therapy to treat Candida overgrowth, but is often a part of a comprehensive treatment program. The use of antifungal drugs, just like the use of antibiotics, can result in tolerance (requiring increasing doses for the same effect), resistance (the yeast organisms alter themselves so they aren’t killed by antifungal drugs) and impaired immunity. To decrease the likelihood of tolerance and resistance occurring, the use of intermittent rather than continuous courses of antifungal drugs or the use of antifungal parades (rotating different antifungal drugs to decrease the likelihood of resistance to one drug developing) may be implemented. Avoid drinking alcohol when taking antifungal drugs.

A comprehensive, effective program that treats Candida overgrowth must “starve out” the yeast by getting sugary and processed foods and beverages out of the diet and healthy, nutrient-dense foods in the diet, by boosting health and immunity through the use of targeted nutritional supplements to support optimal function of the digestive, immune, and endocrine systems, and by making healthy lifestyle choices through attention to diet, stress, sleep, relaxation, etc. The treatment of Candida overgrowth occurs over time, more than a year for severe cases.

Candida is an opportunistic organism that feeds on dead tissues and thrives on sugars – all sugars including honey, maple syrup, fructose, maltose, dextrose, and the sugars in all fruits and fruit juices (with the exception of small amounts of fresh lemon or lime juice -lemonade is not allowed), candies, chocolate, pastries, cakes, desserts, alcoholic beverages, sodas, jams, jellies, and beverages. Refined carbohydrates (white rice, white flour, white bread, white pasta) -also feed Candida, contribute little to nutrition, and burden digestive systems that do not function well when fed these processed, nutrient-sparse foods. Reactions to other dietary yeasts and molds are common in the early stages of treatment, including reactions to fermented, moldy, or fungal-based foods such as peanuts, vinegar, sauerkraut, mushrooms, pickles, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, brewer’s yeast (in beer and wine) and baker’s yeast (in breads, crackers, bagels, pastries, and other baked goods), and cheese, especially soft or visibly molded cheeses such as blue cheese. It is not uncommon for people with Candida overgrowth to have “leaky gut,” a condition of increased permeability in the gaps between cells that line the digestive tract. People with leaky gut are vulnerable to malnutrition from malabsorption and also from food allergy that results when incompletely digested, large food particles enter the circulation and provoke antibody formation. Delayed food allergy contributes significantly to not only diseases of the digestive tract, but also to many other health problems. The most common delayed food allergens are corn, citrus, egg, soy, yeast, dairy, and wheat. (Refer to GSMC newsletter Health Matters re: Delayed Food Allergy for further information.)

Factors that co-exist with and contribute to Candida overgrowth include:

• Moldy indoor environments emit mycotoxins that undermine immune health and interfere with successful results with even the best efforts to reduce Candida overgrowth. A low-toxin environment free from molds (and pesticides, herbicides, solvents, etc.) is essential to the body’s healing.

• Infestations with worms and parasites affect digestive and immune health and can also be present in people who have Candida overgrowth. There is no better time to treat these uninvited dinner guests than at the same time you are decreasing your Candida population – in fact, doing so is required for restore health of the affected digestive organs and the immune system.

• Stress obstructs healing and potentiates the harmful effects of injuries, diseases, and toxins on the body. Stress is addictive, likely from the energy and heightened feeling from the rush of adrenalin that occurs with stress, irrespective of the “crash” that inevitably follows. Whoever said that stress is a killer wasn’t kidding. But before it kills you, it can seriously undermine your quality of life. A positive self-esteem is the best elixir of immune function. Stress, in particular stress that negatively affects self esteem, causes embarrassment or feelings of mortification, or undermines self-confidence and worthiness has strong negative effects on immune function. Successfully meeting challenges, even small ones, can help gradually restore self-esteem. Humans are the only animals on earth that push their limitations, spend all their waking hours involved in tasks even when exhausted, and don’t rest. If your body could talk it would say, “Stop it.” Instead it gives you symptoms such as headaches and fatigue that are too often interpreted only as annoying interferences with your life, rather than important clues to developing health problems. The world won’t stop spinning if you rest; in fact it will be a better place. (Refer to GMSC’s newsletters that discuss: stress and health and stress and immunity for more information.)
• Impaired digestion, including constipation and diarrhea, needs to be addressed to enhance success with the program to lower Candida overgrowth. Contributors to constipation include low fiber diets, not drinking enough water, lack of exercise, and imbalances in normal bowel flora (including Candida overgrowth), but can also be a result of food allergy, neurological illnesses, nerve pressure in lumbar spine, hemorrhoids, medication side effects, malnutrition, and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) deficiency.

• Adrenal fatigue and low thyroid function are common in patients with Candida overgrowth because chronic infection or inflammation can tax the adrenal glands and because toxins, especially mercury, can impair thyroid function. Adrenal and thyroid functioning commonly need support during recovery from Candida overgrowth.

• Imbalances in sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone especially hormonal events in life (pregnancy, menopause, hysterectomy, and the use of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapies) commonly contribute to Candida overgrowth and may require support during treatment and recovery from Candida overgrowth, including herbal support and desensitization to hormones.

• Eating foods to which a person is allergic undermines digestive and immune health.

• Heavy metal toxicity, especially mercury, blocks the function of numerous processes in the body including white blood cells, one of the players in the body’s defense against infections such as Candida. Because Candida is thought to bear the burden of mercury in the body, mercury toxicity must be treated before Candida can be successfully treated in some individuals to prevent increased Hg exposure from dying Candida organisms. Exposure to mercury can start before birth from maternal exposures that cross the placenta and continue throughout life. Sources include “silver” or gray dental amalgams, mercury in vaccines (thimerosal), eating larger fish (especially tuna, mackerel, swordfish, and shark), some tainted cosmetics, and mercury from industrial stack emissions, notably coal-fired energy plants.

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