Candida 101

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Candida (technically called Candida albicans) is a microorganism in the category of yeast, fungi and mold. It is normal for it to live in small amounts in the digestive system and on other body surfaces.  However, under certain circumstances it will invade into deeper tissues and organs where it doesn’t belong, such as the liver and kidneys, and become very abundant.  Once it gets that far, it entrenches itself as fungi do. The yeast produces certain chemicals and affects cell functions in ways that create many symptoms, some of which can become serious. The term “Candida” refers to the general overgrowth of various fungi and yeasts in the body, which flourish under certain circumstances to the point of causing illness.  Candida albicans appears to be the most prominent of these microbes. Candida and Lyme share a LOT of symptoms.

Candida & LymeIf you have Lyme Disease chances are you are taking antibiotics or will be in the near future. Antibiotics not only destroy the Lyme bacteria in your body but also the good bacteria that are found in your gut. Probiotics are essential for regulating and helping your food digest properly & are a MUST for every Lyme patient. The destruction of your good flora will allow the candida, which is normally kept in check by the good bacteria, to flourish. Candida overgrowth can spread beyond your intestines to other parts of the body and wreak havoc. About 80% of your immune system actually lives in your digestive system and it plays a part in keeping the candida in check. When you become stressed or eat badly, your immune system becomes weak and in doing so enables candida overgrowth.

Candida releases poisons in blood causing all kinds of symptoms. The toxins that are released include : 

  • Ethanol : Produced when yeast has lots of food. Excess ethanol can cause symptoms of alcohol intoxication
  • Acetaldehyde : The primary candida toxin, which can damage organs, disrupt fatty acid oxidation and production of collagen, cause abnormal behavior, memory loss, distorted thinking, mood swings, depression, impaired intellectual functioning and emotional disturbances.
  • Formaldehyde : A highly reactive compound that has a toxic effect on all organisms” (source: Microbiology (2002), 148, 2697-2704.

Candida Symptoms

Mental/emotional/nervous system:

  • Headaches and migraine headaches
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems — difficulty falling asleep, or waking up in the middle of the night with a mind that won’t calm down (typically between 1 and 3 am)
  • Irritability and confusion
  • Poor memory
  • Anxiety attacks, panic attacks
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Heart beating too fast or irregularly
  • Sexual problems — impotence or lack of desire, or excessive sexuality
  • Attention deficit, hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD)
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Feeling of floating or not quite being in your body
  • Indecisiveness, difficulty organizing and cleaning messy areas

Digestive system:

  • Cravings for sugar, chocolate, milk, cheese, vinegar, pickles, alcohol, bread, nuts or fruit
  • “Metabolic syndrome” which includes the following: large abdomen (“beer belly”), adult-onset diabetes, high cholesterol or triglycerides, high blood pressure
  • “Beer belly,” also called truncal obesity — excess weight centered around the abdomen
  • Acid reflux/GERD (heartburn)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Bloating, flatulence or abdominal pain
  • Rectal itching
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Excessively thin or anorexic/bulimic

Whole body:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or joint pain, fibromyalgia
  • Cold feet, cold hands, sometimes cold nose
  • Sweating, especially at night
  • Uncomfortable at any temperature

Skin, eyes, hair:

  • Skin and nail fungal infections (current or past), including: athlete’s foot, vaginal yeast infections, fungal toenails, ringworm, jock itch, tinea versicolor or itchy eyelids
  • Skin problems like eczema, rashes, psoriasis
  • Prematurely graying hair
  • Pupils always dilated
  • Unusually green eyes, or eye color has turned greenish

Immune disorders:

  • Asthma and allergies
  • Recurring infections — colds, ears, bladder, sinus
  • Autoimmune disease (lupus, hypothyroidism, arthritis, others)
  • Penicillin allergy

Women’s health issues:

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Endometriosis (chronic pelvic pain)
  • Infertility (female), some miscarriages, toxemia of pregnancy (preeclampsia)

Symptoms seen particularly in children up to about 8 years old:

  • Early allergy to foods like milk
  • Infections as a baby
  • Child had or has frequent ear infections, tonsillitis, strep throat or bladder infections, especially if these infections were treated with antibiotics
  • Cravings for milk, cheese, yogurt, macaroni and cheese, or peanut butter
  • Asthma
  • “Drama king” or “drama queen” — complains quite vocally and often
  • Poor sleep patterns — difficulty going to sleep, sleeps too lightly or has frequent nightmares, and wakes up too early (or sometimes too late)
  • Too thin or overweight
  • Attention deficit with or without hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD)
  • Aggressive, poor social interactions, can’t stop moving, frequent fights or arguments, frequent crying
  • Autism
  • Pale complexion, dark circles under the eyes

What causes Candida?

1) Poor immunity is undoubtedly a major factor in allowing Candida to overgrow. A weak immune system appears to be the norm these days, the main reason for which in our opinion is nutrient deficiency. Almost every nutrient known has a role to play in creating immunity, and since most individuals exhibit multiple nutrient deficiencies, they inevitably have chronically impaired immune systems. Causes of lowered immunity include:

i) Heavy metal toxicity, particularly lead (from petrol and lead plumbing) and mercury (from amalgam fillings) is
immunosuppressant, as is chemical overload from our highly polluted and unnatural environment.

ii) Psychological stress appears to be a much overlooked cause of immune weakness, and the same is true of…

iii) Electromagnetic and geopathic stress. Since the sustained presence of Candida burdens the immune system, and its toxins are immunosuppressant, a vicious cycle exists.

iv) Food and inhalant allergies, which Candida commonly causes, similarly burden the immune system, fuelling the vicious cycle. Additionally, nutrient deficiencies induced by Candida may impair immunity, and thus also contribute to the vicious cycle.

v) Excess sugar consumption, of which most people are guilty, suppresses immunity (by depressing neutrophil and lymphocyte activity), and alcohol has a similar effect. (Sugar, of course, also feeds Candida.)

vi) Caffeine (from coffee and to a lesser degree in cocoa and tea) is an adrenal stressor, and depleted adrenal glands predispose to the development of candidiasis by lowering the immune system. We have also seen claims that caffeine also destroys friendly bacteria. We have not found any evidence as to whether this is true or untrue but if it is is true, this is a second mechanism by which caffeine may contribute to candida overgrowth.

2) A deficiency of dietary fibre encourages intestinal candidiasis because dietary fibre gives rise to short-chain fatty acids, which inhibit the growth of Candida. A deficiency of dietary fibre also tends to cause constipation, which is another factor making candida overgrowth more likely to occur (see below).

3) Clinical over usage of antibiotics is widely recognized to precipitate Candida overgrowth. Antibiotics kill the healthy gut bacteria that normally compete with Candida for food and space, and also secrete anti-candidal substances.

4) The popularity of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy is thought provoke candida overgrowth. Steroids used are thought to exert a similar effect, and additionally are immunosuppressive.

5) Pregnancy or multiple pregnancies which can upset the body’s hormonal balance

6) Yeast and yeast products as well as molds and fermented foods.

7) Prolonged exposure to environmental molds.

8) A sluggish thyroid gland predisposes one to candida overgrowth. Moreover candida may also also affect the effectiveness of the thyroid hormones
that the body is producing.

9) Chronic constipation (possibly caused by some of the above factors, such as psychological stress, lack of dietary fibre or lowered thyroid activity) allows a environment in which candida and other unhealthy micro-organisms can more easily flourish.

Candida’s Food

The fungus (yeast) thrive on your own nutrients (minerals, proteins, and fats).  This creates further deficiencies, especially of minerals (iron, selenium, zinc, etc.).  Without minerals, your blood remains in an acidic condition.

The most important organs for creating energy are your adrenals and thyroid.  They both need an ongoing steady supply of minerals.  When mineral levels are low, you have very little energy.  Feeling exhausted, you then crave carbohydrates for short-term energy.  More minerals are called from various places (especially your bones and teeth) to keep a level of balance in your bloodstream.  As your body continues to become even more acidic, the yeast infection escalates and can even become acute.  Viral infections and cancer also grow and expand in this acidic condition.

According to antibody studies done at the Atkins Center, a yeast infection is involved in more than 80% of all cases of Crohn’s disease and colitis.

How to Keep Candida Under Control

  • Avoid Sugar, Gluten and Dairy
  • Take a Good Probiotic
  • Take a good Antifungal
  • Support Your Immune system

** Please be aware, that when trying to eliminate candida, you will most likely have a hard time with ‘die off’ or a Herxheimer reaction. **

Natural Anti-fungals

There are a number of natural antifungals that you can take in supplement form or even add into your diet. These work by breaking down the cell walls of the Candida yeast, and are an important part of your diet.

  • Aloe Vera
  • Black Walnut
  • Caprylic Acid
  • Cloves
  • Garlic
  • Goldenseal
  • Grapefruit Seed
  • Olive Leaf Extract
  • Oregano Oil
  • Oregon Grape
  • Pantethine
  • Pau d’Arco

Anti-fungal Medications

  • Diflucan
  • Eraxis
  • Nystatin

Lufenuron

Lufenuron is much better known in the veterinary world as Program. It is used to treat parasite infections such as fleas. It works because it inhibits chitin production. Humans and, indeed, all mammals do not produce chitin and therefore the potential for side effects in humans is very small. Insects do need chitin to make a tough exoskeleton. Interestingly, so do yeasts and moulds – it is chitin in their cell wall that makes them so tough and difficult to kill. Therefore, potentially Lufenuron can be used to kill yeasts and moulds and, indeed, this has been well demonstrated in the veterinary world. It is not metabolised or eliminated by the liver or kidneys, but excreted through the faeces and again this makes it remarkably non-toxic. Lufenuron is very lipid soluble – this means it is taken over five days and loads up into fatty tissues from which it is slowly released over four to six weeks. This maintains tissue concentrations high enough to kill all yeast, including candida, for at least a month and possibly longer. One can get die-off reactions, but that is the case with any antifungal which is effective.I have spoken to several people that have seen AMAZING results using this!

Candida Elimination & Die Off

Please note that when you begin your journey to rid your body of Candida, you may experience “die off” – this is normal. A lot of people stop treatment when”die off” starts. Huge mistake!!

What is Die Off??

When yeast cells are rapidly killed, a die-off (or Herxheimer reaction) occurs and metabolic by-products are released into the body. The Candida yeast cells actually release 79 different toxins when they die.

Candida Die-Off symptoms will vary from person to person, as each will have different degrees of infestation. If you are having severe Die-Off symptoms, slow down your treatment and reduce your dosage of probiotics and antifungals. The liver is your main pathway for eliminating toxins, and the Die-Off symptoms mean that it is being overwhelmed. Milk Thistle is GREAT for clearing the liver! I have actually rid myself of fatty liver disease by using Milk Thistle! It works! Molybdenum in particular is very useful for those suffering from Die-Off. It converts the neurotoxin acetaldehyde into acetic acid, which is then expelled by your body or even converted into helpful digestive enzymes.

Here is a list of some of the symptoms you might experience during a die-off (otherwise known as a Herxheimer reaction).

  • Nausea
  • Headache, fatigue, dizziness
  • Swollen glands
  • Bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea
  • Increased joint or muscle pain
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Chills, cold feeling in your extremities
  • Body itchiness, hives or rashes
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Skin breakouts
  • Recurring vaginal, prostate and sinus infections

Hang in there, it WILL get better!

Probiotic Information

SUPPLEMENT: Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS)
USED FOR: Indigestion and prevention of eczema
ACTION: A “prebiotic,” which is a source of food for friendly bacteria in the gut
HOW TO TAKE: 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day with meals, reduce dosage if you experience gas

Active-culture yoghurt provides probiotic bacteria, as does kefir (drinkable yoghurt), cottage cheese, and some milks; there are even snack bars on the market, such as Attune bars and Lifeway Kefir Wellness Bars, with probiotic bacteria. Probiotic dietary supplements are available as powder, capsules, tablets, chewables, gummies, and liquid.
Probiotic gummies are a great option for children. You can use these flavourful treats to add probiotics into your child’s daily routine, or to help her take probiotics after a bout of diarrhoea due to antibiotics or infection. Look for a product without artificial flavours, colours or preservatives, and no more than 4 grams of sugar per serving.

STRAIN:Bifidobacterium lactis
USED FOR: Diarrhoea (post-antibiotic and traveler’s)
ACTION: Restores gut microflora
HOW TO TAKE: 1 to 3 billion live organisms per day or follow label directions. Start before antibiotic use and continue afterwards for as many days as the antibiotics were used or start a few days before a trip and continue daily during travel.

STRAIN:Lactobacillus acidophilus
USED FOR: Strengthening immune system and fighting yeast infection
ACTION: Creates acidic environment to discourage growth of harmful microorganisms and produces natural antibiotics
HOW TO TAKE: 1 billion live organisms per day or follow label directions. Another yeast infection option: insert capsule as a vaginal suppository or apply active-culture yoghurt daily to the vagina for up to two weeks (and once a week for prevention).

STRAIN:Lactobacillus acidophilus CL 1285
USED FOR: General digestion aid
ACTION: Contributes healthy bacteria to the gut; inhibits reproduction of harmful bacteria
HOW TO TAKE: 1 billion live organisms per day or follow label directions.

STRAIN: Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1
USED FOR: Lactose intolerance
ACTION: Produces lactase to digest lactose (milk sugar)
HOW TO TAKE: 1 billion live organisms per day or follow label directions.

STRAIN: Lactobacillus casei
USED FOR: Diarrhoea (post-antibiotic and traveler’s)
ACTION: Replenishes healthy gut flora
HOW TO TAKE: 1 to 3 billion live organisms per day or follow label directions. Start before antibiotic use and continue afterwards for as many days as the antibiotics were used or start a few days before a trip and continue daily during travel.

STRAIN:  Lactobacillus GG
USED FOR: Diarrhoea (infectious, post-antibiotic, and traveler’s), irritable bowel syndrome, strengthening immune system, and prevention of tooth decay
ACTION: Replenishes gut flora; blocks growth of harmful bacteria
HOW TO TAKE: 1 to 3 billion live organisms per day for adults or follow label directions; children age 6 to 12 can take one-half of the adult dose and for aged 6 years old, take one-fourth of the adult dose. Start before antibiotic use and continue afterwards for as many days as the antibiotics were used or start a few days before a trip and continue daily during travel.

STRAIN: Lactobacillus plantarum 299v
USED FOR: Irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive upset leading to pain, wind, bloating, and diarrhoea
ACTION: Balances gut flora and inhibits growth of unhealthy bacteria
HOW TO TAKE: 10 to 20 billion live organisms per day or follow label directions.

STRAIN: Lactobacillus reuteri
USED FOR: Diarrhoea (infectious)
ACTION: Produces natural antibiotic to inhibit growth of harmful bacteria
HOW TO TAKE: 1 billion live organisms per day or follow label directions.

STRAIN: Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 and L. rhamnosus GR-1
USED FOR: Yeast infection (especially to prevent recurrence)
ACTION: Inhibits growth of harmful bacteria and yeast
HOW TO TAKE: 5 to 10 billion live organisms per day or follow label directions.

STRAIN: Saccharomyces boulardii
USED FOR: Diarrhoea (Crohn’s disease-related, post-antibiotic, and traveler’s)
ACTION: Promotes healthy gut flora
HOW TO TAKE: 5 to 10 billion live organisms one to four times a day.

STRAIN: Streptococcus thermophilus
USED FOR: Diarrhoea (infectious, post-antibiotic, and traveler’s)
ACTION: Restores gut flora and inhibits growth of harmful bacteria
HOW TO TAKE: 1 to 3 billion live organisms per day or follow label directions. Start before antibiotic use and continue afterwards for as many days as the antibiotics were used or start a few days before a trip and continue daily during travel.

Mickie Stacey is the founder of Stop the Lyme Lies; a patient advocacy and information website for Lyme & MSIDS (Multisystemic Infectious Diseases Syndrome). She holds a BA (Hons) Arts & Humanities degree and is also a qualified Naturopathic Nutritionist. Mickie freelances for several online publications. When she’s not writing she enjoys printmaking and spending time with her family.

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