Over the years, in clinical practice I have encountered thousands of patients who do not feel their best, are fatigued and are suffering from a complex of symptoms. For example, a patient may be suffering from one or more of the following: chronic diarrhea, constipation, bloating and flatulence, lethargy and fatigue, reduced or hyperactive immune function, skin eruptions, rectal itching, vaginal yeast infections, fungal infections (including nail fungus), urinary or bacterial infections, or oral thrush. When these are the symptoms manifested, along with performing basic testing for food allergies, I often consider that a patient may be suffering from candidiasis, a condition caused by candida albicans or a number of other candida species.
Candida infections can be insidious in that they manifest in the form of a number of symptoms that either seem unrelated to one another or mimic another disease. Yet, once candida is detected, eliminating this infection can result in improved overall health and increased energy.
In this article, I will discuss a new test that is particularly helpful in identifying the presence of candida along with natural strategies to combat this fungal infection. First, however, I will review what candida is and why it can be a problem.
Often Overlooked Cause Behind Poor Health
The genus candida comprises about 154 species. Six of these species most commonly inhabit the skin and mucous membranes as normal flora. Candida albicans represents the most abundant opportunistic strain while candida tropicalis, candida glabrata, candida krusei, candida parapsilosis and candida lusitaniae may also mount infection under opportunistic conditions.
Candida albicans is often considered a harmless yeast when present in very small quantities in the gastrointestinal tract and vaginas of warm-blooded animals. A healthy immune system and beneficial bacteria keep candida under control, but disruption to this internal balance can lead to yeast overgrowth. Hormonal imbalances, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, antibiotics and oral contraceptives, excessive consumption of sugar and simple carbohydrates, food allergies and sensitivities, stress, or exposure to environmental toxins can all lower immune defenses and contribute to candida’s transformation from a benign, round yeast into a filament-shaped fungus with long hyphae or “roots” that penetrate intestinal cells in search of food. Candida albicans also can be spread by direct contact during intercourse, other intimate contact and through intravenous feedings, dialysis, surgery, underlying disease (diabetes mellitus, Addison’s disease), immunodeficiency, pregnancy, age (elderly, infancy), and malnutrition.
Furthermore, parasitic infections can in and of themselves weaken the gastrointestinal tract enough to tip the balance in favor of candida turning into the more harmful fungal form of the organism.
|TABLE 1: Symptoms of Candida Related Complex|
|Gastrointestinal||Bloating, intestinal gas, belching, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, bad breath, abdominal pain, and indigestion|
|Urinary||Frequent urination, burning and desire to urinate, fluid retention, and edema (tissue swelling)|
|Male Sexual System||Loss of sex drive, impotency, prostate problems, genital itch, and bumps with fluid or pus at the tip of the penis forming patches that may spread to the scrotum|
|Female Sexual System||Vaginal inflammation, vaginal discharge, vaginal burning itching, vaginal pain, urinary tract infections, painful urination, premenstrual problems, menstrual problems, painful intercourse, decreased sex drive, and infertility|
|Mental and Emotional Distrubances||Chronic fatigue, drowsiness, and loss of energy, mental fog, decreased concentration, loss of alertness, poor work perfomance, memory loss or learning difficulty, severe mood swings, depression, irritability or periods of anger, hyperactivity and agitation, anxiety, insomnia, cravings for sweets, bread, sugar, alcohol, or yeast-containing foods (cheese)|
|Allergic and Somatic Reactivity||Numbness, burning or tingling, painful joints; swollen or stiff joints; muscle aches; muscle tension; nasal congestion; tension in the head; headaches; blurred vision; dizziness; ear ringing; shortness of breath; chest pains; acne, hives or other skin eruptions; increased sensitivity to foods, environmental substances, pollution, household chemicals, toiletries; symptoms worsen in moldy locations or on damp, muggy days|
In an advanced stage, candida expels waste products into the circulatory system, depressing immunity and leading to numerous ailments that may fall within the syndrome called the Candida Related Complex or candidiasis.1-2 This results in the symptoms I mentioned in Table 1.
The First Step: Diagnosing Candidiasis
When a candida imbalance is suspected, one of the most useful tools for confirming the diagnosis is to utilize a new test for detecting candida. This new ELISA Candida Antibodies and Antigen Panel is impressive in its comprehensiveness. The test can detect immediate, past and localized infections by testing for serum candida antigen, in addition to IgM, IgG, and IgA antibodies specific for Candida spp. An antigen is a protein marker on the surface of cells that identifies the cell as self or non-self. Antigens stimulate the production of antibodies by immune cells that will neutralize or destroy the cell if necessary.
IgM is the first antibody formed after primary exposure to an antigen, and reflects a present infection. IgM readily activates complement, a group of proteins in the blood that play a vital role in the body’s immune defenses. IgM also assists the phagocytic system to eliminate foreign pathogens from the intravascular space.
IgG is the predominant antibody formed from secondary exposure to an antigen, and reflects a past or ongoing infection. It is produced as IgM antibody levels decrease after primary exposure. IgG also activates complement, and assists the phagocytic system to eliminate foreign pathogens from the extravascular space.
IgA is found in mucous secretions and is important in local (mucosal) immunity. Elevated IgA antibodies may reflect a more superficial candida infection.
The Candida Antibodies and Antigen Panel is now being offered here. You can now perform a simple fingerstick at home, send the results to the lab and receive your results within a couple weeks. Then you can discuss the findings with your healthcare providers.
The Second Step: Lifestyle Alterations
Once a diagnosis of candidiasis is confirmed, the first step is for affected individuals to eliminate from their diets any of the foods that feed candida. Consequently, all foods containing sugar and yeast should be eliminated from the diet in order to starve the candida organism. Baked goods, pastas, breads, cereals, rice, most grains, fruit, honey, and any sweetened foods should not be consumed. Many practitioners also recommend avoiding dairy products due to the fact they contain lactose, which is a sugar, and cheese because it contains mold. Fermented beverages such as alcohol should also be avoided. Diet should consist of meat protein such as chicken (preferable free range or organic) or wild fish and vegetables, with the exception of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots, which may also feed the candida organism.
It is also important for those with elevated blood sugars, such as in the case of diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome, to actively work to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, so as to not inadvertently fuel the growth of candida.
Additionally, avoiding foods to which you are sensitive (as measured by a Food Allergy Test) can be especially helpful.
It is important to read labels carefully on any packaged foods.
The Third Step: Killing Candida
A number of natural substances (all found in the formula KandidaPlex™) have been found to be very effective in killing candida, especially when they are combined with an anti-candida diet.
Undecylenic acid, commonly used in the form of calcium undecylenate, is an extremely effective, well-tolerated, broad-spectrum antifungal compound derived from the vacuum distillation of castor bean oil. It works, in part, by inhibiting the ability of candida to convert to its virulent mycelial phase. Several studies have demonstrated that undecylenic acid is 4-5 times as powerful an antifungal agent as caprylic acid in the same dosage.3-5 Undecylenic acid has been found to inhibit the switch from the harmless yeast form of candida to the invasive fungal form.5
Another anti-candida substance is Pau d’Arco (Tabebuia heptaphylla) The inner bark of the South American tree Pau d’Arco, also known as lapacho or taheebo, has long been used as a folk remedy in numerous afflictions. Pau d’ Arco contains phytochemical compounds with antibacterial and antifungal activity. Among these compounds are lapachol and a series of napthoquinones, natural fungicidals effective against candida albicans. Lapachol is also antiviral and antiparasitic. Pau d’Arco selectively inhibits unfriendly bacteria such as the anaerobic Clostridium difficile and E. coli without affecting beneficial probiotic bacteria.6-7
Enlyse™ is another important part of an anti-candida program. It is a blend of powerful all-vegetarian enzymes designed to help prevent overgrowth of candida. This blend improves the intestinal environment by hydrolyzing putrefying food trapped in between the intestinal villi and digesting non-starch polysaccharides that are known to create gas and bloating. Hemicellulases in Enlyse™ help remove the biofilm layer, which surrounds candida albicans. Removal of the yeast’s protective biofilm facilitates the penetration of the antifungal ingredients calcium undecylenate, berberine and resveratrol directly to the yeast cell.8 Chitosanase in Enlyse™ is a special enzyme that helps break down chitin, which is an important part of the structure of the candida cell wall. This can be a significant factor in the prevention of overgrowth of this potentially pathogenic yeast.9
Berberine is an antifungal agent found in goldenseal, barberry and Oregon grape. Extracellular enzymes secreted by candida albicans are claimed to be virulent factors responsible for penetration of the yeast into host cells. Berberine was able to suppress candida’s enzyme activity and prevented its adherence to epithelial cells. Berberine also interrupts the process of chitin synthesis by which candida constructs its cell walls.10Berberine also has been shown to work synergistically with other antifungal agents.11
Trans-resveratrol demonstrates potent antifungal activity at very low concentrations; it acts to disrupt the formation of the hyphae, or mycelia, which are required for candida to penetrate the epithelial cells lining the gastrointestinal tract.12-13
According to one group of researchers, “Therefore, the fungicidal effects of resveratrol demonstrate that this compound is a potential candidate as an antifungal agent in treating… candidal infections.”12
Finally, biotin is a powerful addition to an anti-candida regimen and works with the other compounds mentioned above. In vitro, biotin has been shown to prevent the budding yeast form of candida albicans from “morphing” into its invasive mycelial form.14
The Final Step: Counteracting the Die-Off Reaction
When yeast cells are rapidly killed by the immune system, drug treatment, or dietary intervention, a die-off or Herxheimer reaction occurs. This reaction is caused by the massive release of toxins from dying candida cells. Toxic proteins from the dead yeasts cross cell membranes, enter the bloodstream, and trigger an intense immune reaction.
Other chemicals released during candida die off cause direct cellular toxicity throughout the body. Immune/yeast complexes trigger the release of histamine, an irritating tissue hormone that initiates tissue inflammation and causes discomfort. Severe allergic and toxic reactions exacerbate the symptoms of candida. Die-off reactions may last from a few days to a few weeks but usually clear up in less than a week. Even though a strong die-off reaction causes a significant amount of discomfort, it is a sign of a successful treatment.
Perhaps one of the most unfortunate aspects of a severe Herxheimer reaction is that it may cause individuals to abandon a successful treatment prematurely. The Herxheimer reaction keeps many individuals indulging in their pro-yeast lifestyle like the withdrawal reaction keeps drug abusers addicted.
In order to ease the discomfort associated with the die-off reaction, I recommend that my patients consume EnteraKlenz and a good fiber supplement such as EZ Fiber™. The fiber will help escort the toxic debris out of the body. A good probiotic such as BioPRO™ also can help support the health of the GI tract.
A modern day lifestyle that includes stress, an excessive amount of sugary foods, oral contraceptives and antibiotics can disrupt the body’s balance. When this happens, the normally harmless yeast form of candida albicans can transform into the pathogenic fungal form. A new comprehensive Candida Antibodies and Antigen Panel is now being offered here to detect this insidious but prevalent infection. Altering the diet and taking the synergistic combination of anti-candida substances found in KandidaPlex can help rid the body of this organism and create a greater degree of energy and overall health.
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14. Yamaguchi H. Mycelial development and chemical alteration of Candida albicans from biotin insufficiency. Sabouraudia. 1974 Nov;12(3):320–328.
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