Disclaimer: Please note, most conventional doctors do not recognise the concept of systemic candida infection. This article should not be used as a replacement for medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Always discuss any health problem you have with your doctor.
Candida albicans is a yeast like organism that lives naturally in small amounts in your mouth, gastrointestinal tract and skin. The body's natural defense against fungal and yeast infections is the production of friendly bacterial flora that keeps it in check. It is controlled by a properly functioning immune system and "friendly" bacteria. However, if the number of friendly bacteria is decreased, the immune system is weakened or other conditions for yeast proliferation occur candida albicans may shift from a yeast to a fungal form and start to invade the body and cause a multitude of health problems.
In the yeast state candida is a non-invasive, sugar-fermenting organism, while in fungal state it is invasive and can produce rhizoids, very long root-like structures. Rhizoids can penetrate mucosa or intestinal walls, leaving microscopic holes and allowing toxins, undigested food particles and bacteria and yeast to enter the bloodstream. This condition is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome and that is one of the causes of food and environmental allergies.
Although most people associate the word "candida", with the most common type of candida infection, namely candida albicans, it should be mentioned that there are in fact numerous types of candida.
There are over 150 species of candida. Common strains include : -
- Candida albicans
- Candida dubliniensis
- Candida famata
- Candida glabrata
- Candida guilliermondii
- Candida humicola
- Candida krusei
- Candida lambica
- Candida lipolytica
- Candida lusitaniae
- Candida parapsilosis
- Candida pseudotropicalis
- Candida rugosa
- Candida stellatoidea
- Candida tropicalis
- Candida zeylanoides
However, when talking about "candida", most people mean candida albicans overgrowth. This refers to a syndrome first identified by Dr Orion Truss and Dr William Crook who both wrote books about the subject in the late 1970's. It is closely related to the subject of dysbiosis ("bad bacteria"), which refers to any imbalance of healthy vs / unhealthy gut bacteria, and not just candida overgrowth.
What causes Candida?
Amongst holistic practitioners and those doctors who recognise the prevalance of the syndrome, it is generally thought that the following factors are the primary ones which can cause candida overgrowth.
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:
- 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.
- Psychological stress appears to be a much overlooked cause of immune weakness, and the same is true of...
- Electromagnetic and geopathic stress. Since the sustained presence of Candida burdens the immune system, and its toxins are immunosuppressant, a vicious cycle exists.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
Other potential causes of candida
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Pregnancy or multiple pregnancies which can upset the body's hormonal balance
- Yeast and yeast products as well as molds and fermented foods.
- Prolonged exposure to environmental molds.
- 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.
- 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
Why is candida a problem?
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.
Typical symptoms of Candida are thought to include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Food allergies
- Low blood sugar causing various symptoms including...
- Sugar and carbohydrate craving
- Vaginal or oral thrush (a white film in the mouth or on the tongue)
- Abdominal bloating, excessive intestinal gas, pain or indigestion
- Joint pain with arthritis-like symptoms
- Chronic sinus drainage - which antibiotics don't help!
- Weight loss OR gain and the inability to change it.
- Brain "fog" or Poor concentration
- Fungus on the finger or toe-nails
- Urinary infections
- Itching, red eyes
- Rashes anywhere on the skin
- Rashes inside the ears or around the genital area
- Anxiety / depression
- Cystitis / urethritis
- Menstrual irregularities
- Loss of libido
- Bad breath
Our more detailed articles on Candida treatment are " Candida Treatment " and "Conquering Candida", so please bear in mind the following information is only a quick introduction. The following is a general guideline, suitable for a large proportion of people. A consultation with us, or a good nutritionist, naturopath etc can be very helpful for those who may need a comprehenisve programme. Candida is stubborn but it can usually be eliminated over a number of months, although it needs to be combined with a low sugar and no alcohol diet. Our full range of candida control products is much larger than the list below, but based on the fact that you cant take everything, these are the products we most commonly recommend.
- Threelac or Fivelac - In most cases we regard one of these as foundational products
- One of our Liquid Oxygen Products - In most cases we regard one of these as foundational products
- Active Digestive Enzymes- Helps with bloating, gas, poor food absorbtion etc.
- Thyme Formula - Botanical Anti Fungal
- Wild Endive Formula - Reduces candida toxins. Prevents die-off. An important product in severe cases.
- Colosan - For colon cleansing
The following products can be taken initally, but we often recommend them to replenish and heal the gut when symptoms have improved. There are no absolute rules here, and in some cases people do not improve until they take one or more of the products below...
- Bio-Kult - Probiotic. Contains 14 strains of viable friendly bacteria.
- Colostrum Plus - Helps maintain the immune system, soothes leaky gut, reduces food allergies, can help gas and wind problems.
- Marshmallow Formula - Botanical formula to help with leaky gut and food allergies.
Once you have read this introductory article, for more detailed information, we suggest you read
© The Finchley Clinic 2007, Updated 2009, Updated again 2012 and 2014, and 2016
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