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Candidiasis: A Silent Epidemic That's Difficult to Diagnose*

 
by S. Colet Lahoz. MS. RN, LAc

     An estimated 79 million Americans - males, females, even children - suffer from Candida related diseases, yet very few are accurately diagnosed and treated.

     Candida albicans is the specific name for a strain of yeast-like fungus naturally existing in the digestive tract. In healthy individuals, this fungus occurs in small colonies and co-exists with microbes and bacteria. In situations where the body's immune system is weakened because of illness, stress, poor diet or excessive use of drugs, such as antibiotics and/or cortico steroids, the fungal-bacterial balance is disrupted and the fungal colonies become overgrown.

     When this systemic overgrowth is unrecognized and therefore not treated, Candida albicans and the toxins they produce penetrate the blood stream and lymphatic systems, causing a weakening of organs and systems.

     C. Orian Truss, M.D., presents a hypothesis that is helpful in diagnosing the condition. He presents strong evidence that sugars should be restricted in patients with candidiasis.

     A study by Betsy Jorgensen investigated the possibility of a positive relationship between Candida albicans and baker's yeast in humans. She recommends eliminating yeast (foods made with brewer's yeast or baker's yeast) from the diet of patients with candidiasis for at least three to four months. Reintroduction of these foods should be gradual and monitored.

     Doctors Leo Galland and Barrie Stephen recently reported on the relationship between ecology of the digestive tract and the systemic factors affecting health and disease. Dysbiosis is a state of living intestinal flora that has harmful effects. It can be described as being due to putrefaction, fermentation, deficiency or sensitization. This explains why gastrointestinal disturbance is a dominant symptom of candidiasis, as well as a number of inflammatory diseases within the bowel itself or illnesses affecting other organs such as the lungs, skin and joints and connective tissues.

Symptoms

     The symptoms of candidiasis are many and varied. Typically they include: history of frequent or prolonged use of antibiotics or cortisone therapy, chronic fatigue, allergies, food and chemical sensitivities, persistent sinusitis, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, sugar cravings, mood swings, (anxiety or depression) memory lapses, and in women, recurrent vaginitis, PMS and endometriosis.

     The predominant symptom varies from person to person, which makes it very difficult to diagnose. It is often missed. Patients who may have few of these symptoms but find them to be persistent no matter what they do are suffering complications of candidiasis.

     My study shows that people have suffered these symptoms for an average of six years before they found a practitioner who was able to properly diagnose and treat their condition. Ninety percent of them were diagnosed by an alternative practitioner, 8 percent by a holistic medical doctor and 2 percent were self-diagnosed.

     The fundamental question regarding treatment approaches led me to study which treatment combinations are most effective in treating candidiasis. I surveyed 50 patients who have recovered from severe, chronic candidiasis. My research is published in full in my book Conquering Yeast Infections: The Non-Drug Solution (East-West Clinic Publications,1996), and in the July 1995 issue of The Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients.

     My survey reports that successful treatment requires a combination of modalities. I concluded that the combination of acupuncture, natural fungicides and strict diet (diet free from sugar, yeasts and alcohol) gave the quickest most lasting reversal of symptoms. The average time it took for symptoms to reverse was two to three months and up to one year for more severe cases.

Natural fungicides

     The appropriate type fungicide, colon cleanser is of prime importance if the treatment is to be successful. The fungicide, colon cleansing program that was rated most effective by people participating in my study is the Attogram brand products, which combine liquid capryllic acid (caprol), bentonite, psyllium powder and acidophilus. These four ingredients are taken together twice a day as a mix for at least three months, and has been rated as the most effective initial cleanser.

     After three months, if the patient's symptoms are not totally reversed, the program is continued using a different form of fungicide to take care of the pleomorphic nature of fungi. They take on a different form as a survival mechanism, hence fungicides are rotated every few months. Suggested alternatives to caprol are: grapefruit seed extracts, candistat or candistatin, garlic extract, Pau d'arco and homeopathic remedies, such as fungustatt or Aqua Flora.

     The role of acupuncture is to bring healing to the organs and systems and to boost the immune system.

     My book also presents encouraging stories of recovery written by patients, along with the research data. Recommendations in this book are a breakthrough for practitioners and patients who are searching for a safe and effective treatment for this disease.

* This article appeared in the December 1996 issue of The Edge .

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