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.
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.
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