Controlling Candida


Part Two: A Comprehensive Approach That Works
by Nan Kathryn Fuchs, Ph.D.
Soundview Publication, Inc., Atlanta, GA

There are many causes of candida overgrowth. The most common being the overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off large colonies of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract that keep candida in check. Allowed to spread. Candida mutates from a yeast into a fungus, producing toxic by- products that cause allergy symptoms and digestive tract disorders. Additionally. these medications create antibiotic-resistant strains of microbes that make it virtually impossible to restore the body's intestinal flora to its original, healthy, balanced state.

It is not, however, only antibiotic use that is contributing to candida overgrowth. Some antifungals are having the same effect. In an article published last year in the American Journal of Medicine, Victor Yu Predicted we will be seeing more candida problems with strains other than the most common, candida albicans. Already, in four teaching hospitals in the U.S., other strains of candida are appearing that seem to be resistant to fluconazole, one of the most popular new antifungal medications. Resistance to fluconazole has, in the past, been seen only in cases of thrush in AIDS patients. Now it is being seen in other patients, as well.

Poor digestion is another factor in candida overgrowth, since the presence of hydrochloric acid in the stomach helps kill off many types of unwanted fungi. As we get older, our stomachs naturally produce less hydrochloric acid. Some people have almost none. Others neutralize or inactivate their hydrochloric acid when they take antacids such as TUMS and Rolaids. In addition to not being able to digest your food properly, colonies of candida and other fungi can proliferate when your body is not producing sufficient gastric juices. Numerous degenerative diseases like arthritis, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases have connections to fungal overgrowth.

Any change in hormone balance can also contribute to an overgrowth of candida, including pregnancy, the use of birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapy. A diet high in sugars, especially lactose (milk sugar), contributes to high amounts of candida, since all fungi thrive on sugars. This includes alcoholic beverages, which need to be eliminated completely for a while.

Reducing candida overgrowth with diet

Diet is a key to controlling candida. There's no way around it. If you continue to eat foods high in sugar, it doesn't matter what else you do. You won't get well. All the antifungals in the world won't help you. You can't kill off a yeast while you're feeding it and expect to get better. Candida overgrowth is stimulated by feeding the yeast or fungus. You simply have to starve it. This means eating a diet higher in protein (fish, chicken, tofu, beans) and lower in all sugars and starches. A diet high in carbohydrates, such as starchy vegetables, grains, pasta, bread, fruit and fruit juice and refined sugars is not a healthy diet for someone who has an overgrowth of any yeast of fungus. Concentrate on eating lots of vegetables and protein with small amounts of fruit. People often need to be on this diet for three to six months to get results.

Because a suppressed immune system makes it difficult to control a fungal infection, you'll also want to boost yours by eliminating any foods to which your allergic or sensitive. These may be "good" foods that impair your immune system. This means they're not good for you at this time. If chicken makes you feel mentally foggy or tired, don't eat chicken for now. You're better off with a limited diet that allows you to get better than with eating a wide variety of foods that prevent you from healing.

Medications and supplements that work

S. Colet Lahoz, RN, author of Conquering Yeast Infections: The Non Drug Solution, is a nurse and acupuncturist in Minnesota who has found a comprehensive solution to candida overgrowth. She includes a four-part colon cleansing program using Caprol, an antifungal oil; bentonite, a fine clay used as intestinal cleanser; psyllium as additional fiber; and implanting acidophilus. We believe her approach in thoroughly cleansing the colon and repopulating it with beneficial bacteria is a key to controlling this overgrowth.

Lahoz has her patients on the colon cleansing program twice a day for three months. In our experience, a lengthy program is essential in getting results. Just eating better and taking a little acidophilus for a few weeks won't accomplish anything.

For repopulation, we would suggest using Natren brand probiotics (friendly bacteria). It's one of the strongest we have ever seen and it's available in most health food stores. The best of Natren's products is a formula called Healthy Trinity, which consists of three types of friendly bacteria each suspended in an oil base so they won't compete with one another and lose their potency). Although more expensive than any other formula, Healthy Trinity outperforms all others in our opinion and in the long run is no more expensive than any other good brand. Because it is super strong, you need to take only one capsule a day. If you have problems finding it, call Natren at 800-992-3323.

Individualize your antifungal treatment by getting a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis from Great Smokies Laboratories (800-522- 4762). It will indicate which natural and pharmaceutical antifungals will work to control the particular form of candida you have Without this information, you're just shooting in the dark. With it, you can get excellent results.

Some particularly helpful antifungals include:

Caprylic acid: a fatty acid found in coconut oil, this antifungal works in the intestinal tract. It is similar in effectiveness to Nystatin, a pharmaceutical that can adversely effect liver function, but is very safe to use.

Citricidal and other citrus seed extracts: In addition to being effective as antifungals in the digestive tract, citrus seed extracts also kill off parasites like giardia and blastocystis hominis. If you take them an hour before or after meals you can avoid any upset stomach it might cause.

Flax oil and fish oils: these oils contain essential fatty acids, which boost the immune system. They are also antifungals.

Garlic and onions: Natural antibiotics and antifungals used for centuries. You can use deodorized garlic oil capsules if you want to avoid garlic breath.

Tanalbit is a nonprescription intestinal antiseptic used by many health care practitioners instead of Nystatin and caprylic acid. It is made from natural tannins (resins found in tea) and zinc.

When candida can't be controlled

If you've done everything possible to control an overgrowth of candida and still are unable to get well, there may be an underlying problem you haven't addressed: intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut syndrome. When the fungal form of candida works its way across the intestinal mucosa it makes larger holes in the intestinal walls. Allowing particles of food or bacteria to "leak" across this barrier. Food allergies also enlarge the lining of the intestines, making it more vulnerable to harmful particles. Leaky gut syndrome will not get better by itself or with a simple change in diet and a few antifungals. It can be diagnosed by laboratory tests and treated by doctors familiar with it. In the article on page 5, we'll talk about what you can do to identify and correct leaky gut syndrome, which often leads to autoimmune and bowel problems. Please read it carefully, and if necessary, tackle leaky gut syndrome before beginning an aniticandida regime. Otherwise, your candida eradication efforts will be thwarted by a leaky gut syndrome.


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Last Updated November 25, 2004