Yeast (Candida)

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A Connection With Yeast: A Generalized Imbalance

That May Leave You Feeling "Bad All Over"

"Of all the things I’ve lost in life, I miss my mind the most" is a humorous line found on posters and refrigerator magnets. Less humorous are the real complaints of a common yeast organism called Candida albicans, including mental fogging, the inability to concentrate, a short attention span, a feeling of general spaciness, a loss of former alertness, and poor memory. Candida patients often have to read some things at least three times, and to their despair, might still be unable to retain it.

The symptoms affecting the mind —added to the chronic complaints of low energy, fatigue, depression, irritability, angry outbursts, migraine headaches, bladder irritations and infections, intermittent diarrhea, constipation, bloating, indigestion, allergic reactions, chemical intolerances to foods, skin eruptions, vaginal discharge and itching, menstrual irregularities, severe menstrual cramps, blurred vision, and sinusitis—may make you feel as if you are losing your mind! Your healthcare practitioner may even have hinted that “it’s all in your head” after not being able to discover a specific medical diagnosis to cover your medical complaints. Thousands of people have been labeled mentally or emotionally ill when they indeed have a legitimate health problem.

 According to some medical professionals, the cause of these varied medical complaints could be Candida albicans, a generalized yeast infection. In The Yeast Syndrome, John Parks Trowbridge, MD, described Candida overgrowth as a “medical condition … affecting approximately one-third of the total populations of all Western industrialized countries.”

What are Candida Albicans?

 

Candida albicans are yeast cells that, in normal circumstances, are only present in the gastrointestinal tract and on the skin, mucosa, esophagus and small intestine. The Candida yeast cells consume substances such as sugar in order to survive, and usually live in harmony with other bacterial flora present in and on the body. Typically, one Candida organism lives in a concentration of millions of other bacteria, within the normal flora of the gastrointestinal tract.

The normal balance prevents yeast from overgrowing and causing problems. Candida is normally controlled by our immune defenses. However, when our internal environment is disrupted by taking antibiotics, helpful bacteria tend to be decreased. Antigens and toxins overwhelm immune system cells and our immunity decreases, causing conditions in which Candida colonization may begin.

The Candida organism exists as a “spore” in the gut, in a somewhat rounded form. When the immune system is weakened, Candida assumes a thread-like shape and goes through the gut (stomach and intestine) wall releasing powerful toxins that may be absorbed into deeper tissues or the blood stream, and damages the gut wall, allowing foreign substances to enter.

Once the boundary into the blood stream is broken down, incompletely digested dietary proteins may travel through the blood stream assaulting the immune system. The immune system then produces antibodies, causing allergic reactions. For example, a cerebral allergy may cause depression, mood swings, memory problems and changes in behavior.

When Candida multiplies in the intestinal tract, toxins produced find their way into other tissues, resulting in a wide range of problems, including chronic fatigue, headache, and depression. Candida overgrowth can also lead to a “leaky gut” and subsequent food sensitivities.

According to William G. Crook, MD, author of The Yeast Connection Handbook, there is a growing consensus among healthcare practitioners that vulvodynia (chronic vulvar discomfort) and a variety of other disorders, such as fibromyalgia and endometriosis, may also be yeast related. Most people seem to develop these disorders as a result of a weakened immune system, in which viruses are activated, yeasts multiply, food and chemical allergies become activated, and nutritional deficiencies develop. While Candida albicans may not be the root cause, mounting evidence supports the notion that people with these disorders are helped by a sugar-free diet and antifungal medications.

Diagnosis

 

If you’ve had thoughts like “I never feel 100% healthy” or you “just feel bad all over” at times, discuss the possibility of a Candida problem with your healthcare practitioner. This diagnosis may have been missed previously because you’ve never connected and/or discussed all of your symptoms before.

Your practitioner’s laboratory-assisted diagnosis of Candida syndrome may include:

  • Nutritional profile

  • Food hypersensitivity profile

  • Fungal hypersensitivity profile

  • Chronic fungal disease profile, focusing on antibodies to Candida antigen

  • Chronic viral disease profile, seeking evidence of past, present, or chronic Epstein Bar Virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and herpes virus infections.

 

A lab urinalysis that detects an organic acid associated with yeast is also available.

Your medical history is another valuable diagnostic tool. If you identify with many of the Candida symptoms, evaluate your personal medical history to see if it includes some of the following factors:

  • Frequent or continuous use of antibiotics for respiratory, urinary, or other infections

  • Use of the birth control pill for more than six months

  • Use of cortisone-type drugs such as prednisone or Decadron®

  • Surgical intervention or severe burns

  • Cravings for breads, sugar, or alcoholic beverages

  • Mild to severe symptoms due to exposure to perfumes, insecticides, or clothing store odors and other chemicals

  • Symptoms worsen on damp, muggy days, or when you are in basements or moldy places

  • Athlete’s foot, ring worm, or other chronic fungus infections of the skin or nails

  • Bothered by tobacco smoke

 

Lactobacillus Acidophilus

Lactobacillus Acidophilus is one form of probiotic or “friendly” bacteria that helps control yeast overgrowth by competing with Candida in the digestive tract. This friendly bacteria is commonly killed when you use antibiotics.Candida albicans is unaffected by the antibiotics and proliferates when the friendly bacteria is not there to keep it in balance.

Lactobacilli are considered to be the protective flora in the vagina. Lactobacilli produce lactic acid, maintaining an acidic pH of 4.0–4.5, thereby protecting against vaginal infection.Candida is less likely to attach to vaginal epithelial cells when the pH of the vagina is acidic. Maximal attachment occurs when the pH is neutral, at a pH of 7.3. Lactobacilli have also been shown to inhibit other vaginal micro-organisms, including Escherichia coli,Garderella vaginalis, and Mobiluncus species.

Products that contain lactobacillus acidophilus include yogurt, acidophilus milk, and lctobacillus powders and tablets. The bacteria provide essential vitamins, proteins and other nutrients for your body. When you take preparations of this friendly bacteria, they become implanted and start multiplying, thus restoring a more normal balance among the friendly and unfriendly germs in your digestive tract. You can purchase acidophilus milk in most grocery or health food stores. Lactobacillus acidophilus powder or tablets are available as supplements through Women’s International Pharmacy, or over-the-counter at most pharmacies or natural food stores.

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When Candida multiplies in the intestinal tract, toxins produced find their way into other tissues, resulting in a wide range of problems, including chronic fatigue, headache, and depression. Candida overgrowth can also lead to a “leaky gut” and subsequent food sensitivities.

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ALASKA ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE CLINIC

Sandra Denton, MD

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