Candida albicans or common yeast is present in most people. A small harmless amount in the gastrointestinal tract is of no concern. It becomes a problem when it multiplies, creating extensive colonies. Overgrowth can have a profound effect on the immune system and be an underlying cause of a multitude of other health conditions. Some of these complaints can be very obvious such as thrush, vaginitis, athlete’s foot and jock itch. Still others, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis, food sensitivities, fatigue, decreased libido, rectal itching, bladder infection, ear infection, abdominal bloating, heartburn, depression, acne and even autoimmune diseases may seem unrelated. We have noticed a large increase in the number of yeast infections over the last several years. In the late 1970’s and early 80’s we saw few cases. By the late 90’s, it was one of the most common problems we saw at our clinic.
Candida does affect both males and females, even though it is more common in women. It is rarely transmitted sexually, however it can be transmitted by a mother to a newborn. It appears that it has more to do with an individual’s immune function than anything else. If a person’s immune system is even slightly compromised, the yeast gains a foothold and can easily multiply.
It is not known why we have a higher incidence of yeast or Candida problems these days. Some feel the yeast itself is stronger and that excessive use of antibiotics, steroidal compounds (including corticosteroids, oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy) have contributed to Candida’s overall abundance. Many pharmaceuticals will kill other organisms that can keep the yeast in check, while some pharmaceuticals actually feed the yeast. Lack of proper digestive enzymes and over consumption of sugar can certainly play a significant role in the increase of yeast.
The most important factor to keep Candida under control is diet (see Candida diet under Diet Plans). A very strict compliance to this diet is necessary. Most of the anti-fungal agents such as Nystatin, will weaken the immune system and are not recommended. They might appear to give short-term success, but usually drive the yeast deeper into the body. A person should try to avoid steroidal compounds like corticosteroid, oral contraceptives and antibiotics while on a Candida diet.
One of the most important areas to consider is digestion. If the food is not being digested properly, it will ferment in the digestive tract and be a perfect breeding ground for the yeast. Constipation can also be a contributing factor. The bowels must be kept clean. The use of anything that might compromise the immune system should be avoided or at least reduced. Liver function is important to watch in the battle against yeast. A sluggish liver will definitely increase yeast growth. Conversely, a yeast growth will often cause a sluggish liver. This will often result in all kinds of skin problems such as rashes or eczema. Stress can also increase the yeast rather rapidly.
We normally start off all Candida programs with a 12 day D-Tox Diet. This usually helps us gain a 1-2 month head start on the Candida program. It takes 3-9 months to reduce the yeast to a level that causes no problem. Of course, this depends greatly on the degree of compliance to the program (both supplements and diet). After the yeast is under control, we usually do a 12 day D-Tox Diet, one to four times a year (depending on diet and stress level) to keep it in check. The most important supplements, which help lower yeast levels are homeopathic Candida, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and acidophilus-like organisms. We don’t suggest adding the acidophilus-like organisms until after at least a month and a half of weakening the yeast. Too hasty a use can often cause an ‘ecological battle’ that is not very comfortable. The most important thing is to maintain a good ecological balance of organisms in the body.
Single Herbs: Pau d’arco, Garlic, Cardamon (the spice), Goldenseal root, Barberry, Coptis (Gold Thread), Ginger, Chamomile, Thyme, Melissa, Rosemary, Reishi, Shiitake, Olive Leaf extract.
Nutritional Supplements: Beta-carotene (30,000 IU, twice daily), B complex (25 mg, twice daily), Vitamin B6 (50 mg daily), Vitamin C (2,000-5,000 mg daily), Acidophilus (1,000 mg, twice daily), Essential Fatty Acids, Caprylic acid (in persistent cases).