Tennee | December 25, 2016
We are living, breathing biomes. Our biomes make up an inner ecosystem that determines our health and we rely on thousands of bacterial and yeast species to help ensure that we receive the correct building blocks to make the nutrients we need to survive and thrive. In order to get the correct nutrients, our "inner ecosystems" needs to be kept in balance, and when we disturb our inner ecosystems with poor diet, stress and infection, an overgrowth of "unfriendly" microorganisms can lead to imbalance and sickness.
Candida is one of those problematic "carbohydrate loving" yeasts that is commonly viewed in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) as a "damp" condition that leads to an imbalanced gut. Candida may be triggered by infection, an over consumption of grains and sugar, antibiotics, etc. Ultimately, if the system is out of balance, Candida can cause all sorts of imbalance in the body and it usually doesn’t leave quietly. Alan Levin, a prominent immunologist from University of California states that “One out of three Americans is adversely affected by candida.” This may be surprising to some, but this single celled organism can monopolize entire bodily systems quickly causing major damage. As a FDN practitioner, with a focus on digestive health I believe that this is a necessary and key component to address when healing the gut.
What is Candida
Simply stated, candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast that naturally grows in the intestines. Candida has a job in the body and can exist in harmony with the rest of the body if kept in check. The truth is, we have a whole ecosystem of bacteria and yeast that work together to ensure we have the correct foundation for healthy cell growth and function. Candida is generally present to help with the process of digestion and nutrient absorption.
However, when the immune system is weak, or if there is an imbalance in the microbiota, candida can easily overproduce and convert from the yeast form to the fungal form. In the fungal form, candida develops roots or rhizoids that can be implanted in the intestinal wall or other mucosal linings. It then releases toxins that wreak havoc on the immune system by creating toxic byproducts that stimulate the body to produce antibodies to the candida organisms. This can lead to an immunological or hypersensitivity reaction. Candida also has the ability to break down the walls of the intestine and penetrate the bloodstream. This ultimately damages the mucosal lining causing leaky gut. If candida is allowed to thrive, it can burrow itself even deeper and accumulate in the brain, nerves, blood, heart, liver etc... When candida is in the blood it becomes a systemic problem and requires a multifaceted aggressive approach to treatment.
What Causes Candida?
An imbalance in the flora causes candida to proliferate.
Some of the causes include but are not limited to:
- Antibiotic use
- Diets high in refined sugars, carbohydrates and alcohol
- Weakened immune system due to high viral/ bacterial load
- Diabetes will increase the blood sugar which encourages yeast growth
- Environmental stressors
- Prolonged use of birth control pills and steroids
Symptoms of Candida
A list of symptoms include but are not limited to:
- cognitive dysfunction (i.e. brain fog)
- coated tongue
- food allergies
- craving for sweets and carbs
- chronic rashes and itching
- skin issues
- mucous in stools
- digestive disorders
- PMS issues
- loss of libido
- recurrent yeast infections in women or prostate problems in men
- sensitivity to molds, dampness and smells
Testing for Candida
There are a couple different tests that are popular in determining Candida albicans.
- Blood tests in which IgG, IgA and IgM antibodies are measured. Benefits, are that only a pin prick of blood is required and results indicate whether infection is past, ongoing or current.
- Culture of stool samples detect yeast overgrowth. This is a most common form of detection. Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory offers a “GI MAP” that can be extremely useful for candida detection. Other stool collections are also commonly used.
How to support your system if you have Candida
Heal the Gut
Healing the gut is essential to healing from systemic candida. This involves ridding then G.I. tract of other pathogenic organisms and the biofilms that reside there and replacing these pathogenic footprints with healthy bacteria by using probiotics supplements and fermented foods which provide a whopping dose of lactobacillus.
Sugar free carb free diet
Essential for healing is to refrain from feeding the “yeast beast”. Candida thrives on sugar, yeast, alcohol, cheese, vinegar, soy sauce and other refined flour products. Extensive research shows, that “cravings” for sugar are actually driven by the candida organism that sends messages to our brains to “feed” them. In order to eliminate this yeast, it is imperative to starve it with a strict low glycemic diet. I personally find the guiding principles behind the Body Ecology Diet combined with a Paleo diet most effective for supporting the body when dealing with candida.
Steps to Take when addressing Candida Overgrowth
If your system is severely compromised, you may need to work with your doctor with prescription antifungals. Herbal protocols can be quite successful if you are able to stick with an elimination diet and commit to long term support for your system.
Herbal formulas and supplements that support the body in response to candida
Candicid Forte - Strong herbal formula that uses herbs such as Pau d’arco and berberine and zinc to clear candida from the tissues.
Intestinol - If you are drawn to use essential oils, this formula has, thyme, oregano and clove, encapsulated so they are easy to take and gentle on the stomach.
Probiotics - Re implanting the colon with friendly bacteria will help to reduce many of the digestive and intestinal symptoms of candida. Most effective strains come from the lactobacillus family, specifically lactobacillus bifidus, as well as b. bifidum. My experience is that it is best to have a few different multi strains that you rotate. Soil based probiotics are also used, which are “endospore-forming” bacteria that tend to be better able to withstand the challenging environment of the stomach. They have also been shown to colonize the gut more effectively.
Saccharmoyces boullardi - This beneficial yeast traditionally used to defend against candida will take up residence and protect your mucosal barrier from the onslaught of candida. It is a very important yeast to use when treating candida.
Caprylic acid - Natural fatty acid derived from coconut oil. Caprylic acid interferes with the growing and duplicating process but does not actually kill yeast but it is effective in reducing intestinal yeast levels when used for long intervals.
Chlorophyll - Essential for maintaining a healthy acid/alkaline balance while oxygenating and supporting the recolonizing of friendly bacteria.
Enemas can be a powerful tool if you are serious about removing candida from your digestive system. Enemas can be a remarkable tool for flushing out the colon which is essential when removing candida from the body. Coffee enemas especially can support the liver which is a vitally important organ for clearing waste from the body. The effects are especially measurable in the skin. Probiotic retention enemas will help reseed the colon with beneficial probiotics as well. Probiotic retention enemas are being used more frequently now for mood disorders, IBS, IBD etc with remarkable effects as well.
Toxin removal can depend on the persons detoxification capacity. Cleansing reactions, commonly called Herxheimer reactions can cause symptoms such as flu-like soreness, skin eruptions, dizziness, itching, sleep disturbances etc.
The best way to pace the toxin removal process is to a support your detox pathways with b-vitamins, and anti inflammatory herbs as well as with the use of enemas to avoid a buildup of too many toxins. Taking time to rest while removing toxins is essential in order to support the healing process.
This is a process not likely to occur overnight. With commitment however, your body will regain its equilibrium bringing health and vitality with it.
May your reality be radiant!
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