Written by Stuart Wilson
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Under normal conditions this fungus / yeast is present along with other organisms in the gut, mucous membranes or skin, and is harmless. Candida growth is usually kept under control by the immune system and the “good bugs” in the large intestine. When not controlled effectively, resulting infestation leads to a condition known as candidiasis – an overgrowth of Candida Albicans, impossible for a normal immune system to eradicate. It can produce a sufficient quantity of toxins to chronically poison the host individual. Candida is opportunistic, exacerbating existing illness and invading where there is a weakness. Local signs of candida infection include vaginal or genital thrush, fungal infection of the nails, Athlete’s Foot, white patches on the gums and mouth, infection of the tongue, throat and gullet, rashes on the skin, armpits or groin. More serious than these surface infections however, is the invasive form of Candida, when the release of toxins, particularly acetaldehyde, enter the bloodstream, affecting virtually any cell or organ in the body. This can result in an extremely wide range of symptoms in people of either sex at any age.
Symptoms of Candidiasis
One of the problems in testing for Candida is that everyone has some Candida present in the gut. However, it is suggested that if you have 5 or more of the following symptoms, it is likely that you have a Candida problem.
Chronic fatigue & depression * Irritable bowel syndrome &
A constant feeling of “hangover” intermittent diarrhea /
Symptoms worse after eating sweet food or constipation
drinking alcohol & after inhaling cigarette
Bloating and wind
smoke, car or diesel fumes / perfumes /
Fungal infection of nails or skin,
other chemical odours e.g. Athlete’s Foot
Fuzzy head or confusion
Frequent problems with oral
Explosive temper outbursts
Cystitis, vaginitis or prostatitis
Itching or burning sensation in
Chronic heartburn or indigestion the anus
Craving for sweet / carbohydrate foods irritability
Feeling worse in damp weather or in
Irregular periods & period pains
a damp house
Excessive weight gain/weight loss
Factors influencing the Immune System
Nutrition – an unbalanced diet, high in refined carbohydrates and sugar and low in fibre, protein & essential fatty acids as well as an inadequate supply of anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamins A, E, B6 & C and the minerals zinc, copper, selenium & manganese.
Stress – when the body is exposed to physical, emotional or environmental stress, chemical changes occur in the body which have a suppressant effect on the immune system, which also increases the body’s need for the above protective nutrients.
Allergenic load – refers to the total quantity of foreign material which has been permitted to invade the body. It is an expression of the workload the immune system has to deal with – besides yeasts and moulds, chemical pollutants in the air and water, smoking, dust, pollen, bacteria, additives, bacteria and viruses.
Medication – repeated or prolonged courses of broad spectrum antibiotics which destroy the ‘good’ micro flora in the gut, allowing yeast colonies to flare up.
Candida Albicans – in the living yeast cell, thousands of chemical reactions take place producing chemical wastes or toxins. When the yeast cell dies or is digested another host of chemicals is released into the gut, many of which are toxic and can be absorbed. In a healthy gut only chemicals with small molecules will be absorbed, e.g. nutrients provided by the complete digestion of foods. However, Candida Albicans, when changed to its mycelial form, burrows into the intestinal wall, irritating it so much that more complex molecules and its own metabolites will pass into the bloodstream. These molecules are foreign to the host compromising the immune system, which alerts the white blood corpuscles to the sites of invasion where they, especially the neutrofils, destroy foreign molecules. During large infestations the immune system cannot cope allowing these toxins, viruses and bacteria to do damage in any organ in the body, most likely where individual weaknesses lie, e.g. joints, kidneys, sinuses, etc.
Causes of Candida overgrowth
1. An already compromised immune system as outlined above.
2. A diet high in :
- yeast-based foods such as breads and rolls, cheeses, beers and wine
- refined grains, sugar and sweetened foods.
3. Inhalation of moulds or mould spores (the musty smell in mouldy environments). These are trapped in the nasal and lung passages where they are broken down releasing yet more metabolites / toxins.
Turner, Richard & Simonsen, Elizabeth – “Candida Albicans” (Thorsons Publ. Group) 1987 Special Diet Cook Books ISBN 0-7225-1718-1.
Trickett, Shirley – “Coping with Candida”” – are yeast infections draining your energy? (Sheldon Press) 1994 ISBN 0-85969-688-x.