Alternative Names: Candidiasis, Thrush, Oral Thrush, Vaginal Thrush, Candida Albicans, Vaginal Yeast Infection
Candida albicans is an opportunistic yeast that normally inhabits the mouth, throat, intestines and genitourinary tract of most humans and is usually considered to be a normal part of the bowel flora (the organisms that coexist with us in our lower digestive tract). However, it may become pathogenic when there is a disturbance in the balance of flora, or a debilitation of the host from other causes.
can be a difficult condition to diagnose, some treatments are less than effective, and recovery can be prolonged. However, when candida is a problem (whether lab testing confirms it or not) and treatment is effective, there can be great health gains. Attempts at diagnosis are made through questionnaires, analyzing a history of causative factors, blood tests, and stool tests. Some doctors use a questionnaire only because of lab test confusion.
Causes and Development; Contributing Risk Factors
The job of Candida albicans
is to recognize and destroy harmful bacteria
: Without it, we would be defenseless against many pathogenic bacteria. In a healthy person, Candida albicans
numbers in the millions and is controlled by a properly-functioning immune system and "friendly" bacteria. However, if the number of friendly bacteria is decreased, the immune system is weakened, or other conditions for yeast
proliferation occur (diet high in sugar, improper pH in the digestive system) Candida albicans will shift from yeast form to mycelial fungal form and start to invade the body.
In the yeast state, Candida is a non-invasive, sugar-fermenting organism, while in fungal state it is invasive and can produce rhizoids, very long root-like structures. Rhizoids can penetrate mucosa
or intestinal walls, leaving microscopic holes and allowing toxins, undigested food particles and bacteria
and yeast to enter the bloodstream. This condition is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome and that is an explanation for many food and environmental allergies.Transmission
Candida fungi can not become airborne and therefore Candida can not be transmitted by air. Sexual intercourse, deep kissing and oral sex can transmit Candida to/from the genitals or mouth from one person to another. If the other person is healthy, his immune system will destroy Candida cells and prevent infection. However, if his immune system is impaired or he/she eat lots of sugar and carbohydrates
then Candida can proliferate.
The most severe cases seem to be associated with the presence of mercury amalgam fillings.
Signs and Symptoms
Early symptoms include itching in the genital area, pain when urinating, and a thick odorless vaginal discharge
are frequently present. Candidiasis
is unusual in the male and indicates a weakened immune system.
Symptoms of Candida
overgrowth are caused by toxins released. Not all listed symptoms will occur in all individuals. Usually, approximately 20 symptoms will be present.
- Dysfunctioning Glandular and Organ Symptoms:
- Psychological and Allergic:
- Blurred vision
- Bronchitis (recurrent)
- Burning or tingling
- Chemical sensitivity
- Chest pain
- Muscle aches, pain, weakness and tension
- Nasal congestion
- Head tension
- Painful, swollen, stiff joints
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throats.
- Emotional and Mental:
- ADD, ADHD
- Feelings of unreality
- Frequent mood swings
- Inability to concentrate
- Low energy
- Mental confusion
- Poor memory.
- Anal itch
- Athlete's foot
- Diaper rash
- Dry skin
- Excessive perspiration
- Facial rash
- Fungal infection of the nails
- Jock itch
- Tingling and numbness.
Diagnosis and Tests
Documenting and diagnosing candidal overgrowth can be very confusing as different doctors interpret lab tests differently. Despite this confusion, many people treated properly for a suspected infection improve significantly over time.
Treatment and Prevention
To cure Candida
albicans it is essential to find what caused the Candida overgrowth. If the cause is not found and treated, it is possible that treatment will not be effective and/or that Candida will recur.
A comprehensive approach to presumed or documented candida should include:
- Eliminate the chronic use of antibiotics, steroids, immune-suppressing drugs, and birth control pills (unless there is absolute medical necessity).
- Follow the candida control diet suggestions given below.
- Enhance digestion. Check for hypochlorhydria and pancreatic adequacy.
- Enhance immune function. Consider thymus-containing products.
- Enhance liver function.
- Use nutritional and herbal supplements that help control yeast overgrowth and promote a healthy bacterial flora. Many combination preparations are available, and rotating products gives you the opportunity to see which are the most effective and reduces the likelihood of the yeast becoming resistant. Therapy may need to continue for 6 months or longer. Acidophilus supplementation has been shown to be ineffective in candidal infections when used by itself, but can be helpful if a deficiency exists or could be helpful when used in combination with other agents.
Suggested diets are a variation on these basics:
- Avoid sugars. Some doctors strongly recommend you cannot have ANY sugar or grains at all on a program and should also eliminate all fruit until the symptoms resolve. Others are less strict and suggest avoiding foods high in simple carbohydrates such as refined sugars (sucrose, fructose, corn syrup), fruit juices, honey, and maple syrup. Limit intake of high carbohydrate vegetables such as potatoes, corn, yams, and parsnips. How strict you need to be will have to be discovered.
- Avoid foods with a high content of yeast or mold including alcoholic beverages, cheeses, dried fruits, melons, and peanuts.
- Avoid milk and milk products with a high content of lactose.
- Avoid all known or suspected allergic foods.
Foods that can be eaten freely include all vegetables, protein sources (legumes, fish, poultry, and meat), and whole grains. Two to three one-cup servings of the following fruit can be eaten per day as well: apples, blueberries, cherries, other berries, and pears.
If left untreated, Candida
can cause other diseases that may even be lethal, for example by entering the brain or bloodstream. Persons with severely compromised immune system can die from blood poisoning
known as Candida Septicemia
Overgrowth is a condition that occurs when Candida breaks the intestinal lining and enters the bloodstream. From there, it can travel to various parts of your body and multiply. The symptoms include: muscle aches, sore/stiff joints, fatigue
, problems with particular organs, recurrent urinary tract infections
, serious illnesses (Asthma
, ADHD, Diabetes
References and Further Information
Reading a book such as Dr. Crook's The Yeast Connection
can be helpful in understanding the condition.