Yeast / Candida Infection

Yeast / Candida Infection: Overview

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. Candida 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.

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.

Prognosis; Complications

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.

Systemic Candida 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, MS, Arthritis, CFS, Fibromyalgia).

References and Further Information

Reading a book such as Dr. Crook's The Yeast Connection can be helpful in understanding the condition.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Yeast / Candida Infection:

Symptoms - Allergy

Symptoms - Bowel Movements

Symptoms - Food - General

Difficulty swallowing may be a sign or symptom of Yeast / Candida Infection Difficulty swallowing

If you have fungal overgrowth in your esophagus, symptoms may include pain and difficulty in swallowing.

Painful swallowing may be a sign or symptom of Yeast / Candida Infection Painful swallowing

If you have fungal overgrowth in your esophagus, symptoms may include pain and difficulty in swallowing.

Counter-indicators

Symptoms - Food - Preferences

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

Counter-indicators

Symptoms - General

Symptoms - Head - Mouth/Oral

Coughing up white/yellow curds is a sign or symptom of Yeast / Candida Infection Coughing up white/yellow curds

If you have fungal overgrowth in your esophagus, symptoms may include pain and difficulty in swallowing.  It is also possible that you may be able to cough up whitish curds that are part of these patches located in your esophagus.

(Heavily) coated tongue is often a sign or symptom of Yeast / Candida Infection (Heavily) coated tongue

A white, coated tongue is a sign and symptom of what doctors call Oral ThrushCandidiasis of the mouth and throat, also known as a "thrush" or oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC), is a fungal infection that occurs when there is overgrowth of fungus called Candida.  Candida is normally found on skin or mucous membranes.  However, if the environment inside the mouth or throat becomes imbalanced, Candida can multiply.  People with white tongues may have painless, white patches in their mouths and throats, but wiping away the white patches will generally cause soreness.

Symptoms - Head - Nose

Symptoms - Metabolic

Symptoms - Mind - General

Symptoms - Nails

Symptoms - Reproductive - General

Symptoms - Respiratory

Symptoms - Sleep

Conditions that suggest Yeast / Candida Infection:

Allergy

Autoimmune

Circulation

Mitral Valve Prolapse often suggests Yeast / Candida Infection Mitral Valve Prolapse

One doctor has reported that over 80% of the women who have been diagnosed as having mitral valve prolapse suffer from an overgrowth of candida albicans.

Digestion

Increased Intestinal Permeability / Leaky Gut may suggest Yeast / Candida Infection Increased Intestinal Permeability / Leaky Gut

It is likely that both yeast and bacterial overgrowth commonly occur together; overgrowth of either can lead to Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Infections

Musculo-Skeletal

Respiratory

Skin-Hair-Nails

Psoriasis often suggests Yeast / Candida Infection Psoriasis

A number of gut-derived toxins are implicated in the development of psoriasis including endotoxins (cell wall components of gram-negative bacteria), streptococcal products, Candida albicans, yeast compounds, and IgE or IgA immune complexes.  These compounds increase the rate of skin cell proliferation dramatically.  Candida albicans overgrowth in the intestines (chronic candidiasis) may play a major role in many cases.

Male Hair Loss may suggest Yeast / Candida Infection Male Hair Loss

Candida can cause hair shedding in male or female patients.  The exact mechanism is unclear because there are so many possible pathways.  The three most likely pathways are thyroid dysfunction, allergies and enzyme suppression.

Female Hair Loss may suggest Yeast / Candida Infection Female Hair Loss

Candida can cause hair shedding in male or female patients.  The exact mechanism is unclear because there are so many possible pathways.  The three most likely pathways are thyroid dysfunction, allergies and enzyme suppression.

Symptoms - Immune System

Symptoms - Liver / Gall Bladder

Uro-Genital

Vulvodynia / Vestibulitis often suggests Yeast / Candida Infection Vulvodynia / Vestibulitis

Cyclic vulvovaginitis is probably the most common cause of vulvodynia and is believed to be caused by a hypersensitivity reaction to Candida.  While vaginal smears and cultures are not consistently positive, microbiologic proof should be sought by obtaining candidal or fungal cultures during a symptom-free phase.  The diagnosis of cyclic vulvitis is made based on the patient's report of cyclic symptomatic flare-ups (or, conversely, symptom-free days) and by the patient's report of symptomatic improvement after the administration of long-term topical or systemic anticandidal therapy.  [Autoimmunity as a factor in recurrent vaginal candidiasis and the minor vestibular gland syndrome.  J Reprod Med 1989;34: pp.264-6]

Risk factors for Yeast / Candida Infection:

Addictions

Alcohol-related Problems may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Alcohol-related Problems

Alcohol kills friendly bacteria, increases toxic overload of the liver and thus allows Candida to grow.

Autoimmune

Gluten Sensitivity / Celiac Disease may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Gluten Sensitivity / Celiac Disease

Genetic disorders such as celiac disease or hemochromatosis can cause Candida overgrowth.

Circulation

Megaloblastic Anemia / Pernicious Anemia often increases risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Megaloblastic Anemia / Pernicious Anemia

Vitamin B12, B6, biotin and folate help maintain candida in its non-invasive form.  A B12 deficiency is one of several conditions that can stimulate candida growth.

Dental

Dry Mouth often increases risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Dry Mouth

Oral thrush thrives more easily in a dry mouth.

Diet

Overconsumption may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Overconsumption

Overeating causes indigestion of food and allows fermentation.

Consequences of Poor Diet may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Consequences of Poor Diet

Improper diets, such as those high in carbohydrates, sugar, yeast and yeast products can lead to Candida overgrowth.

Digestion

Diarrhea may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Diarrhea

Chronic diarrhea can cause the friendly Bifidobacterium bifidum to be expelled from the colon and Candida may then proliferate.

Constipation may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Constipation

Chronic constipation can lead to Candida overgrowth.

Drug Side-Effect

(Prescription) Drug Side-Effects may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection (Prescription) Drug Side-Effects

Steroid hormones, immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory drugs, ulcer medications or acid blockers used for prolonged periods can all cause yeast overgrowth.

Environment / Toxicity

General Detoxification Requirement may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection General Detoxification Requirement

Toxic metals, such as mercury (found in dental amalgams and some fish) and chemicals, such as aspartame, MSG and others can kill friendly intestinal flora, alter immune response and allow yeast to proliferate.

Household Mold Exposure may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Household Mold Exposure

Environmental molds or chemicals can cause Candida.

Immunity

Weakened Immune System may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Weakened Immune System

Candidiasis is more common and severe in individuals with weakened immune systems.  Any condition that results in a weakened immune system can cause Candida proliferation.  Common causes of immune deficiency are AIDS and cancer.

Laboratory Test Needed

Hormone Imbalance may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Hormone Imbalance

Hormonal balance is necessary for support of friendly flora in the gut.

Mental

Metabolic

Hemochromatosis (Iron overload) may increase risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Hemochromatosis (Iron overload)

Genetic disorders such as celiac disease or hemochromatosis can cause Candida overgrowth.

Nutrients

Organ Health

Parasites

Parasite Infection often increases risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Parasite Infection

Intestinal parasites such as worms destroy friendly bacteria in the gut, making yeast overgrowth possible.  It is common for Candida patients to also have parasites and parasites should be suspected if Candida overgrowth recurs.

Supplements and Medications

Broad-spectrum antibiotic use often increases risk of Yeast / Candida Infection Broad-spectrum antibiotic use

Antibiotics reduce the number of "friendly bacteria" in the intestinal tract that normally keep the Candida albicans under control.

Symptoms - Food - Intake

Symptoms - Head - Mouth/Oral

Symptoms - Head - Nose

Symptoms - Immune System

Symptoms - Nails

Symptoms - Respiratory

Yeast / Candida Infection suggests the following may be present:

Immunity

Yeast / Candida Infection often suggests Weakened Immune System Weakened Immune System

Candidiasis is more common and severe in individuals with weakened immune systems.  Any condition that results in a weakened immune system can cause Candida proliferation.  Common causes of immune deficiency are AIDS and cancer.

Yeast / Candida Infection can lead to:

Circulation

Yeast / Candida Infection sometimes leads to Mitral Valve Prolapse Mitral Valve Prolapse

One doctor has reported that over 80% of the women who have been diagnosed as having mitral valve prolapse suffer from an overgrowth of candida albicans.

Digestion

Yeast / Candida Infection often leads to Increased Intestinal Permeability / Leaky Gut Increased Intestinal Permeability / Leaky Gut

It is likely that both yeast and bacterial overgrowth commonly occur together; overgrowth of either can lead to Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Yeast / Candida Infection could instead be:

Mental

Schizophrenia is very occasionally misdiagnosed as Yeast / Candida Infection Schizophrenia

Although psychosis is not a common manifestation of Candida, it has occurred.  Mental symptoms have included fatigue, inability to concentrate, depression, mood swings, anxiety, hyperactivity, delusions, "manic depression," psychosis, and suicidal or violent tendencies.

Recommendations for Yeast / Candida Infection:

Amino Acid / Protein

Glutamine may help with Yeast / Candida Infection Glutamine

L-Glutamine can help reduce candida-induced hair loss.

Botanical

Garlic is highly recommended for Yeast / Candida Infection Garlic

Liberal consumption of garlic, ginger, cinnamon and other aromatic herbs can have significant antifungal activity.

Grapefruit Seed Extract is highly recommended for Yeast / Candida Infection Grapefruit Seed Extract

Chronic candidiasis can be successfully treated with grapefruit seed extract according to the many clinics and medical practitioners now prescribing it.  Dr Leo Galland, who prescribes it for chronic candidiasis, has reported treatment failure in fewer than 1% of cases, and considers it to be "a major therapeutic breakthrough for patients with chronic parasitic and yeast infections."

Oil of Oregano is highly recommended for Yeast / Candida Infection Oil of Oregano

Place 3 drops of oregano oil into an empty gelatin capsule (or vegicap), or mix the same amount of oil into juice and take 3 times each day.  Enteric-coated preparations are available at about 50-100mg of oil per capsule or tablet.  Several weeks of continuous use may be required for the anti-fungal properties of oil of oregano to clear up a deep-seated Candida infection.

Stevia often helps with Yeast / Candida Infection Stevia

Stevia is an excellent natural sweetener and a good way to reduce refined sugar consumption.

Chemical

Boric Acid is highly recommended for Yeast / Candida Infection Boric Acid

Boric acid in the form of vaginal suppositories is a natural remedy for vaginal yeast infection.  Numerous studies prove its superior effectiveness compared to topical and oral antifungal drugs, including drug-resistant cases.

Caprylic acid often helps with Yeast / Candida Infection Caprylic acid

Caprylic acid has been shown to be very effective against Candidiasis.  Medical literature lists many examples of caprylic acid, and its stabilized salt forms, being used in the successful treatment of Candida infections.

Detoxification

Supplemental Fiber often helps with Yeast / Candida Infection Supplemental Fiber

Candidal toxins can be reduced by using a water-soluble fiber source such as guar gum, psyllium seed, or pectin, which can bind to toxins in the gut and promote their excretion.

Diet

Sugar Avoidance / Reduction is highly recommended for Yeast / Candida Infection Sugar Avoidance / Reduction

Avoid foods high in simple carbohydrates such as refined sugars (sucrose, fructose, corn syrup), fruit juices, honey, and maple syrup.

Not recommended
Increased Fruit/Vegetable Consumption is sometimes not recommended for Yeast / Candida Infection Increased Fruit/Vegetable Consumption

Based on their clinical experience and on very preliminary research, several doctors have suggested that a number of dietary factors may promote the overgrowth of Candida.  Dried fruits, which are high in sugar, have been blamed for contributing to promotion of Candida overgrowth.  Sugars avoidance is a standard recommendation on any anti-candidal diet.

Digestion

Probiotics is highly recommended for Yeast / Candida Infection Probiotics

The use of probiotics to help keep candidal overgrowth from occurring is a common part of many antifungal programs.

Hormone

Thyroid Medications may help with Yeast / Candida Infection Thyroid Medications

Thyroid medications can help reduce candida-induced hair loss.

Lab Tests/Rule-Outs

Bacteria / Pathogen Testing by PCR may help with Yeast / Candida Infection Bacteria / Pathogen Testing by PCR

US Biotek lab offers a PanFungal Panel (Blood or Tissue Biopsy) which tests for the presence of several hundred human pathogenic fungal species.  This panel also differentiates the Candida genus.

Mineral

Nutrient

GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid) may help with Yeast / Candida Infection GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid)

GLA can help reduce candida-induced hair loss by suppressing conversion of testosterone to its derivative DHT, in the hair follicles.

Vitamins

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) may help with Yeast / Candida Infection Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

One Osteopath (DO) is known to use intravenous vitamin C followed by intravenous flagyl with good results for candidal overgrowth.

KEY

Weak or unproven link: may be a sign or symptom of; may suggest; may increase risk of; sometimes leads to; is very occasionally misdiagnosed as
Weak or unproven link:
may be a sign or symptom of; may suggest; may increase risk of; sometimes leads to; is very occasionally misdiagnosed as
Strong or generally accepted link: is often a sign or symptom of; often suggests; often increases risk of; often leads to
Strong or generally accepted link:
is often a sign or symptom of; often suggests; often increases risk of; often leads to
Definite or direct link: is a sign or symptom of; strongly suggests
Definite or direct link:
is a sign or symptom of; strongly suggests
Strong counter-indication: often contraindicates
Strong counter-indication:
often contraindicates
May be useful: may help with
May be useful:
may help with
Moderately useful: often helps with
Moderately useful:
often helps with
Very useful: is highly recommended for
Very useful:
is highly recommended for
Caution: is sometimes not recommended for
Caution:
is sometimes not recommended for