Candida

Candida

 

 

What is Candida?

 

Candida is a fungal infection caused by Candida albicans, a bacterium/yeast that lives in the upper bowel of nearly everyone. Under normal circumstances it is kept in check by our immune system and the co-existing friendly bacteria. However, when the immune system is weakened and the friendly bacteria are reduced, this yeast can begin to multiply out of control, releasing toxins that interfere with a whole host of bodily functions.

 

Signs and symptoms

 

These are numerous and can be difficult to diagnose since they are not necessarily specific to Candida :

 

  • Thrush/Cystitis/ fungal infections of the skin and nails

     

     

  • Leaky gut syndrome - Candida can lead to undigested food particles being "leaked" through the stomach and intestinal linings into the blood stream. This in turn results in a large number of allergies to food and chemicals

     

     

  • Food/chemical allergies (see above) - bloating, heartburn, bad breath and so on

     

     

  • Fatigue/ drowsiness/ poor concentration - feeling "spaced out"

     

     

  • Mood swings, depression, anxiety, and/or insomnia

     

     

  • Muscle weakness/painful or swollen joints/ poor co-ordination

     

     

  • Dizziness/chest pains/shortness of breath

     

     

  • Frequent headaches/dry mouth or throat/catarrh

Causes

  • Long-term stress - weakens the immune system

     

     

  • Antibiotics - can wipe out all the friendly bacteria in the gut that are keeping the yeast in check

     

     

  • Oral contraceptive pill - weakens the immune system

     

     

  • Other drugs/environmental chemicals - as above

     

     

  • Diet - refined carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and other yeast products can all increase the likelihood of Candida if the immune is already weak or if they are eaten in excessive amounts

     

     

  • A damp climate and nutritional deficiencies can also play a part

 

Diagnosis

  • Laboratory tests - a gut fermentation test can determine whether you ferment ethyl alcohol after consuming glucose, as often happens with yeast overgrowth.

     

  • Other tests include analysing the blood antibodies or the amount of Candida in blood cells

Treatments and Strategies

 

Conventional Treatment Strategies

Drugs such as Nystatin, Nizoral or Diflucan.

 

Complementary Treatment Strategies

 

Diet

An exclusion diet (whereby the patient eats a restricted number of foods, gradually re-introducing the 'suspects' one by one) can help identify whether Candida is the cause of their problems.

If so, foods such as refined carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and other yeast products such as grapes, cheese and bread with yeast should be avoided until symptoms improve.

 

(See also Nutritional Therapy).

 

Supplements

Lactobacillus acidophilus (the friendly bacteria in the gut), zinc, Vitamin C, multi-vitamin/minerals and extra magnesium can all help to boost the immune system.

 

Acupuncture

Can boost the immune system, helping to support the body during an anti-Candida regime.

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