CHRONIC INTESTINAL YEAST INFECTION
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© June 2013, The Center For Development
Yeasts, molds and fungi are one-celled organisms that are ever-present in the environment. Beneficial ones include brewers yeast, bakers yeast and nutritional yeast. Many others are beneficial as well, and are used in industry and in our bodies to produce various vitamins, for example, and other beneficial substances.
In small quantities, many yeasts are harmless. However, under the right conditions, some of them, such as Candida Albicans, overgrow and become pathogenic. They secrete extremely poisonous chemicals in our bodies such as alcohol and acetaldehyde, and can cause or contribute to a wide range of health conditions.
Why is intestinal candida overgrowth more of a problem today? Today intestinal yeast is even more of a problem than in the past because:
1. Sugars and carbohydrates in the diet. Many people consume far too much wheat, sugar, fruit, juices, and starches that "feed the yeast" in the intestines. In other words, these foods tend to break down or contain sugars, that are the natural food for intestinal yeasts.
2. Antibiotics. This class of drugs favor yeast overgrowth and are massively overprescribed for many conditions from acne to colds and flus. Residues of antibiotics are also found today in drinking water supplies, and in our food supply.
3. Copper toxicity. This also favors yeast overgrowth and is extremely common. It is discussed in detail below, as are the other causes.
4. Mercury toxicity. Evidence exists that the some yeasts may overgrow to actually protect the body from mercury poisoning, which is very common in most people.
5. A weak and/or toxic or congested liver. This favors yeast over growth because liver problems cause reduced bile secretion, and other abnormalities. Bile, specifically, helps control many harmful microorganisms in the intestines.
6. An extremely yin condition of the body. A more yin quality of the body favors yeast growth. This is also very common today, especially among those who eat sugars and fruit, among vegetarians, and among those in poor health.
Many yeast infections tend to be "cold" or yin conditions. They do not tend to produce high fevers, for example, and are more associated with fermentation and rotting of dead material or flesh, which tends to be cold, or colder than healthy flesh which is attacked more by certain bacteria and viruses.
7. Mineral deficiencies. Among the most important of these are zinc and selenium. However, today the food supply tends to be low in dozens of critical trace and ultra-trace minerals. Eating refined foods of any kind almost guarantees that a person will be seriously mineral deficient. This is why we give everyone kelp and a product called Veg-Easy, which is a freeze-dried vegetable capsule.
WHO SUFFERS FROM CHRONIC CANDIDA OVERGROWTH
1. Women. Women are far more affected than men, perhaps because women have more difficulty with copper imbalance than men. Also, women have a slower oxidation rate, in general, and this may play a role as well. Also, women use birth control pills and copper IUDs that may upset copper metabolism and cause other problems that may contribute to the problem.
2. Vegetarians. This may be because vegetarians are almost all low in zinc, which is found almost exclusively in meats and eggs. As a result, they accumulate more copper in their bodies. Also, vegetarian protein foods such as nuts, seeds and beans are higher in copper and lower in zinc. Also, vegetarian diets are much more yin than diets with more meat. Also, in my experience, vegetarians lack many other nutrients found in meats and eggs.
3. Babies. Some babies have yeast problems because they are fed sweets, mainly. Milk has some sugar in it, but this alone is not usually the cause. Newborns sometimes get 'thrush' or 'cotton mouth'. This is a form of yeast infection that affects the mouth that is often due to feeding children or babies fruit juices, for example, or pasteurized milk rather than mother's milk. Chocolate milk is also a horrible product for babies, or anyone else, for that matter.
4. Anyone who eats sugar at all, or any fruit or sweet juices of any kind. The reason for this is explained in the section above.
5. Those with copper imbalance. Unfortunately, this includes most people today. If the copper imbalance is severe, the problem is much worse and often will not go away until copper metabolism is corrected with a nutritional balancing program. It is not just a matter of "lowering copper", as many doctors believe. It is more complex. Copper is one of the body's natural yeast fighters. In fact, copper compounds are used on crops such as copper sulfate, and in swimming pools and hot tubs, at times, to control yeast and fungal growth.
MORE DETAILS ON THE CAUSES FOR CANDIDA OVERGROWTH
Symptoms range from chronic fatigue and depression to headaches, bloating, gas and perhaps pain or tightness in and between the shoulder blade area. Candida can also contribute to brain fog, mood swings, memory loss, itching, joint pain, indigestion, ulcers, most sinus conditions and definitely cancer as well.
Learning and behavior disorders are often due in part to candida infection, especially in children who eat a lot of sugar. Chronic candida can also contribute to irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, food intolerances, heartburn and gastric acid reflux disease or GERD. One form of candida is invasive, burrows into body organs and can be life-threatening. Since candida albicans produces alcohol and acetaldehyde, it may also contribute to many other subtle dysfunctions, including general toxicity, liver dysfunction, nutrient deficiencies and more. Some practitioners blame most illness on candida. I do not find this to be the case. However, candida overgrowth is very common and an important contributor to ill health.
SYMPTOMS OF CANDIDA ALBICANS OVERGROWTH
1. Candida is an opportunist. Candida albicans is always an opportunist infection. This means that the organism is commonly found on food, eating utensils, plates used for eating, and even in the air we breathe. It will not bother you if your body is strong and healthy. However, it takes hold and grows easily in the intestines and elsewhere when the body is out of balance. This is what is meant by an opportunist infection. It also tends to go away automatically without any treatment when the body is put back in a better balance. Many infections are opportunists in this fashion, but particularly candida albicans.
2. Copper imbalance. Copper is critical for enzymes that produce energy in the electron transport system of the mitochondria. This system favors what is called aerobic or oxygen-based metabolism, which is the normal metabolism of human beings. Yeast, by contrast, flourishes in an anerobic environment. This is a different type of metabolism in which the mitochondria use sugar as fuel and less oxygen.
Copper is used in the human body as a natural anti-candida agent, in part because copper favors aerobic metabolism, which tends to retard yeast growth. In fact, copper is also used in many industries to retard yeast growth. For example, farmers often spray copper sulfate on fruits and vegetables to kill yeast and molds. Water departments may add copper compounds to drinking water for the same reason. Copper may be added to swimming pools and hot tubs to control yeast.
However, copper must be in a bioavailable form in the body to be utilized properly. This is a complex topic. However, bioavailability depends upon factors such as the valence of the mineral, the isotope of the mineral, the compound it is in, the ability of the body to transport the mineral, and perhaps other factors.
Why copper becomes biounavailable. Dr. Paul Eck, my teacher, as well as other researchers found that one factor that diminishes copper availability is poorly functioning adrenal glands. This may lead to low ceruloplasmin or low metallothionein. Ceruloplasmin and metallothionein are copper transport proteins. With low adrenal activity, copper may not be properly bound and may therefore become less available to the body. Indeed, I find that until adrenal activity improves, candida will be difficult to control. When the adrenals and thyoid glandular activity normalizes, often copper imbalance and yeast problems disappear on their own without any need for specific therapy.
Medications and copper. Some medications that are known to make candida problems worse may do so by interfering with copper metabolism. For example, birth control pills, patches and IUDs affect copper metabolism. Some antibiotics act by removing copper from the liver. Steroid hormone therapy slows the adrenal glands which makes copper less biologically available in some cases. All can cause or aggravate chronic candida infection.
Copper imbalance is more prevalent in women, who also tend to have much more sluggish adrenal gland activity than men. The reasons for this are several. For example, copper and estrogen levels tend to correlate with one another, and women have more estrogen than men, in general. Women's temperament may also be a factor.
Before the menstrual period, a young woman's copper level tends to rise, and in some cases in which the sodium/potassium ratio in the tissues is low, copper also becomes less bioavailable before the period. This is a common time of the month for women to experience yeast infections.
Copper accumulation in the liver is also a common cause of liver toxicity and sluggishness today, which is another contributing cause for candida overgrowth in some cases.
In summary, there is a very close connection between copper imbalance and chronic intestinal yeast problems.
3. A slow oxidation rate. Most people with candida overgrowth have a slow oxidation rate. This is also usually an exhaustion stage of stress, with underlying fatigue and the accumulation of toxic metals. Several reasons for candida in these individuals are:
A) While their cells are more acidic, their intercellular spaces can become too alkaline, which favors candida growth. Reasons this may occur are that slow oxidizers do not generate enough acid end products of metabolism such as lactic acid. Also, calcium, an alkaline-forming element, increases in their tissues in slow oxidation and may affect the alkalinity in the spaces between the cells.
B) The pH or the intestinal tract also is often too alkaline. This may be due to low levels of bile acids, hydrochloric acid in the stomach and the overgrowth of various abnormal intestinal flora such as E. Coli and others. This is one reason acidophilus, an acid forming organism, often helps alleviate candida. Acidophilus also helps acidify the colon, impeding the growth of candida in the large intestine.
C) Slow oxidizers generally have a copper imbalance.
4. A very yin condition of the body. When the body is too yin in Chinese medical terminology, candida is not only possible, but is almost always present. Yin means expanded, cold, fragmented and perhaps movement in a centrifugal direction. It is a physics principle that is important in Oriental medicine, but not in most Western medical thinking.
A major factor that make a body more yin is a diet that includes plenty of fruit or other sugars, raw foods, and a diet low in animal food or tending toward vegetarianism. This is one of the main problems with vegetarian and raw food diets, smoothies and drinking sweetened beverages of any kind.
Other factors that make a body more yin are a slow oxidation rate, aging, fatigue, use of recreational or medical drugs, chemical additives in the diet, refined foods in the diet, drinking any alcohol at all, and the presence of most toxic metals and toxic chemicals in the body.
5. Antibiotic use. Antibiotic use ranks high as a cause for chronic intestinal candida infection. Lactobacillus acidophilus and other 'friendly' bacteria help maintain the proper slightly acidic intestinal environment. Antibiotics often kill acidophilus. When this occurs, E. coli and other improper intestinal bacteria replace the friendly organisms and produce a more alkaline environment in which candida thrives.
Antibiotics are also toxic for the liver, and may impair its ability to produce ceruloplasmin. Many antibiotics persist in the liver and elsewhere for years. They should be used only as an absolutely last resort and not for viral infections. By using infrared saunas, vitamin A, vitamin C, high-quality colloidal silver and propolis, antibiotics are very rarely needed.
Sadly, antibiotic residues are now found in tap water. These drugs are excreted in the urine and feces. They do not break down quickly and are recycled and reappear in city water supplies. This has been documented in at least 42 major metropolitan areas of the United States and in Europe and other nations as well, according to a recent news report. Distillation removes these drug residues. Carbon filters may or may not remove them.
Millions of pounds of antibiotics are also fed to animals. Commercially grown meats, poultry, milk and eggs usually contain antibiotic residues. To avoid antibiotics, buy hormone and antibiotic free meats, poultry and dairy products. Animals raised in a healthful manner should rarely require antibiotics.
6. Other medical drugs that can cause candida problems: Birth control pills, patches and IUDs (such as Mirena). These all contribute to copper imbalance, higher estrogen levels and many other severe health problems, along with a greater tendency for candida albicans infection.
Steroid hormone therapy. Steroid drugs such as cortisone, prednisone, Cortef, and other products can contribute to a candida infection. This is likely due to their effect upon the adrenal glands and perhaps their effect on copper metabolism.
Antacids. Antacids such as Tums, Maalox, Mylanta and other drugs that reduce stomach acid may worsen candida by creating a deficiency of stomach acid. These include Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, Tagamet, Nexium Zantac, Pepcid, Mylanta, Malox, Gaviscon, Riopan, Rolaids, Tums and many others.
7. Excessive carbohydrates in the diet, especially sugars and grains, in some people. These encourage candida infection for several reasons: A) The adrenal glands regulate blood sugar. Sugars in the diet weaken the adrenal glands by causing large blood sugar fluctuations. Weaker adrenal glands cause a worsening of copper imbalance, making yeast problems worse.
B) Eating refined sugars, in particular, depletes B-complex vitamins, as well as zinc, manganese, selenium and many other vital nutrients. This can worsen the body's immune response and other defenses against yeasts and other parasitic organisms.
C) Sugar is also the food that nourishes yeast organisms. The more of it one eats, the more "fuel" that is available for the growth of yeast organisms in the intestines. Some of the sugars one eats may even nourish yeasts that live in the vagina, on the skin or elsewhere.
Die-off reactions. In fact, common sugar and carbohydrate cravings may be yeast organisms calling for dinner. This may sound odd. However, when 'deprived' of sugars or even other carbohydrates, the yeasts in the intestines and elsewhere begin to die, releasing toxic substances. These cause unpleasant 'die off symptoms' that can include nausea, anxiety, fatigue and many others. Eating sugars or even some starches ends these unpleasant symptoms, often quickly. Thus, feeding the problem has a temporary satisfying effect, causing an addictive behavior regarding sugars in the diet. This is a very common situation that most people do not understand at all.
Many, many people overeat on carbohydrate foods today. Many do not realize all of the foods that are high in sugars or starches. Common ones include sugar, honey, candy, cookies, rice, bread and potatoes. Others include milk, fruit, juices, most processed food if it is sweetened at all, sweetened drinks like Gatorade and bottled teas, sodas, peanut butter, juices, etc.
8. Toxic metals. Excessive mercury often accompanies copper toxicity. Mercury can stimulate the thyroid, which causes adrenal imbalance. Mercury can also impair the immune response of the body.
Cadmium is a common and highly toxic metal that interferes with zinc in the body. This can contribute to a copper imbalance because copper and zinc must remain in the proper ratio in the body. Cadmium also accumulates in the liver and might impair its ability to synthesize ceruloplasmin and other vital chemicals needed to control candida overgrowth.
Lead toxicity interferes with calcium metabolism and the immune response in some cases. Chronic lead toxicity is very common today.
8.Toxic chemicals. These are found everywhere today. Some of them accumulate in the liver and impair bile secretion, digestion, and may thus impair the body's ability to protect itself against candida overgrowth.
9. Improper bowel flora. This is extremely common and often contributes to candida infections. Important reasons for this severe problem today are:
A) Overuse of antibiotics. These often damage the normal flora of the intestines. Antibiotic may remain in the body for years to some degree. Traces are also in the water and food supply, especially meat and dairy products.
B) Chemicals toxic to human intestinal flora. These are too many to name individually. They range from all the toxic metals to pharmaceutical drugs of many kinds, to fluoridation and chlorination of the water.
C) Bacterial, viral and other intestinal infections. These can range from simple cold and flu viruses that can damage the intestinal flora to intestinal parasites and others. The infections need not be in the intestines themselves.
D) Impaired and sluggish bowel activity. Food should pass completely through the intestines and out of the body within 18-24 hours or less. This, however, is rare today in Westernized or developed nations. When the food remains longer, it is subject to decay. Proteins tend to putrefy, and carbohydrates ferment. Both processes produce very toxic substances that damage the intestinal flora.
Assessing Bowel Transit Time. To test your bowel transit time, eat a large portion of red beets at one meal and note how long it takes for the red color to show up in the stool. It is important to note that one cannot just speed up the bowel transit time at will, using laxatives or other herbal or pharmaceutical products. You may produce diarrhea, but this is not a healthy fix. Instead, begin an entire nutritional balancing program. As the small and large intestines heal, they can absorb more nutrients and operate correctly, and the bowel transit time will naturally decrease.
Normal bowel habits. It takes at least several years (not a misprint) on the nutritional balancing program for most people's intestines to recover from years of abuse. Toxic chemicals from the food and water, infections, and other problems such as an imbalanced body chemistry must first be corrected.
10. A diet high in ferments such as wine, beer, sauerkraut, kombucha tea, and others. Some doctors believe that eating certain fermented foods contributes to yeast overgrowth. If it does, I believe it is an indirect cause only. Fermented foods, while they have some benefits, all produce some toxins such as aldehydes. These may affect the liver in some cases, and thus may contribute to some cases of candida albicans, but probably not too many cases.
ALCOHOL ADDICTION DUE TO CANDIDA INFECTION
Alcohol produced by candida can contribute to fatigue, spaciness, impaired judgment, emotional problems and learning and behavior disorders in children. This can be why eating sugars and starches can produce fatigue and the other symptoms listed above. The more carbohydrates one eats, the more alcohol is produced. This is also one reason that many alcoholics or former ones are addicted to sugar without understanding the connection.
This can also explain why quitting sugar or reducing carbohydrates in the diet can essentially produce withdrawal symptoms. They can be due to a reduction in alcohol production in the intestines, so they are somewhat similar to alcohol withdrawal with anxiety, tremors and other odd symptoms. Sadly, this drives many people back to sugar to enhance alcohol output. Other factors can also contribute to sugar addiction.
A rather common cause of brain fog and some cases of dementia is the presence of candida or other yeasts in the brain. This fact is not appreciated by the medical community, in my experience. Symptoms often improve when one begins a program to eliminate candida throughout the body. It can take some time, but usually works exceedingly well. I do not recommend the anti-candida drugs, however, as they are very toxic. A natural approach is far better and often even more effective over time.
AN IMPAIRED IMMUNE RESPONSE AND CANDIDA
Factors other than copper imbalance and sugar eating may also impair the body's immune response, reducing its ability to defend itself against candida and other intestinal infections. The most common causes are nutrient deficiencies and excesses of toxic metals or toxic chemicals.
DETECTION OF INTESTINAL YEAST INFECTION OR OVERGROWTH
Symptoms. Symptoms are often helpful for detection. If one is tired or spacy after eating sweets or a high-carbohydrate meal, candida is likely. If one gets vaginal yeast infections, candida is likely present in the intestines as well. Gas or bloating that improves when one stops eating sugars or complex carbohydrates is another simple indicator of possible candida infection.
A whitish coating on the tongue, in the mouth or in the vagina may be caused by yeast, although other causes are possible. Vaginal yeast has a particular odor and cheesy appearance.
Medication use. People who take steroid hormones such as cortisone, birth control pills, patches or IUDs, or frequent use of antibiotics are very prone to candida overgrowth.
Use of the elimination diet for diagnosis. The simplest test for candida infection is to eliminate all sugars and starches for a full week or even for two weeks. This must include all fruit and juices, plus all concentrated starches, especially grains such as breads and rice, and all potatoes.
If, during this elimination diet, one notices significant changes in one's symptoms, bowel habits, energy level or other health parameters, it is likely one has or had some degree of candida infection. This is not totally definitive since such a large change in diet can cause health parameters to change in many ways. However, it is helpful for many people and can be done at home at a minimal expense.
A therapeutic trial for diagnosis. For a more definitive test, one can also take an anti-candida remedy such as caprylic acid, garlic, tannic acid or grapefruit seed extract and see if symptoms improve a lot. Do not take drugs such as Nystatin or Nizoril, which are quite toxic and unnecessary in my view.
Hair tissue mineral testing. Tissue mineral analysis does not specifically detect candida infection. However, tissue mineral imbalances that correlate well with candida infection are:
1. A slow oxidation rate. This is associated with adrenal and thyroid weakness, copper toxicity, impaired immune response, and general fatigue.
2. A low sodium/potassium ratio. When the ratio of sodium to potassium in the tissues, not the blood, becomes less than about 2.5, it is associated with reduced bioavaiability of copper. It also indicates adrenal weakness, digestive weakness, general tendency for infections, liver toxicity and other problems.
This low mineral ratio is commonly present in people with chronic candida albicans infection that does not respond well to simple diet change or even to anti-candida medication. It is usually not difficult to correct, however, with a properly designed nutritional balancing program.
3. A four lows pattern. This very interesting tissue mineral pattern is always associated with a hidden copper imbalance, very low energy production in the cells, and other problems that may contribute to yeast overgrowth.
4. Overt or hidden copper imbalance. This comprises about 10 indicators on a hair mineral test.
5. A calcium level above about 100 mg%. This is one of the hidden copper imbalance indicators, and is also associated with slow oxidation.
The more imbalanced these indicators are, the more severe and/or more likely is a candida infection.
Other tests. Serum antibody tests are sometimes used to detect candida, although I do not know how accurate these are. Others include stool analysis, skin testing, muscle testing and electrodermal screening or the use of other radionic and electronic machines. The accuracy of these methods is variable.
Diagnostic Problems. A major diagnostic issue when identifying candida albicans is that most people have some candida in their intestines. Thus, the presence of candida on a test does not assure that candida albicans is the person's major health condition. I find that many doctors chase after candida albicans, not realizing that the real problem is deeper and the candida problem, while serious in some cases, is just a result of deeper mineral imbalances, glandular imbalances, toxic metal poisoning with copper or mercury, or other problems.
Most people have yeast infections. I assume that most people have candida albicans and other yeast overgrowth in the intestines. Thus I don't bother with testing in most cases. I know that it will go away with the proper diet and supplement regimen,
Anti-fungal, anti-yeast and specifically anti-candida albicans medications and supplements are rarely needed if one takes GB-3, for example, a digestive aid that will also kill a lot of yeast.
The most powerful anti-candida weapon is often a change of diet and a life-style that is restful and healthful in all regards. More sleep is an important weapon against candida as well. It helps rebuild the adrenal glands and this is its major benefit in most cases.
Natural anti-candida remedies. In almost all cases, we find that with a nutritional balancing program, anti-candida remedies are not needed. The candida slowly goes away on its own.
In the rare case that this is not the case, the safest remedies are garlic, caprylic acid, probiotics, colloidal silver, and tannic acid (tanalbit). Other medium chain triglycerides and herbs such as Echinacea are also safe. Some-what less safe and more toxic are other herbal remedies, olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract and oregano oil.
Drugs for candida. These are much less safe than the natural remedies, much more toxic and should be used only when all the natural remedies and nutritional balancing are not enough. I have never needed to use them. They include Nystatin Diflucan and Nizoril.
As stated above, anti-candida products are rarely needed if one follows a complete nutritional balancing program.
THE NEED FOR A COMPLETE HEALING PROGRAM
Most often, Candida infection is just a symptom of deeper systemic imbalances in the body. The great advantage of a nutritional balancing program is it is not a symptomatic approach. It addresses many imbalances and deeper causes at the same time. For this reason, many people find nutritional balancing effective when all other methods, including other natural healing methods, have failed to bring about the desired results.
HOW LONG UNTIL I AM HEALTHY?
A better diet alone often leads to improvement in candida symptoms within a few days to a week. Anti-candida medications also often work quickly. However, permanently improving copper balance, eliminating toxic metals and enhancing the oxidation rate take longer, up to several years or even longer.
If one has taken antibiotics recently or in the past, more time is often required to remove residues stored in the liver and other organs. Do not be discouraged if results take longer.
Sauna therapy can significantly speed up the improvement in candida infection. Candida is a "cold" infection and the sauna heats the body several degrees. This helps make the body more yang and seems to help reduce candida in the body. It also assists the elimination of toxic metals, toxic chemicals and other poisons that may accumulate within the body. It also inhibits the sympathetic nervous system, improves circulation and oxygenation and directly disables candida organisms to some degree. Sauna therapy is thus one of the finest method of eliminating candida overgrowth.
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Crook, W. MD, The Yeast Connection.
Trowbridge, J., The Yeast Syndrome.
Truss, O., The Missing Diagnosis.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.