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Effectively Diagnosing and Treating Candida

Excerpt from an article by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD published in Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients.

Jacob Teitelbaum says that everyone's immune system has strengths as well as weaknesses. Many people seem to have a diminished ability to fight off fungal infections. He explains that fungi are very complex organisms and can cause difficulties to many mechanisms. It is suspected that fungal overgrowth may suppress the body's immune system. The body may also develop allergic reactions to components of the yeast.

This allergic reaction was suggested in a study that connected the fungal organism Candida albicans with allergic skin dermatitis (eczema). This study was published in The Journal of Clinical Experimental Allergy in 1993. It found that there is a significant correlation between the body having antibodies to Candida albicans and allergic dermatitis or eczema. A recent Mayo Clinic study showed that most cases of chronic sinusitis seem to be associated with a reaction to yeast in the sinuses - something that holistic physicians have proposed for many years. It is important to remember that yeast are also normal members of the body's "zoo." They live in balance with bacteria - some of which are helpful and healthy, and some of which are detrimental and unhealthy. The problems begin when this harmonious balance shifts and the yeast begin to overgrow.

He continues to explain that many things can prompt yeast to overgrow. One of the most common causes is frequent antibiotic use. Antibiotics kill off the good bacteria in the bowel along with the bad bacteria. When this happens, the yeast no longer have competition and begin to overgrow. The body is often able to rebalance itself after one or several courses of antibiotics, but after repeated or long-term courses - and especially if the body has an underlying immune dysfunction - the yeast can get the upper hand.

Studies have shown that animals that are sleep-deprived and/or have increased sugar intake also develop bowel yeast overgrowth. Sugar is food for yeast. Yeasts ferment sugar in order to grow and multiply. Yeast overgrowth due to the overuse of sugar also seems to cause immune suppression, which facilitates bacterial infections, which then require even more antibiotic use. Poor sleep also results in marked suppression of the immune function.

Diagnosing Yeast Overgrowth

Dr. Teitelbaum cites Dr. William Crook's yeast questionnaire as a reliable way to tell if a person is at risk of yeast overgrowth. If the symptom score is over 140 points, treatment is recommended. Another option is to suspect yeast in those with chronic sinusitis or spastic colon, anyone with chronic fatigue or pain who has been on recurrent or long-term antibiotics (especially tetracycline for acne), or those who intermittently have painful sores in different parts of the mouth that last for about ten days (aphthous ulcers) which persist after nutritional support. He says that in his experience, most people who have irritable bowel syndrome (spastic colon) or chronic sinusitis, have yeast overgrowth.

Natural Yeast Treatments

  • Diet
    Primary among the methods for treating yeast overgrowth is avoiding sugar and other sweets. He recommends not consuming such concentrated sugar sources as juices, corn syrup, jellies, pastry, candy, or honey. Stay far away from soft drinks, which have 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar in every twelve ounces. This amount of sugar has been shown to markedly suppress immune function for several hours. Using Stevia as a sweetener is a wonderful substitute for sugar. Stevia is safe and natural, you can use all you want. Some Stevia brands are bitter. Fortunately, you may eat sugar free chocolate.
  • Probiotics
    He says that many people have found that acidophilus - a healthy type of bacteria for the bowel - helps restore balance in the bowel. Unfortunately, he says many acidophilus products do not have anywhere near the label claim, and the acidophilus is destroyed upon contact with stomach acid. Because of this, using acidophilus that is enteric coated. This delivery mechanism does not dissolve until it reaches an alkaline environment , protecting the acidophilus from acid as it goes through the stomach. In addition, it eliminates the need to refrigerate the acidophilus. If people are on antibiotics (not anti-fungals), he suggested taking acidophilus at least three to six hours away from the antibiotic dose.
  • Other Natural Remedies
    Ther are other natural remedies can also be very helpful as antifungals. Unfortunately, when individual treatments are taken in a high enough dose to be effective, they often cause reflux and indigestion. Because of this, Dr. Teitelbaum prefers to use the products that combine a mix of natural antifungals at lower dosing. One, excellent one is Phytostan (also by Integrative Therapeutics) which contains Pau D'Arco bark (Tabebuia impetiginosa) 100 mg, Undecylenic acid 100 mg, Caprylic acid 75 mg, Grapefruit fruit extract (Citrus paradisi) 40:1 25 mg, Rosemary aerial parts oil (Rosmarinus officinalis) 4:11.5 mg, and Thyme aerial parts oil (Thymus vulgaris) 4:11.5 mg. In his own "test tube studies," this combination was almost as effective as the medication Diflucan. Another natural product which did very well was Citricidal (grapefruit seed extract) at higher dose. For the Phytostan he suggests using two tablets twice a day for five months. For the Citricidal (use the tablets not the liquid) he suggests using 200 mg twice a day for five months. He says they can be used together if Nausea occurs with either of them, he would lower the dose.

"Die Off"

When symptoms of yeast overgrowth are caused by an allergic or sensitivity reaction to the yeast body parts, symptoms may flare up when mass quantities of the yeast are suddenly killed off. This is called a yeast die-off reaction. If people get this reaction, he suggests starting their treatment with acidophilus and a sugar-free diet for a few weeks, then follow with Phytostan and/or Citricidal.

Although a subset of people appear to have true allergies to the yeast in their food, they account for a small percent of people with suspected yeast overgrowth. Teitelbaum says these people may benefit from the stricter diet recommended in Dr. Crook's book. He says that once adrenal insufficiency and yeast overgrowth are treated, many people find that their allergies and sensitivities to yeast and other food products seem to improve or even disappear.

Nutritional deficiencies such as low zinc or low selenium may also decrease resistance to yeast overgrowth. A good multivitamin supplement should take care of these deficiencies.

Teitelbaum says that the best thing people can do to combat yeast overgrowth is to try to avoid it in the first place. When you get an infection, immediately begin treating it naturally. Hopefully, you will be able to prevent it from turning into a bacterial infection that might require an antibiotic. If you find that you must take an antibiotic, all is not lost. You can still lessen the severity of yeast overgrowth by avoiding sweets and by taking acidophilus or by eating one cup of yogurt with live and active acidophilus cultures daily. He says "Don't use the yogurt (or milk) if you have sinusitis because the milk protein causes mucus to thicken and makes it hard for the body to fight these infections."

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD is director of the Annapolis Research Center for Effective CFS/Fibromyalgia Therapies, and sees patients with CFS/FMS from all over the world. He is author of the best selling book From Fatigued to Fantastic! and Three Steps To Happiness! Healing Through Joy. His newest book Pain Free 1-2-3! has recently been released.

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