Treating Fungal Infections/Candida
Candida refers to a yeast overgrowth in the body technically known as Candidiasis. Candida Albicans lives in all mucus membranes such as the intestines, eyes, ears, bladder, stomach, lungs, vagina, etc. It is one of millions of other friendly organisms that serve a useful purpose in the body. One of its important functions is to recognize and destroy harmful bacteria.
When Candida Albicans is under control and balanced with other bacteria it poses no problem, but when it gets out of control and begins to overgrow it can cause a variety of symptoms including allergies, fatigue, headaches, bloating, digestive disorders, vaginitis, arthritis, muscle weakness, joint pain, nasal congestion, pain or tightness in the chest, blurred vision, ear problems, weight gain, hypoglycemia, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, foggy thinking, loss of memory, to name a few.
This is a very common condition but remains a controversial medical diagnosis and is not widely recognised by mainstream medical doctors. In our experience it most definitely exists and is increasing because of the widespread use of antibiotics and increased use of refined carbohydrates and yeast in our diets, impaired immunity due to exposure to environmental toxins, poor diet and lifestyle.
Candida produces up to 180 different toxins (mycotoxins) in the body which can affect the liver, block hormones, impair immunity and cause sugar cravings. The weakened immunity increases the risk of recurrent infections and other diseases.
What Causes Candida to get out of control?
A healthy immune system keeps Candida in balance with the other micro organisms in the mucous membranes but under certain conditions it begins to overgrow and get out of control and enter your blood circulation. The causes of immune system dysfunction are varied and complex, but antibiotics are the biggest culprits because they wipe out friendly micro organisms in the digestive system. Because Candida is resistant to antibiotics the imbalance of micro organisms allows it to take over.
Other causes of candida include: contraceptive pill, alcohol, stress, poor diet, lack of rest, etc.
As previously mentioned Candida excretes toxins that circulate throughout the body further weakening the immune system and creating havoc throughout the body. In addition the Candida itself produces very long root-like structures that penetrate intestinal walls releasing spores into the blood stream thus causing a systemic candida infection in addition to leaving microscopic holes in the gut mucosa which allows toxins, undigested food particles, bacteria and yeast to enter the bloodstream. The fact that candida from the gut can enter the blood stream through the gut wall has been scientifically proven (Infection and Immunity. 1993;61:619-626). This condition is known as the “Leaky Gut Syndrome”, which causes food allergies, adrenal exhaustion and many other health problems. These root-like structures also causes considerable damage to the walls of the intestines resulting in malabsorption of nutrients which further complicate things.
How to Diagnose Candida
I believe you should accurately diagnose the fact that a candida infection actually is present before treating it. The problem when using symptoms alone is that they overlap with many other conditions so you may be treating the wrong condition. I have seen many patients go through the restrictive candida diet and treatments when they did not need to, as they never had candida to begin with. Food allergies and intolerances, parasites, leaky gut, etc also exhibit similar symptoms and therefore an accurate diagnosis is essential.
There are several ways to test. These include:
(1) Saliva Tests measure IgA antibodies, IgM antibodies, and IgG antibodies. These are antibodies that your body has produced in order to fight different strains of candida. The IgM antibody indicates a present infection, IgG reflects a past or ongoing infection and is usually produced after initial exposure (this means that your infection is more severe if IgG levels are elevated). Elevated IgA levels may indicate a more superficial candida infection.
(2) Blood tests – any GP can request a pathology blood test which looks for the presence of candida antibodies in the blood.
(3) Stool Analysis – stool analysis can determine if candida is present in the bowl and can also give a vague indication on the severity.
If any of these proven methods positively diagnoses candida then you should treat it. It is worth mentioning that candida can be particularly resistant and difficult to eradicate.
Stage 1 – Eradicate Candida – All treatments are available online in the members section of this website.
(1) Anti-fungal Diet – This diet cuts out foods contaminated with fungus’ such as peanuts, grain fed meats, grains and mushrooms in addition to sugars and starches that feed it. The comprehensive diet is supplied during a consultation. Start for two weeks before using any supplements to help starve the candida/fungus making it more vulnerable to treatment. Continue on with the diet throughout the entire protocol. This is essential as no treatment will be successful if you continue to introduce more fungus into your system, or continuously feed it, while trying to eradicte it.
(2) Undecanoic acid 200mg three times a day. This fatty acid is extracted from caster oil and has proven to be a potent natural antifungal. Caprylic Acid, another similar fatty acid extracted from coconut oil, has also been widely used however undecanoic acid is 6 times more potent so we prefer to use it instead. Undecanoic acid is absorbed and is able to help eradicate systemic candida infections. The systemic effect is very important as most treatments only kill off the fungus in your gut and then rely on your immune system to kill off what remains systemically. In our experience many patients have compromised immune systems that fail to eradicate it and thus the infection remains.
Resistant candida that fails to respond to treatment can possibly be due to protective biofilms (mucus layers) they produce to protect themselves as the treatment cannot penetrate the biofilm layer and reach the candida itself. Boron has been shown to disrupt the biofilm layer allowing the treatment to reach the candida and thus may be worth a try in resistant cases that fail to respond to initial treatment.
(3) Olive Leaf Extract – 5 to 10ml twice a day. It also has systemic anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties which works well in combination with undecanoic acid.Olive leaf extract is available here.
(4) Alkaline Powder – Fungus’ live in an acidic environment and cannot tolerate an alkaline one. Therefore alkaline your body to help kill off any fungus. The anti-fungal diet is essentially an alkaline diet which will help reduce acidity. In addition our laboratory produces a mineral supplement to effectively help reduce acidity.
In certain cases some patients may also benefit from taking:
(5) Digestive Enzymes – taken with each meal as candida can interfere with digestion. If this is the case we recommend Multigest Digestive Enzymes made by bioceuticals which is a good quality comprehensive enzyme formula.
After the initial two weeks on the candida diet alone the supplements mentioned above should be used together for at least 2 months. The time course of recovery depends on how deeply embedded the fungus is in your tissues and your ability to stick to the treatment plan. It may take a couple of months up to years to eradicate it completely depending on these factors. I always recommend testing again after 2 months of treatment to monitor your progress. You should not move onto stage 2 of treatment until you have the all clear. In certain resistant cases if it does not apear to be clearing we tend to recommend stepping up your treatment to Nilstat which is a pharmaceutical antifungal drug. We use a three week protocol developed by Dr Bruce Semon MD PhD. This will however only eradicate the fungus in your gut as it is not absorbed and thus has no systemic action. It is essential that your infection is completely eradicated before moving on.
Stage 2 – Reinoculate the Bowl with Beneficial Bacteria
(1) Prebiotics – Include foods in your diet such as bananas, onion, asparagus, chicory and burdock root which contain fructose-containing oligosaccharides which are used by the flora in your gut as nourishment. If you do not like these foods then prebiotic supplements are also available.
(2) Probiotics – the beneficial bacteria in your gut needs to be replaced and we recommend a probiotic mixture made by metagenics which contains a combination of proven effective strains of bacteria, at therapeutic doses, to help colonise both your small and large intestine. This will help prevent further candida re-infections in the future.
Stage 3 – Repair the Damage/Improve Immune System
(1) Repair the GUT – Glutamine, essential fatty acids, zinc and panthothenic acid are nutrients that play a vital role in GUT mucosa cell differentiation, growth and function and thus should be supplemented to help repair the leaky gut caused by the candida. We recommend Intestamine made by Bioceuticals which was formulated for this purpose as it contains many of the required ingredients for this process to occur in addition to a good quality fish oil supplement.
(2) Improve immune system – this is an important step to help prevent re-infection in the future. There are many supplements on the market that all help improve your immune function. The ones we highly recommend include: Vitamin D3 and Glyconutrients.
All the supplements in Stage 2 and 3 should be taken together after step 1. They have only been seperated into seperate stages to simplify the presentation of this information. These should be taken for 6 to 8 weeks and possibly longer depending on your progress. Once the treatment has finished your gut mucosa should be more resistant to re-infection due to improved immunity in addition to a balanced gut flora. At this stage you can cease the candida diet if you want however it is a healthy diet to maintain permanently, but few are motivated enough to do so. Symptoms at this stage should have disappeared. Many patients also report weight loss as excessive bloating is no longer present.
If you also suffer from a Nail Fungal Infection (onychomycosis) we also produce a deeply penetrating anti-fungal nail paint to eradicate it.
All treatments mentioned in this article are available through our laboratory. Refer to our on-line pharmacy to order now or alternatively refer the ordering information page to view the various ordering methods available.
We find the protocol above successful in the majority of cases however in resistant cases where this and other natural treatments fail we recommend the use of the antifungal drug Fluconazole 200mg daily for 3 weeks. It is considered the safest of all the antifungal drugs.