The Yeast Feast
What you should know about Candida and Yeast Overgrowth.
Dr. James Chandler N.D., Ph.D.
Yeast (of which Candida Albicans is one) is a natural part of the human biological system and is useful to help balance normal body functions. It isn’t until this yeast grows out of control does it present us with numerous problems. Because yeast is on our skin, in our mouth, and is in both the genital and intestinal tracts, these problems can present anywhere on or in the body. This paper will focus on internal yeast overgrowth, however, most if not all of this information can be helpful for external and vaginal yeast problems as well.
When yeast multiplies in the gastrointestinal system it attaches itself to the intestinal wall where it can secrete a large volume of different toxins into the blood stream, which in turn weakens the immune system. As the immune system weakens, more yeast is allowed to grow and more toxins are secreted that further lowers the immune system. As you see, what can develop is a self-perpetuating cycle. Yeast overgrowth can (and does) occur in both male and female hosts although, it is found more frequently in the female. This may be because it is either under reported in males or the symptoms are less acute and attributed to other causes by males.
There are a number of reasons that yeast can spread and over grow. For instance, the use of antibiotics kills off the normal (good) bacteria as well as the bad bacteria needed in the gut to assist in digestion. It is theorized that yeast spreads during antibiotic use because the antibiotic kills all of the bacteria in the gut and allows room for the yeast to spread. It is commonly believed that antibiotics have no ill effect on yeast.
Some physical conditions make the spread of yeast more likely to happen. When estrogen levels vary greatly, as in pregnancy, at the end of the monthly cycle, and during perimenopause, conditions are created that allow yeast overgrowth to occur. Oral contraceptives can also create an environment for this type of overgrowth. Two other physical factors that can contribute to yeast overgrowth are stress and diabetes.
Though controversial, I believe that food does not, in and of itself, cause yeast overgrowth. With that said, I do believe that the consumption of certain foods can lead toward weakening the immune system which, sets up the perfect environment for yeast to flourish. Diets high in sugar, refined flours and processed foods feed the yeast and combined with a challenged immune system can lead to the overgrowth.
There is a long list of symptoms associated with yeast overgrowth. Many of the symptoms can also be attributed to other illnesses and conditions. An example: Mercury toxicity can mimic the symptoms of Candida. Symptoms of Candida can be general to those that affect specific areas. These include: headaches, low energy, fatigue, depression, fear, anxiety, irritability, memory loss, brain fog, arthritis, sensitivity to chemicals, heart palpitations, urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, rectal itching, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, indigestion, colds, asthma, sore throat, coughs, and cold hands and feet to name a few.
How do you know if you have a yeast problem? The first step should be a detailed history, taken by a good practitioner or good medical clinician. There are no tests that can precisely state whether or not an illness is yeast related. There are tests, (blood, stool, skin, vaginal discharge and saliva) that can be helpful in indicating yeast problems. There is also a home test, of sorts, that goes like this: first thing in the morning, spit into a clear glass of water. If the saliva dissipates into the water after 30 minutes then you are yeast free. If the saliva “grows roots” toward the bottom of the glass or from the bottom upward you may have a yeast problem. However, none of these tests are entirely accurate and only focus in on local infection. Treating the local infection does not address the root cause of the illness. An alternative to testing is using a variety of natural remedies to see if they alleviate a variety of symptoms.
From a natural treatment standpoint, there are several options that can be stand alone treatments or used in combination with each other. A combination approach often works better in achieving results faster.
First, Diet/nutrition can have a major impact on the relief from or the growth of Candida and other yeasts. It is recommended that a restricted diet be followed for several weeks with a gradual reintroduction of foods, one-at a-time, over an extended period. This diet focuses on the exclusion (avoidance) of sugar and all sugary foods (corn and maple syrup, fruit, cornstarch, and milk and dairy) and fermented and yeast and mold containing products (bread, cheese, vinegar, alcohol, and mushrooms). In contrast to avoiding, you should eat more healthy foods such as: whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, barley, amaranth, and millet), fresh vegetables, lean meats, fish, and eggs.
Second, natural supplements can be beneficial in combating yeast induced problems. Supplements include: probiotic acidophilus, additional fiber (psyllium husk), multiple vitamins and minerals, additional vitamin C and B complex and essential fatty acids such as: evening primrose, borage, or flaxseed oil taken three time throughout the day. Adding herbs to the diet can also help alleviate the symptoms associated with yeast infections. Use herbs such as; garlic, olive leaf, oil of oregano, black walnut, turmeric, goldenseal, ginger, fennel, red clover and st. john’s wort to name a few.
Third, reduce stress levels by exercise, meditation, or other relaxing therapies.
Fourth, incorporate lifestyle changes to minimize and prevent reoccurring yeast illnesses. For women with vaginal yeast conditions, this includes wearing cotton crouch underwear, avoiding pantyhose and other tight fitting clothing, avoid feminine hygiene sprays and powders and include good bathroom hygiene habits such as wiping from the front to the rear to reduce the chances of contamination from anal bacteria.
If you would like more information on natural therapies to combat yeast in your life, contact Dr. Chandler.
Haas, Elson M., MD, (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Celestial Arts,
Berkley, CA, pp 698-704.
Null, Gary PhD. (2006) The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing,
Stamford, CT: Bottom Line Books, pp 126 – 131.
Copyright 2009© Chandler Naturopathic Health Center