Candida


For those of you who do not have knowledge of Candida or are still not convinced of the existence of this syndrome, please read the following.

The "Chronic Candida Syndrome" is the result of intestinal Candida proliferation. It has recently sparked much attention as being a cause or a factor in various health problems. Candida is a fungus of the yeast category. Candidiasis, an infection with yeast, has been most noted in AIDS or cancer patients under chemotherapy in which the body's ability to defend itself from pathogens is weakened. It has been seen to be extremely pathogenic in these immuno compromised individuals.

The Chronic Candida syndrome is a series of vague, sometimes seemingly unrelated symptoms. The patient may even be referred to a psychiatrist for their "neurotic condition" and the failure of "modern science" to find a physiological diagnosis. Routine blood tests usually don't reveal anything unusual. Because of the drastic visual symptoms in patients with systemic Candidiasis, the thought of Candidia as a pathogen that can afflict individuals with good immune systems has been somewhat ignored. Candidiasis, and especially intestinal Candida proliferation, has recently come to light as a pathogen that can strike those who have apparently "normal" immune systems. It has been subject to much debate, lack of understanding and has brought about new thinking and research.

The entire disorder is not fully understood as of yet, however thousands of patients with chronic illnesses have been helped or cured with antifungal and diet therapy. Despite all the research and findings, most of the medical community is ignorant of Candida as a pathogen that can affect apparently healthy individuals, and medical students are still misinformed about the real consequences of intestinal Candida in both the immunocompetent and immunocompromised.

There are many factors that may contribute to Candida proliferation in the intestines. The primary contributing factor is the use of oral antibiotics (esp. tetracycline). It is common knowledge that antibiotics, especially over a period of time or with repeated uses, will eliminate much of the normal flora (benficial bacteria) of the gastrointestinal tract. However, there are consequences of the elimination of these important bacteria who normally compete with other organisms for mucosal epithelial cellular receptor sites (attaching to the wall of the digestive tract). It is recognized by the medical community as a whole that as a result of the elimination of the normal flora defense mechanism, yeasts are allowed to grow excessively in the gut. They may also extend and proliferate in the skin with antibiotic use.

In obviously immunosuppressed patients, antibiotic use often has extreme or even fatal consequences from Candida proliferation due to elimination of the normal flora. Antibiotics, which are powerless against yeasts, but destroy bacteria, allow yeasts residing in the gut to grow unregulated. The important ecological factors of the gut are often overlooked due to lack of understanding of gastrointestinal immunity. Antibiotics may also allow various strains of bacteria resistant to the specific antibacterial drug to grow excessively, leading to bacterial overgrowth.

In this day and age where many physicians increasingly and liberally prescribe oral antibiotics, often unnecessarily, intestinal Candida proliferation is becoming an ever increasing problem. (Have you ever wondered why so many people recently seem to be suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Syndrome?) The treatment of teenage acne with such drugs as tetracycline has been implicated as one of the most important factors in the Chronic Candidiasis Syndrome.

The misunderstanding of the importance of Candida as an affliction in otherwise healthy individuals may be the result of several difficulties. The immense use of antibiotics started in the early 80's, and only now is there a large enough population that has used a significant amount of antibiotics to realize possible side effects. The true significance of the good bacteria in the gut has only recently been established in orthodox medicine. Previously, it was associated with old wives tales and sometimes frivolous naturopathic medicine.

However with the introduction of antibiotics, diseases like AIDS especially, and the onset of systemic Candidiasis following antibiotic treatment, it cannot be ignored. It is now considered an extremely important defense mechanism by leading microbiologists. The use of steroids (cortisones), birth control pills, antacid and anti-ulcer medications (Tagament, Zantac, Pepcid, Axid) etc., in addition to antibiotics are also very important contributing factors since Candida proliferates rapidly in the presence of these substances Modern day diets extremely high in sugars are also blamed for the condition. In fact, eliminating sugars from the diets of various individuals has been demonstrated to be of equal importance with antifungal therapy, although it certainly cannot replace it.

Candidiasis is a serious condition and must therefore be seriously considered and treated. The intestines, also composed of epithelium, provide a warm, moist, nutrient-rich, environment favorable to Candida growth, especially when provided the above conditions. Unfortunately, some physicians do not have the time to think that because something can't be seen, doesn't mean it's not there. Candida has also been suggested to play a part in creating what is called a "leaky gut," an unfavorable increase in intestinal permeability. Undigested food particles and toxins are allowed to pass directly into the body creating a host of problems. This creates havoc with the immune system when these particles trigger an immune response sensitizing the individual to normally harmless molecules. When this happens, the individual is suggested to become "environmentally sensitive," responding to various harmless inhalants in the environment the person is exposed to as well as various foods. These reactions do not create typical allergic symptoms.

Because of the strain on the immune system to break these undigested molecules down, the body's ability to defend against Candida may be further weakened, creating a cycle. These particles may also pass through the blood/brain barrier, be mistaken for neurotransmitters, and produce other mental symptoms that may create a misdiagnosis of neurotic disorder. Research is currently being done at the National Institute for Health to this end.

Candida has been found to produce 79 distinct toxins. These toxins have been shown to cause massive congestion of the eyelid area, ears, and other parts of the body in rats. It is these toxins that are also suggested to be responsible for many of the symptoms that Candida sufferers have as well as the "die off reaction." Certainly, there are other complex complicating factors that are unknown to us at this point which will require further research and funding to find. The prevalence of Candida has been overlooked. It has been considered that only those who are immunosuppressed are susceptible to Candida infections. However, it is known that women who are not immunosuppressed, develop vaginal yeast infections. The only method in which these are diagnosed are by sensory signs. Unfortunately, there is no method besides surgical procedures to easily explore the small intestines. Indeed, there have been case reports of gastric Candidiasis viewed by upper endoscopy in immunocompetent individuals. In addition, there has been further research demonstrating that Candida is responsible for and involved in many forms of psoriasis and other skin problems. There have also been numerous cases of non-immunosuppressed patients who have developed forms of candidiasis. Again, the only reason these patients were diagnosed, was because of visual signs on the exposed mucous membranes or severe symptoms that required surgical procedures.

Yeasts are dimorphic organisms. Under malnourished conditions, Candida can convert from its normal budding form to its mycelial form in which the cells are elongated and attached at the ends, allowing it to grow into different areas. Many physicians try to compare the immunology of the gastrointestinal tract to that of other organs and systems in the body including the circulatory system. They simply recall being told in medical school that candidiasis affects the severely immunosuppressed only and fail to think beyond. As any competent physician should know, the immunology of the gastrointestinal tract functions separately. The average physician, when questioned about candidiasis, might look in a patient's mouth for signs of yeast or just outright tell the patient they don't have it because there are no extreme visual signs. The doctor may also refer to a patient's complete blood count (on routine blood testing) telling the patient that they are not immunosuppressed, therefore they don't have it. This serves as an example of how textbook minded many doctors are.

These symptoms are only demonstrative of the massive infections seen in AIDS and cancer patients where the immune system is suppressed and not localized intestinal Candida proliferation. In addition, the gastrointestinal immune response functions separately from the systemic immune response. The Chronic Candida Syndrome, despite much speculation, does not require a defective or depressed systemic immune response to affect an individual. The controversy over the existence of this disorder is due to several factors. The major argument against the elimination of normal flora causing yeast proliferation is the theory that eventually your intestinal compliment of normal flora will return after stopping antibiotics and yeast proliferation will "just go away." No conclusive studies have been performed demonstrating this. It has been shown that whatever organisms that has presently colonized an area of the GI tract will remain dominant in that area. The return of normal flora to areas of the GI tract does not necessarily mean that this has stopped the growth of other pathogens nor does it mean that Candida proliferation hasn't damaged the GI tract. When stool cultures report growth of normal flora, it does not mean that their is growth along your entire intestinal tract. It is also suggested that a healthy immune system will be able to overcome the proliferation.

However, since it is shown that immunocompetent individuals can develop candidiasis, this is certainly not the case, especially since Candida is so versatile and given favorable conditions in the intestines. The second argument is that "yeast in the intestines is normal and harmless." The statement is that, "yeast can be recovered from the stool of healthy individuals." However no mention has been made of the effects of proliferated yeast in the intestines and what amount is normal. The colon is home to many pathogenic organisms in healthy individuals, including parasites in 5-10% of the population that physicians wouldn't dare say are harmless if proliferated.

No conclusive studies have been performed demonstrating that intestinal yeast proliferation is harmless. In fact, studies have shown the exact opposite. As any woman who has had a vaginal yeast infection knows, it can certainly create quite a problem. It is preposterous to state that heavy growth of yeasts in the intestines, another mucous membrane, is meaningless. Anyone who has had diarrhea from antibiotics will certainly know this as well. Unlike in a woman's vagina, yeasts are provided a perfect environment with enough food and sugars to create rapid overgrowth. The contributing factor to the reluctance of the medical community as a whole to accept the syndrome is the lack of a absolute definitive scientific proof of the Candida/human interaction. There has also been an extreme lack of complete widely published case reports of those who have been cured with anti-yeast therapy. The treatment has preceded some of the research, and its success in many individuals is proof in itself of the Candida/human interaction.