Although controversial, it has been suggested that an overgrowth of yeast/fungal organisms such as Candida albicans in the intestines (and possibly spreading elsewhere in the body) is a possible cause of a number of symptoms and medical conditions.
The theory is that when the normal healthy balance of gut flora is disturbed by the use of drugs such as antibiotics, the contraceptive pill, and corticosteroids, Candida and other yeast/fungal organisms are able to grow out of control and colonise the GI tract. This leads to increased production of toxins such as ethanol (drinking alcohol) and acetaldehyde (an even more toxic breakdown product of ethanol) as these yeast feed on the food we eat. These toxins and many others are then absorbed into the body where they can interefere with the function of any system in the body and result in a host of unpleasant symptoms. Candida can also convert from a yeast to a fungal form which can grow through the intestinal lining causing damage and increasing absorption of toxins and partially digested foods, and micro-organisms, further burdening the body.
Symptoms associated with Candida overgrowth include:
- Thrush & Fungal Skin and Nail Infections
- Mood Disturbances
- Cognitive Dysfunction (brain fog/muddled thinking)
- Muscle/Joint Aches and Pains
- Food Sensitivities
- Chemical Sensitivity
Candida overgrowth is also implicated in conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and fibromyalgia.
Anti-fungal treatment typically involves a combination of approaches:
The Anti-fungal Diet
A low carbohydrate diet that eliminates all sugars, processed foods and refined carbohydrates such as white rice and white bread in an effort to starve the Candida/yeast of their preferred food source and reduce their growth and numbers as well as their production of toxins. Foods containing yeastsuch as fermented food products are often avoided as well in the belief that those affected are also likely to be allergic/sensitive to these. The diet focuses on meat, fish, eggs, low carbohydrate vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Anti-fungal Medication, Herbs & Nutritional Supplements
Anti-fungal medications and/or herbs and nutritional supplements with anti-fungal activity are used to kill the Candida/yeast directly in the same way that antibiotics are used for bacterial infections.
Use of Probiotic Supplements and/or Yoghurt
As the overgrowth of yeast is brought undr control through diet and use of anti-fungal agents patients are usually advised to take probiotic supplements or eat/drink probiotic yoghurts in an effort to re-establish healthy bacteria in the intestines which may help to keep the yeast in check and prevent further overgrowth.
To learn about anti-fungal treatment in more detail see our main anti-fungal treatment page.