Candida is a yeast-like fungus that lives in the intestines, bowel, genitals, throat, esophagus and mouth. Male or female, if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, candida yeast could be making your symptoms much worse.
While we all have this yeast in our bodies, under certain circumstances it becomes a condition known as Candidiasis when it grows out of control. Many candida yeast overgrowth symptoms are similar to those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
In Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Dr. James Balch says these symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, colitis, abdominal pain, headaches, mood swings, PMS, fatigue, and depression. You may also experience heartburn, memory loss, canker sores, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and cough, night sweats, vaginitis, kidney and bladder infections, athlete’s foot, jock itch, fungal infections, arthritis and adrenal problems.
Dr. James LaValle adds gas, bloating, and food reactions to this list. In fact, from his perspective, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the many chronic candida yeast overgrowth symptoms!
If you suffer from Candidiasis, you might also notice that you crave sweets, bread or alcohol, react to chemical smells or perfumes, or feel depressed or lethargic after a walk in the autumn leaves.
What causes candida yeast to grow out of control?
One of the most common causes of overgrowth is the use of antibiotics and other drugs that kill off the bacteria that controls candida yeast in the intestines. These drugs include steroids, NSAIDS, chemotherapy, birth control pills, and some antacids.
Other factors that can trigger a candida yeast overgrowth include stress, having reduced immune function, a high sugar diet, nutritional deficiencies, mercury and heavy metal exposure, and pregnancy. (This is possibly why some women find themselves treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms after childbirth.)
If you would like to read about this in detail, I highly recommend the section on Candidiasis in Dr. Lavalle’s Cracking the Metabolic Code, pages 173-184 in the paperback version. In fact, all of the information about intestinal health in chapter 9 of his book is worth reading.
Treating candida yeast overgrowth symptoms...
Dr. Balch warns against repeated medical treatment of Candidiasis as the yeast may become stronger by developing resistance to the drugs. Both Balch and Lavalle recommend addressing candida yeast overgrowth with nutrition and supplements.
The basic anti-candida diet includes meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, tree nuts (not peanuts, which grow in the ground and contain mould), rice, potatoes, vegetables, a little oil, and lots of water (including herbal tea.)
An anti-candida diet can be very challenging to follow at first. Why? Because when you have Candidiasis, you crave the very foods you need to stop eating. Actually, it is the yeast that is doing the craving, not you! Dr. A. Constantini, an expert on mycotoxins (fungal toxins), thinks that yeasts and fungi use humans to get around on the planet and provide them (the mycotoxins) with their favourite foods!
And what are the favourite foods of yeast? Sugar, honey, alcohol, anything fermented, anything sweet, chocolate, peanuts, aged and blue cheeses, nut butters, grains, baked goods, dried fruit, vinegar, soy sauce, pickles, mushrooms, and anything containing yeast or citric acid. Even lactose or milk sugar could be a problem.
But cutting out all these foods is not usually enough and the results can be slow. To speed things up, Drs Balch and LaValle suggest a regimen of natural anti-fungals, nutrients and probiotics. These would include non-dairy acidophilus, caprylic acid, garlic, quercetin, vitamin B-complex, cat’s claw, olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract, oregano leaf extract, FOS, butyric acid, L-glutamine to heal the bowel, tumeric and ginger.
Another way to speed things up is to find a Touch for Health or other practitioner who does substance de-sensitizing and have them desensitize you to candida yeast. Get them to check you beforehand for the anti-fungals that will work best for you. Prior to that appointment, it’s a good idea to do your research, get all the foods you’ll need, and get rid of the foods and drinks that the yeast likes so you won’t be tempted by them. Also, plan some quiet time for at least the first week. I’ll explain why in the “Warning” section below.
Please DO NOT use this article to treat your candida yeast overgrowth symptoms. Do more research and plan your strategy. A good place to start is with Dr. LaValle’s book. He provides protocols and dietary recommendations for treating candidiasis and healing imbalances in the bowel, along with dosages for the nutrients and anti-fungals.
I know from experience that treating an overgrowth of candida yeast can be challenging. But there are ways to make it easier. And the discomfort is worth it because you feel so much better afterwards. If you're like me, you will end up with much better digestion.
For one thing, you need to know that when you take action to clear up candidiasis, the excess yeast will start to die off. This can be physically and emotionally uncomfortable especially for someone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You could feel exhausted, depressed, morose, achey, have headaches and itchy skin, and think you’re coming down with the flu. You’re not. You’re just killing off the excess yeast.
This could last a couple of days or a couple of weeks so don’t start your candida cleanse right before final exams or your best friend’s wedding or any kind of stressful or demanding event. Make sure you have time to rest and take it easy. Once you’re through the first week or two, things will get a lot better.
Keep in mind that lots of negative thoughts can come up when you're killing off the excess yeast. This is from the CHEMICAL reaction inside your body, not because you're a negative person with a million problems. If you start to feel horribly depressed, angry or upset, keep repeating to yourself, "It's not me; it's the yeast. It's NOT me. It's the yeast."
You also need to know that taking anti-fungals can make you tired for the first few days so, initially, you might want to take them at night before you go to bed. Once your system is used to them, you can try taking them two or three times a day, if that’s the recommended dosage schedule.
The final thing you need to know is that yeast is very sneaky. You’ll be doing so well with your anti-candida diet that one fine day you decide you can afford to eat one little sugar-sweetened cookie. Don’t fall for it! That’s not your brain talking; it’s the yeast, wheedling you into a return to all your candida yeast overgrowth symptoms. Before you know it, that one cookie will have turned into a whole bag and you’ll suddenly find yourself with all the same problems you worked so hard to get rid of.
When that happens, your IBS could take a turn for the worse. So don’t let candida yeast and its overgrowth symptoms take over your life. Getting them under control is an important part of treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome for many sufferers.
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