First of all, what is candida?
Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast. It lives in your mouth and intestines in small groups. Surprisingly with all the bad reputation, candida or fungus or yeast do have benefits to us. It helps with digestion and nutrient absorption.
Candida or yeast are usually present in small numbers in the digestive system. But when the good bugs are killed by antibiotics or not fed with adequate fiber, or the bad guys are fueled with too much sugar, or the gut's delicate ecosystem is damaged by too much stress, then yeasts and other noxious agents take over.
These little guys become trouble when there are too many of them. Candida can break down the wall of the intestine and crossover into the bloodstream — releasing toxic by-products into your body and causing leaky gut. This can lead to a variety of health problems ranging from digestive issues, skin problems and mental illnesses.
Unfortunately, many medical professionals have not yet recognized the existence of candida overgrowth (candidiasis). Regretfully, this means that many patients are turned away and do not get the help that they need.
Frequent use of antibiotics disrupts the normal balance between healthy bugs in the gut (lactobacillus, bifidobacter, e. coli) and other potentially dangerous bugs, including yeasts, bacteria and occasionally parasites.
This can result in many chronic illnesses and symptoms including allergies, chronic inflammation, joint problems, mood and brain disorders, digestive symptoms and more.
What are common symptoms of candida?
Although symptoms of yeast overgrowth are similar to those of many other conditions, you may have a yeast problem if you have these problems.
• Feeling tired and worn down, chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
• Loss of energy
• General malaise
• Decreased libido
• Strong cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrate
•Skin and nail fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus
•Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes
• Bloating and gas
• Intestinal cramps
• Rectal itching
• Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
• Frequent urinary tract infections
• Vaginal yeast infections,
• Rectal itching, or vaginal itching
• Menstrual irregularities like pain, bleeding, etc.
• Premenstrual syndrome
• Thyroid dysfunction
Nervous System Complaints
• Mood Swings
• Difficulty concentrating, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD
• Poor memory and brain fog
Immune System Complaints
• Seasonal allergies or itchy ears
• Chemical sensitivities
• Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
What are the Risk Factors?
We know that yeast overgrowth can be triggered by a number of things. These include a high-sugar, high-fat, low-fiber diet, impaired immunity, use of drugs like antibiotics, birth control pills, estrogen, and steroids like prednisone, and psychological stress.
How do you diagnose candida overgrowth?
Non-scientifically, you can self-diagnose with a “candida questionnaire” and/or a “Spittle Test”. Both can be completed in the privacy and comfort of your own home.
The Candida questionnaire was created by Dr. William Crook and is a useful tool for self-diagnosis. This questionnaire is appropriate for adults, both men and women. Print out your results and discuss with your doctor.
Download the questionnaire here.
Here’s a simple test that claims to diagnose your systemic Candidiasis.
This test is completely non-scientific at all. Just like other things in life, that we can’t explained, but seems to work. I’d be curious if someone eventually do a scientific study on on this test to prove its legitimacy.
Basically, the Spittle test tells you how thick your saliva is and very little else. And the thickness of your mucus is determined by many factors which actually have very little to do with systemic Candidaisis or any other health problem.
If you have allergies or have recently eaten some dairy products, you will likely test ‘positive’ on the spittle test. Dehydration can also lead to a positive reading, which means that you are far more likely to test ‘positive’ after you wake in the morning.
Feel free to try the test, but take the results with a pinch of salt!
1. When you get up in the morning, and before you brush your teeth, eat or drink anything, fill a glass with bottled water at room temperature.
2. Spit some saliva gently into the glass.
3. Come back every 20 minutes for the next hour and check for some of these tell-tale signs of Candida:
– ‘Strings’ coming down through the water from the saliva at the top like “tentacles”.
– Cloudy saliva sitting at the bottom of the glass
– Opaque specks of saliva suspended in the water
For those who prefer modern science and evidence-based medicine, there are blood and stool test that could help confirm and rule out candida overgrowth.
Anti-Candida Antibodies or Candida Immune Complexes test
This test checks your levels for candida antibodies - IgG, IgA, and IgM. The levels of these antibodies indicate your immune system’s response to Candida. Elevated levels of indicate presence of overgrowth of Candida.
These tests can often be negative even when a stool or urine test is positive. Which brings me to the next two tests:
This seems to be the most accurate test out there as directly analyzes the levels of yeast, pathogenic bacteria and friendly bacteria in your intestines. It can usually determine the species of yeast — as well as which treatment will be most effective.
Urine Tartaric Acid Test or Urine Organic Dysbiosis Test
This urine test checks for waste product of yeast - arabinose and tartaric acid. Elevated results indicate an overgrowth of candida, and the test can help you determine if there is candida in your upper gut or small intestines.
How do you treat candida overgrowth?
2 words…”Lifestyle Changes”.