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Candida Yeast Infections — A Growing Problem

According to a 2013 study published in The Journal of the Polish Biochemical Society, for the 10 years spanning 2003 to 2013, candida yeast infections (a type of fungal infection) increased by a factor of 15.

And while conventional medicine practitioners have long recognized candida infection as a condition that requires treatment, the role that candida overgrowth plays in the development of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases has remained largely unnoticed.

Candida Yeast Infections — A Growing Problem

As a result, many patients continue to suffer from a wide variety of chronic health conditions unnecessarily. Even more alarming is the simple fact that most patients are never even tested for candida overgrowth.

What Conventional Medical Doctors Know About Candida

Candida overgrowth gets much more press in the context of alternative medicine than it does in conventional medicine, so it’s often thought of as outside the mainstream. However, conventional medicine doctors do recognize the role it plays in a certain limited set of health conditions.

Unfortunately, their knowledge of candida is generally limited to the following facts:

  • Candida is a species of yeast — a fungus that naturally lives on and in the body — the skin, mouth, throat, gut, and vagina. The most common strain is Candida albicans.
  • In certain areas of the body, candida may actually be beneficial, but only when living in a healthy balance with other beneficial microorganisms.
  • Candida can grow out of control on the skin and mucous membranes. On the skin, it can cause rashes and nail fungus (although other fungi can cause rashes and nail fungus as well). In the mouth or throat, it can cause oral thrush or candidiasis. In the vagina, it can cause yeast infections.
  • Candida can enter the bloodstream and infect internal organs, at which point the infection is considered systemic and may become life-threatening.

What Conventional Medical Doctors Often Don’t Know About Candida

What conventional medical doctors are generally less knowledgeable about is candida overgrowth in the gut (the gastrointestinal [GI] tract) and the many illnesses it can lead to.

A healthy gut has a healthy balance of a wide variety of bacteria, fungi (yeasts), and viruses — collectively referred to as the microbiome. These microorganisms, especially the beneficial bacteria, help the body break down foods and absorb nutrients.

Some even produce nutrients that the body needs but cannot manufacture on its own. When we talk about the gut, we’re referencing not only the tissues of the body that form the gut but also the microbiome living inside it.

Numerous factors can disrupt the delicate balance of the microbiome, including the following:

  • A diet high in sugar and other simple carbohydrates and low in fiber
  • Chronic stress and anxiety
  • Corticosteroids, which suppress immune function
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic)
  • Overuse of antibiotics, which kill both harmful and beneficial bacteria
  • Toxins in food, water, and air, and absorbed through the skin

When candida grows out of control in the gut, it crowds out the beneficial microbes. The resulting imbalance (dysbiosis) can weaken the lining of the gut — a thin, membrane with tight junctions between its cells that normally allows water and nutrients to pass through it into the bloodstream but prevents the passage of larger molecules, such as proteins.

When this thin, semi-permeable membrane is compromised, protein molecules can pass through it into the bloodstream (a condition commonly referred to as leaky gut), triggering an immune response. The immune response causes inflammation, which can lead to a variety of conditions depending on where the inflammation occurs in the body.

More serious cases may involve molecular mimicry, which occurs when the molecules that the immune system attacks are so similar to those of the body’s own tissues that the immune system attacks them, as well. This is what we refer to as autoimmunity.

Autoimmune diseases vary depending on the tissue or organ the immune system attacks. For example, with rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints of the skeletal system; with myocarditis, it attacks the heart; with multiple sclerosis, it attacks the nerves; with Hashimoto’s disease, it attacks the thyroid gland.

Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth

Because candida overgrowth can impact nearly every cell in the human body, it can cause a broad range of symptoms and illnesses, including the following:

  • Athlete’s foot (recurring or persistent)
  • Autoimmunity (there are dozens of autoimmune diseases)
  • Brain fog
  • Cognitive dysfunction (impacting memory and thinking)
  • Diabetes
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Dry, itchy, or red skin
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Food sensitivities or intolerances
  • Gas and bloating
  • Inflammatory illnesses (including any illness whose name ends in -itis, such as arthritis, colitis, and dermatitis)
  • Itchy ears
  • Mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and mood swings
  • Nail fungus (recurring or persistent)
  • Poor sleep
  • Sinus infections or seasonal allergies
  • Skin issues (acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, tinea versicolor)
  • Sugar cravings
  • Vaginal, rectal, or jock itch
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Yeast infections (recurring or persistent)

Treating Candida Overgrowth

Here at BioDesign Wellness Center, we take a comprehensive approach to starving and killing the yeast, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, restoring a healthy balance and repairing any damage done to the lining of the gut. Our approach follows the Institute of Functional Medicine’s 5R Framework:

  • Remove: Starve the yeast. Certain foods — mostly those high in sugar and grains feed the yeast. Strict diets, such as FODMAP and keto, eliminate these foods.

    We use a strict dietary approach with patients when it makes sense, but we’ve found that a few easy dietary changes over time work just as well for many people.

  • Replace: We may prescribe digestive enzymes or do pH balancing, when necessary, to enhance digestion.

    We also perform a medication review and may recommend changes to medications that tend to inhibit proper digestion, such as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), which reduce stomach acid.

  • Re-inoculate: We supplement with probiotics, colostrum, and prebiotics to restore a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut.

    Probiotics are beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics supports the growth of beneficial bacteria.

  • Repair: We may prescribe supplements, such as bone broth, collagen powder, and L-glutamine, to repair damage to the gut lining.

  • Rebalance: We may recommend lifestyle changes to help reduce stress and make life more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Although we follow the IFC’s 5R framework, our treatment protocol is personalized for each patient — it’s not one size fits all. Your symptoms, along with results from your stool, blood, and urine tests will determine the best course of action.

For example, a variety of plants and extracts can be used to kill the yeast, including garlic, oregano, grapefruit seed extract, and caprylic acid. Prescription antifungals can be used as needed.

However, using the prescription medication without dietary intervention and without restoring the natural balance to the microbiome usually results in poor treatment outcomes.

Treating Candida in Tampa

If you live in or around Central Florida and have any of the symptoms or illnesses mentioned in this post, or you’ve been to a half dozen doctors, none of whom has offered a clear and accurate diagnosis or effective treatment. We encourage you to call our Tampa Functional Medicine Clinic to schedule a comprehensive workup.

We will examine your medical history and family history, listen closely as you explain what’s going on, ask questions to gain additional insight, and order targeted tests to identify the root cause(s) of whatever is ailing you. We will resolve the mystery and get you back on the path to optimal health and fitness.


Disclaimer: The information in this blog post about Candida yeast infections, is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from the medical staff at BioDesign Wellness Center, Inc., nor is this post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.