The Allergy & Nutrition Centre

Bewildering Symptoms?
Candida could be the Cause

  • Have you at any time in your life taken antibiotics for two months or longer? Or taken more than two courses of antibiotics in any one year?
  • Have you ever taken more than one short course of prednisilone, cortisone or other steroids - for asthma, for example - or used an asthma inhaler?
  • Are you sometimes bothered by cystitis or thrush or by any kind of vaginal discharge?
  • Have you had athlete's foot or any other chronic fungal infection?
  • Do you crave sugar or sugary products or bread?
  • Do you get abdominal bloating, fluctuating constipation or diarrhoea?
  • Do you sometimes have a 'dopey' feeling or inability to think clearly?
  • Do you have aches and pains in the joints?

    If you answered 'yes' to either question one or two and answered 'yes' to any of the other questions, then it is very possible you have Candida albicans, or candidiasis as it is sometimes called.

    Candida is a yeast organism we all have in our intestines (yes, men have it too, but it is women who suffer most from it) but in some people it grows out of control. In the healthy, it is held in check by friendly bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria. But if your immune system is not working quite as well as it should and you have to take antibiotics for minor infections or once took them long term for acne or cystitis, then the antibiotics will kill off not only the bad bacteria in your gut but the friendly ones, too.

    That is when Candida moves in and if you are eating a diet either moderately high in sugar or sugary foods such as biscuits, cakes and desserts, or eating foods high in yeast such as Marmite or drinking much in the way of beer or wine, it will proliferate.

    Natural alternatives
    Thrush is often the first sign of Candida. If you get it once and a course of Canesten pessaries and/or cream from your doctor gets rid of it quickly then you are lucky; the Candida was not firmly established. If Canesten ceases to work then you can try Diflucan, a stronger drug, but, like Canesten, now available over the counter. It costs £12 for one pill so you would think that it jolly well ought to work but, again, in many cases it doesn't. If that is the case, you probably have Candida in a fairly major way and you need to go to a complementary therapist, such as a nutritionist or naturopath rather than your doctor.

    That is because doctors only recognise Candida as a symptom of major immune system breakdown, such as that found in Aids, when Candida can so invade the digestive tract that thrush foams out of the mouth. Its importance as a cause of vaginal thrush and of many other symptoms such as vaginal burning or itching, anal itching (often a dead giveaway that someone has Candida), bloating or flatulence is recognised only by very few doctors because the first book on the subject, The Missing Diagnosis, was not published in America until 1984. Doctors have been slow to pick up on its message and this has probably not been helped by its author's name, Dr Truss, or that the second most influential doctor to spread the news about Candida was called Dr Crook! But their books and papers on the subject, including case histories, are all very convincing.

    So the message if you have some of the symptoms mentioned at the top of the article is clear. Read Leon Chaitow's excellent book Candida albicans: Could yeast be your problem? and/or find a practitioner who specialises in Candida - fast. Otherwise Candida can lead to IBS or to problems with the reproductive system such as endometriosis. Its effect on someone's health can be very considerable.

    Case Study: Christine’s story
    Christine was a wonderful-looking 28-year-old blonde and everyone who saw her must have thought she was in the best of health. But inwardly that was far from the case. She had many difficult symptoms such as itchy eyes, frequent mood swings and an inability to concentrate, fluctuating constipation and diarrhoea, abdominal bloating, menstrual cramps and PMT and a feeling of overall fatigue.

    She had been to her GP several times and never found an answer, probably because he was perplexed that anyone who looked so healthy could have such a bewildering mixture of symptoms. None of them were acute so, of course, he was not particularly worried. But Christine was. The symptoms had got progressively worse in the past three or four years and she wondered if she was ever going to find an answer. When she came to see me, I took a long case history and noticed that she had many of the causes of Candida in her medical background. She had been on the pill for some time, had taken lots of antibiotics and as a child and teenager had mild asthma which meant she needed sometimes to use a steroid inhaler. Coupling this history with her present symptoms made it obvious that Candida was the underlying cause of her many various symptoms.

    Antibiotics do indeed do a good job at destroying unfriendly bacteria that may be causing a bacterial infection, but the problem is that they act like a vacuum cleaner in the small intestine and kill off all the friendly bacteria as well. It might not be so bad if antibiotics were given only when really needed. Unfortunately, as most intelligent people know by now, they are handed out all too often when an infection has not been clearly established as having a bacterial cause. So taking antibiotics every time you get cystitis, for example, is a bad idea.

    Cystitis and tests
    In many other countries of the western world GPs will run a test to see if the cause of the cystitis is bacterial before prescribing antibiotics. In Britain they almost always don't; the NHS, as we know, is always understaffed, short of money and short on time. (A much better solution for cystitis is the natural one of flushing out the urinary system by drinking lots of water with added bicarbonate of soda, or lots of very diluted cranberry juice).

    After three months on a no yeast, no sugar, anti-Candida diet designed to starve the Candida, and taking appropriate products to kill it off, Christine had improved immensely. Most surprising of all to her was the fact that the aches and pains in her joints had disappeared. It shows how effective treatment for Candida can be for these and other seemingly unrelated symptoms.

    But the difficulty for sufferers is in realising that Candida is at the root of their symptoms in the first place. Many a sufferer from IBS, foggy brain and achey joints goes for a long time without finding a cause. Often it is Candida and food intolerances which are to blame. As Leon Chaitow says in his book. "Candida is possibly the least understood, most widespread cause of continuing ill health currently in our midst."

    Victoria Tyler BSc Hons MBANT CNCH specialises in helping patients with Candida, food intolerances, hormonal imbalances and other chronic conditions. Victoria sees see patients in London, Sussex and Oxford and she also offer postal/telephone consultations for those in remote areas.

    Our practice was runner-up in the 2009 CAM Awards for Outstanding Practice.

    The Allergy and Nutrition Centre
    London, Sussex and Oxford

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