Although widespread, candidiasis, or yeast overgrowth, is generally overlooked by the medical establishment because it's symptoms so closely mimic those of other conditions. Alternative physicians, however, recognize the seriousness of candidiasis, and where conventional medicine has often been ineffective in treating candidiasis, various alternative methods offer much hope for success.
Everyone has candida, a form of yeast ( Candida Albicans ), normally confined to the lower bowels, vagina and the skin. In healthy individuals with strong, functioning immune systems, it is harmless and kept in check by "good" bacteria, called Bifidobacteria and Acidophilus. But if the balance of the intestinal environment is altered by a compromised immune system or other factors, then opportunistic candida proliferates, infecting other body tissues. The candida becomes pathyogenic, transforming from a simple yeast into an aggressive ( mycelial ) fungus that can severely compromise one's health. This condition is known as "candidiasis".
According to James Braley, MD, medical director of Immuno Labs, Inc., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the fungal form of candida appears to permeate the gastro intestinal mucosal lining and breaks down barriers to the blood stream. " When the fungal form of the candida occurs in the body, allergic substances can penetrate into the blood more easily, where they form immense complexes, and even promote food allergy reactions, " Dr Braley says. Since their symptoms are often interrelated, he emphasizes that candidiasis should usually be treated together with food allergies.
Candidiasis can affect areas of the body far removed from candida colonizations in the gastro intestinal tract and vagina. It's symptoms cover a broad spectrum and the condition can cause a number of diseases ranging from allergies, vaginitis, and thrush ( that is a whitish fungus in the mouth or vagina ), to an invasion of the genital-urinary tract, eyes, liver, heart, or central nervous system. At it's most destructive, candidiasis is involved in autoimmune diseases such as; Addison's disease and Aids. Other symptoms of candidiasis, according to Dr Braley, include digestive problems such as bloating, cramping, gas and diarrhea, respiratory problems, coughing, wheezing, earaches, central nervous system imbalances, generalized fatigue, and loss of libido.
Symptoms of CandidiasisThere is a wide array of candidiasis symptoms depending on individual age, sex, environmental exposures, and immune systems. These include, but are not limited to:
These symptoms worsen in moldy places such as basements or in damp climates, and after eating or drinking yeast or foods containing sugar.
Causes of Candidiasis
Since many of it's symptoms are shared with other conditions, candidiasis must be diagnosed by examining predisposing factors in a thoughrough personal medical history. Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O., of London England, decribes the likely candidate for candida overgrowth as someone whose medical history includes:
Steroid hormone medication such as cortisone, or corticosteroids, often prescribed for skin conditions such as rashes, eczema, or psoriasis; prolonged or repeated use of antibiotics which are frequently given for urinary and ear infections, sinusitis, bronchitis, and other infections; ulcer medications such as "Tagamet" and "Zantac" or oral contraceptives. Certain illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, and aids can also increase susceptibility to candida overgrowth.
As Leyardia Black, ND, of Lopez Island, Washington, points out, " Candidiasis is basically a twentieth century disease, a disease resulting from medical developments like antibiotics, birth control pills, and estrogen replacement therapy. It can be triggered at a very young age, when children are first being treated with antibiotics." DR. Chaitow agrees, " Fully thirty five percent of women using birth control pills have associated causes of acute vaginal candidiasis, and there are undoubtedly many others who have less pronouced evidence of yeast overgrowth as immune competence is gradually compromised by the hormonal onslaught."
Murray Susser, MD, of Santa Monica, California, points out that since yeast infections enter the body easily through the vagina, and yeast festers in estrogen, women of child-bearing age are more vulnerable to candidiasis. Also, women who have been pregnant are susceptible, since hormonal changes encourage candida overgrowth. When men develop candidiasis, antibiotics, high sugar intake, or immune suppression from illness, toxins, and stress, are usually the root cause.
Frequently, candidiasis is caused by a combination of factors. As Dr.Chaitow explains, " All too often more than one influence is operating. Over a few years, a patient may have had several series of antibiotics for a variety of conditions while using steroids as well, perhaps in the form of the contraceptive pill. If the patient, most commonly a young woman, also happens to be living on a diet which is rich in sugars, then the candida is very likely to have spread beyond it's usual borders into new territory."
As Dr. Chaitow points out, when the immune system is completely suppressed, as in Aids, yeast proliferates freely and colonizes the body and blood stream, leading to septicemia (blood poisoning). In less drastic but more prevalent cases, the immune system is temporarily suppressed and T-helper cells (lymphocytes which pass into the blood stream to help fight infection) are destroyed. Such immune suppression can be due to any number of factors, such as poor diet including ingestion of pesticides and preservatives, alcohol use, chemotherapy, radiation, exposure to enviromental toxins, antibiotics which injure or destroy the T-cells, and stress. Consequently, conditions are created for opportunistic infections and yeast to grow.
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