Candida Albicans is a type of yeast that lives in the human body. It’s found in all of us but for an unlucky few it can grow out of control.
The major symptoms of Candida overgrowth include headaches, sinus congestion, bloating, gut aches, allergies, brain fog and rashes.
Candida is a controversial topic. Naturopaths often claim it to be the source of all evil while many Doctors dismiss it altogether stating there is no evidence to suggest it is worth investigating.
A medical mystery it seems.
Of all the topics I’ve researched in my healing journey, Candida has been the most confusing. Everyone has a different opinion on whether it exists and how to treat it. So like with so many other aspects of CFS/ME I’ve found the best strategy for now is to learn as much as I can, ask a lot of questions and do whatever feels right to me.
So how did I get an overgrowth?
It seems the most common factors leading to Candida getting out of balance are:
- The high carbohydrate content of the typical western diet. Sugars, wheat and alcohol being the major culprits.
- An extended use of antibiotics.
- High levels of stress and anxiety.
- Unresolved emotional trauma (See links at the bottom of the post).
- Heavy Metal Toxicity possibly from metal fillings in your mouth.
How can I test for it?
The good news is there are many ways to test for Candida. The bad news is none of them give a definitive answer. Here’s a list of the tests I’ve tried in what I believe to be a descending order of usefulness.
1. William Crooks Yeast Questionnaire. This test is probably the most useful indication of whether Candida overgrowth is a problem for you. However if you’ve got CFS/ME it’s likely you will score very highly as pretty much all of the symptoms overlap.
2. Live Blood Analysis. With the right practitioner a live blood analysis can help you search for a Candida overgrowth. Dark field microscopy is said to be the best method.
3. Stool Test. Another expensive medical test. The lab will culture and assess the growth of the bacteria in your digestive tract to let you know if your candida is out of balance. However the lab themselves admit this is not completely accurate….On the upside it’s always fun playing with your own faeces. At one point in 2009 I had urine shipped to Holland, hair shipped to Chicago, faeces sent to New York and spit sent to Sydney. Globalised DNA…
4. Blood test. A lab can test for antibodies in the blood. Similar to the stool test it is not conclusive.
5. Spit test. The most fun of all of them is clearly the Spit test. This involves spitting in a glass of water after you wake up, leaving it for a few minutes and then watching to see if there are any white strands. Again this is controversial and I personally don’t place much value on it, but it’s still good for a laugh.
How do I get rid of it?
Immune boosting supplements
Is Candida transmissible to other people?
Since a Candida overgrowth appears to be a result of your immune system not keeping your yeast levels in balance the short answer to this would appear to be no. However I’ve heard a number of accounts involving two people ‘sharing’ Candida in the form of Thrush after sex. That would mean treating both people at once to be rid of the Candida once and for all. There are a number of natural methods of doing this but the ones I like the sound of most involve natural yogurt and tea tree oil. Sounds like a couples bonding experience waiting to happen!
Where does Candida end and CFS/ME begin?
A full blown case of Candida overgrowth has practically identical symptoms to CFS/ME. Hence it’s very difficult to know the difference between the two and which to target with your treatment plan. Thankfully the methods of treating the two are very similar and so by simply aiming to improve your overall health (whether this be physical or psychological) you will be helping to control candida.
Another tricky aspect to the Candida story is that when it dies off it is said to produce a Herxheimer reaction, which means it makes you feel worse when in fact you are recovering. So deciding to go on a Candida witch hunt is a big decision and I believe if you’re going to do it you should go for it 100% and avoid overwhelming yourself by attempting to treat too many things other things at the same time.
Most of the Candida success stories I’ve heard of personally or read about in my research tell the story of a 12 to 24 month commitment to the therapy with no compromise. These people often report a full recovery and if they stay true to a healthy lifestyle they never look back. So it’s a big commitment but a potentially enormous pay off. Each of these peoples recovery protocol was different but they all involved some components of dietary change, probiotics and the use of anti-fungals.
My Experience (7/11/11):
Candida has been the white whale of my recovery process. It has come up again and again and just when I intend to take the time to treat it properly something else seems to grabs my attention. One of the reasons for this is that committing to a full scale Candida program is all consuming and would involve scaling down other aspects of my treatment plan. Also various practitioners I have consulted with have assured me that in my case either Candida is definitely not a problem or that by following their treatment protocols any Candida overgrowth will soon be dealt with in the process.
So essentially targeting Candida has fallen into the same basket as the Gupta Program, in that they are most worthy hypothesis’s that I plan turn to resort to once I have fully exhausted other bio-medical approaches. Like aces up the sleeve if you will…
However I very much fit the bill as a case of Candida overgrowth. My whole journey with CFS started with what seemed to be a stomach infection and a subsequent round of antibiotics. I’ve always reacted to and craved sugars, have suffered from sinus congestion, brain fog and my symptoms flare after a round of antibiotics. So there has always been sufficient evidence to pursue the case further.
But for me the real icing on the cake came when I tracked down a Kinesiologist who herself had lived with CFS/ME for ten years before conquering Candida and regaining her health. She did this through the use of Kinesiology and went on to train in the same style, she is now an experienced practitioner. When I visited her in 2010 she immediately tested me for dehydration and Candida overgrowth. She found them both and suggested I drop all else and work to combat these issues.
She prescribed a strict diet, natural anti-fungals and a probiotic by the name of Progurt. However while I intuitively felt she was on to something, at the time I was heavily invested in the protocol of an international CFS/ME specialist who seemed to believe Candida was just a passing fad in the 1980’s. So I did as much as I could but soon let her suggestions slide after a while in the name of staying sane and not taking over 15 different supplements a day. However her advice has stayed with me to this day.
And there is definitely light at the end of the Candida tunnel. If so many people have overcome it, so can you!
- This website describes an interesting 4 point plan for treating Candida.
- This is Niki Gratrixs article called Candida – The Untold Story. It documents Nikis experience in treating Candida and her hypothesis that Candida is intricately linked to heavy metal toxicity and unresolved emotional trauma.
- This article gives a useful overview of Candida and goes on to explain the concept that in fact Candida isn’t the problem it’s your under active immune system allowing the overgrowth. However it still attempts to sell you a whole range of Candida specific supplements which is pretty hilarious. Gotta love capitalism. Read it here.