Paul A. Goldberg, MPH,DC,DACBN,DCBCN
Director, The Goldberg Clinic For Chronic Disease Reversal
Health seekers regularly get hooked into new health fads, often ones simply recycled to each new generation of potential audiences. With the emergence of each new fad, new books are written, websites appear and products are hawked. This ultimately is followed by much disappointment. Candida or Yeast is one of these deceptive health fads from which we can learn important lessons.
In the 70’s one of the big health headlines was hypoglycemia. Books, diet and treatment plans were everywhere. Since low blood sugar symptoms are numerous, patients with a variety of issues thought “treating” their hypoglycemia was the ticket out of their health crisis. It rarely was.
In the past few years newer fad topics include Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth. Patients come to our office chanting “SIBO, SIBO, SIBO”, yet wonder why treatments for SIBO have failed to improve their health (often after taking expensive antibiotics from their “Functional” M.D.) and finding their problems only getting worse. Meanwhile others continue chasing the elusive yeast route, lamenting that the “Candida” is not resolving and their health is not improving. Let’s look at the misunderstanding with Candida.
Candida albicans, a member of the yeast family can be a contributing factor to health issues. Candida can produce large amounts of acetaldehyde leading to fatigue, confusion, and neurological dysfunction as well as acne, rashes, abdominal bloating, flatulence, cravings for sugar, brain fog, depression, mood swings, joint pain, aggravate autoimmune conditions, etc. Candida, however, is not a primary causal factor in disease but rather a normal inhabitant of the gastrointestinal tract. Through competition, it limits the growth of pathogenic bacteria while being an opportunist that will take advantage of the situation when the body’s balance (homeostasis) is disrupted. When the right conditions prevail for suppressing immunity, yeast overgrows and produces adverse effects.
Many books have been written on Candida albicans including The Missing Diagnosis by Orion Truss, M.D. and The Yeast Connection by William Crook, MD. These books were followed by a plethora of practitioners writing other books to capture some of the yeast hysteria that followed with the public.
Lessons from A Cancer Center
As a Graduate Assistant at the University of Texas School of Public Health in the 1970’s, I observed patients at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and noticed two inter-connected factors:
Radiation and chemotherapy significantly lower a patient’s vitality.
Cancer Patients frequently suffered with candida overgrowth after having radiation or chemotherapy.
Candida does not cause cancer but cancer and cancer treatments contribute to candida overgrowth. The yeast organism is a bystander reacting to changing conditions.
It boils down to resistance…what has caused body resistance to lower and what is required to restore it?
Common Causes Leading to Candida/Yeast Issues:
I. Medical Meddling
Antibiotic Usage leading to a reduction in bacterial competitors that keep candida in check.
Steroid usage (commonly Prednisone).
Birth Control Pill and Bio-identical Hormones
Excessive estrogen (see #3 above)
II. Lifestyle Factors
Diets rich in processed, refined foods, sugars and alcohol all lacking in needed macro and micronutrients.
Long term emotional stressors. e.g. divorce/marital and other familiar discord, financial problems, unhappy work place, death or illness in the family, etc.
Lack of sufficient sleep and rest.
Underlying disease processes that lower immune resistance.
The importance of uncovering underlying causes is critical to recovery but this is not what most practitioners and patients focus on. Rather they… “TREAT CANDIDA” (and here we utter a big Homer Simpson DOH!!!)
Treating Candida with Nystatin, Nizoral and Diflucan will not produce the results patients seek (on the contrary Nizoral and Diflucan are very toxic with a multitude of side effects). Yeast, like SIBO, is a symptom of impaired health not a cause of it.
Yeast overgrowth is a consequence of etiological factors that must be identified and thoroughly addressed in order to regain health. Yeast is an opportunist but essentially it is an innocent bystander. This requires some diligent detective work to make sure the patient is aiming in the right direction and not barking up the wrong tree. If we are not headed in the right direction addressing real causal factors than no matter how hard we try we are not going to obtain good results. Yeast treatments lead us down a primrose path that does not lead to the restoration of health.
Want to get rid of your yeast and restore your health? Seek out and address causes. Create the right conditions for health to flourish. Then, with perseverance and patience, watch your health return. Just as with SIBO, Yeast is not your primary problem.