The most prevalent and obvious form of dysbiosis is candidiasis, a fungal infection. Candida is found in nearly everyone, and in small amounts it is compatible with good health. Candida is usually controlled by friendly flora, our immune defense system, and intestinal pH.

When the bacteria that normally balance candida are killed, it causes what’s commonly known as a yeast infection because it produces a smell like yeasty bread. It’s called a yeast infection in the vagina, a fungal infection in the nail beds and the eyes, and thrush in the throat.

Candida albicans is the usual offender, but other species of candida fungus may cause health problems as well. In the early 1980s, Orion Truss, M.D., noticed that many of his patients’ other problems resolved when he treated them with nystatin for fungal problems.

Indeed, one patient had a complete reversal of multiple sclerosis. After hearing Dr. Truss lecture on is findings, Abraham Hoffer, M.D., a doctor in the field of orthomolecular psychiatry, tried his first yeast protocol on a psychiatric patient who had suffered from depression for many years.

One month after initiating Truss’s program she was mentally and emotionally sound or stable. Candida can also colonize in the digestive tract, causing havoc everywhere in the body. Candida colonies produce powerful toxins that are absorbed into the bloodstream and affect our immune system, hormone balance, and thought processes.

The most common symptoms are:

  • abdominal bloating
  • anxiety
  • constipation or diarrhea (or both)
  • depression
  • environmental sensitivities
  • fatigue
  • feeling worse on damp or muggy days or in moldy places
  • food sensitivities
  • fuzzy thinking
  • insomnia
  • low blood sugar
  • mood swings
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • recurring vaginal or bladder infections
  • ringing in the ears
  • and sensitivities to perfume, cigarettes, or fabric odors.

Although these symptoms are the most prevalent, candida has many faces, and many types of symptoms can occur. American physicians recognize candida in many forms, but in general they have been unwilling to recognize it in a systemic form. For those who do, it is a common diagnosis.

Dr. Hoffer states that one-third of the world’s population is affected by candidiasis. Candida infections are usually triggered by use of antibiotics, birth control pills, steroid medications, and consumption of sugar. These drugs change the balance of the intestinal tract, kill the bacteria that keep candida in check, and the fungus quickly takes hold.

Candida are like bullies that push their way into the intestinal lining, destroying cells and brush borders. Greater numbers of candida produce greater amounts of toxins, which further irritate and break down the intestinal lining. This damage allows macromolecules of partially digested food to pass through.

The macromolecules are the perfect size for antibodies to respond to. Your immune system then goes on alert for these specific foods so the next time you eat them, your antibodies will be waiting. The net result is increased sensitivity to foods and other food substances and the environment.

Many, many therapeutic programs are available for people to follow to rid themselves of candida. The standard therapeutic diet allows beef, chicken, fish, eggs, poultry, yogurt, vegetables, oils, nuts, and seeds. No alcoholic beverages, fruits or dried fruits, flours, grains, mushrooms, sugar, vinegar, or yeasted breads are allowed.

When I had candida, I found that the worst foods for me were beer, sugar, and dried fruit. A sip of beer triggered symptoms within twenty minutes. However, at that time, I was a bananaholic, consuming three to five barely ripe bananas daily.

I now know that bananas are loaded with fructooligosaccharides, which feed lactobacillus and bifidobacteria but not candida. Because of biochemical individuality, other people find other foods and substances to be the worst triggers for them.

People are advised to go on a strict diet for three weeks and then reintroduce foods one at a time to test for reactions. If you know you’re sensitive to a specific food, avoid it. Candida often causes bowel problems—either diarrhea or constipation or both alternately—so it is essential that bowel transit time be normalized.

Adding psyllium seed husks (found in fiber supplements) and probiotic supplements greatly helps to normalize this condition. Russell Jaffe, M.D., uses vitamin C flushes, which are described in Chapter 8. Many substances are helpful in killing off candida.

Garlic is my personal favorite—eat lots of it raw; women can use it as a vaginal suppository (make sure not to nick the garlic or it can sting!) or take in capsule form. Capryllic acid from coconuts, oleic acid from olive oil, oil of oregano, thyme oil, pau d’arco, olive leaf extract, and grapefruit seed extract are all valuable agents for killing candida.

Mathake, a South American herb, has also been found to be extremely effective. While it isn’t necessary to use all these health enhancers, you can buy many of them in combination products in health-food stores or from health professionals.

Probiotics help keep candida in check. When the candida are killed, the protein fragments and endotoxins released trigger an antibody response. This can initially produce a worsening of the person’s symptoms and is commonly known as a die-off reaction, or a Herxheimer reaction.

Therefore, it is important to begin therapeutics gently with small doses and gradually increase. If your symptoms are still initially aggravated, cut back and gradually increase supplements. Most people begin to feel dramatically better within two weeks. If you don’t, you’re probably not dealing with a candida problem. Ask your health professional to make therapeutic recommendations.