I have been diagnosed with a mild Candida infection. I don’t believe that the Candida caused my collapse this year, but possibly it has exacerbated some of my symptoms; it would certainly explain my horrible Herxheimer’s reaction a few weeks ago. I think that investigating Candida is important for anyone with persistent gut symptoms, immune disorders or fatigue – not only could candida be at the root of these problems, but it could be preventing a recovery.
What it is: Candida is a naturally occurring fungus that grows inside us all as part of our gut flora. Generally it is kept in balance through competition for nutrients by other bacteria and yeasts in the gut. Once the balance of gut flora is altered (most commonly by diet, stress, immunodeficiency or antibiotics) Candida can multiply out of hand and cause problems. (Candida Albicans is the most common strain that overgrows and causes ill-health, but there are other strains too.)
Symptoms: Fatigue, brain fog (hard to focus or think straight), Oral Thrush (a white film on tongue or in mouth), bad breath, abdominal pain, bloating and indigestion, increasing allergies to foods, constant carb/sugar cravings, joint pain with arthritis-like symptoms, chronic sinus drainage, weight gain/loss, fungus on toenails, itchy red eyes, ear drainage, rashes on body, Candida Rash around the groin or in folds of skin, anal/penile/vaginal itching, hair loss, vision problems, depression
Testing for Candida: The symptoms for Candida are general and could point to many sources. Not everyone will get every symptom. There are online questionnaires and at home spit-tests that can be done, but before taking any course of action preferably see a doctor and get some Lab tests done; a stool analysis or urine tartaric acid test can be done, but the most reliable test is a blood test for altered IgA, IgG and IgM levels.
How could it relate to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Candida is well worth investigating for anyone with Chronic Fatigue as it may be a potential cause of CFS. “It is proposed that chronic intestinal candidiasis may be an agent which leads to immune depression in many CFS patients and therefore that it could be a causal factor in CFS.” However, as Candida is both a cause and a product of immune system dysfunction it is hard to take these findings as revolutionary. Knowing that an immunodeficiency is involved somehow with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, this most likely accounts for the high numbers of CFS patients presenting with Candida.
Treating Candida: Your doctor can prescribe antifungal medications such as Diflucan, Nystatin, Eraxis, or Amphotericin B. Probiotics are very helpful as they compete with the Candida yeast within your gut. There’s only so much space and nutrients to go around, so the more that is used by the ‘good bacteria’ the better. They also maintain the natural acidity in your stomach. This acidity prevents Candida from switching to its pathogenic, fungal form. And as a bonus, they also boost your immune system.(fermented foods are a great source of probiotics, see Tiny Tips and Fermented Veggies and a Herxheimer’s Reaction) Anti-fungal foods could also be helpful (coconut oil, garlic, olive-leaf extract, grapefruit-seed extract and oregano oil)
Have you been diagnosed with Candida? What helped you with your Candida infection?