Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
6 Sep

A Primal Primer: Candida

calbicansIt’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, but I think it’s about time for a Primal Primer. Today we’ll be discussing candida, a genus (more than a species, less than a family) of yeast with many members, at least one of which is currently residing on or in your body: candida albicans. Candida albicans and friends are everywhere, and they’re usually a normal, healthy part of the human microbiome, but it can get a little out of hand. As I’ve mentioned before, the human gut hosts a tumultuous mix of microbial species vying for position and supremacy and trying to further their own ends. If all’s well, a balance is maintained, and the various species keep each other in check while promoting good health for the human host. But things can get out of whack. The balance can be upset. Certain species can gain ground on the others, perhaps by utilizing a new source of sustenance or taking advantage after a round of antibiotics, to our detriment. Candida is a particularly robust microbe who can thrive on a variety of fuel sources to apparently make itself a real nuisance in these situations. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

When most people talk about “candida,” they’re talking about candida overgrowth, or candidiasis, of which there are several types:

  • Candidal vulvovaginitis – Also known as vaginal thrush or yeast infection, this is a fairly common manifestation of candidiasis that causes pain during sex and urination, itching, redness, swelling, and/or vaginal discharge.
  • Candidal keratitis – Candidal infection of the eye.
  • Esophageal candidiasis – Candidal infection of the esophagus
  • Intestinal candidiasis – Overgrowth in the small intestine. This is the “candida” people are usually talking about.
  • Candidemia – This often fatal condition involves the presence of large numbers of candida yeast in the blood and typically arises only in severely immunocompromised patients.

Conventional medicine has yet to formally recognize candidiasis as an issue prevalent enough to seriously study. On one hand, I understand their hesitancy, as candida has become a catch-all explanation for dozens of symptoms online, some of which may or may not be interrelated. On the other hand, gut dysbiosis is a real condition with huge – if as yet to be completely understood – ramifications to our health. We have some idea of what is going on in our guts and how it all impacts our health (especially with regards to obesity and immunity), but the field is still in its infancy. Eventually, thanks to programs like the Human Food Project, we’ll have a stronger understanding. For now, we work with what we have. I seriously doubt claims like “99% of all people have candida overgrowth,” but I have an open mind, and if people are feeling awful and getting no relief from their doctors’ attempts to help, it makes sense to expand your search. Right?

One researcher even went so far as to orally inoculate himself with candida (he ate a very large dose of it) to find out of it was capable of colonizing his gut and entering his blood (PDF). Two hours after inoculation, he experienced chills and a headache. At hours 3 and 6, candida was cultured from his blood, and at hours 2.75 and 3.25, from his urine. The researcher was otherwise healthy, hadn’t used antibiotics in ten years, and had no preexisting yeast infections. This is but one example, but it suggests that candida in sufficient amounts can make it to the gut and through the intestinal wall, even in healthy people.

Diagnosis

Since the existence of intestinal candidiasis isn’t universally accepted among medical professionals, it makes diagnosis difficult to obtain. “Endoscopic brushings” (sounds pleasant, doesn’t it?) have been used in the past, as have stool cultures. You might read about the “candida spit test,” which involves depositing fresh saliva into a glass of water upon waking and observing its trajectory and behavior, but this doesn’t appear to be accurate. Further complicating matters is that dozens of candida species exist, even though most of the already limited research has focused on candida albicans. Still further, research suggests (PDF) that chronic candida overgrowth is almost impossible to fully diagnose with lab tests that measure immune response, since it often downregulates the immune system, thereby creating an “immunologic tolerance.”  Thus, symptoms may be the best we have, especially if we can’t get our doctor to run a stool test.

Symptoms

Unfortunately, going by symptoms can also be confusing, because candida overgrowth appears to have dozens of them, like headaches, fatigue, chills, feeling drunk or hung over, a lack of libido, weight gain, weight loss, food intolerances, bloating, joint pain, diarrhea, hair loss, gas, cravings, and depression. Just go to Google and search for “candida and [enter malady or symptom of your choice].” It’ll autofill before you can even finish typing and hitting enter will bring up tons of articles telling you that “yes, you are indeed experiencing symptoms of candida.” See the problem? Any negative feeling or symptom could be evidence of candida.

This doesn’t negate the reality of candida overgrowth nor its symptoms, but it does make figuring out whether you have it extremely difficult. It also makes an incorrect diagnosis fairly likely, since many of those symptoms can also have other causes.

Risk Factors

While absolute causes of candidiasis are tough to pin down, looking at some of the common risk factors for the condition can give us a hint. What are they?

Antibiotic usage

You know the drill here. We’ve discussed how antibiotic usage (especially flagrant, excessive usage) can have a “collateral damage” effect on “innocent” gut microbes in addition to the target microbes. We’ve also discussed how the delicate balance of gut flora can be disrupted, thereby opening up space for existing species to flourish and overpopulate. Antibiotics represent a potent disruptive force in the gut, and antibiotic usage has been linked to both candidal vulvovaginitis (yeast infections) and systemic candidiasis. Patients with antibiotic-associated diarrhea are often found to have greater levels of candida in their stool. One girl even developed an overgrowth of intestinal candida immediately following antibiotic treatment.

Diabetes

Diabetes is consistently linked to candida overgrowth, women who have diabetes are more likely to have recurrent vaginal yeast infections, and patients with elevated blood sugar (as is often seen in diabetes) are more susceptible to candida overgrowth, probably due to the yeast’s taste for glucose.

Immune dysfunction or suppression

Patients with poor immune systems, like those with HIV/AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy, are at a greater risk of candida overgrowth.

Treatment

First and foremost, if you indeed have a serious candida overgrowth, it’s a complicated issue that may require a professional’s attention and the use of anti-fungals, like nystatinfluconazole, or anidulafungin. Unfortunately, as with bacteria and antibiotics, candida often develops resistance to anti-fungals (PDF), which may explain why treatment can be so frustrating and seemingly ineffective. Seek help if you’re really suffering.

That said, I’m no expert on candida, and I have neither the desire nor the ability to coach you through an overgrowth. However, the following “treatments” are generally pretty safe to try, and, even if you don’t have candida overgrowth, may result in health benefits. If you just suspect you have an overgrowth of candida and have no formal diagnosis, giving these ideas a try can’t hurt.

Avoid sugar and limit fruit.

Candida likes sugar (who doesn’t like sweets?) because it represents a quick food source. It’s also a fairly reliable source of energy, since most people are more than happy to pump themselves full of refined sugar. Fruits should be less problematic, but stick to lower sugar fruits and keep a close watch on how it affects your symptoms.

Avoid very low carb.

Paul Jaminet, who suffered from candida overgrowth, argues that since candida (being eukaryotes) have mitochondria that can feed on both ketones and carbs (as opposed to prokaryote bacteria without mitochondria), going very low carb or ketogenic will only provide more fuel for the overgrowth. Furthermore, since ketones are water-soluble and pass easily through cellular membranes, ketones will actually be a more accessible food source for candida. Don’t go high-carb, since any extra glucose will just be food for the yeast, but don’t go ketogenic, either. Stick to around 100-150 grams of carbs while still limiting sugar. Although other sources do recommend going as low-carb as possible, my money’s on Paul.

Consider a saccharomyces boulardii supplement.

S. boulardii has proven effective against candidal overgrowth, reducing both the resultant inflammation and the colonization of the gut. It appears that the capric acid released by s. boulardii deserves praise here, seeing as how it prevents growth, adhesion to the host, and formation of resistant candida biofilms. Coconut oil, another source of capric acid, has also been shown to inhibit candida in an in vitro study, but it will also promote the generation of ketone bodies, which may serve as fuel for the candida. Your call; they’re available online.

Use more spices and herbs.

Since plants often have to deal with pathogenic fungi, many spices and herbs have developed anti-fungal capabilities. Cumin spice exerts antimicrobial activity against candida. Oregano is a famous anti-fungal herb, and garlic has proved efficacious against candida biofilms in in vitro studies (and may even work synergistically with anti-fungal drugs against drug-resistant candida species). When you start getting into essential oils of the various plants, however, use caution, as these are highly concentrated and may be more powerful than you or your body are prepared to handle. Personally, unless you’re under the observation of a skilled medical professional, I’d stick to the whole plants and herbs. You might try drinking some strong black tea, too.

Ibogaine?

Even ibogaine, the psychoactive plant compound that William S. Burroughs went looking for to cure his heroin addiction, exhibits some effectiveness against candida. I’m not suggesting you rush out and find yourself an ibogaine tour to Gabon, but it’s still pretty interesting.

Die-off?

Formally known as the Herxheimer reaction, negative health effects – like headaches, fever, chills, and pain – resulting from microbial die-off are a real occurrence. When antimicrobials are administered to take care of certain infections, including syphilis, borreliosis (from Lyme disease), leptospirosis, Q fever, cat scratch fever, brucellosis, typhoid fever, and trichinosis, certain inflammatory cytokines are upregulated. It has been argued that endotoxins released from dying microbes are the cause of die-off symptoms, but studies call that into question.

Note that the existence of candida die-off has yet to be shown. Given that die-off exists for other microbial infections, however, I think it’s fairly plausible. What I find questionable is when every negative symptom under the sun is proclaimed to be die-off. Feverish chills? Okay, I’ll buy it. A slight headache and a weird headspace? Sure, that’s reasonable. Violent convulsions punctuated by frothy spurts of blood-flecked vomit? Eh, I think that might be something other than “candida die-off.” You might want to get that checked out.

It’s difficult to say anything absolutely conclusive about candida overgrowth. There’s no standard, easily-accessible test for it. There are so many signs and symptoms that they almost become useless for diagnosis. There are many species of candida, many species of other yeasts, and some candida can even be helpful in the right doses! However, even though it’s hard to get a doctor to test for it (if he or she even knows how) and it’s hard to know if you even have it, it looks like candida overgrowth is a real condition. Whether its prevalence is under- or overstated, though, we simply don’t know.

What do you know about candida? Have you had it? Do you think you do currently? If you’ve ever been treated for it, how’d you know it was actually candida? This is a hot topic in the health world, rife with misinformation on both sides of the debate, so let us know what you know in the comment section!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Do you have any evidence linking candida to birth control pills? I developed chronic vaginal yeast infections the day I started the pill. These continued until I stopped the pill, despite several doctors reassuring me that there was no link, and that I should just keep taking the pill. I think it’s actually pretty common, but is one of those nasty side effects that pharma prefers to sweep under the rug.

    Anna wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • Yes, OCPs lower estrogen levels and raise vaginal pH. Vulvovaginitis from candida, bacterial overgrowth, and dryness can result. Big pharma lists the problem in it’s package insert, but it’s in the <1% category. Sorry it happened to you, but I haven't seen it very often in practice. If you still want to use hormonal contraception, you might do better on the lowest dose version. In my experience, female practitioners are better at dealing with female reproductive issues.

      Stella B wrote on September 6th, 2012
      • Thanks for your response. I didn’t realize it was rare. That’s what the doctors said to do, take the lowest dose. That’s what they said for any problem actually. They cycled me through basically all the brands on the market until I gave up.

        Anna wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • Yes i have had to stop oral contraception for the same issue, i tried lots of different ones, every time i start one, i get a very bad case of thrush. I gave up too and my health thanks me for it. I am sure it is much more common than one percent of women.

          Aurelie wrote on September 6th, 2012
      • I think I’ve had mild candidasis for years, that didn’t often go to a full-blown yeast infection of any kind. I had been on birth control for many years (mostly progestrin-only Depo-provera). In the last few years, I started to get dry, sometimes red and itchy patches of skin. A fluconazole course and low-sugar diet have almost wiped it out, but I still struggle. I’m now completely off hormones and went teh IUD route, which I’m totally ecstatic about! Docs push the drugs cuz they don’t want any problems with fertility complaints.

        sarah wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • Uh! While taking birth control pills I experienced the worst thee months of my life!
          Throwing them away was the best thing I did (after going primal hehe), anyway I had a series of side effects that my gynecologist dismissed… Anyway prescribing birth control pills to a 16 year old girl is plain irresponsible, as the body is definitely still undergoing hormonal changes and it tries to balance itself… (also: there are things far worse than accidental pregnancy that pills do not prevent…)
          As I said, I got a LOT of side effects that persisted for more than a year (pains, weight gain, yeast, all sorts of infections). I knew the pills were to blame so I dropped them after 3 moths.
          Now that I’m older and (a bit) smarter, I would have never put my body through this misery.

          Primal Wanderer wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • I did alot of self-study about Candida back in the early 90’s. One of the side effects of taking birth-control pills and pregnancy was a tendency towards candidiasis because both raise your blood sugar levels.

      Renee wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • Same thing happened to me, although resulted in chronic bowel infections. For which I had to take antibiotics, or die. Which further destroyed my gut, leaving me open to MORE bowel infections. It was a horrible cycle that went on for the better part of a decade.

      Switching to the depo (progesterone only) injection was the best decision I made! No side effects whatsoever, I know many women don’t respond as well to it, but it’s been a godsend for me.

      Mia wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • Same thing happened to me, the bill gave me an INCURABLE infection. Tried three different treatments with no success. After over a month of agony, I threw the pills out the the infection went away. Ater that I suffered from monthly infections for two years afterward and it took multiple high-dose diflucan treatments to end them completely. Doctors are NOT guru’s, they can help point you in the right direction if evidence indicates that the doctor is wrong, they’re probably wrong.

      M wrote on October 16th, 2014
  2. Hi Mark!

    I really enjoy your articles, and the information you provide is very accuarate and good.

    However, since I’ve been dealing with the whole gut dysbiosis and candida thing for several years I have read most of the literature on the subject, and you fail to mention a couple of important things in this article.

    Normal bacterial populations keep candida in check and a severe gut dysbiosis is necessary in order for candida to overgrow substantially. Most people have a dysfunctional gut flora (missing species of microbes etc.) rather than actual candida overgrowth. I know you have previously linekd to Dr. Art Ayers and he talks a lot about this.

    Also, “natural” antifungals usually work better than Nyastin etc.

    I was severely sick with candida, but found treatment at http://www.gutflora.com

    Keep up the good work with all the info you provide:)

    Alex Fields wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • And one more thing Mark failed to mention is that a high level of arabinose (by-product of yeasts) in urine is a very strong indicator of yeast overgrowth.
      Organic acids tests include arabinose in their profiles.
      Great website Mark!

      Helen wrote on January 12th, 2013
  3. I had Intestinal Candidiasisnad now I’m ok. I made several stool test with no much success (very difficult to find candida with regular stool test).

    So I first tried the GI Stool test (on DNA) from Metametrix which showed a strong dysbiosis (but with no specific evidence of Candida) and then I had my Kinesiologist to test my muscles strength who diagnosed Candidiasis.

    I had all of the symptoms you listed for many years, so I guess I not only had Candida. Since the last test, I went Paleo and since then things are going better every day. Anyway, by eliminating refined sugars and carbs, my candida went away in a month or so.

    Michael wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • I have had “candida” problems for years after rounds of very strong antibiotics (I now think we should call it dysbiosis). I was on anti candida diet for 2 years, it helped a bit but was hell to stick with. Since i went grain free, i got rid of it !! And i can even indulge with honey and creme brulee with no return. Every time i eat grains again it returns….
      I really think that telling people with candida to eat Gluten free grains is a bad idea.

      Aurelie wrote on September 6th, 2012
      • I developed candida after visiting Africa and being on antiobiotics for Malaria over a period of 15 weeks. I found giving up gluten also helped me.

        Jules wrote on March 5th, 2013
  4. I went to my Doctor in 2006 with a bad head cold. I noticed he was also into natural healing. Dr.Ou is an MD and also practices natural medicine and he does field control therapy or FTC. I went through the program. The test did show some Candida although a mild case. Also it showed up mercury. Google FTC treatments.

    Shirley wrote on September 6th, 2012
  5. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my Crohn’s disease since starting a slightly more restrictive than normal Primal diet around 8 months ago. It was obvious I needed something more to keep my progress steady so I did some searching and found research on gut dysbiosis. I’ve been on a treatment plan of using high doses of a natural antibiotic (wild oregano oil) and supplementing with high quality probiotics (the good bacteria!) for the past two weeks and have already seen significant improvement. It sure seems like Candida and all these other not-so-helpful bacterias can cause serious problems and be linked to a variety of ailments.

    Matt wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • Hi, I would love to know about your oregano oil dosage and how you take it. I have a bedridden mother, 81, and her and my father think I am nuts when I talk about Candida. I am sure she has had something going on for years. Now, researching PH I come to yeast again. I was wondering if she is getting such bad rashes from to much acid in her urine. I would love to know how to help her but better yet, what I can have them read so they don’t think I am nuts. I am at Yawhut@yahoo.com if anyone can give me help. Thank you…

      Carol Besch wrote on January 6th, 2013
      • Test the urin with a PH-strip. If its under 6.0 she can try å teaspoon baking soda (bikarbonate) in a glass of water once a day. or the best is to read about in on the net: Iam not a doctor MD http://www.drugs.com/cdi/sodium-bicarbonate.html Bjorn from Norway. Facebook; naturalnordic/diet

        Bjørn Larsen wrote on March 27th, 2014
  6. I’m not impressed with this article, probably because “candidiasis” is so overblown. Your article acknowledges that intestinal candida infection is not a recognized medical disease, the symptoms are vague and there are no reliable tests to diagnose it, and yet you think you know how to cure it?

    It would be nice to see you go back to writing nuts-and-bolts articles about macronutrients and vitamins, exercise, and so on, and leave this pseudoscientific nonsense behind.

    Alexa wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • pseu·do·sci·ence/ˌso͞odōˈsīəns/
      Noun:
      A collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.

      sci·ence/ˈsīəns/
      Noun:

      The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural…

      Science is not a static collection of knowledge. The article is a survey of theories about Candida, and many of the links specifically reference standard scientific studies.

      Personally, I am extremely grateful for the variety of health information consolidated on this site. I wish health were as simple as just paying attention to macronutrients, vitamins, and exercise, but it just ain’t so.

      Melissa wrote on September 6th, 2012
      • Thank you for the dictionary reference, but it doesn’t refute a word I said.
        1. Intestinal candida infection is not medically recognized.
        2. There is no reliable way to diagnose this non-disease.
        3. The symptoms for this non-disease are non-specific.
        4. From these pieces of information, Mark concludes that he knows the methods of curing this non-disease.

        This is insane, and it makes the Primal community look stupid. I used to like this site because it was very solidly grounded in science, but between this and the “don’t drink water while you’re eating because you’ll raise your stomach acid pH” I’m not sure Mark has any credibility anymore.

        Alexa wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • Except that science is bought and paid for by drug companies.

          Erin wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • Mark “concludes” that these are some treatments to “try” and “may” work. I think he was pretty solid on the fact this is something very vague, but mentioned often. I think this has value just for the basic information on the yeast itself.

          PD wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • It seems that you are the one drawing conclusions, not Mark. Here is his quote:

          “That said, I’m no expert on candida, and I have neither the desire nor the ability to coach you through an overgrowth. However, the following “treatments” are generally pretty safe to try, and, even if you don’t have candida overgrowth, may result in health benefits. If you just suspect you have an overgrowth of candida and have no formal diagnosis, giving these ideas a try can’t hurt.”

          I didn’t read into the above your claims: “…yet you think you know how to cure it?” and “Mark concludes that he knows the methods of curing this non-disease.”

          Kelly wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • You’re right, Mark does use weasel words to excuse the inevitable failure of his advice to work. Why? Because we don’t even know if we have this pernicious “disease” in the first place, and there’s no way to find out. While we’re on the subject, I’m selling rocks that you can *try* and they *may* keep tigers from attacking you.

          Maybe I’m going crazy, but I expected MDA to be evidence-based, and it sometimes is. But not here, and that’s a major lapse that raises serious questions of credibility.

          Alexa wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • In some of your critical comments on recent posts you keep referring to Mark’s advice on dinking water when eating. That was from a 2008 post. You think you might be able to find some more recent and valid arguments?

          WS wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • Alexa,

          KINESIOLOGY/Muscle Testing is not quackery. I had it performed on me for over year. I was diagnosed with heavy and toxic metal overload, and the holistic doctor was able to pinpoint where the metals were lodged and which kind were there.

          For example, I had loads of cadmium, lead and arsenic in my testes. Funny thing is, before he told me this, I was having loads of pain and tenderness in my testes. When I began detoxifying these metals, the pain increased tremendously to the point of crippling me from time to time. Over time, as the metals were being detoxified, the pain went away. Now, I rarely, if ever, get pain in my testes. After reading about cadmium and lead, I found that they have similar structures to Zinc. Testes are supposed to be dense and rich in zinc to fuel male fertility and libido. Funny how these metals were lodged in my testes, pinpointed through KINESIOLOGY/MRT, that I exhibited low zinc levels my entire life, and that the pain eventually went away after detoxifying these metals. See the connection?

          MRT can also be used to help prescribe certain vitamins and minerals for people. I needed loads of digestive aids, calcium/magnesium, Vitamin C, zinc, and iron. Just to be sure this was correct, I had a hair mineral analysis performed (Analytic Research Labs, I think) without having my hair washed. They showed elevated levels of calcium, zinc, selenium and magnesium. They were elevated because I was losing loads of these minerals from my body, which is why they were raised on my hair analysis (body cane excrete minerals throughout hair follicles). Now, I still supplement with these minerals and am still seeing improvements.

          Point being: Muscle response testing was correlating with my symptoms and where they were occurring, as well as indicating which minerals/vitamins I was deficient in. If I remember correctly, your body an electromagnetic current running throughout it. A KINESIOLOGIST is able to utilize this energy through Muscle Response Testing to help diagnose and treat people, by applying certain objects to specific points on your body, such as toxic metals (diagnosing) or minerals/vitamins (supplementing).

          It may not work 100% perfect, but after undergoing MRT for over a year, and having loads of health problems resolved that I’ve had since a young child, I’m a firm believer that it can be beneficial and is not quackery.

          Have you ever tried MRT?

          Zelli88 wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • Candida is real, and I’ve had 30 years of diarrhoea, depression, bloating and vaginal discharge to prove it. Alcohol, sugar and antibiotics lead to immediate flare-up. Total sugar, fruit, gluten and dairy restriction provides the only relief.

          Anecdotal evidence? Yes. Pseudoscientific nonsense? No.

          Pen wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • I smell a troll…

          Siren wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • If intestinal candida infection is not medically recognized than why did my doctor, a Harvard Medical School graduate, diagnose me with it? Medical tests were done, the diagnosis was made and then I was prescribed Diflucan. There are many doctors who not only believe in disease from candida but also treat it.

          It wasn’t very long ago that doctors believed that what you ate didn’t affect your health and thought you were crazy and/or stupid if you thought so. Medicine is evolving just like the rest of us with some doctors not as quickly as others.

          Shannon wrote on September 7th, 2012
        • Haha- thanks for the laughs as per all your moronic postings!

          Amanda wrote on October 18th, 2013
        • Hypothetically , If Candida infection did exist . And cool people would be abrasive and opinionated , do you think Zyklome B might kill the fugus among us?

          Art Flores wrote on March 2nd, 2014
        • Rock on sister! I, too, come here for genuine scientific commentary but it turns out that much on this site (the people included) is nothing but woo woo hokum. I’m sure we’ll be seeing articles on homeopathy any day now.

          Tammy Titwiggle wrote on March 29th, 2014
        • Yeah yeah I was diagnosed with candida overgrowth last month. Contact me so that I can show you my test results! Ignorance!

          Joanna wrote on April 19th, 2014
      • If you’re really curious about the validity of candidiasis, look at the poor commenter in an earlier thread who said a KINESIOLOGIST diagnosed it in him after MUSCLE TESTING. A quack pushed on his arms a little bit and concluded that he had an intestinal yeast infection. A pseudoscientist promoting pseudoscience.

        Alexa wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • I know, completely ridiculous. That’s “medicine” in the tradition of P. T. Barnum.

          Tim wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • Also, the reason why candida is vague and may be responsible for most health problems is because it occurs in anyone who is malnourished and sick, which is a lot of people right now.

          It’s not a disease. It’s the result of poor health, not a contributor. Some even say the body creates it to help neutralize poisons in the body. Think of candida as horse flies, and toxic metals or poisons as manure. You won’t get rid of the flies without first getting rid of the manure. Get rid of the manure, you get rid of the flies. RE-Nourish your body with minerals,vitamins, energy and rest, and you will maintain Candida.

          Zelli88 wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • WARNING: do not feed the trolls….

          Siren wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • I agree, Candida is real and can be caused by a great variety of underlying health conditions. It is almost a side effect of other conditions, and shows that your body systems, particularly digestion are not in balance. Eating a super healthy diet low in sugar and food your body treats like sugar – such as grains – is a building block of good health.
          Just because CW and allopathic medicine can’t explain it, does not mean it is not real.

          Kathy wrote on September 6th, 2012
        • Alexa,

          Your negative opinions are not appreciated. This article isn’t making false claims or assumptions.
          Clearly you have never been sick and searching for any kind of answer/information that might make a difference and make you feel better.
          I pray you never have to go through something like that.
          However, if you do become so ill that you’re almost ready to give up on the belief that you will EVER feel better again; I hope you shouldn’t have to read comments as negative as the ones you have provided on this site.

          a patient wrote on December 4th, 2012
        • I was diagnosed by a stool culture from quest diagnostics as having many yeasts which is severe candida in my intestines. I also had a positive throat culture fir candids.
          Im seeing an infectious disease dt who’s treating me with diflucan long term because it’s very difficult to eradicate.

          Danielle wrote on July 8th, 2014
    • Interesting reaction. So, there’s a topic that is frequently mentioned in this community, to the point that you say it’s overblown. Mark addresses the topic by documenting what we actually do and do not know about the subject (using links), clearly states that’s it hasn’t been well studied and has ambigous symptoms, tests and treatments. Makes clear that he isn’t an expert, but suggests some possible safe actions a person can take if they think they have the problem, while clarifying that anything beyond these simple steps should be done in consultation with a health care professional. And, you think he’s lost credibility by even discussing the topic.

      Personally, I found this very helpful. I’d heard mention of the topic, but hadn’t done any specific research. Now I know that it is possibly a legitimate, though minor, condition, but might also be a bunch of woowoo. Given the confusing symptoms listed and the lack of confirmable evidence, it tells me clearly that I don’t need to research it any further and can consider it a low concern for my life. But, if anyone mentions it, I know enough to speak fairly intelligently and can send someone to a well-written summary of actual facts.

      It’s clear, factual, unemotional articles like this that increase Mark’s credibility, IMhO.

      TimA wrote on September 6th, 2012
      • +1

        Sharyn wrote on September 6th, 2012
      • +1

        Alyssa wrote on September 7th, 2012
      • Candida overgrowth happens in very ill people, which is proven, yes? Autistic kids oftentimes respond well to antifungals, either by killing off the candida or by eliminating something that their bodies are “allergic” to, which in this case is candida. Once you get into the chronic health problem community whether it’s autism, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, you learn how sick the American population is. Even if candida is NOT overgrown, something is happening to people to make their immune systems react to this microbe, evidenced by their increased health after using antifungals. It is a very real thing to have candida, and I know a lot of people who do well after adjusting their diets to alleviate themselves of their symptoms.

        And to address the “quackery” thing, Asian countries have been doing this “voodoo” stuff for millenia. Apparently, even with modern medicine, they keep doing it as it HELPS. The human being is so much more than biochemistry and systems. We have emotions, energy that can be measured coming from our bodies, even junk DNA that apparently can switch things on and off and code for processes…..there is a lot more going on in the human body than carbs, fats, and proteins and chemical reactions. And other countries notice and utilize this fact to implement more holistic healing. We made it this far as humans without modern medicine, and we found ways to heal. Now maybe we have to go back to the “primitive” to heal ourselves from the toxic mess that mankind has made.

        Julie wrote on September 10th, 2012
      • Thank you for expressing just what I was thinking. +1

        Marti wrote on November 13th, 2014
    • I agree with Alexa on this one. Mark shouldn’t have touched this with a ten foot pole.

      kate stone wrote on September 6th, 2012
      • Wow, from my experience with yeast infections in the past and my own recent infection, Mark is right on.

        Ashley wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • Yeek–lose the negativity- what was the point of this comment?? Mark didn’t say he knew how to cure Candidasis…he actually pointed out that he’s not an expert. This was just meant to be a general article on a subject that many people in our community are interested in or deal with—lets put effort towards keeping our community a positive and supportive one :-)

      joanna wrote on September 9th, 2013
  7. The only thing I know for sure is that if we wait for traditional medicine to figure it out we will die waiting.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on September 6th, 2012
  8. I am on the fence re. Candida. There is so much conflicting information out there, the situation is very unclear. Symptoms can apply to many other conditions and it’s difficult to know what is what. In the end, for mild cases, eat clean, do the work and trust the body will do its bit. For more severe issues, I think you have to pursue one angle (one of which might be Candida) then another until you’re good to go. Detective work, as ever.

    Alison Golden wrote on September 6th, 2012
  9. Wow this topic I had never heard of really seems to have a lot of “woo-woo” surrounding it judging by what’s been said here. Maybe this topic isn’t quite up to the usual stuff?

    JohnC wrote on September 6th, 2012
  10. A very timely post since I am finishing up 2 weeks of antibiotics for oral surgery. Anyone have experience with food grade hydrogen peroxide for yeast? I have used it in the past for its alkaline properties for intestinal issues.

    Laurie wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • Do not drink hydrogen peroxide. This is a very bad idea. Try probiotic bacteria instead, it may not help but at least this won’t hurt you.

      H2O2 is a toxic compound, and you’re running the risk of giving yourself gastric cancer

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3180186

      Tim wrote on September 6th, 2012
  11. I am skeptical about candida diagnoses. I think in most cases what is going is the broader concept of intestinal dysbiosis, ie., the proliferation of certain bacteria in the GI tract at the expense of a normal balance. Diets way out of balance with excesses of carbs, and particularly glutinous grains, and antibiotic use are the culprits. I’m living proof. I had to visit ten doctors before I found one who had the right answers.

    Matt S. wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • I definitely agree with you on the dysbiosis. It’s probably diagnosed as “candidiasis” because that is the bacteria that presents itself in many of the symptoms (oral thrush, vaginal infections etc.)

      Tasha wrote on September 7th, 2012
      • candida is not a bacterium, it’s a fungus.

        high school biology student wrote on January 24th, 2014
  12. Candida might be important in people with actual gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. However, in healthy people it seems to be a normal part of our flora.

    This is similar to the situation with Staphylococcus aureus, which is on everybody’s skin, but if it gets the opportunity (such as surgery) it can cause serious infections.

    An important point is that antifungal drugs such as the azoles are quite toxic, so quacks over-diagnosing and over-treating fungal diseases would be a very worrying development.

    Tim wrote on September 6th, 2012
  13. Wow, this is such a timely post!

    I just saw a Naturopathic Doctor after having completed the 21-Day Sugar Detox and having awful GI issues throughout it. When reintroducing sugar (in the form of dried and fresh fruits) my bad symptoms went away.

    The ND told me that I have dysbiosis which and excessive candida in my small intestine. When I abstained from the sugar during my detox (dropping to as little as 20g of carbs per day) my painful BMs and lower stomach pains began and didn’t stop until I started feeding the candida with sugar again. She also stated that because I was on a number of antibiotics on nearly a bi-monthly basis for the majority of my childhood, that I was basically destined to have dysbiosis.

    She recommended to help my flora by taking a probiotic nightly and to take an oregano oil/peppermint oil capsule before each main meal. It’s amazing that you, Mark, basically said the same thing in this post – about antibiotics being a cause, herbs (like oregano) helping the flora, and how going too low-carb can make symptoms and candida itself worse!

    I have yet to start my supplement regimen, but my ND feels very confident that this paired with decreasing my dried fruit intake will help get the good bacteria in my gut and for them to stay happy!

    Jecka wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • Hi jecka
      So basically eating fresh fruit us better to cure intestinal candida.i was diagnosed by stool culture and throat culture. The intestinal burning and cramping is horrific. I also have tried only eating veggies but a lot of what I tead states I should be eating fruit
      Please let me know. Thanks a bunch

      Danielle wrote on July 8th, 2014
  14. I wonder if the Herxheimer reaction is a result of the Immune system up regulating after die off, as the immune suppressing candida is killed off.

    hiimrif wrote on September 6th, 2012
  15. I am VERY familiar with candida. In 2004 I went through 51 weeks of chemo like treatment for Hep C (got it from a tattoo, thank you very much). In the last three weeks of treatment, I acquired a yeast infection. For the past seven years, I have suffered with an average of 8 yeast infections a year. Think about that. A yeast infection almost every month. I researched and researched and researched. I had my gyno doc on speed dial and had a renewable prescription at the pharmacy. There was no point in being seen by my gyno every time because I just knew. Why pay the copay, right? She agreed and let me fill the prescription whenever I needed it. I visited with my naturopath doc and was given herbs to kill the candida. Die off? I was physically sick for a week. Throwing up and couldn’t stand up straight for fear of getting dizzy and visiting the bathroom. Doc said that she’d never seen someone react the way I did to the supplements and candida die off. Yay, I’m special! In the last year, I have switch my diet to paleo/primal and have seen great results. I truly believe that eliminating all grains and sugar has been a life saver for me. I’ve had one yeast infection in the past year because I fell off the paleo wagon and went sugar wild. It just tastes so good. Candida overgrowth has affected my health, my emotional state, my relationship with my husband and my overall attitude toward the S.A.D. It makes me so angry that it essentially took 8 years of research (on my part) to heal myself. But, looking back, I’m glad I did. I feel so much better when I’m eating paleo/primal.

    Melissa wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • Thank you for your post, Melissa. I am all too familiar with candida. I have been suffering with on going yeast infections for well over two years and despite my efforts and multiple doc visits, they keep coming back. I’ve been adopting the primal principles for months now and see results in weight loss but haven’t been as strict as I probably should be so the infections (I suspect) keep coming. However, the first week I started, I was very strict with my carbs and my lower region had felt better than it had in a long time. Since then, I’ve fallen off the wagon here and there and notice a HUGE detriment to my condition as it worsens when I eat too much sugar. It’s time for me to get serious and stay serious about primal eating in order to eradicate this painful and annoying problem that is spilling issues into my marriage (thank god for such an understanding and patient husband). Your post will help me stay on track. Thank you and I’m glad you are doing better. Can I ask, is there a number of carbs you stick to or certain foods you avoid? Do you eat fruit?

      Beth wrote on September 6th, 2012
      • Beth – I do not stick to a certain number of carbs. I used to track every single morsel of food I put in my mouth. I burned out on that and when I found Paleo I was glad I didn’t “have” to track anything. I just try not to eat anything that my body turns into sugar. It’s not easy mind you. I do eat fruit but on rare occasion. When I do, it’s berries only. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Those only because I grown them in the backyard. I’m glad you found my post helpful. For those who are saying that candida is not real, well, I wouldn’t wish what I’ve experienced on anyone. Until you’ve had a yeast infection almost every month for roughly eight years, you shouldn’t bash the experiences of others. I can see though how someone who hasn’t experienced it wouldn’t believe in it. Good luck with your eating plan. I will say, that my continual symptoms didn’t go away overnight. It took several months of healthy, clean eating to see results. I ate lots of coconut too. I read somewhere that coconut actually makes those little candida cell explode! YEAH, coconut. LOL!

        Melissa wrote on September 7th, 2012
        • Thank you Melissa (and Mark)!!!! I wonder what form of coconut? Oil or other? :)

          Beth wrote on September 8th, 2012
      • Hi Beth, I have suffered from vaginal yeast that does not go away for almost 2 years now from antibiotic use. It has been very hard on me personally and luckily I have a very understanding husband also. I have gone to numerous doctors with no answers and have decided to give this yeast free diet a go next. I’m also thinking if going to a ND to help me along the way. Have you gotten rid of your yeast infections yet?

        Christine Z wrote on March 27th, 2013
        • Hey there. I can tell you right now that taking antibiotics is only going to make it worse. Absolutely go see an ND. I made my issues a lot worse by trying to handle it on my own. It seems that my body needs more starch, so going low-carb doesn’t help me. I’m currently following the guidelines that the Perfect Health Diet suggests, which is very much like Primal except that they advocate a lot of starches everyday for anyone, not just very active people.

          Make sure you are consuming fermented/probiotic foods!

          Tasha wrote on March 28th, 2013
        • Thanks Tasha. I’m not currently taking antibiotics I’m just saying I believe this is how the problem all started for me. I was treated in 2010 for a lymes rash, treated for h pylori in 2011, had a tonsillectomy in 2011, and prescribed other antibiotics in the past that I prob didn’t need. This all started after my h pylori treatment. Now 2 years later, numerous doctors visits and money spent along with lots of tears and still no answers. All they do us say yup you have yeast and give me diflucan that relieves some symptoms but never cures anything. I will def contact a ND. I can’t suffer with this anymore!

          Christine Z wrote on March 28th, 2013
    • Very happy that you are feeling better and I am going through fighting this right now after 8 years and prob 15-20 Drs and countless tests. If I may ask, what herbs were you given and what other changes did you make? I developed diabetes (under control at the moment) and gluten probs and a host of other awesome side effects in the past 8 years. All poss started with a surgery and there rounds of antibiotics within a year. Am attacking this hard and actually have been very ill for about 4-5 days now. Felt good for first time in years about a week ago for 4 hours on two diff days. Thanks for your time.

      Al wrote on March 11th, 2013
  16. This is a great article, especially for those people who struggle to cure their candida overgrowths with restrictive diets.

    Team Oberg wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • I totally agree!

      I took antibiotics for acne for nearly a decade and suffered some really weird but still benign health stuff throughout . . . Then this past year I received a heavy dose of steroids and my body crashed. Apparently I’d been developing gut dysbiosis for the past decade, and then with the full course of steroids, my candida went systemic, leading to serious neurological and gastrointestinal symptoms (primarily neurological – headaches, facial paralysis, vision problems, then food intolerances developed).

      Eight rounds of specialists couldn’t figure me out. Then some hippie suggested I had candida. I passed that onto my doc who set me up with nystatin and the primal diet. Lo and behold, it saved my life.

      I know this probably sounds pretty cheesy, but I do strongly believe that candida was going to put me in the grave. Mayo clinic couldn’t figure out what to do with me, but 2 hrs after taking some anti-fungals, I was significantly improved.

      Haley wrote on September 6th, 2012
  17. Agreed, there is no clear cut diagnosis for candida. The journey to better health is like peeling an onion, as you peel away each layer the next layer may produce something else…

    My health coach (and also my MT advisor) uses FDN, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, which is an investigative process that employs laboratory assessments to identify the root cause/s of a client’s health complaints. My symptoms are mainly IBS related (and severe at times) even after being gluten free for 2 years & then primal (and dairy free) for the last 8 months, and I stick to this 100%.

    So we did an intestinal barrier function screen test through BioHealth Labs in CA which came back with elevated levels for bad bacteria, undigested proteins & yeasts so very clear indications that I have dysbiosis and leaky gut. A further IGg food intolerance blood test through Great Plain Laboratory showed that my antigen levels for candida albicans present in my blood were off the charts! Ok, so this means I definitely have a candida overgrowth, and having dysbiosis makes for perfect breading conditions.

    I have cleaned up my diet for 8 months, basically on an anti-candida diet, taking supplements & probiotics to heal my gut & these yeasts are still rampant. But wait, what about other bugs & pathogens that are making my gut a playground for these yeasts. Final test, GI pathogen screen (stool test) through BioHealth Labs and low & behold I have a parasite (a single celled one so not a monster, but a lot of them) and an overgrowth of enterbacter. And I’m a “normal” person, living in “normal” conditions. Funny enough no yeasts were detected in this test.

    Bottom line, there are many reasons why we have an overgrowth of yeasts. Have to keep peeling that onion. In my case, it’s a parasite, causing unwanted bacterial growth, causing yeasts to thrive, causing inflammation in my gut & finally dysbiosis (a vicious cycle!). I can try get rid of the yeasts until I’m blue in the face but if I don’t get rid of the bugs first then I’m wasting my time. So I’m taking anti-parasites, followed by anti-bacterials and then anti-fungals while on an anti-candida diet (all natural supplements of course). I’ve only just started this protocol so I can’t vouch for it just yet.

    TB wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • “Agreed, there is no clear cut diagnosis for candida. The journey to better health is like peeling an onion, as you peel away each layer the next layer may produce something else…”

      This is so true!

      Heather wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • Leaky gut and candida/dysbiosis are often used interchangeably and there is a good reason for that. Although they represent different conditions they can contribute one to another, often coexist at the same time (also because they have common causes – bad diet) and they share the cure too (better diet). In the view of that is it really needed to distinguish between them?

      Martin wrote on January 10th, 2013
      • Well yeah, cause you don’t take Nystatin or Diflucan or use Miconazole for leaky gut.

        And a lot of stock/broth and butter aren’t going to help much with a yeast infection.

        A good low-sugar diet and probiotics certainly helps with either, but a round of antifungals helps much faster with yeast.

        While Mark is correct that there isn’t usually a specific test for intestinal yeast, any woman who’s had a vaginal yeast infection knows what it looks and smells like and will recognize it. If it shows up in her throat or poo, it’s pretty obvious it’s the same thing in her GI tract.

        Yeah, it’s overdiagnosed cause the symptoms are vague and so much info about it is all woo-woo and stupid. But it’s also underdiagnosed cause it’s a pretty extreme infection before it’s obvious.

        jpatti wrote on September 10th, 2013
  18. Thank you, Mark, for this well-researched and very useful post.

    I can say to the skeptics: CANDIDIASIS IS A REAL DIAGNOSIS. In many cases it is overblown or simply speculation, but it is often a very real problem.

    I have Esophageal Candidiasis, also known as Esophageal Thrush. It was diagnosed by a gastroenterologist. I have a photo of a yeast colony growing on my esophagus. It’s normally only seen in severely immunocompromised patients (HIV, cancer, the elderly), but I’ve got it, too.

    After years of ill health (all possible nebulous symptoms), I suspected candida, but had the same hesitations about getting “diagnosed” based on symptoms alone. A stool test showed trace amounts of overgrowth, not enough to hang a hat on. An endoscopy, however, showed an entire colony of candida yeast growing on my esophagus, aided by the low-stomach-acid environment created by a chronic h.pylori infection. One heinous round of antibiotics got rid of h.pylori, but three strong anti-fungal rounds, lots of homemade probiotics, herbal supplements, and several months of very-low-carb primal eating/GAPS/low-FODMAP diet have not yet entirely resolved it (according to the second endoscopy). The antibiotics unleashed a vaginal yeast infection that also took two months to fully resolve, despite taking concurrent antifungals.

    I’m slowly getting better by keeping a restricted diet.

    Thank you, Mark, for linking to Paul Jaminet’s podcast about VLC and ketosis. I haven’t felt as good on <50g carbs as when I first started primal and was shooting for 100g carbs per day, and this may help explain why. (So it's back to safe starch and berries, hurrah!) I'll report back if it ends up making the difference.

    A final thought: I think that a Candida infection in my case was a complication of a more general gut dysbiosis, not the main problem. For anyone who suspects a candida overgrowth, I recommend looking into no-sugar, lower-fruit versions of GAPS and SCD diets. Whether or not it is ultimately candida, those diets are a good option to explore when working to reclaim your health.

    -Nicole

    NME wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • I’m currently on day 18 of a self-prescribed anti-Candida diet, while also eliminating nightshades, FODMAPs, and nuts/ nut butters. So far, I’ve shown a bit of improvement, many of my symptoms have disappeared or are significantly reduced, but not all. Some are just as bad as when this all started 6 months ago. I’ve explored GAPS as well, but the first stages are too restrictive; I work full-time and can’t afford to take time off just to accomodate my diet. Though I intend to stay committed to the plan, I’m still convinced my issue goes beyond gut disbiosis and may be either physical or auto-immune in origin (possibly both). I need more testing, which is why I’m seeing both a (new) gastroenterologist and an endocrinologist in the next 2 weeks. Fingers crossed for some answers!

      Siren wrote on September 6th, 2012
      • Great that you’re making the effort! I also strongly suspected autoimmune, but after getting h.pylori and candida treated, my other issues (low iron, low vitamin D despite supplementing, elevated fecal calprotectin) are resolving themselves — my iron levels went up even without supplementation, and vitamin D is now optimal, at 62 (could never get it above 25 before). I’ve still got a lot to go and still can’t eat most foods without causing trouble, but sticking to the diet is making me healthier and slowly resolving my problems.

        It’s a long haul, but it’s worth it! Good luck!

        NME wrote on September 7th, 2012
      • Siren –

        Sniff, sniff, I smell it, too and agree that we shouldn’t feed them; maybe they will go away.

        At the recommendation of a friend, I located an ND (Naturopathic Doctor) and had very good success with him – he also started me on the paleo diet (it wasn’t called that back then). He helped me “cure” the depression for which I’d been seeing other doctors for 25 years and all they offered me were pills and guilt. If your new docs don’t help, you might try and ND.

        Good luck on your two new doctors. I hope they help you find a cure, and not a coverup.

        W.J. Purifoy wrote on September 8th, 2012
    • I didn’t feel very good on very low carb and felt very weak and felt as though I was developing a yeast overgrowth problem, so I followed Paul Jaminet’s advice and increased the safe starches and now I feel a lot better.

      Christine wrote on September 7th, 2012
      • That’s great to hear, Christine, and glad to get affirmation that Jaminet’s plan works! I’ll be checking it out!

        NME wrote on September 7th, 2012
    • I’ve long wavered back and forth as to whether my health issues stem from a candida problem or just general dysbiosis.

      Recently I’ve begun to lean slightly back in the direction of candida.

      I can definitely second that advice for lower-fruit. Eating any fruit other than lemons and limes unfailingly triggers acne for me.

      On the other hand, I’ve had no problems, and have actually seen some improvement with safe starches.

      Experiment!

      Speaking of experiments, does anyone have any experience with biotin for “candida”? I hear that it encourages the fungus into its non-pathogenic form, and I apparently had the worst case of cradle cap ever as an infant, which I’ve heard some people attribute to a biotin deficiency. I’ll be trying it shortly.

      Charlie wrote on September 7th, 2012
  19. Thank you, Mark, for writing about this controversial and little-understood condition. If the medical profession had been willing to recognise it, I would have been spared years of misery, leading to chronic illness, and my mother would have been spared the agony of not knowing why her child couldn’t keep any food inside, no matter what she tried to feed me.

    I now keep it under control with a rigid (Primal) diet, which is the only real solution that I have found. Any deviation results in flare-up.

    As to all those who claim candidiasis doesn’t exist – don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

    Pen wrote on September 6th, 2012
  20. I agree that it is a real condition. My daughter was on antibiotics several times during the first year of her life. She kept getting respiratory infections and no one could figure out why, so another round of antibiotics was always the answer, but those in turn led to yeast infections… However, when she was one year old, we found out that she had a large Atrial Septal Defect, which is basically a hole in her heart. Her respiratory system was compromised which is why she got sick so much. Open heart surgery corrected the defect, but she still was not completely better. Her stomach became hugely bloated basically every time she ate. Doctor after doctor for 2 years and no one had answers, until we finally saw an allergist who said he thought she might have a candida overgrowth because she was pretty much negative for all the major food allergies. He prescribed two doses of Fluconazole and put her on a strict diet – basically primal with zero fruit and no dairy. This was extremely hard as she was just 3 years old at the time and was already a picky eater. In addition, we started her on probiotics daily and the progress has been amazing. It’s been a long road, but well worth it as she can now eat without having her tummy blow up like a balloon.

    Amy wrote on September 6th, 2012
  21. could we stop the squabbling and bicker backer and get to real discussions perhaps??
    I had a serious candida problem from years of bi-annual antiobiotics to fight off sinus infections, and a very high sugar diet that had me close to diabetes, after reading the primal blue print i cut back on sugars and was really close to being in control of it all when i had a binge weekend relapse with beer and pizza, woke up with my yellow toungue back and sinus / intestina problems recurring that entire week, went to see my acupunturist (the only person other than the diet that in 15 years of treating these infections was able to make real headway), and explained to her the situationation, and she basically said “it’s the yeast stupid”, i did some research on candida overgrowth, saw that the “candida diet” was really close to the “whole 30″ suggested by the whole9 folks and talked about in my crossfit program, so i went whole 30 for a month and lost 5 more pounds, watched fat melt off, and havent had a sinus problem since, and the yellow toungue / congestion only starts to come back on a day i go way to high in amounts of fruit my guessing is that it stems from the sugar

    Buddy wrote on September 6th, 2012
  22. Interesting debates in the comments. I was diagnosed with a candida overgrowth earlier this year. I was having recurring vaginal yeast infections and overall fatigue. I thought I had it under control, then sugar snuck back into my life and the yeast flare-ups started again. I went on Fluconazole last month and now my digestion is totally whacked up. The only thing that explains it: dysbiosis, basically that my gut bacteria is messed up. At least my yeast infection is gone? The yeast got bad again when I reintroduced sugar, so I think I was feeding an existing overgrowth. I have been sensitive to sugar my entire life, though I was never on that many antibiotics. Once is enough, apparently, or maybe my gut doesn’t bounce back like other people’s do before adulthood.

    Other things that can help: grapefruit seed extract, Vitamin C to help keep bowels regular/easy, which will help regular gut bacteria, fermented foods with pre- and probiotics. I recommend reading “Fiber Menace” for a more complete understanding of how the gut functions, including/especially gut bacteria.

    Tasha wrote on September 6th, 2012
  23. Also candidiasis is fairly well recognized in Europe, just not here!

    Tasha wrote on September 6th, 2012
  24. I think this is article is great, it gives people something else to try if they have persistant problems that don’t clear up by being paleo/primal alone. It may not be “scientific” but it adds more options for self-experimentation to find solutions to personal problems. Also, trying some of the “treatments” that Mark suggests could potentially help numerous other problems other than “candida overgrowth” while doing absolutely no damage, so like he said, it can’t hurt.

    I have had problems with “Candida overgrowth”, and it is extremely persistent. For me symptoms were oral thrush, several food intolerances, low energy, and difficulty focusing (foggy brain), among other things. I’ve found the only way to really fight it is to keep up the “treatment”, even after the problem is “gone”, and to try other treatments when something doesn’t work or stops working. The most successful solutions I’ve found is the GAPS program, which is designed to help heal the gut. I’d recommend it to anyone having “candida” problems or otherwise.

    Char wrote on September 6th, 2012
  25. On a similar note and an intersting read:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19435442

    Suhail Mulla wrote on September 6th, 2012
  26. This probably isn’t super relevant but I’ll chuck it in anyway in case it helps someone. I *battled* (seriously miserable constant recurrance) thrush for several years until I had to have a minor gynae op and before I was discharged my gynaecologist said she wanted me to take antibiotics while I was healing up to zap the yeast overgrowth. Killed it dead. Never had thrush since. I am not an advocate of antibiotics and I actively avoid them now that I am healthy and primal (I’d rather ride it out, and I treated an ear infection with topical coconut oil last month) but I just wanted to say that sometimes, especially people who are not fully primal, can benefit from antibiotics to crush the dreaded candida.

    Charlotte wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • As a note, antibiotics (such as tetracycline or ampicillin) attack bacteria, anti-fungals (such as fluconazole) attack yeasts.

      Antibiotics are pretty benign, at least in terms of toxicity. However, anti-fungals are toxic drugs you want to avoid if at all possible.

      This is because yeast are much closer to us than bacteria in their metabolism (we’re both eukaryotes) so it is very hard to poison the yeast and not the person.

      Tim wrote on September 6th, 2012
      • Hmm that’s interesting. I wish I could remember what I was given. I’ll have the hospital discharge letter somewhere. I am probably using ‘yeast’ overgrowth erroneously. Or she was using laymans terms when communicating the purpose of it to me.
        However, it was my secondary point that although antibiotics are often blamed for squashing the ‘good bacteria’ leaving candida to run riot, in my case, if I was given antibiotics, and yeast was the problem, it helped. Make sense?

        Charlotte wrote on September 6th, 2012
  27. I was given Fluconazole after strong antibiotics for a sinus infection. I ended up on an extended dose of it (150mg x 7 days) at a later time and evidently the anti-fungals did more to clear up the ongoing sinus issues than anything else (including oral steroids, nasal steroids, antibiotics, etc.). I regained my sense of smell by day 3. Amazing. Now I’m more inclined to inquire about it than any other prescribed medication (well it’s OTC now, but still).

    Stephanie wrote on September 6th, 2012
  28. Anyone interested in reading about how yeasts are implicated in most of the illnesses we’re dealing with today, I highly recommend The Fungus Link: Tracking the Cause, Volume 2 by Doug A. Kaufmann. It’s a good read!

    TB wrote on September 6th, 2012
  29. I had a very rare rash on my neck that was determined to be a yeast infection due to pregnancy. After months of treatments the only thing that worked was a yeast free diet. It was actually how I found MDA in the first place. We joke that it changed my life, but honestly I have never felt as good as I did on that diet. Did anyone here who followed the yeast free diet eat rice or other gluten free grains? Just curious as I found the “no fruit” tough without rice or something else besides veggies.

    Meg wrote on September 6th, 2012
  30. I use a soap with triclosan on my toothbrush everyday to control what I think is candida on my tongue. It’s the only thing I’ve tried that is effective in removing this coating on my tongue, or what I think is candida.

    My condition seems to be helped by avoiding dairy as well. I do not have lactose intolerance; however, if I drink milk or eat yogurt, it’s as if a weird whitish biofilm clings to my tongue.

    Any ideas on what this really is? I had a doctor prescribe a Nystatin swish years ago, but I remember the treatment wasn’t effective. I may not have completed the Nystatin treatment though.

    Eric wrote on September 6th, 2012
  31. Overall interesting article. I really think it is easy to over diagnose oneself with all the information on the web.

    Since humans are not living exactly how evolution has designed us to, and the fact that we are living longer with illnesses that would of killed off the people with the, we are going to just have to deal with these issue.

    Sadly those who need help with Candida will most likely not get it, and those wrongly diagnosed with it will go through unnecessary treatment. I guess that is what we have to look forward to with our advance technology…

    Ed wrote on September 6th, 2012
  32. I used to have vaginal yeast infections all the time until I started a LC diet about 5 years ago. Ketosis didn’t bring it back. For 5 years I also didn’t have any infection and didn’t request my asthma meds refill.

    Galina L. wrote on September 6th, 2012
  33. I can’t speak to the existence of intestinal candida, but I can vouch for brain fog and fatigue as symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection. After a single day of Diflucan, I was so much more alert and energetic that it was like a veil had been lifted off my face. I was shocked at how bad I’d been feeling without realizing it.

    Weatherwax wrote on September 6th, 2012
  34. Alexa is angry. Get her some carbs.

    Andi wrote on September 6th, 2012
  35. This is real, and Mark’s paragraph about Paul Jaminet really hit home. When I went primal/low carb for overgrowth my heartburn went wild. It was so much worse and this seems to explain why – the bacteria/fungi were having a feeding frenzy and releasing lots of gasses. I’m still testing this theory, but I’m just glad to hear there might be a reason I felt worse. It seems that almost everyone else that’s gone primal and/or low carb has had complete relief of GERD and other digestive issues. Thanks Mark and Paul!

    Sarah wrote on September 6th, 2012
  36. Thanks Mark for addressing this issue – from the responses it seems like there are some who have never heard of it or experienced Candida infections.

    A couple years ago I ended up with an unexplained rash and whitish tongue. I have a terrific Naturopathic Doctor that I always visit first whenever I have health issues. She treats Candida infections frequently in her practice and knew within a minute of looking at my symptoms that this is what we were dealing with. She set me up with Oil of Oregano (a great natural antifungal)- taken 4-5drops 3 times a day, recommended a good probiotic after every meal, and put me on a eating plan very much like primal or the whole 30. Within 10 days the rash was gone, my tongue was a nice pink and I loads more energy. I kept the eating plan up for a full 6 weeks, and felt great (and even lost a few of the extra pounds).
    I believe overgrowth of Candida is a real condition, and my Naturopath explained it is happens when your good bacteria colony is out of balance – this can be due to any number of underlying health conditions, or due to antibiotic use, or too much high sugar food in the diet.
    It can be difficult to get rid of depending on the severity of the overgrowth but a diet low in sugar, grains and dairy can really help. I understand that toxins are released as the Candida dies off, so you may feel worse for a few days before you get better as your body clears itself.
    There are many conditions that CW does not understand – I think the basis of primal eating is right on point – out with the processed and in with the natural healthy foods. The body is an amazing machine that can heal itself given the right nutrition and support!

    Kathy wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • When I did the candida diet, along with oregano oil, etc, I also took clay, activated charcoal and diatomaceous earth – they help absorb the toxins that the dead critters release into our systems.

      W.J. Purifoy wrote on September 8th, 2012
      • Diatomaceous earth???? That’s what my husband uses in our organic garden to kill slugs–the diatom skeletons ask as an abrasive that injures them to the point that they die. I can’t imagine what that stuff is doing to your the lining of your Gi tract.

        shrimp4me wrote on November 1st, 2013
  37. I had a variety of health issues for years (fatigue, brain fog, low sex drive, general sens of lack of wellbeing, digestive problems etc). Some days I could hardly do my every day tasks without significant mental effort and felt “out of it” al lthe time.

    I went to see a naturopath and she put me on Candida cleanse (diet plus some shake thing – don’t remember what it was). In merely _10 days_ I felt like a completely different person! I know the disease is not reacognised etc but this cleanse saved my life – I can know get out of bed and feel like a normal person.

    Amber wrote on September 6th, 2012
  38. I haven’t seen any mention of nipple thrush here – I’ve been fortunate to be pretty immune to thrush (unlike some of my friends) but when I was breast feeding I got nipple thrush. That is unbelievably painful and took me 3 doctors and persistence to solve… (the old guy knew immediately ) It’s a shame, I do think the medicalisation of childbirth and nursing issues means we are losing the wisdom of people like midwives with a lot of detailed experience to bring to the party, my thrush experience could have been so much easier!

    Paretoparent wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • I had problems with nipple infections when I was breastfeeding my babies 33 – 36 years ago. Never understood it. I went on the Paleo diet to stop getting thrush in my mouth and digestive tract a little more than a year ago. I often thought that my increase in energy and wellbeing was due to eliminating candida overgrowth. I did follow Christa Orechio s anti candida program. You can find it at Thewholejourney.com. it made a huge difference.

      Petra wrote on May 3rd, 2014
  39. I had chronic yeast infections years ago due to using perfumed body washes. This also gave me abnormal PAP smears. It was reading the book “What your doctor doesn’t tell you” that helped me figure it out!! Believe me, it was a simple solution!! I just switched to Dove sensitive soap and my yeast infections went away, and my PAP smear came out normal!

    yvette wrote on September 6th, 2012
  40. I really can’t believe so many people are denying the very existence of candida overgrowth. Thrush is diagnosed daily as diaper rash in kids (my daughter has it now), and an oral infection in those going through chemo or on severe antibiotics (my mom had it during cancer treatment; friend’s son has it now after a tonsillectomy).

    As for myself – I had thrush in my milk ducts after my son was born. Painful? Like shards of glass! It took 4 months to clear it up. That’s 4 months of pain at every nursing, and nearly losing my nipple to an ulceration. Diflucan helped, but didn’t get rid of the infection. Diet worked great, in conjunction with a tincture from an ND that contained black walnut EO and oil of oregano.

    Karen C. wrote on September 6th, 2012
    • It doesn’t seem to me that people are denying that thrush exists but more so suggesting that intestinal candida overgrowth specifically may not be responsible for the wide range of symptoms that alternative medical practitioners attribute to it.

      This a controversial subject because there are no reliable tests for intestinal overgrowth and it’s difficult to establish cause and effect for both the symptoms and for treatment. I think its fantastic hearing the anecdotal reports from people who saw good results from making dietary changes. I don’t like to see the diagnosis of candida abused as a way to sell natural remedies.

      James wrote on September 6th, 2012

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