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Causes / Risk Factors for Candida Overgrowth and Intestinal Dysbiosis (unhealthy bowel microbes)

Why so many individuals suffer of chronic, systemic yeast overgrowth and what can be done to regain health.

Systemic yeast overgrowth or Candidiasis and intestinal dysbiosis, is not a condition acquired from some external source, that can be effectively cured by the use of drugs. It is the result of living habits, dietary, environmental and even emotional influences that have led to a reduced level of biological functionality of the entire body as well as the mind and emotions in many cases. Yeast and other potentialy harmful micro-organisms would have no place to multiply out of control and mutate into pathogenic forms unless the proper conditions for their mutation and proliferation existed. It is important to note that Candida yeast organisms have a place in the normal microbial ecology of a healthy intestinal environment. When present in healthy concentrations, the primary function of candida yeast organisms is the consumption of unfriendly microbes produced in the gut. Once the intestine's microbial ecology is sufficiently disturbed (by the factors listed below) and the concentration of healthy bacterial species is greatly diminished, the candida yeast organisms begin a process of mutation into harmful fungal forms. In their mutated forms, these fungal rhizoids develop elongated root like structures capable of penetrating the intestinal lining, entering the circulating blood and colonizing tissues throughout the body. Such fungal organisms produce powerful toxins, posing a severe challenge to the system's detoxification pathways and cause many of the candida / dysbiosis sufferer's symptoms.

Damage to the intestine's lining makes it more permeable to subtances that were previously incapable of gaining entrance into the blood stream via the intestinal lining. Because of this phenomenon (leaky gut syndrome) toxins and large food molecules which would normally have no way of getting into the circulating blood are absorbed and create an enormous burden on the immune system that now has to neutralize, destroy and eliminate them. This produces many of the "allergic" and inflammatory symptoms that so often impact individuals with candida overgrowth.

A healthy body is by nature an unfriendly environment for parasites. The normal acid-base balance of a well functioning system does not generate a biochemical terrain in which candida albicans or other parasites can proliferate and thrive.

What pre-disposes an individual to conditions such as chronic systemic yeast overgrowth?

There are many factors at work. We'll attempt to list the influences that are known to undermine the body's normal functionality on both a short term as well as a life-long basis.

As can be seen from a perusal of the various influences listed below, the problem is global in nature and challenges each of us to become more conscious of how we live. Some of the influences that undermine our health have already taken effect and cannot be remedied. An example being improper infant nutrition, yet so many of these factors can be effectively addressed and reversed, that it behooves anyone of us who is committed to living in greater health, to do what we can to minimize the number and severity of such negative influences on our lives.

Patients often ask if they can go back to their previous way of eating after having maintained a candida control diet for several months.

Please draw your own conclusions after contemplating the effect of the radically health impeding, processed, refined, de-natured chemicalized, over sweetened diet that most of us are consuming. How can anyone expect a body and mind to function well when it is so completely out of tune with its natural requirements. Build-up of elevated concentrations of acids in the interstitial fluids of the body (the fluid filled compartments in which all of the cells of our organism swim) leads slowly but surely to a reduction in overall healthy functionality of the entire system. These acids accumulate as a natural consequence of the overconsumption of devitalized, processed and de-mineralized foods, insufficient water consumption, lack of excercise, stress etc.. Once built up to substantial concentrations, these acid wastes pre-dispose the system to all forms of chronic degenerative illness. This process can be reversed, but the body must be given a chance. If we continue eating unhealthy foods and persist in our counter-productive habits and life-styles, it is unrealistic to expect a return to health.
It is essential to undertake a treatment regimen for the clearance of the pathological organisms (unfriendly bacteria, yeast, fungus and viruses) that have been given a comfortable home in which to thrive, but it is equally essential to do everything in our power to cleanse and strengthen our bodies so that they no longer offer a suitable host site for such pathogens in the future.

This is a life-long process of health maintainance, that must begin with the elimination of as many of the below listed factors as possible for any given individual (there are doubtlessly others not listed that may impact certain individuals).
Once health has been lost or destroyed, the journey back requires a total and in many cases life-long commitment that, for those willing to embark upon it, can open the doors to, or further promote spiritual development and respect for all life. Nothing can be taken for granted once we set out on this journey, least of all our bodies and our health. The miraculous instrument that we are given to navigate through this reality, must be lovingly maintained and appreciated. How can it otherwise provide us with its full potential for joy and vitality.


INFLUENCES THAT PREDISPOSE US TO CANDIDA ALBICANS OVERGROWTH AND MANY OTHER CHRONIC ILLNESSES

Improper pre-natal and infant nutrition (both emotional & physical): lack of or insufficiency of breast milk. Introduction of animal proteins at too early an age, producing life-long food allergies leading to weakened immunity in childhood and adult life.

Frequent use of antibiotic therapy in childhood and adult life in cases where antibiotic therapy could have been avoided. Vaccinations may also undermine normal immune capacity.

Consumption of de-mineralized, de-vitalized, and processed foods. The chief culprits being white sugar and white flour. The minerals in our foods allows the body to neutralize so many of the harmful acids that can accumulate in the system. Most of the commercially raised foods are grown in extremely mineral depleted soils. Health promoting foods are grown in healthy soil that is naturally fertilized and not over-farmed.

Consumption of chemical food additives, preservatives, stabilizers and coloring agents and artificial flavorings and sweeteners.

Commercially raised animal protein such as beef, chicken and farmed fish that contains trace amounts of antibiotics and/or artificial hormones.

Overeating, skipping meals on a regular basis, undereating, having coffee instead of breakfast, etc..

Overuse of low quality fats, hydrogenated fats and trans-fatty acids such as margarine.

Insufficient amounts of fiber in the diet.

Insufficient production of stomach acid (HCL), very common in those over 40 years of age, most often mis-diagnosed as overproduction of stomach acid.click here for details

Lack of fresh vital foods high in naturally occurring enzymes and friendly bacteria as well as neglect of probiotic supplementation after antibiotics were administered.

Drinking insufficient quantities of water to meet the body's requirements (8 fl. oz. / 250 ml. per 25 lbs. / 12 k. of body weight per 24 hours).

Chronic constipation, less than three bowel movements a day for an individual who eats three times per day is unhealthy.

Overconsumption of alcohol, use of "recreational drugs", dependence upon or overuse of pharmaceuticals.

Mercury containing dental amalgam fillings, undiagnosed dental infections and root canalled teeth that may be infected.

Other heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead, etc. can predispose the system to yeast proliferation.

Medical treatment involving high dose, intravenous or long-term antibiotics.

Pharmaceutical birth control pills

Long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications which may cause damage to the integrity of the intestinal lining (some individuals may suffer damage with just short-term or "normal" use.)

Insufficient or excessive excercise, over-strenous exercise for prolonged periods of time ( excessive excercise weakens the body's defences, insufficient excercise lowers metabolic, circulatory & self cleansing functions.)

Insufficient sleep, getting to sleep too late, shift work, frequent air travel through several time-zones. Getting to sleep after 10 PM on a regular basis will deplete normal adrenal reserves and stress the entire system.

High pressure work with insufficient rest or monetary compensation, leading to long term stress and / or anxiety.

Stress caused by living in overcrowded conditions leading to frequent anger and / or frustration.

Stress caused by long-term relationship incompatibilities with frequent emotional upset.

Lack of sufficient love and nurturance in childhood leading to constant emotional insecurities in adult life that undermine normal, healthy immune and glandular functionality.

Poor air and / or water quality as well as insufficient air circulation at home, at work or while traveling / frequent exposure to recirculated air in sealed buildings or aircraft

Chemical contamination of work place and/or home. Persons who handle or inhale chemical fumes / solvents in their work or hobbies.

Damp environments, mold and/or mildew in home, at workplace or in vehicle (ventilation ducts in the home or work place, as well as old car air conditioning systems often harbor considerable mold and mildew colonies, they should be cleaned on as regular a basis as possible. Filters should be changed more frequently than typically recommended).

Insufficient exposure to sunlight and consequent fatigue and vitamin D deficiency.

Living in proximity to commercial agricultural regions where agricultural chemicals are routinely sprayed.

Living in close proximity to high power electric lines and other electro magnetic field disturbing influences.

Exposure/overexposure (there are no truly safe levels) to ionizing radiation.

Candida infection can be sexually transmitted and is most easily contracted by individuals with lowered immune function.

Individuals infected with HIV / AIDS can, as a consequence of impaired immune function, develop systemic yeast overgrowth.


David B. Schlesinger, L.Ac.
The Modern Herbalist
© 2000-2011



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We specialize in candida related conditions and digestive disorders: candida albicans, candidiasis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, fungal infection, thrush, systemic yeast,
vaginal yeast infection and other common types of yeast infection, acid reflux, GERD, H pylori, helicobacter pylori, intestinal yeast overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome and stomach ulcer.

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