Chronic candida related complex can give a variety of symptoms. Often, the simplest case involves chronic bloating or diarrhea, worse after meals. Complex cases involve immune system hyper-reactivity, and more systemic symptoms such as "brain fog" and fatigue.
Chronic candida infections (also referred by some as "systemic" candida infections)
Chronic candida infections are a concern of many patients, who believe that their health concerns and chronic candida symptoms of brain fog, muscle aches, sugar cravings, headaches, mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, itching, eczema, vaginal or skin yeast infections, sinusitis, bloating, diarrhea or loose stool, especially with a foul, sulfurous type odor, and indigestion.
These symptoms are of course very non-specific, are common to many medical conditions, and can be caused by other illnesses. However, after exclusion of likely other diagnoses, chronic candida infection can be more likely especially if the patient has described the symptoms as coming after repeated rounds of antibiotics.
Conventional medicine only recognizes localized candida infections. This would include diagnoses such as oral candidiasis or thrush, or vaginal yeast infections. Systemic candida infections with growth of fungus in the blood only occurs in the severely immunocompromised. The complex of symptoms described above is not from infection in the blood, but rather from the effects of toxins released by candida into the blood.
Chronic candida symptoms
While the list of chronic candida symptoms above is common, what I see most frequently in my patients is a complaint focused on the gastrointestinal tract. Usually chronic candida patients seek natural treatment for long-standing abdominal bloating, flatulence, discomfort, and frequent foul stools. The symptoms may have been a gradual onset or have come after a course of antibiotics. When questioning the patients, other chronic candida symptoms of brain fog, muscle aches, sugar cravings, and fatigue are confirmed.
Chronic candida test
Conventional diagnoses are ruled out first. For example, if a patient has a main complaint of gastrointestinal bloating after the smallest meals, gas, fatigue, other diagnoses such as non-ulcer dyspepsia, Helicobacter pylori infection, food sensitivities or allergies are considered as well. Further, the multi-system symtoms of chronic candida infection mean that other conditions that can also cause multi-system symptoms need to be considered:
- adrenal fatigue
- food sensitivities
There are some diagnostic procedures that can be helpful as a chronic candida test:
Chronic candida tests:
allergy IgG and IgE: this test looks for antibodies against candida. It confirms both exposure (common) and allergy (less common). If the levels are very high, it may indicate that allergy to candida is the main problem, as opposed to candida infection or a problem with the candida toxins. In this case, desensitization may be an option.
stool testing: this can be key. I often will get a stool microbiology and often a microbiology with check for parasites from a lab that not only cultures for disease causing bacteria, but for ALL the bacteria in the stool. This helps to ascertain whether chronic candida infection is partly due to a lack of probiotics such as lactobacillus, which makes an acidic environment in which candida does not grow. Even patients who take the best probiotics may be lacking in the stool culture, perhaps because other bacteria (or candida!) identified must be cleared first.
candida spit test: this test was brought to the attention of me by a few of my chronic candida patients. I have never seen or recommended it, but it does seem to correlate, in that patients who have positive stool cultures or allergy/immunology tests often have positive candida spit tests.
intestinal hyperpermeability: for patients who seem to develop more and more food allergies, and yet have a negative candida stool test, this can be informative. Candida causes the gut to be more leaky, allowing larger proteins to be exposed to the blood, causing more food allergies. While there can be many causes of intestinal hyperpermeability, candida infection is a common one.
food allergy panel patterns in a food allergy blood test panel: often we will run a panel of 300 foods to see what patients are allergic or sensitive to. We test for antibodies to these foods in the blood. Some patients will react to EVERY food and more so to the foods that they commonly eat. This is usually a sign of intestinal hyperpermeability, and seems to improve with chronic candida treatment.
cytokine testing (immune chemicals that cause inflammation): I find this candida test to be the most useful, though it is not limited to chronic candida. A baseline test of cytokines is done on the patients blood, to see what the overall level of inflammation is, and what type of inflammation is present. Toxins from mold tend to cause a very specific type of inflammation. White blood cells are then stimulated with candida, or with a generic bacterial, viral, or fungal mix. Usually there is a large spike in the cytokines for one type of infection, which would only happen in current, persistent infections. This confirms the diagnosis for me and allows me to effectively tailor antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory treatments, while giving all the supportive treatment possible.
Chronic candida natural treatment
I have found good success in candida treatment with the following protocol:
First, hormones, sleep and diet (not a strict candida diet!) are corrected. This may include thyroid, adrenal, or sex hormones.
Candida natural treatment then consists of:
diet - sugar free, but not a typical restrictive candida diet
fluconazole / nystatin / sporanox (itraconazole) prescriptions
Gastrointestinal flora correction per stool microbiology
ozone BEST for infections that the immune system still has a chance of clearing, usually 8-10 treatments
Of the treatments above, usually I see the most change with a combination of the ozone therapy as well as hormone and sleep correction. Getting the hormones back into balance and having a restorative sleep goes a long way towards getting the immune system back on track for clearing and controlling candida. This is an effective way to promote natural candida treatment without the use of drugs.
When drugs are necessary, stool microbiology analysis goes a long way in determining which medications can be effective. If the yeast can be cultured out, sensitivity studies are automatically done. Having said that, even without stool analysis, many patients who present with clear gastrointestinal symptoms seem to get great relief with nystatin for their candida treatment.
I have not found that restrictive candida diets are curative when used alone. Symptoms will often recur when normal foods are eaten. However, a reasonable sugar-free, alcohol and yeast-limited diet helps the candida treatment course to progress more smoothly and quickly.
Finally, in resistant cases to ozone therapy, intravenous or IV garlic can be used. There has been literature out of China where IV garlic has been used in life-threatening fungal infections, with good success. This treatment is very well tolerated, and while it can cause herxheimer and die-off reactions, it is very effective at clearing candida.
Usually both the IV garlic as well as the ozone therapy, is given as a series of 2-3 treatments per week for 3-4 weeks.
If you are a patient who is interested in candida testing and candida treatment, please call the office to set up an appointment with Dr Eric Chan at 604 275 0163.