FUNGUS – A Few Things to Know
Did you know that fungus can be a problem for otherwise healthy people? If you have ever suffered from things like chronic fatigue, recurrent yeast vaginal infections, oral thrush, itchy ears, dandruff, blurry eyes, patchy itchy skin rashes, intestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome or malabsorption, muscle twitching, acne, rosacea, chronic headaches, you may be dealing with a fungus issue.
It is true that, individually, these symptoms can have any number of causes, but if you are experiencing more than one at the same time, there may be a chance that they are entirely related to fungus. While many doctors will not tell you (because they do not know), the truth is that these are all symptoms of an overgrowth of yeast in and on the body. Many doctors simply do not know about this because they are not taught that otherwise healthy people can have such conditions.
There are a lot of names for this condition: Yeast Infection, Fungus Infection, Candidiasis Infection, Candida, C. Albicans, or simply thrush. It is pretty much all the same, just presenting itself differently throughout the body. Candida is a genus of yeasts and is the most common cause of fungal infections worldwide (Manolakaki et al., 2010). Technically, it is parasitic fungi that resemble yeast. It is found primarily in the mouth, vagina, and intestinal tract, where they are usually benign but can become pathogenic if pushed. So the question then becomes, how did they become pathogenic, and how can I stop them?
Have you taken several courses of antibiotics over the years? Is your diet high in sugar, pasta, bread, and alcohol? If so, then the idea of an overgrowth of yeast may be right on. These are all things that actually spur such an overgrowth, and the effects can be long-lasting. Remember, as previously addressed, antibiotics suppress the bacteria that would otherwise hold these bugs at bay.
Now think about nature for a moment. What happens when an animal or another form of life dies and is left to sit out? Nature comes to take it away, right? I call this “death blooms.” This is because things like bugs, fungi, and other little critters come to feed off of the dead. So what do you think comes to take away the dead things in your gut after you killed them off with an antibiotic? Our bodies are a part of nature, so the rules of nature still apply. The way our bodies work, either the yeasts or the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, will fill the void and eat the dead. It is their job!
Another problem with antibiotics is that they can lead to an overgrowth of potentially harmful bacteria, including clostridium, which can quickly lead to severe and sometimes fatal bouts of diarrhea. Through this same mechanism of bacterial suppression, antibiotics can also lead to the overgrowth of fungus and yeast infections because the bacteria (which you just killed) are no longer working to suppress the yeast and fungal growth within the intestine. So the yeast turns fungal and then comes to eat all the dead stuff you just killed. This is often why women get vaginal yeast infections shortly after starting antibiotics. Men are victims of this too, but the manifestation is usually much deeper in the body or results in skin infections such as jock itch or athlete’s foot, or even nail fungus.
Frequent use of antibiotics or poor diet makes these issues even worse. Understand that these potentially dangerous bacteria and yeast are present in small numbers in the gut naturally. They are a part of that balance we discussed earlier. However, when good bacteria are killed by antibiotics (Kourbeti, Alegakis, Maraki & Samonis, 2010), or not fed with their correct food, or when you are feeding the harmful bacteria and yeasts with too much sugar, or you are putting too much stress on your system (Myers & Hawrelak, 2004), then yeasts and other harmful agents take over because this delicate balance is thrown off and nature must respond.
The result is not pretty and includes the symptoms I have already listed, along with plenty of others that are just as fun. While it is a necessary and potentially lifesaving effect, it is not exactly fun to go through, and it can sometimes take years to get over, and that is if it is properly identified. Of course, these issues are made worse when the person is without vital organs such as an appendix or a gallbladder. This statement may shock many because older doctors tend to tell you that these organs are unnecessary. After all, nature messed up. But I would argue that these organs are indeed necessary. Unfortunately, some of us will have to wait for the practice of medicine to catch up with the science of medicine.
The point is that quite a few chronic illnesses and related symptoms, such as allergies, joint problems, mood and brain disorders, chronic inflammation, digestive problems, and more, can be attributed to this very situation. Yeast overgrowth is quite common, but people do not know how to recognize it, and doctors tend to ignore it because they would not know how to treat it effectively, even if they could diagnose it. More than that, fungi take time to get rid of, and in today’s world of NOW NOW NOW, both doctors and patients do not want to hear about the months or possibly years it might take to cure it. Even fewer want to hear anything about a lifestyle change.
Consider the following: AIDS patients get yeast and fungal infections, diabetics get yeast and fungal infections, babies get thrush while they wait for their intestinal flora to develop, and women get vaginal yeast infections quite often. These are just a few examples, but they prove just how common such infections are. So is it out of the realm of possibility that the rest of us could be susceptible? Of course not!
So what is the point? The point is that these infections come on the cusp of antibiotic treatments or somehow impaired immune function. So understand that even if you are otherwise healthy, the odds of having some kind of yeast infection are pretty good, especially when considering what the Standard American Diet (SAD) does to our immune function.
Of course, your odds of having these issues increase dramatically if you have a high-sugar / low-fiber diet, impaired immunity, use drugs like antibiotics or birth control pills, use estrogen or steroids like prednisone, or have psychological stress. How do we know this? Because basically, these are all things that science and medicine have already agreed can trigger a yeast overgrowth.
Doctor Mark Hyman (MD) lists out some of the symptoms of such infections a little more in-depth. They include things like chronic fatigue, loss of energy, decreased libido, gastrointestinal issues, thrush of any kind, bloating and gas, cramps, rectal itching, yeast infections, frequent bladder infections, thyroid dysfunction, depression, irritability, the inability to concentrate, allergies, low immune function, food sensitivity, Psoriasis, eczema, IBS, and so on (Mark Hyman, 2010).
Of course, he goes on to say that a history of yeast infections, antibiotic use for infections or acne, oral birth control pill usage and oral steroid hormone usage are also predisposing factors. He also points to craving foods rich in carbohydrates or yeast as a big warning sign (Mark Hyman, 2010). Listen to your body!
Sure, you could go to the doctor if you feel you have these issues. However, there are a couple of significant problems with doing so. A good portion of the tests they could use for diagnosing yeast problems are not exactly foolproof, including the test for blood antibody levels. As we have addressed before, it probably would not matter anyway because the chances of them addressing the actual cause instead of just the symptoms are quite low.
The best and most effective way (right now) to diagnose such a problem is by seeing if the reasons listed above fit your health history. The treatment of this issue is a whole different story because both symptoms and treatment will vary from person to person. If you search the internet, you will find a hundred and one different cures and many different pieces of advice. Some sites are simply going to prey on your desperation, so please be careful. You do not need their cures, and it does not matter anyway because most of their cures will NOT work; trust me, I have tried them.
Still, if you find yourself dealing with such issues, the first thing to understand is that your body is simply out of balance. The only cure is to get it back into balance. Basically, our goal is to re-balance your body and let the organisms work it out. We really need to re-establish the beneficial bacteria in the gut. This is why understanding bacteria is so important. Of course, understanding what feeds beneficial bacteria and fungus is also important for obvious reasons.
Understand that when your diet is wrong, your internal ecosystem will be off, providing a window of opportunity for the fungi to establish themselves on the gut wall. Our goal, being that the yeast has already filled the void, is to kill the fungus/yeast slowly and slowly allow the good bacteria to grow back. This will take some time.
My advice is to be wary of Antifungal Medications. While I understand that sometimes nutrition and supplements just are not enough to clear up stubborn yeast overgrowth, you must understand that many medical-grade antifungals are extremely harsh on the liver. Many fungal organisms are resistant to them anyway. Think very hard before taking this step, and research the side effects.
If you would like to learn more, Dr. Hyman did a great piece called “Is Hidden Fungus Making You Ill?“
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This article was originally published as a chapter in the book Natural Health Made Easy: The Briobiotic Protocol (2016)
Dr. Robertson is a health researcher and educator, not a physician. The information provided here is not medical advice, a professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or service to you or any other individual. The information provided is for educational and anecdotal purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation, or the advice of your physician or other healthcare providers. Dr. Robertson is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or additional information, services, or product you obtain or utilize. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CALL 911 OR YOUR PHYSICIAN.