Curing Candida: My "Gut" Reaction

candia-cells

The cover of The New York Times Magazinethis Sunday was titled: The Secret Lives of Germs by Michael Pollan. The article introduces us to the fascinating new view of human microbiology and physiology. The core message of the article is that the key to many chronic diseases may lie in the imbalance of our microbiota–all the microbes or bacteria that call our bodies home.

The new data are showing that most us on Western diets have different microbes than populations that are from rural backgrounds, such as Africa and Amerindians in Venezuela. These differences may eventually explain why chronic diseases such as allergies and autoimmune diseases are more prevalent in our culture.

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CANDIDA?

A lot. I have seen numerous times in my practice women who have come in with severe vaginitis due to Candida immediately after being on a course of antibiotics. The connection is clearly that the antibiotics in eradicating a bacterial infection,whether in the throat or chest, also cleared out the “good” bacteria in the intestines. This imbalance set the environment for Candida (yeast) to overgrow in the body. The same thing can occur after being on oral corticosteroids for asthma or arthritis. The other big contributor to Candida overgrowth is a diet high in sugary or yeasty foods, such as bread and dairy (which contains lactose).

WHAT’S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE GUT AND THE VAGINA?

Again…a lot. The gut is the key to our health in general, as described by Michael Pollan’s article. I was able to learn this first-hand from a nutritionist in a Health Store 20 years ago. This vivacious, passionate healer was touting that the key to good health runs through the digestive tract. She got my attention by bemoaning that all of us are at a disadvantage since most of us weren’t breast-fed and lacking from the start the “right stuff” for the road to health. She taught me the power of vegetables (especially raw long before it was popular). She was a strong proponent of probiotics and re-balancing the good bacteria in our stomach and intestines.

When I see a patient that appears to have Chronic Candidiasis, I immediately focus on their diet and what may have triggered this problem, whether in the short-term or long-term.

Women and men can come with different presentations: for women, the vaginitis or cystitis can be the predominant problem. In others, it can be the digestive tract with symptoms such as bloating, constipation and abnormal stool. In men or women, certain fungal rashes anywhere on the body can indicate Candida. The toe nails is another area where fungus can thrive and show a person’s vulnerability.

If my “gut” reaction is right, we need to revitalize the gastrointestinal tract if we are going to correct the imbalance that exists there.

HOW?

1. We educate our patient on the proper diet to “starve” the little yeast buggers. It is not an easy diet to follow, but there are plenty of food choices, and the good news is that you will probably shed a few pounds by omitting all the processed carbs in your usual diet.

2. We use antifungal medications to further eradicate the yeast to non-toxic levels. This is for a defined period of time and then we can rely on the diet and herbs to control the yeast. The special treatment we offer in The Mitchell Medical Group is the anti-Candida immunotherapy. This is a sublingual drop placed under the tongue to build up the body’s immunity to Candida, and helps keep the Candida in check even if you need to take antibiotics or other medications which might cause a flair.

I’m very excited that the future of medicine involving using our microbiome (genes of our bacteria in our body) will dramatically improve our health. I can see the day when a patient comes into my office with an infection, and instead of writing an antibiotic prescription, I’m writing a prescription for a probiotic to neutralize her infection without compromising her good bacteria.

Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC & Long Island

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