A Candida Passover Story

This Friday marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday Passover. The Passover Seder is the ritual of the last meal the Israelites ate in Egypt before the Exodus.

One of the main symbols of Passover is matzo – the unleavened bread the Israelites took with them in their rush to leave Egypt.

WHAT DOES PASSOVER HAVE TO DO WITH CANDIDA SENSITIVITY?

In our medical practice, we diagnose many cases of Candida overgrowth. We tend to see a lot of cases where candida symptoms are either overlooked or undiagnosed by other physicians.

Candida is very difficult to diagnose. It relies on the physician paying careful attention to the patient’s history and knowing what clues to look for that may point to Candida as the problem.

THE SIGNS

The main signs we look for are: chronic use of antibiotics, chronic use of acid reflux medications, use of the birth control pill and, of course, a person’s diet.

A diet heavy in processed sugars and carbohydrates can be one of the main reasons a person develops Candida sensitivity.

If you have been a regular customer at your local bagel store or pizza parlor this may apply to you.

CANDIDA OCCURS IN BOTH WOMEN AND MEN.

In medicine, we tend to think of Candida as a female medical problem because of its clear association with vaginitis.

However, we also see a large population of men who present with stomach problems, sinus conditions and skin rashes–potential symptoms of candida.

CONFIRMING CANDIDA

The best ways to confirm a Candida diagnosis is with a skin test we do to check for immediate hypersensitivity to the Candida organism.

Another way is by initiating treatment. We prescribe an anti-fungal medication along with diet changes for two weeks, and in this 2 week period we look for clinical improvement. If a patient responds, we offer ways to strengthen their immune system with sublingual Candida drops and specific probiotics.

THE PASSOVER AND CANDIDA CONNECTION

I previously had a female patient who came to me because of chronic digestive problems. She always felt bloated after meals and was frequently constipated.

She had seen several gastroenterologists over the years who prescribed laxatives and antacids. None of these helped her symptoms.

Her visit with me was just a few weeks before Passover and she happened to mention an important observation. She told me that she didn’t know why, but she always seemed to feel better the week of Passover when she didn’t eat bread or any non-Passover approved foods, such as pasta.

I paused for a moment and thought: this patient is either gluten sensitive or has Candida. Then she went a step further and told me she did eat matzo during Passover. This ruled out a gluten problem, as matzo is made from wheat. However, matzo is unleavened wheat meaning it has no yeast in it.

My next 2 steps were to do a mouth swab to check for gluten intolerance and the Candida skin test. Her Candida skin test was positive immediately and her gluten test came back negative the next week. The diagnosis was made: Candida sensitivity causing Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

WHAT HAPPENED

The patient didn’t have to live on matzo for life. Instead, we got her to follow a healthy, yeast-free diet. This diet consisted of lots of vegetables, lean meats and fish, and avoided as much processed carbohydrates and sugar as possible. Now she feels good not only during Passover, but throughout the whole year!

- Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC

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