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Candida albicans and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Novus Research Report No. A-66013 (condensed summary)
I. Overview - Current research indicates that Candida albicans Syndrome, loosely described as an overgrowth or imbalance of intestinal yeast, affects one third of the total U.S. population. The syndrome is characterized by a series of chronic disorders affecting digestive, lymphatic, reproductive, urinary and endocrine systems, with lesser involvement of the cardiovascular and muscular systems.
Candida albicans is a yeast [fungus] present in and on most of the human body and is normally controlled by the human immune system and the usual bacterial flora present in and on the body. However, when a negative change takes place in the intestinal flora which impacts the growth of the suppressant bacteria, the yeast begin rapid overproduction especially in the colon. The yeast colonies secrete powerful toxins that are absorbed into the bloodstream causing chronic diarrhea, skin eruptions, cramps and chronic lethargy. Localized overgrowth results in vaginitis, oral thrush and skin rashes. While not a disease, the overall collection of symptoms are referred to as "candidiasis" The syndrome, candidiasis, was recognized sixty years ago as a result of the interaction of Candida albicans [then known as "Monilia Albicans"] with body tissues and fluids resulting in vaginal, mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal infections. Recent research has shown that Candida albicans can affect all cells and fluids and is a complication in AIDS, a contributor to early death in cancer, and a source of male and female infertility.
The Candida yeast colony normally lives as a saprophyte, that is by consuming dead tissue rather than living cells. However, the colony can become a pathogen when it is allowed to grow beyond its current food supply or when an event impacts the growth of the bacterial colonies that limit the Candida colony's expansion. Such events include the introduction of antibiotics, cortisone, birth control pills, or artificial hormones. The Candida colony is not directly affected by these drugs, and when the competing bacteria is killed, the Candida expands rapidly. The colony overgrows its normal food supply and easily makes the transition from saprophyte to pathogen and continues to thrive on living tissue. The Candida colony is therefore "opportunistic" as they will overgrow whenever the body's resistance is lowered by nutritional deficiency, infection or a debilitating agent or drug. The colony will increase its area of tissue involvement after conversion to the pathogenic form. This growing tissue involvement will ultimately result in death from blood poisoning known as Candida Septicemia. The role of Candida in blood poisoning and death has recently become more evident as physicians treat AIDS patients whose immune systems are ineffective against the pathogenic effects of Candida overgrowth .The Candida colony that exceeds it environmental food supply will readily transform from its rounded yeast form to a puncturing mycelia form and in doing so secrete numerous toxins. The interaction of Candida is complex. A minimum of 80 known toxins [antigens] are secreted by pathogenic colonies to which the body creates a specific antibody. These fungal antigens often stimulate nonspecific reactions which cannot be directly diagnosed, often resulting in a symptomatic ailment being labeled as “non causal and incurable". However, when the reaction to the antigen is specific to a body system, it can be misdiagnosed. The result of a misdiagnosis can result in a treatment that actually accelerates the growth of the Candida colony. The common misdiagnosis is often placed under a general symptomatic title like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or if specific to an anatomical area, Regional Enteritis and if a more specific site can be located , Crohn's Disease. Then, what is actually inflammation caused by Candida, is treated with the powerful anti-inflammatory cortisone. The resulting introduction of corticosteroid to the gut results in a dramatic increase in the Candida colonies. While the corticosteroid then masks the increasing inflammation, it continues to assist in the colony growth, making the symptomatic disease become both chronic and incurable. Numerous research sources report a direct fact: In every case of corticosteroid use, the patient has demonstrated a severe increase in Candida pathogenic colonization. In short, the use of cortisone for more than a few weeks, results in Candida overgrowth and pathology.
II. Candida Symptoms - Candida overgrowth will manifest in the following general areas as ranked in order of significance:
- gastrointestinal and urinary tract disorders
- allergic reactions
- mental and emotional disturbances
- endocrine system compromise. These filaments form an enzyme known as phospholipase at their tips which allows the filament to penetrate cellular walls. The action of this enzyme produces peroxide as a byproduct which accounts for localized inflammation such as gut wall distress and skin eruptions.
III. Nutrition and Candida Overgrowth - The overall research literature suggests that an immune deficient state caused by malnutrition or poor nutrition is a "precursor" to candidiasis. The malnourishment appears to be a factor not in the quantity of the food consumed but in the quality. Candidiasis patients are often deficient in biotin [Vitamin B] which directly inhibits the Candida colony from forming hyphae.
IV. Candida Diagnosis - The following symptoms and events are ranked in order of significance:
- Use of broad spectrum antibiotics.
- Use of corticosteroid for inflammation.
- Use of birth control pills.
- Use of hormonal therapeutic drugs.
- Chronic abdominal disorders such as cramps, diarrhea, tar-like or sticky stools, flatulence, and rectal itching. Stools have a strong, foul odor.
- Chronic vaginitis or urinary discomfort.
- Craving for sweets, or yeast made foods such as cheese and beer.
- Consumption of sweets or carbohydrates produces a marked feeling of high energy followed by a severe feeling of "letdown".
- Fatigue, sudden and uncontrollable hunger, chronic lethargy. Gas and bloating after a meal.
- Skin eruptions characterized by painful swelling, burning and redness.
- Feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowel.
- Pain and cramping from eating meals with garlic.
- Urination difficult or with dribbling [male only].
- Coating on tongue which is difficult to remove.
- Irritable or moody before meals. Stomach "growling" is frequent both before and after meals.
- Painful joints particularly knees and fingers.
- Strong lights are painful to the eyes.
While tests are available, diagnosis is usually accomplished through a detailed review of the patient's medical history and by a direct response to a specific treatment. Since Candida albicans is found benignly over much of the body, laboratory testing for Candida presence is of little clinical value. The important tests that are available measure the amount of antigens present in the patient's blood serum. The level of antibody corresponds to the level of yeast present. Some tests that have been used are "Chronic Fungal Disease Profile", performed on blood serum samples, the Candida Immuno Assay(CEIA) and the Candida albicans Antibody Titer Test (CAATT), which also requires correlation to a questionnaire.