The Candida Syndrome: Health Nemesis or Myth?
by Charles W. Moore
Photo © Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock
Candida albicans is a yeast-like fungal parasite inhabiting the digestive tracts of
nearly all adult humans. Normally, Candida peacefully co-exists with other
microbial passengers in our bodies. However, it also appears to be a cause of a
wide variety of disorders ranging from bad breath to serious neurological
disorders. It’s also controversial – at least among the mainstream medical
Candida albicans infections are one of the major health problems of our era.
Some doctors claim that 60 to 80 percent of the population may be affected.
Others dismiss alleged chronic Candidiasis as the cause of a variety of
seemingly unrelated disease symptoms as merely the latest fad diagnosis. One
reference I consulted describes what it calls the “Candida Syndrome” as a
On the other hand, authors such as, C. Orian Truss in The Missing Diagnosis II, William Crook in The Yeast Connection: A Medical Breakthrough and Keith Sehnert in
The Candidiasis Syndrome, assert that Candidiasis can cause or mimic
virtually any disease symptom from bad breath to Multiple Sclerosis-type
neurological disorders. A partial inventory of claimed Candida-related symptoms
includes: difficulty concentrating (“brain fog”), slowed reflexes, depression,
lethargy and apathy, decreased mental energy, anxiety, fatigue,
obsessive-compulsive disorder, PMS and breast swelling/tenderness in women,
headaches, memory loss, hives, seborrhea, psoriasis, skin rashes, diarrhea,
constipation, bloating, nasal congestion, sinusitis, infertility, ocular
“floaters,” prostatitis, pelvic pain, loss of libido, neuritis, arthritis,
Crohn’s disease, hypoglycemia, schizophrenia, anorexia nervosa, lupus,
hyperactivity, behavior and learning problems and autism.
Such claims scandalize many conventional M.D.s, who were taught in medical
school that particular symptoms relate diagnostically to specific disorders.
“Most traditional doctors do not want to hear about this condition and call it a
‘fad’ disease,” says Candida researcher Elson M. Haas, M.D. “However, with
long-term infestation or with the weakened immune state that can result from a
reduction of normal colon bacteria, the yeast can shift into its fungal form,
wherein it develops rhizoids, or roots, that can be implanted in the intestinal
wall or other mucosal linings.”
Candida albicans is a yeast-like fungal parasite inhabiting the digestive
tracts of nearly all adult humans. Normally, Candida peacefully co-exists with
sundry other microbial passengers in our bodies. Because it is so ubiquitous, a
positive test for Candida’s presence is not very useful as a diagnostic tool.
Routine blood tests usually don’t reveal anything unusual.
Candidiasis is a “respectable” medical diagnosis within a limited scope.
Thrush – a Candida infection of the mouth and throat – is acknowledged by the
medical establishment, as is vaginal Candidiasis in women. It is attribution of
less specific ailments to Candida that is controversial. Many physicians recall
being told in medical school that Candidiasis affects only the severely
If Candidiasis is as rampant as some suggest, what is the cause? Several
explanations are postulated:
1. Massive overprescription and misuse of antibiotics and steroid drugs in
medicine and agriculture is cited. Antibiotics ingested as medication or from
residues in meat and dairy products are powerless against yeasts, but destroy
“friendly” bacterial gut inhabitants, making room for opportunistic Candida to
grow. Friendly bacteria don’t just “crowd out” intestinal yeast, but also
produce factors such as lactic acid, formic acid, acetic acid, and hydrogen
peroxide that help create an environment unfavorable to yeast. Oral
contraceptive drugs and anti-ulcer medications (Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid, Axid)
are also identified as having a probable role in promoting Candida overgrowth.
2. It is suggested that allegedly “sub-toxic” concentrations of synthetic
chemical pollutants that virtually everyone in the developed world is exposed to
24 hours a day – in homes, workplaces, public buildings, and outdoor air – are
stressing our immune systems to a degree that they can’t cope with aggressive
and persistent parasites like Candida.
Candida albicans infections are one of the major health
problems of our era. Some doctors claim that 60 to 80 percent of the
population may be affected.
3. It is further theorized that mercury amalgam (“silver”) dental fillings
slowly poison the immune system and encourage Candida growth. Candida have the
unusual ability to interact with the toxic metal mercury, and are believed by
some to proliferate when there is more mercury in the body. “When the body’s
burden of mercury is low and the normal intestinal germs are present, Candida
does not grow excessively and the body feels well,” says Gordon Josephs, M.D.
4. It is also believed that our society’s high dietary consumption of sugar
and other simple carbohydrates, and generally low consumption of high fiber
complex carbohydrate foods creates ideal body chemistry for Candida overgrowth.
Simple sugars are rapidly metabolized by yeasts/fungi, and also inhibit friendly
5. Candida produces 79 distinct toxins, that allegedly cause a broad range of
symptoms, which tend to become chronic because the toxins also adversely affect
the immune system, facilitating continued Candida growth and toxin production.
“Candida is responsible for flooding the system with an accumulation of toxic
acetylaldehydes. Acetylaldehydes are known to poison tissues – accumulating in
the brain, spinal cord, joints, muscles and tissues.” says Dr. Stephan Cooter,
Ph.D, in his book Beating Chronic Disease.
6. Candida has also been suggested to play a part in creating what is called
a “leaky gut.” Fungal Candida roots in intestinal walls, perforating them
microscopically and allowing undigested food particles and fecal matter to pass
directly into the bloodstream. This swamps the immune system and triggers a
sensitizing response to normally harmless molecules. The individual becomes
“environmentally sensitive,” reacting to normally harmless inhalants in the
environment. Increased stress on the immune system further weakens the body’s
ability to fight Candida, and a vicious cycle is established. Fugitive particles
from the gut may also pass through the blood/brain barrier, be mistaken for
neurotransmitters, and produce mental and neurological symptoms.
Nonsense, says the Infectious Diseases and Immunization Committee of the
Canadian Paediatric Society, in a paper intended to debunk popular
“misconceptions” about the Candida Syndrome, which the report characterizes as
“a concoction of a few truths and many unproven assertions.” The authors
continue: “Although the increase in Candida colonization associated with the use
of antibiotics, particularly broad-spectrum ones, is well established, there is
no proof that this results in the production of Candida toxins....– the
hypothesis of ‘chronic candidiasis’ must be considered speculative and
The report also notes that “The symptoms reportedly caused by ‘chronic
candidiasis’ are so varied and general that nearly every person could have them
at one time or another.” However Candida Syndrome proponents argue that it is
precisely the presence of multiple symptoms that may be an indicator of
Candidiasis. Indeed, symptoms like headaches, allergic disorders, depression,
panic attacks, irritability, and anxiety, are believed to be typical
consequences of the effect of Candida-toxins on brain chemistry.
Even when a diagnosis of Candidiasis is affirmed, treatment is nearly as
controversial as the disease itself. There are three basic modes of Candidiasis
1. Pharmaceutical anti-fungal drugs like Nystatin, Ketoconazol, Monistat,
Lamisil (Terbinafine HCl), Diflucan (Fluconazole), Sporanox (Itraconazole), etc.
Lamisil is a new fungistatic (stops growth of fungi) and fungicidal (kills
fungi) which may replace Diflucan as the drug of choice for treating
Candidiasis. Nystatin is the weakest antifungal and many yeast are resistant to
2. Naturopathic or nutraceutical anti-Candida dietary supplements such as
garlic, Caprylic Acid, Black Walnut, Olive oil, Psyllium husk and seed powder,
Pau d’Arco, Molybdenum, Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL), Glucosamine and
N-acetylglucosamine (NAG), Concanavolin A, Manapol, Undecylenic acid, Gentian
violet, digestive enzyme supplements, and various homeopathic formulas, among
3. A combination of the two above approaches.
Most Candida therapists recommend diets restricted in sugars, other simple
carbohydrates and alcohol, as well as avoiding antibiotics (topical and oral),
hormonal, cortisone (steroid), and antacid/anti-ulcer medications. Neither
anti-fungal drugs nor Naturopathic anti-fungals can work successfully without
removing sugars from the diet, including all sweetened drinks, soda pop, fruits
and fruit drinks, and corn syrups. Candida ferments and proliferates in the
presence of simple sugars. Sugar dramatically increases Candida’s ability to
stick to mucus membrane cells.
Avoid non-essential antibiotic medications as well as antibacterial
deodorants (baking soda is a good substitute), and soaps containing antibiotics
such as triclosan, which can contribute to breeding resistant bacteria. Exposure
to small amounts of pathogenic bacteria is thought to keep the immune system
There is debate over whether high protein or high complex carbohydrate (like
whole grains) diets are desirable or not for Candidiasis patients. Protein
breakdown can produce ammonia, which in turn creates an environment hospitable
to yeast. Complex carbohydrates (starches) can pass far down the
gastrointestinal tract before being broken down into glucose and absorbed. Since
Candida is thought to sometimes reside and proliferate in the lower
gastrointestinal tract, complex carbohydrates could potentially feed Candida
there. However complex carbohydrates are necessary for energy and also feed
friendly intestinal flora.
Since a major contributing factor to Candida proliferation is usually the
elimination of the normal flora, intestinal bacteria must be replaced to help
prevent recolonization by Candida. Supplementation with probiotics like
Acidophilus bifidus is the usual means of replenishing intestinal flora.
Many therapists recommend avoiding or eliminating yeasted breads and
fermented foods from the diet, since a degree of cross-reactivity is suspected.
Others argue that eating large quantities of yeast-containing foods may in fact
help stimulate antibody production against Candida.