Is Candida an
Candida is usually thought to result from a weakness
of the immune system following antibiotic therapy.
This may be true, but it may not be the whole truth.
If it isn't then any treatment based on it is
unlikely to be completely successful in all
patients. Our data indicates that whilst the
majority of sufferers do recover (occasionally
relapsing at a later date) a minority fail to
recover at all. Effective treatment requires
satisfactory explanations of underlying causes.
As long ago as the 1980s American physicians noted
that their most difficult-to-treat candida patients
had endocrine systems that were not working
properly, known as the APICH syndrome. As an
unbalanced endocrine system may play a role in all
candida overgrowth, it is important to look
carefully at the relationship between candida and
the endocrine system. We begin with the usual
description of the causes of candida.
What is candida?
'Candida' is the popular term for an overgrowth of
candida - a condition known to medical doctors as
'intestinal candidiasis' when found in the
intestines or 'systemic candidiasis' when found
elsewhere in the body. It was first diagnosed by
American physicians in the 1970s.
When we are healthy, candida lives (in its yeast
form) in our intestines where it competes with
bacteria for room. Like bacteria, it is aerobic i.e.
it needs oxygen to live. When we die, oxygenated
blood stops coursing through our bodies, suffocating
the bacteria. But candida (like all yeast) can
survive without oxygen by changing into its fungal,
anaerobic form. It spreads rapidly into the area
vacated by the dead bacteria, putting down roots
into the walls of the intestines, and sporing
through the gut wall into the rest of the body.
Candida decomposes cell membranes, providing food
for other microbes, particularly the maggots which
infest corpses. The Egyptians realised this
thousands of years ago. When they wanted to mummify
a body they extracted the intestines as soon as
possible after death, to stop the body rotting from
the inside out, embalming the rest of the body with
eucalyptus and other anti-fungal oils to kill any
remaining candida and other microbes.
Sounds revolting, but a diagnosis of 'candida' means
that this process has started, whilst we are still
alive. It doesn't mean that you are at death's door.
On the contrary candida rarely kills. But its
presence in large numbers means that your immune
system has an unremitting battle to keep it under
control - a battle which takes a terrible toll on
Common symptoms of candida
The damage to the intestinal wall allows toxins to
enter the bloodstream. This condition called 'leaky
gut syndrome' often leads to food allergies, foggy
brain, migraines and depression. Symptoms in the
intestines include diarrhoea or constipation,
bloatedness, flatulence and itchy anus. Once through
to the rest of the body, the candida can live
anywhere there are mucous membranes - it
particularly likes the vagina, lungs and the
sinuses, providing food for bacteria and viruses. It
has an ability to disrupt the endocrine system
causing symptoms such as weight gain or weight loss,
PMS, menstrual irregularities, joint pains, asthma,
hayfever, muscle fatigue and chronic tiredness.
Testing usually reveals vitamin, mineral and enzyme
deficiencies and low blood sugar. Thyroid tests
often indicate that the thyroid is functioning
normally, but body temperature is inexplicably low.
Some of the most obvious symptoms of candida
overgrowth are thrush, cystitis and fungal
infections of the nails or skin, such as athlete's
foot. Local medication is not permanently
successful. This list of symptoms is illustrative
Causes of candida - the traditional view
A decade ago books on candida were hard to come by -
but now most bookshops stock a good choice. We have
a lot more information and a vast increase in the
choice of supplements, as new anti-fungal properties
of herbs are discovered and added to supplements.
But we haven't made any progess in understanding why
candida has become so prevalent. Authors of recent
publications seem to agree that the number one cause
is overuse of broad spectrum antibiotics. Candida
then overwhelms the immune system by producing
toxins which repress T-lymphocytes, the main
search-and-destroy cells in the immune system.
This is a far simpler account than that given by
earlier writers (often practising physicians) who
cited a complex mix of contributory factors. GPs
have difficulty accepting this simpler hypothesis.
They know that antibiotics cause thrush in
susceptible individuals, which they (wrongly) regard
as little more than a temporary nuisance, restricted
to the genitals and mouth. They don't believe that a
microscopic organism (which our bodies have
accommodated for thousands of years) can permanently
overwhelm a healthy immune system to do such
It seems that we are in danger of talking up one
possible hypothesis (disregarding others) and
unfortunately our chosen one alienates the medical
profession and provides poor guidance for the very
people who need it most: severe cases with
complications, and those who relapse. It is time to
take a fresh look at the underlying causes of
Who suffers from candida?
Females! Males do get it - see our last edition for
a male member's story, but overwhelmingly it is a
female condition. At least 60% of sufferers are
women; 20% are men; and 20% are boys and girls. If
candida is caused primarily by antibiotics, why is
it predominantly a female condition? Do women
swallow more antibiotics than men? Maybe they do,
but anecdotal evidence suggests not - women avoid
oral antibiotics because they know they will get
vaginal thrush if they don't.
Considering the number of male teenagers who take
antibiotics for acne and the children dosed with
antibiotics for infections, shouldn't this ratio of
sufferers be more balanced? Perhaps this imbalance
can give us a clue about the causes of candida. Some
of our male members think that antibiotics caused
their candida, but a significant number think
otherwise. They cite:
handling chemicals e.g.
pharmaceutical workers, farmers
dental mercury amalgam
use of recreational
medication, especially corticosteroids
stress (usually as a
Causes in women?
Mandy Smith (then Bill Wyman's wife) was the first
UK public person reported in the press to be
suffering from candida, which was attributed to her
continuous use of the contraceptive pill from
puberty. In fact, it still seems likely that
hormonal pills are the major factor in women
developing candida. The factors are:
contraceptive pill or
HRT including 'natural' progesterone cream
(hydrocortisone, beconase, prednisolone etc.)
hormonal changes e.g.
puberty, sexual maturity, pregnancy, sterilisation,
menopause including peri- and post-menopause
dental mercury amalgam
chemical poisoning in
the home or office
stress (usually as a
Causes in children?
Our evidence is too scanty to offer any definite
conclusions, but we note that most of our young
members (if not all) have had antibiotics and/or
What do these factors have in common?
They all disrupt the body's endocrine system,
causing hormonal abnormalities, which can be
aggravated by antibiotics, and even by candida.
What is the endocrine system?
The endocrine system is the regulatory system of the
body. Whilst the immune system is our defence system
(an army), the endocrine system is our internal
policeforce, preventing local trouble from
escalating and keeping everything running smoothly.
How does the endocrine system work?
In simple terms, the endocrine system (part of the
hormonal system) has a number of glands e.g.
ovaries, testes, adrenals and thyroid all controlled
by the pituitary gland (the master gland) and the
hypothalamus in the brain. Under direction from the
brain, each gland releases a chemical messenger
(hormone) into the blood stream, that circulates
until it finds its target site - a receptor
specially-shaped for it on various organs. The
hormone fits into the receptor and turns it on -
like a key opening a lock. All of our organs
(including the brain) have receptors, and the
arrival of the hormone messenger governs the
activity of the organ, turning it up or down, on or
This is the basic mechanism for how most drugs work
in the body, as drugs are made to mimic hormones.
Quantities of all circulating hormones are
continuously monitored and adjusted by the brain. It
is a complex system because some hormones have more
than one function, and hormones work with or against
each one other.
Let's look at how your hormones affect thrush. The
endocrine system governs the acid-alkaline balance
in the vagina. Normally it is kept slightly acidic,
but if the endocrine system decides to raise the pH
level (making it alkaline), the vaginal wall becomes
less hospitable to the bacteria that live there.
They die, and the vacated space is filled by an
organism that likes an alkaline environmentl i.e.
thrush. This is why to get rid of thrush
permanently, you need to return the vagina to its
natural acidic state. Go gently - drastic treatment
will certainly banish the thrush, but a sudden
vacuum will be quickly filled by an opportunistic
strain of bacteria that will bring as many problems
as the thrush. You also need to discover why your
endocrine system is altering the acid-alkaline
balance (e.g. are you taking HRT or other
corticosteroids?) and let the body get back to the
balance that it wants to maintain for your good
Relationship with candida?
Let's return to the factors that members thought
might have caused their candida, and look at one way
that they might disrupt the endocrine system
(undoubtedly there are others too). Corticosteroids,
dental mercury amalgam and chemicals such as dry
cleaning materials, carpet sprays, plastics, paints
and pesticides can all jam oestrogen receptors.
Oestrogen is a hormone that is made in the ovaries
(in pre-menopausal females), in the adrenals (in men
and in post-menopausal women), in fat cells and in
the bowels. As oestrogen and its opposite number
progesterone are particularly important in a female,
we would expect any imbalance to have more effects
on the female than male. In addition, both of these
hormones have more mundane functions (in both sexes)
such as controlling the bladder, bowel functioning,
blood sugar regulation. In fact, all of the symptoms
of candida mentioned earlier, including weight gain,
asthma etc. can result from hormonal imbalance.
Effect of blocked oestrogen receptors?
The exact effect is unknown. Depending on which
receptors are blocked and what activity the receptor
was governing, the net result could be excess or
insufficient oestrogen. Excess oestrogen is a cancer
risk e.g. for breast cancer. Progesterone dominance
(low oestrogen) can cause headaches, migraines,
depression, blood sugar irregularities leading to
asthma and adrenal gland exhaustion leading to
allergies particularly environmental allergies. Low
body temperature (but normal thyroid tests) are
another sign of adrenal dysfunction. So we find that
all of our symptoms listed earlier are signs of an
endocrine disorder. Interesting!
Why do antibiotics bring on candida?
Antibiotics can be the final straw that breaks the
camel's back. We have already seen how the presence
of antibiotics can cause the vagina to become more
alkaline predisposing thrush. Short term antibiotics
can have another effect as oestrogen is passed into
the intestines in bile fluids for conversion to a
more active form by bacterial action. (In other
words, gut bacteria allow you to make maximum use of
your available oestrogen). Broad-spectrum
antibiotics kills the bacteria stopping this
process. The level of oestrogen plummets below that
necesary. Repeated doses of antibiotics can disrupt
the endocrine system similar to corticosteroids.
Effect of candida on the endocrine
Once candida has overgrown, it can bind to hormones
changing their ;key' shape so they are unable to fit
'lock' in their receptor. This effectively
inactivates the circulating hormone, making all
endocrine problems ten times worse.
What is the APICH syndrome?
Autoimmune Polyendocrinopathy Immune-dysregulation
Candidosis Hypersensitivity syndrome. This syndrome
was identified in the USA in the 1980s as an
endocrine disorder afflicting all really
difficult-to-treat candida patients. It is far more
prevalent in females. (We covered the details in our
Factsheet 005, but note that symptoms include
ovarian, thyroid and adrenal insufficiency).
Summary of the argument
We are suggesting that candida is a side-effect of
an endocrine disorder (hormonal imbalance). It is a
continuum with thrush at one end and the APICH
syndrome at the other - most severe - end. The
primary mechanism may be the blocking of oestrogen
receptors, although there will be others too. This
hypothesis provides an explanation for the
male-female imbalance. Blocked oestrogen receptors
can lead to a relative dominance of progesterone, a
hormone candida loves. Once candida has taken hold,
it can further disrupt the endocrine system by
inactivating circulating hormones. The immune system
attacks the candida and the candida retaliates
weakening it, but the disruption is primarily in the
Steps to recovery
If we accept the premise that candida may be an
endocrine disorder, then the key to getting rid of
candida for good is to stop this imbalance. In
further editions of the
we will investigate how to do this in detail. Here,
we outline an approach.
As candida aggravates any endocrine disorder, reduce
candida overgrowth. Classic candida therapy has four
aspects to it:
Diet, restricting banned foodstuffs including
Repopulation of the digestive tract with the
correct good bacteria (that you will find in CYS &
Dietary supplements as needed to boost the
immune system and help with digestion.
All practitioners have their own regime which they
advocate. I provide general guidelines to all
members, and individual support on request.
Consider how you have disrupted your endocrine
system. You are unlikely to get well if the
disruption is ongoing e.g. by taking the
contraceptive pill or HRT. You may want to take
expert advice on alternatives. We particularly
recommend this if you are menopausal.
If you can't work out what may have caused
your candida (or are undecided how to proceed) you
may benefit from expert help. We can help you find a
practitioner, many of whom are using electronic
machines to take the guesswork out of identifying
Step Four: See a good
practitioner, they will order tests if they are
necessary, or your GP may be willing to do
so. Please don't assume that you are low in
oestrogen just because you are a female in your
forties - remember that high oestrogen is a cancer
risk, so you need to be sure!
If you discover that dental mercury amalgam is
poisoning your system, be sure to follow the correct
procedure to remove ALL mercury from your body. The
body will not give up mercury if it is deficient in
any mineral, so address that in advance of
treatment. After the fillings have been changed, the
mercury has to be removed from the blood and then
from receptor sites.
If you are sure that your oestrogen level is
suboptimal, there are a number of herbal
supplements that can help - known as
phytoestrogens. These can remove excess
oestrogen or increase oestrogen activity by
unblocking receptors. They help to rectify
whatever imbalance is found. They are precusors
to hormones but not hormones themselves. We
recommend that you stay away from all hormones
including so-called 'natural' progesterone cream
which can have some very nasty side-effects.
(Remember candida loves progesterone, and excess
progesterone can transform itself into oestrogen
or testosterone causing those hormones to rise
Licorice root (not
with high blood pressure)
Avoid or reduce:
Hormones in milk or
Soya is beginning
to get a bad press. It has been reported that
animals fed soya have had their intestines
ripped by its long strands. This sounds like bad
news for candida sufferers, but we await further
Anyone that offers CYS has to abide by certain
conditions like not being allowed to advertise
the product below a certain price or not being
able to offer free postage unless the company
gives permission to. Well here's the good news
- to order your CYS