I have declared a victory in the war against the yeast and started a normal diet.
As a result, the yeast cells have been downgraded from hostile eukaryotes and wannabe animals to largely counterproductive oversized molecules. Coming attacks by the microorganisms will be considered sporadic crimes unless the foe manages to convince me to officially wage another war in the future.
In this text, I want to review my struggles against the intruders that were intense in the most recent 50 days. Your humble correspondent will appreciate if you reduce the amount of comment feedback that focuses on myself – be sure that I am sort of tired of being connected with the condition, especially physically ;-) – and if you kindly prefer general scientific questions that may improve our knowledge and help the mankind (or at least other individual sufferers).
Some of the topics discussed here remain controversial among physicians. Nevertheless, I still believe that you may consider me the ultimate impartial arbiter in all the open questions which is why I expect the feedback of those who disagree with some claims to be constructive. Your humble correspondent has no history of hypochondria and a record of disdain for alternative medicine that I mostly keep (sorry – I had heavy arguments in the morning with two of my close relatives who are staunch defenders of alternative medicine and I mean a genuinely alternative one, e.g. a curative pyramid near Žatec that they will visit this or next week); still, I am not blind if I see that the generic real-world medicine is unhelpful in the case of conditions such as ones that I have experienced, plagued by misdiagnoses, no diagnoses, and mistreatments.
The text below will be divided to the following sections:
* Habits that seem bad today
* Symptoms 2012
* Types of candidasis: recognized and questionable
* The Crook diet: the logic and the myths
* Fountains of health: some miraculous diet supplements
When I evaluate it with the hindsight, it seems to me the kingdom of fungi – which also contains molds, mushrooms, and yeasts – has always had a power to annoy me although the effects have been largely "cosmetic". It seems to me that a rather large percentage of people (although it's arguably a minority) are much more sensitive to fungi than e.g. bacteria. The fungi are responsible for various types of eczema, skin irritation – especially at places such as a sensitive place of the thighs – and probably also excessive tooth decay.
There are various conjectured interactions between the yeasts, dental mercury, tooth decay etc. – the causal influences may go in all directions – and I think it would be good if science settled all the major conjectures and the practical real-world medicine took these insights into account. In the past, the things that I attribute to the kingdom of fungi today have never been life-threatening for me but at some points, people noticed, physicians noticed, and their interpretation e.g. of the skin imperfections has always been invalid, I believe.
Habits that seem bad today
People with the same fungal vulnerability like me should adjust their everyday life in a way that is unsupportive of the fungi and yeasts. For example, I have always been hardy – used to the cold. But at some point, my environment "retaught me" to overdress and various comments at school and in the media "brainwashed me" into thinking that it's healthy to be sweat, and so on, because it kills the bacteria on the skin etc. It may kill the bacteria but the humid environment is still welcome by the fungi. Today, I think that the right recommendation to everyone who may have experienced some enhanced harassment by the kingdom of fungi is to undress as much as you can stand, allow the wind to remove humidity from your skin whenever possible, and so on. In particular, frequent showers are wrong and unproductive. In fact, if the fungal parasites play any role for the freshness of your skin, one may feel cleaner after several days of no shower.
Concerning the diet, I have always considered sugar to be the most uncontroversial nutrient and it's been the source of a clear majority of my calories. You may imagine that in the recent 50 days, the decision to reduce sugars below 5% of the mass of the food has changed my diet rather profoundly. ;-) Well, yeast beasts love to eat sugar so it's clear to me that I should be eating more vegetables and less fruits, more fats and meat and less sweeties, and so on. Still, I believe that for most people, sugar is the least problematic part of the nutrition.
Starting from mid August 2012 or so, I experienced some mild discomfort in the urinary tract – too weak to recognize it as an illness. But I did notice that I couldn't survive without a toilet for most of the day, which I normally can. I also had the temptation to sleep after the lunch and was tired but those things can have various reasons so I ignored them, too. Doctors among the readers think that some people want to find a "sharp" explanation for any kind of fatigue or routine imperfect condition and I do agree with these doctors that most of these attempts are superstitious in character and these desires are efficiently abused by various crooks.
Some of those things may have been unusual but the thing got to my radar around August 23nd with a completely unprecedented symptom, the sweetish sick pseudoalcoholic taste in my mouth (and throat), especially 10 seconds after I ate something really sweet. After several days of this observation I've never witnessed before (except that I had a deja vu feeling that I have experienced it when I was a small boy, especially when I was visiting my late paternal grandmother – perhaps because she was giving me yeast to taste it and it had a similar effect?), I started to think about words such as "diabetes" (something that doctors clearly excluded on September 5th: the blood sugar and all such quantities were just perfectly fine) and more serious diseases (like one that killed Steve Jobs).
However, it still became clear to me that the right explanation has to be a parasite and it's one that actually consumes sugar – because the unknown chemical suddenly appeared seconds after eating sugar. For two weeks or so, I would be thinking it was some "bacteria". I reduced sugars a bit almost immediately (which seems a lucky choice despite the totally wrong "diabetes"-like guesses) but avoided things like antibiotics (which was lucky because that would make things worse). I bought sweeties with eucalyptus (which was arguably a good choice, too). But I was feeling rather bad sometime on September 4th and did a more intensive search on the possible causes of the strange taste which seemed way too non-generic to me. That's when I learned about the Candida and its most typical species, Candida Albicans, and the diverse annoyances it may cause. I went to doctors on September 5th, a day or two after I learned about the word "Candida". This self-diagnogis was ignored by the doctor and several urine/blood_sugar/throat tests showed I was healthy and should only be sure to fix my teeth (of course, I have already been convinced that no particular place in the mouth could have been the culprit).
Aside from the bizarre taste, I experienced some powerful intoxified feelings all over my body and some "brain fog" once I reduced and removed the sugar in my diet. Plus one highly intimate and frustrating symptom (linked to the verb "stand up" but please don't discuss this in the comments) that was lasting for more than one week in the first part of September – one that was totally unprecedented and it turned out to be temporary as well but I couldn't know at the time.
Another symptom I may have noticed for a few months was unprecedented, too. Scratches on the skin didn't heal – the speed of healing dropped almost to zero if not exactly to zero. This is said to be a typical sign of a yeast infection, too. (It's much better now.)
Also, I did the saliva test (originally developed by a company to help them sell a product to a subset of people who may really find it helpful) several times. Once you wake up, the first thing you do is to spit into a glass of clean water (chlorinated tap water after 10 minutes of letting it get rid of the chlorine). You observe what the saliva does. In my case, e.g. a month ago, it created hugely powerful, thick, sharp, speedy, intense "legs of a jellyfish" reaching from the surface to the water. If you didn't know it was just saliva, you would think it's some superfast cancer that is growing in the glass. ;-)
These strings didn't mean that I was a string theorist; instead, they indicated that I had lots of yeasts in my body (although other factors may influence the result, too). The test does something completely different today; nothing is left on the surface, some "cloudy saliva" remains at the bottom, much of it gets dissolved. The saliva test results may be affected by other things as well but as far as I can say, it's still an extremely meaningful proxy measurement of the number of yeasts in your body, especially if you calibrate the test according to yourself. Most of the criticism I have heard and watched is based on mostly unconstructive attitudes and a lack of any experience.
Of course, another major reason why I believed that the Candida had to be the culprit were the powerful die-off symptoms once I started the no-sugar diet. If you think that this whole "candida overgrowth" meme is wrong, I would love to hear your alternative explanation of this symptom, too.
Types of candidasis: recognized and questionable
Everyone seems to agree that there are certain types of candidasis – the Candida yeast infection. In particular, it's the oral and vaginal candidasis. I have no experience with the vaginal candidasis but it's being said that 3/4 of women experience it at least once in their lifetime. In this context, I would suggest that the male counterpart may be less visible and more internal but it exists as well and it may be widespread. The shy men would probably not see a doctor if they were going through it.
The oral Candidas tend to jump on/beneath (on the boundary of) things like tooth crowns – confirmed (also rather unprecedented and carrying lots of "power to confirm the Candida theory" because for years the crowns may have been the least problematic teeth I had) – and other implants – I can't say anything about them – in your mouth. At the same moment, I knew that the teeth were just some of the "victims" which couldn't explain the whole condition. For example, the strange taste often went from the esophagus (the tube in the throat that swallows food) and I had good reasons to think that the yeast is overrepresented in the digestive system, too, perhaps starting from the stomach. Also, the "die-off symbols" looked like the result of hundreds of grams of "wrong matter" across the body treated in some way, not some milligrams of yeast that may have been present in my mouth.
Here, the most important organ in the debate are the intestines. The Candida normally makes about 10%-15% of the gut flora, living in a balance with the "good bacteria" and other microscopic junk. This number is also arguably uncontroversial among properly educated modern physicians. Some sources say that during Candida overgrowth, the number may get as high as 90%. Whether the intestinal candidasis exists at all seems to be a controversial point – I hope that physicians will reveal their opinions and the evidence backing it. But I am confident that these microfoes had to be overgrown in my intestines.
When the scratches refused to heal, it had to be caused by the yeasts that got to the place. A question is whether they got there from other parts of the skin, by an external contact, or through the blood. This is a rather fundamental question I don't understand. It has some rather important implications – it's essentially the question whether the Candida was overgrown in my system or in my environment plus skin where it was moving via surface membranes. Can you clarify this question for me?
(I have some reasons – e.g. some fevers at night – to think that it did get to the blood stream, too.)
When the Candida takes care of your body, it's referred to as the systemic candidasis, and this is the disease jumping on 90,000 Americans every year which has a 40-50 percent mortality rate (the least optimistic idea I have learned when I studied that condition). Most of the victims are HIV patients or people who have underwent a cancer treatment etc. Today I believe that what I have experienced couldn't have been "systemic candidasis" but the definition of "systemic candidasis" seems confusing to me in that case. However, what I learned is that the "systemic candidasis" tortures lungs.
(My respiratory system hasn't been more healthy in my life than it was in the last 1+ year, however. For example, I haven't had a flu or cold for more than a year. And I actually blame some frequent colds/flus in 2010 that would routinely start a day after a big laundry – which was, inconveniently enough, a few days before various talks I was giving haha – on the fungi/yeast from the wet clothes in the air and my sensitivity to them. Once I avoided the vapors from the drying clothes, all colds/flu went away, so far completely. Quite a lesson. I had to experience this "laundry cold" about 7 times before I adjusted my behavior.)
So I propose to define the systemic candidasis as one that seriously cripples the respiratory system. The real controversy is therefore whether another type, the intestinal candidasis, is a real condition and it is sufficiently widespread and may be alleviated by a diet and special dietary supplements. Many physicians will answer No to both of these questions, I think. Your humble correspondent, a staunch disbeliever in alternative medicine, answers Probably yes. It seems pretty obvious to me that any organism that already lives in the intestines – and that may also thrive elsewhere, randomly – may "overgrow" and it has some implications.
What the "candida overgrowth" advocates say about the need to reduce the Candida concentration in the guts sounds utterly sensible to me and I think that I've accumulated evidence that it's needed, indeed. The following section is dedicated to the diet.
The Crook diet: the logic and the myths
My understanding is that the whole "anti-candida diet" that is believed by many people and recommended by lots of amateur pages on the Internet – including all of the details many of which must be wrong – goes back to the 1986 book by William Crook (not a convincing last name) on the left side.
He decided that the Candida is responsible for many mundane enough conditions and recommended people to adopt an "anti-candida diet", one that avoids all sugars (especially the simple enough sugars), the kitchen yeast and food based on it, vinegar, mushrooms, molds (including coffee where some mold is naturally present), alcohol, and some other things. With these restrictions I decided to be kind of necessary, over 90% of the supermarkets – especially the sections where I did most of my shopping in the previous years – became a taboo for me. ;-) And I am not even talking about restaurants.
This restriction is so constraining, powerful, and suppressing your normal social life that it's easier to enumerate what you can eat. Well, it's not so bad, after all. You can eat lots of vegetables – tomatoes, cabbage, horseradish, onion, garlic, etc. etc. (those became unlikely heroes of some of my shopping in the recent month) – pretty much all the meet (fish, grilled chicken, pork, beef, sausages, salami, whatever), eggs, fat-dominated cheeses of pretty much all types (not the moldy ones), white yoghurt, walnuts, hazelnuts, and – at least when you check that your guts don't react badly – beans, lentils, and other pulses which have played the role of "replacement side dishes" for weeks.
Some of these things should even be good for a fight against the yeast. I don't want to go into that, it's a complicated issue with claims at various degrees of reliability. Some of them must be just guesses, and so on.
Some of the rules about things you should avoid must be superstitions, random guesses by an amateur author. For example, it seems implausible to me now that yeast used in the kitchen may support the Candida growth. They're a different species so they surely can't have sex with each other, can they? Or do they abandon racism and support their cousins in a non-reproductive way? It makes almost no sense to me. The very same comments apply to general molds (and those in the coffee) and mushrooms. In fact, we were going to pick some mushrooms today in the morning. It wasn't bad, for 2 hours, see the picture below.
"Hřib podubák" and "máselník" in Czech. Do you have names for the individual species in English?
Alcohol is forbidden in the anti-candida diet and it can't support the growth of Candida, either: some other alcohols are the waste products of the Candida life, so you're adding something that is similar to a waste product for them. Hardly a way to support their growth. However, I understand the restrictions on the alcohol. When you start to reduce the concentration of the yeast in your body, you experience heavy die-off symptoms – brain fog, a feeling of intoxication similar to a hangover or drunkenness but without all pleasant side effects. This is arguably from the body's getting rid of the toxins released by the killed yeast cells and this is a job for your liver which may sometimes be a demanding job. You don't want to add extra work for your liver during the die-off symptoms. But I believe that as soon as you are kind of safely away from the die-off symptoms, there is absolutely nothing wrong about alcohol.
It's been very complicated to figure out which pH is more helpful in the fight against the yeast. Most of the information on the Internet is self-contradictory and most likely written by people who are guessing and who don't really understand what they are talking about. Finally, a scientific paper that I found gave me the following answer that seems to be justified by genuine experiments:
At acidic pH, C. albicans grows in the yeast form; at alkaline pH, it grows primarily in the filament form (19).So neither acidic nor alkaline environment really kills the Candida. But the alkaline environment encourages the cells to produce filaments – F-strings and D1-branes – and perhaps also biofilms – D2-branes. They could actually be more capable of staying in your body, especially in the case of F-strings that are, by definition, attached to the D2-brane internal walls of your intenstines and other organs. ;-) So my feeling is that an acidic environment in your stomach and intestines may actually be better to send them out of your system more quickly. But don't expect that any tolerable value of pH will instantly kill them.
I partly mentioned it in the context of the sweating. Candida may flourish between 20 and 40 °C. Quite an interval. The values 33 °C and 38 °C seem to be particularly good for the yeast – and therefore bad for the human. A wintry weather is probably better for killing them. But don't forget that any part of your body, including the skin, tends to have over 35 °C most of the time and that's where the cells live. So it's hard to "freeze them, away", too.
Fountains of health: some miraculous diet supplements
The sugar-free diet started to impact me almost immediately and I do think that the die-off symptoms – feeling of intoxication, brain fog, and all these things that I interpret as "the liver's having a hard time to remove the toxins from the blood stream", please feel free to correct me – led me to the pessimistic September 11th article. I was feeling horrible.
However, the diet itself is too weak to achieve a "real breakthrough" in the fight against the yeast. Nystatin would be served by the doctors to assault the Candida. Fluconazole and the other *azoles are a more powerful alternative but it's my understanding that they're a more hardcore chemical that may have bad side effects – and damage the liver.
I became convinced that the caprylic acid is an effective and harmless alternative to Nystatin and it really works. The improvement of some symptoms was almost immediate – on September 13th – after I took my first pill of Candix from Candix.CZ (this dietary supplement mostly recommended to women with the vaginal candidasis but you eat it so it's less specific). It contained 200 mg of caprylic acid (twice a day), some probiotic cultures, and the vitamin C, but the caprylic acid is the most non-trivial component.
I embedded an amazon.com link to an American counterpart of it – it contains caprylic acid with some other, less important extra ingredients.
The origin of the caprylic acid is natural. If someone happens to have any form of candidasis, I think it's obvious she or he shouldn't be afraid of the pills. I am aware of no bad side effects. More naturally, the caprylic acid is included in the palm oil (not too good when you have too much) and the coconut oil which became my "most favorite new food".
The density of the coconut oil is 0.92 kg/m3 and 8% of its mass is caprylic acid so you should make a calculation. For example, the new 500 ml = 450 g package of the coconut oil I should receive today in the afternoon contains about 36 g of caprylic acid.
The caprylic acid is named after a Latin word for the goat because the goat milk is a source of it, too. Together with some capr-other-suffix-ish acids, the caprylic acid makes about 15% of the goat milk fat (out of it only 3% may be caprylic). I've had some enhanced die-off symbols in stages of the cure that I considered "advanced" – when I thought that the Candida had been largely defeated – and with the hindsight, the most likely explanation is that I took too much of this acid (or these acids) with a liter of goat milk plus a goat milk yoghurt so the Candida killing rate went too high and my liver had a hard time again. I haven't been able to quantify how many grams of the acid is found in 200 g of a goat milk yoghurt (mainly because I don't know how many percent of this yoghurt was milk fat – 3% would produce too low a prediction). Maybe something else was behind the die-off symptoms. Too little information here but I think it's "more likely than not" that those 40 g of flavored peanuts and 50 g of sugar-free chocolate (with some "other alcohol" instead of sugar) were innocent.
The goat milk has all kinds of health advantages over the cow milk, it's presented as an almost miraculous compound by many and I actually believe that much of this hype is true. Unfortunately, it's also about 6 times more expensive than cow milk. The coconut oil is tolerably expensive. The 500 ml package costs $10 here ($15 with shipping) and $18 at amazon.com and it actually contains 4,000 kcal or so, good nutrition value for 2 days, so it's not too expensive as a food, either.
The caprylic acid has lots of other benefits. Here, the most important one is that the caprylic acid helps to break chitin into pieces and chitin is an important part of the cell walls of the yeast beast (and most fungi – some of them may have other polysaccharides instead), so the caprylic acid makes it possible for other agents to get inside the yeast cells and destroy them.
If you're very rich, the coconut oil containing the caprylic acid is also great for cooking and baking. It's nice for massages, too. Generally it should improve your skin but let me already stop with this commercial. ;-)
When the yeast infection is all over your body and you think there must be hundreds of grams or kilos of it in your guts, you will probably agree that the oral candidasis is just a tip of an iceberg. But when you succeed in the reduction of the yeast's habitat and you convince yourself that the oral Candida is one of the last ones that hasn't fully disappeared, you may also consider a more appropriate mouthwash.
Much like in most cases, the generic mouthwashes are pretty much useless against the yeast. I discovered a Czech mouthwash called "Corsodyl". It's a commercial name for a 0.1% solution of chlorhexidine (di)gluconate. Be careful, it is a bit more powerful mouthwash but they usually say it has no known side effects, except for its tendency to darken the color of your teeth if you use it in the long run (it's still a temporary, reversible state of affairs) or the color of some plastic implants (if you have any) or temporarily modify perception of tastes (I haven't experienced it, except for the taste of the mouthwash itself). A U.S. counterpart of the mouthwash is linked via amazon.com.
(I also suspect that it could have led to some weak but still clear gout-like symptoms I felt a few times hours after I took Corsodyl, i.e. painful crystals created out of excess uric acid or something similar in the fingers and toes, something I had never experienced before and so far I have not experienced it later. Of course, if it helps to destroy some beasts for years and perhaps even just months, you don't care about this temporary discomfort.)
This mouthwash compound is sometimes given into chewing gums for horses to improve the hygiene of their mouths. It's also helpful for people who had very intense dental surgeries. What's important here is that it does kill the yeast, i.e. it is an antiseptic compound, unlike most of the regular mouthwashes.
Let me end up with another miraculous cure, Chlorella, which is not quite directly linked to the Candida topic but it's interesting, too. It's the name of some green algae. You may buy dry pills – a compactified powder of a sort which is very green and leaves green powdery traces on your skin – and it is said to be able to bind various toxins and escort them from your body safely (they would be otherwise reabsorbed from the intestines by the blood stream). Again, like the coconut oil, it's also said (even by some seriously looking sources, journals etc.) to have some near-miraculous extra effects, including anti-cancer ones.
The reason why I bought this particular product was that I read some speculations about the interrelationships between (dental) mercury and the Candida. The yeast may be behind the fact that you have some mercury in the first place because of the tooth decay in the past (I have lots of mercury) but the mercury may also return the favor and be a favorite hobby of the Candida cells. So this chlorella may make you less toxic, less tired, younger, blah blah blah, and your scratches are healing more quickly, and so on, but I bought it to reduce the levels of mercury and forget about all the recommendations about "replacing all amalgam fillings" which I never liked too much, anyway. Such a removal of lots of amalgam sounds like a very annoying maneuver that is bound to produce lots and lots of mercury by itself – from a more general viewpoint, it must be counterproductive, it seems to me. The fillings themselves must only release a "controllable" amount of mercury every day and the chlorella seems to be an example of a cure that may subtract much of this mercury from your body in a totally peaceful way. Again, there must inevitably be superstitions here but I do have some "at least anecdotal" evidence that there could exist a relationship between the Candida overgrowth and heavy metals in your body.
I don't want to enumerate and parrot all the claimed advantages of the coconut oil and the chlorella, and perhaps other things, because I haven't verified them on a one-to-one basis. But I have acquired some "at least anecdotal" evidence that these things are helpful and various claims about their virtues that seem to stand on the boundary of (contemporary) science are probably true or mostly true – and should be studied by the pharmacologists more intensely than so far.
Make no doubts about it: I am as thrilled about learning some reliable scientific insights about these matters and eliminate all kinds of superstitions as I am thrilled to learn some scientific insights about various physics questions. At the same moment, the unprecedented character of some symptoms I was experiencing especially a month ago or so – for weeks or months – also led me to be interested in things even if I weren't certain that they're guaranteed to be right. If something doesn't hurt and has a 30% chance to help you with a serious thing, you will pick it, won't you? In a similar condition, you just don't want to sacrifice your life by waiting for some evidence to become "rigorous". I've decided that many of the things – including the saliva test – do a very good job (certainly a better job than the rudimentary normal medical tests that are guaranteed to find nothing) but I still expect the researchers in medicine to transform all the guesses and heuristic cures to a much more reliable and accurate knowledge.
The kingdom of fungi is full of species that are "largely harmless" (and even helpful for some minor metabolic purposes) or don't induce too acute conditions but they may still get out of control. I am convinced that many people's health, vitality, and beauty is being reduced by the fungi and yeasts of various sorts and much more effort should be dedicated to accessible ways to effectively diagnose these parasites and to cleverly fight them.
By these comments, I may be trying to compensate my almost complete lack of attention to the fungi and yeast as health concerns in the past. But I realize there are of course people who care about such matters and have to care. For example, there was an outbreak of fungal meningitis in the U.S. in recent weeks (which was partially man-made, to make things worse). Also, for example, the SpaceX Dragon capsule arrived to the International Space Station with some package of the Candida Albicans – no kidding, click at the link – with the goal to study how this yeast beast behaves in microgravity. I am not sure they will discover much – it just doesn't "fall down" so quickly but small cells like these ones can't really care about gravity too much, can they? ;-) It's almost like the protons at the LHC that also don't care about gravity much so my educated guess is that the yeast cells just don't give a damn whether they're attached to an upper membrane or a lower one. And I have already mentioned that the coconut oil may replace the current largely ineffective compounds in toothpastes and perhaps transfer tooth decay into the history books.
But I seem to agree with the "alternatively oriented" folks that the intestinal candidasis is a genuine condition that affects many people, is almost never diagnosed, and the character of the diet determines whether it's getting better or worse. There may exist imperfect tests such as the saliva test that may tell us something about it – and other tests are hard or expensive. But the modern medicine shouldn't deny an illness just because it is hard to reliably diagnose it (relatively to its impact which is often not too serious).
What do you think about all these matters?
Oregano, thyme, cinnamon, and a few other spices seem to be anti-fungal. In particular, papers indicate that the oregano oil is the strongest one, perhaps 100 times stronger than the caprylic acid. It's due to the compounds (phenols) in it, especially thymol and carvacrol, that have been found out to be efficient against all Candida species, including the Flucanozol-resistant ones. Thymol and especially carvacrol have been found (paper 2011) to disrupt the biosynthesis of ergosterol, a steroid that fungi and yeasts use to build the membrane walls (cholesterol is the related steroid that plays the same role for animals like us). So the oil of oregano seems to be the ultimate winner and this sentence was added when I had already some positive experience with it. Amazon.com offers you various capsules and drops with the oil of oregano – usually around 50% of carvacrol in it (but it's often diluted in olive oil etc.). Unfortunately, I have to buy much more expensive equivalents here.