Candida albicans is a normal part of a healthy individuals microbiome, and it’s presence is kept under control by normal bacterial populations (1,9). However, antibiotics, increased carbohydrate consumption and several other factors have made us prone to candida overgrowth. Decreased numbers of “friendly” flora and compromised host resistance make it possible for the yeast to thrive. Candida rarely works alone, and several other opportunistic microorganisms might be involved (14). For that reason it’s more accurate to talk about dysbiosis.
In the 1980’s, “The Missing Diagnosis” by Orian Truss and “The Yeast Connection” by William Crook were released (5,6). These authors were some of the first to propose that candida overgrowth might make you sick all over. Since then chronic/systemic Candidiasis has become a popular concept in “alternative” medicine.
Several factors have made us more susceptible to candida overgrowth:
- Too many sugary foods and processed carbohydrates increase numbers of Candida species and other potentially pathogenic microbes (7-9).
- Antibiotic treatment gives the yeast a chance to grow (1, 10-12).
- Hormonal factors are strongly linked to Candida, and drugs that affect hormone levels could contribute to candida overgrowth
Candida can in severe situations invade deeper tissue and affect pretty much the entire body (9), but most of the available literature on Candida focuses on it’s role in oral or vaginal thrush. A patient with oral thrush is usually treated with antifungals given as an oral suspension which is washed around the mouth. For vaginal thrush both topical and oral treatments have been widely used. Anti-fungal tablets are given, but little to no concern is made in regards to rebuilding a healthy microbiome.
Both oral antifungals, oral probiotics (2,3) and oral antibiotics (4) have shown to alter both gut flora and vaginal flora. It seems strange to only attack the symptoms locally, and treatment should rather focus on restoring a a healthy microbiome, which in turn should provide protection against the yeast throughout the body.
An antibody reaction to candida can be seen in most people as it is a normal inhabitant of the microbiota (9). However, significantly elevated antibodies have been seen in patients with medically unexplained symptoms (13).
It’s impossible to estimate how many who suffer from candida overgrowth. It’s probably large numbers of people out there with dysbiosis who are sent home from their doctors telling them that it’s all in their head or that it’s nothing to do about their health problems.
1: Henker J, Schuster F, Nissler K. In Vitro Studies on Colonization Resistance of the Human Gut Microbiota to Candida albicans and the Effects of Tetracycline and Lactobacillus plantarum LPK
Eur J Pediatr. 2001 Oct;160(10):592-4.
2: Petricevic L, Unger FM, Viernstein H, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of oral lactobacilli to improve the vaginal flora of postmenopausal women.
Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2008 Nov;141(1):54-7. Epub 2008 Aug 12.
3: Reid G, Charbonneau D, Erb J, et al. Oral use of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and L. fermentum RC-14 significantly alters vaginal flora: randomized, placebo-controlled trial in 64 healthy women.
FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2003 Mar 20;35(2):131-4.
4: Spinillo A, Capuzzo E, Acciano S, et al. Effect of antibiotic use on the prevalence of symptomatic vulvovaginal candidiasis.
Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Jan;180(1 Pt 1):14-7.
5: C. Orian Truss, M.D. The Missing Dagnosis. Birmingham, Alabama. The Missing Diagnosis Inc. 1983.
6: Crook, William G. The yeast connection: a medical breakthrough. New York: Vintage Books. 1986.
7: DR. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD. Gut and Pysychology Syndrome, Revised and Expanded edition.
United Kingdom. Medinform Publishing, 2010
8: Knight L, Fletcher J. Growth of Candida albicans in Saliva: Stimulation by Glucose Associated with Antibiotics, Corticosteroids, and Diabetes Mellitus
J Infect Dis. 1971 Apr;123(4):371-7.
9: T.J. Rogers, E. Balish. Immunity to Candida Albicans
Microbiol. Rev. 1980, 44(4):660.
10: M S Seelig Mechanisms by which antibiotics increase the incidence and severity of candidiasis and alter the immunological defenses.
Bacteriol Rev. 1966 June; 30(2): 442–459.
11: M. Huppert, D. A. MacPherson, J. Cazin. PATHOGENESIS OF CANDIDA ALBICANS INFECTION FOLLOWING ANTIBIOTIC THERAPY
J Bacteriol. 1953 February; 65(2): 171–176.
12: Seelig, M. 1966. The role of antibiotics in the pathogenesis of Candida infections.
Am. J. Med. 40:887-917.
13: Lewith GT, Chopra S, Radcliffe MJ, et al. Elevation of Candida IgG antibodies in patients with medically unexplained symptoms.
J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Dec;13(10):1129-33.
14: Morales DK, Hogan DA. Candida albicans interactions with bacteria in the context of human health and disease.
PLoS Pathog. 2010 Apr 29;6(4):e1000886.