By Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
If I were to tell you that there is a fungus living in your intestines that produces 180 chemical toxins capable of making you feel dizzy and fatigued, shutting down your thyroid, throwing your hormones off balance, and causing you to crave sugar and alcohol, all of which make you put on weight –would you believe me? You probably wouldn’t –few doctors even realize the extent of damage caused by yeast overgrowth but the above scenario is all too true.
To the great detriment of the health of our society, this fungus does exist and it is growing rampant in a large proportion of the population –mostly women. It’s one of the diseases of civilization – the culmination of the side effects of technology and the disservices of our way of life. The list of chronic diseases is getting longer and longer: heart disease, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, auto immune disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Chronic yeast overgrowth not only worsens all the above conditions but it’s in a whole disease category by itself.
The miracle of antibiotics has its downside because it causes an overgrowth of yeast. The refining of sugar and wheat has its downside by creating a simple food source for yeast. The tremendous levels of stress hormones that flood our bodies daily, hourly, and every minute in our sped up world make us prey to yeast.
What is Yeast?
Candidiasis (yeast overgrowth) is nothing new; it’s been around for decades, ever since we began to use antibiotics in our society. Yeast itself, a cousin to molds, has grown in human bodies since Adam and Eve. Candida albicans is the main yeast in the human body. It lives there happily enough, kept in check by beneficial bacteria in the intestines. These bacteria make vitamins and help digest excess sugar that gets past the small intestine. A very special group of bacteria make lactic acid, which protects the gut and vagina against yeast.
Candida is one of the 400 organisms that live in our mouth, digestive tract, vagina and on our skin. Most of the time they all get along with their neighbors. When you begin taking antibiotics, the whole delicate balance is lost. Antibiotics wipe out most of the good and the bad bacteria leaving yeast unharmed. In the absence of any competition, yeast colonies grow into all the empty nooks and crannies of the large intestine and even the small intestine. Sugar from our diet feeds yeast and with the special lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria wiped out, there is no more production of lactic acid to protect the delicate intestinal and vaginal tissues from marauding yeast.
The beast, Candida albicans, growing wildly inside our bodies is an epidemic out of control. Most people, if they think of it at all, imagine yeast as just a pesky vaginal infection that a treatment of vaginal cream will cure overnight. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case for millions of people, especially women who suffer an astonishing array of health complaints from yeast overgrowth, yeast allergy and a build up of yeast toxins.
Leaky Gut: An Open Door To Our Tissues
It is a scientific fact that when yeast cells reach a certain critical mass they change from a round budding stage to a thread-like tissue invasive stage. They are simply running out of food and looking for more. They pack their bags and emigrate from their main home in the large intestine into the small intestine. In the small intestine, the yeast threads poke holes in the intestinal lining. With this superhighway to the blood stream, there is nothing to stop yeast chemical by-products (all 180 of them), undigested food molecules, bacterial toxins, and other chemicals from taking a one-way ride. The holes are not necessarily big enough to allow yeast to get into the blood stream, so there is no blood infection of yeast, just hundreds of waste products that should be flushed down the toilet that end up causing head to toe symptoms leak into the blood. Yes, leaky gut happens when toxins leak into the blood stream and tissues of the body. When these toxins hit the blood stream they trigger widespread inflammatory and allergy reactions. Many of the toxins like aldehyde, alcohol, zymosan, arabinitol, and gliotoxin have been named. They impair the immune system and the central nervous system. Others block thyroid function, impair female hormones and cause symptoms of PMS and aggravate menopause but haven’t yet been properly studied. Inflammation is being investigated as the underlying cause of heart disease, bowel disease, arthritic conditions, and auto immune disease. It is also intimately involved with weight gain, fatigue, allergies, asthma, headaches, irritability, and dozens of other health complaints.
The Yeast Questions?
- Have you taken several courses of antibiotics in the past?
- Have you been on the birth control pill?
- Do you react to the smell of damp moldy places?
- Do you crave sugar and bread?
- Do you feel drained to the point of exhaustion?
- Do you have symptoms of intestinal gas, bloating, and cramping (IBS)?
- Are you troubled by constant vaginal infections?
- Are you bothered by itchy burning eyes?
Yeast and Belly Fat
What does belly fat have in common with beef cattle? Antibiotics! These drugs are liberally used in the beef industry for the specific purpose of “beefing up” cattle. It is little recognized that antibiotics can do the same to humans! Yeast can contribute pounds of fluid retention in an attempt by the body to dilute the toxins that yeast produces. Over time, in both cattle and people, tissue toxins and fluid build up lead to cellulite and weight gain.
Belly fat is more than just fat. Yeast causes abdominal bloating that can add an extra 5-7 inches that seems to appear out of nowhere. This can be devastating for someone who is on a diet and trying to lose weight and lose inches. If a woman says she has only been eating 1,000 calories a day for a week yet still gained weight a doctor tends to think she is not being truthful. However, if most of her diet is carbohydrates and sugar she may very well be growing yeast, which create a toxic build up and fluid retention to dilute the toxins. It’s a whole new way of looking at weight gain.
Besides bloating and toxic fluid build up, yeast can decrease thyroid function and lead to lowered metabolism, which is a well known cause of weight gain. Some yeast toxins can block hormone receptors and block hormone action. Hypothyroidism and PMS can be the direct result of yeast overgrowth.
When you crave carbs and give into those cravings you will also experience weight gain as the carbs turn into fat cells. Those food cravings that we think are just a lack of will power can actually be caused by yeast clamoring for their favorite food.
Yeast overgrowth also causes the immune system to overwork trying to deal with the toxic overload. This places chronic stress on the adrenal glands, which raises cortisol levels. One thing we know about cortisol is that you can’t lose weight when your levels are elevated due to chronic stress. That’s because the body perceives stress as an emergency and the worst emergency for the body is starvation—therefore it’s never going to give up an ounce of stored fat that it might need!
Where’s the Cure?
Unfortunately, the answer does not lie in a pill as many women have found out when they go to their doctor. Even if the doctor does recognize yeast overgrowth the most common treatment recommended is a week or two or antifungal medications. As one client, who is a chemist remarked to me that she is very concerned about taking fluoride compounds like Diflucan, the most well known antifungal medication. Doctors who are too dependent on prescriptive medicine don’t understand that yeast overgrowth requires multi-pronged approach.
- Diet: avoid sugar, wheat and dairy as well as fermented foods, and alcohol. Subsitute sugar with stevia*.
- Probiotics (good bacteria): the best ones are acidophilus and bifidus. Obtain products that guarantee 2-10 billion organisms per capsule.
- Antifungal supplements: garlic (eat one or two cloves a day), oil of oregano (take 2-3 capsules per day) and grapefruit seed extract (take two to three capsules per day) or take a formula that also includes caprylic acid, pau D’Arco, black walnut, beta carotene, and biotin.
- Exercise: to move the lymph circulation that clears toxins from the body.
- Stress release: to reduce the amount of natural cortisol that creates yeast overgrowth.
- Work with a caring physician: download a physician packet from yeastconnection.com.
It is only through diet and lifestyle change that people can overcome yeast overgrowth—but they do overcome it.
* As a physician, I have found that reducing sugar intake is one of the most important ways to control hypoglycemia, diabetes, and intestinal yeast. Reduce your sugar intake by supplementing your tea, water, and other beverages with Stevia. Please go to www.carolyndean.com and click on Dean Wellness for my personal Stevia recommendation.
Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
Proficient in both conventional and alternative medicine Dr. Dean offers private consultations by phone. If you require individualization of the advice offered in this article, you can contact Dr. Dean at www.carolyndean.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. At www.carolyndean.com, under Dean Wellness, you can find a list of food and supplement resources including food-based organic vitamins and angstrom-size minerals that Dr. Dean recommends.
Dr. Dean graduated from medical school in 1978 and holds a medical license in California. She is also a graduate of the Ontario Naturopathic College, now the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, where she sat on the Board of Governors for six years.
Dr. Dean is an expert in difficult to diagnose conditions such as digestive and intestinal disorders (IBS); hormone imbalance and estrogen dominance; and yeast overgrowth as evidenced by three of her books, IBS for DUMMIES, Hormone Balance, and The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health. Another of Dr. Dean’s areas of expertise is magnesium. In her latest book, The Magnesium Miracle she uncovers evidence of magnesium deficiency in 22 health conditions including heart disease, arthritis, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and anxiety. Dr. Dean is able to advise what types of magnesium are best suited for these conditions.
Dr. Dean has authored a total of twelve books to share her extensive knowledge in both traditional and alternative medicine. These titles include Natural Prescriptions for Common Ailments, Menopause Naturally, Homeopathic Remedies for Children’s Common Ailments, The Miracle of Magnesium, Everything Alzheimer’s, Hormone Balance, The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health, IBS for Dummies, Death by Modern Medicine, The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Women’s Health, Solve it With Supplements, and The Magnesium Miracle.