Mildew, mould, and mushrooms are examples of plant forms known as fungi. Yeasts are microscopic fungi, and one very common type of yeast is a germ called Candida. It normally lives on the skin, in the digestive tract and the vagina of healthy individuals without causing any apparent problem.
However, yeast can cause trouble when excessive numbers of this germ multiply in the body. As the level of Candida increases, the immune system is put under heightened stress. Under certain conditions, the organism gets out of control and invades the membranes of the mouth or vagina, involves the skin, nails and deeper tissues or even enters the bloodstream. This kind of infection is called candidiasis by doctors and is usually treated with various antifungal drugs. The problem often becomes recurrent and chronic, despite repeated treatments.
The yeast syndrome
The book, The Yeast Connection, by Dr W Crook, describes a condition which features fatigue, digestive disturbance, chronic infections, allergies, skin problems, poor concentration, depression, irritability, hormonal imbalance, recurrent vaginal, prostate or urinary symptoms and cravings for sweets or other carbohydrates. This he attributed to an overgrowth of Candida in the body and called it the yeast syndrome.
He explained that an overabundance of yeast multiplying in the intestines produces toxins that severely disturb immune system function. Because of insufficient research, conventional doctors question the existence of this syndrome. However, there is substantial practical evidence that it exists, often in association with the overuse and abuse of antibiotics. Many patients who have suffered for a long time with these symptoms get better when they follow the kind of programme outlined below.
Are you at risk?
Yeast overgrowth is most common in individuals exposed to one or more of the following conditions: A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, diabetes, repeated courses of antibiotics (more than 20 weeks in your lifetime, or more than four times in one year), birth-control tablets or other hormone therapies, use of prednisone and other steroids, chronic and excessive emotional stress, any immune suppression condition. e.g., HIV infection.
Treating the Yeast Syndrome
Diet: The importance of the removal of sugar from the diet cannot be overemphasised. The yeast organism thrives and multiplies in an environment high in sugar. Many patients suffering from this problem have serious sugar and carbohydrate cravings and failure to change the diet will result in failure to recover from the problem. If you have food allergies, those foods also need to be avoided during the recovery period.
A higher-protein (mainly plant protein and fish), lower carbohydrate and healthy fat programme is ideal. Even usually healthy carbohydrates like honey, sweet fruits and fruit juices are best avoided during the recover phase. They can be slowly reintroduced in small quantities later. Eat mostly protein and vegetables initially.
Dairy products, preservatives, chemical additives and yeast containing foods should also be avoided. I recommend a programme of supplements called the Cellular Nutrition Programme to ensure optimal nutritional support.
Probiotics: Healthy bacteria are beneficial in the prevention and treatment of yeast infections. These bacteria are called probiotics and their antifungal effect makes them particularly useful in treating the yeast syndrome. The most popular of these are the Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria. They are available as tablets that combine the healthy bacteria with fibre to restore balance in the toxic colon.
Antifungal herbs: Garlic has a direct yeast-killing effect and should be used liberally in cooking. It may also be eaten raw or used as a vaginal insert. Aloe vera, ginger, golden seal and oregano oil are other herbs with potent antifungal properties.
Immune support: A weak immune system is a major contributor to the yeast syndrome, and strengthening the immune system is a vital part of the programme. Supplementing generously with antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, selenium, the herbs rosemary and schizandra, and the omega-3 fatty acids is strongly recommended. Sometimes, very high dosages of vitamin C given intravenously by a doctor may be useful.
Getting adequate restful sleep, daily relaxation and exercise and healthy stress management is critical for the healing of a weak immune system. Avoidance of environmental pollutants, fumes and fragrances will also reduce stress on the immune system.
Antifungal drugs: Prescrip-tion antifungal medication may be very useful in severe cases but are not magic bullets. They will provide only temporary relief if the other issues discussed are not addressed. The full programme must be followed for at least 12 weeks (and often much longer) to allow the body to recover from this debilitating condition.