Overview of Yeast Syndrome
Despite common efforts to avoid bacteria and other microbes, our bodies are actually teeming with microorganisms. As soon as we are born, we begin to accumulate these harmless microorganisms which play a protective role in the body. By occupying parts of our bodies that microorganisms naturally like to grow in, such as the mouth, the intestines, and the skin, these harmless microorganisms prevent the pathogens from moving in and taking over. Some microorganisms play additional roles in the body, such as the bacteria that inhabit the various parts of our gastrointestinal tracts. These bacteria can help us digest food, converting it to nutrients the body can use and synthesizing vitamins, such as vitamin K and folic acid. All these helpful bacteria that live in and on us are often referred to as our normal flora.
If something happens to remove our normal flora, this uninhabited microbial environment, or niche, may be invaded by a pathogenic microorganism. For example, antibiotics often kill our normal flora in addition to the pathogens they are designed to attack. It is very common for people to then get yeast infections, as the yeast microorganism, Candida albicans, may infect and proliferate in that open niche faster than their own normal flora can recolonize. These are called opportunistic infections and are why people on antibiotics are often encouraged to eat yogurt. Natural yogurt contains live cultures of various species of Lactobacillus, a friendly species of bacteria that normally lives in the intestinal tract and the vagina. Women very frequently suffer from vaginal yeast infections following antibiotic treatments if they do not help their bacteria recolonize through such "probiotic" treatments. If a yeast infection does occur, it can be treated with anti-fungal drugs, which will kill the yeast but leave the bacteria intact.
Normally, any invading microorganisms stay confined to their niche, but if a person is in a weakened immune state or if there are other imbalances in the normal flora, the invader may progress to other places in the body. If yeast infection spreads such that the microorganisms colonize the intestinal tract, for example, this can lead the numerous symptoms which make up the systemic disease known as yeast syndrome.
Symptoms of Yeast Syndrome
Yeast syndrome can be indicated by a variety of symptoms that literally affect the patient from head to toe. Patients may experience:
- Gastrointestinal problems, including heartburn, bloating, constipation, gas, and abdominal cramping.
- Feelings of being "spaced out" or "foggy."
- Sinus headaches, chronic congestion, runny nose, and post-nasal drip.
- Depression and irritability.
- A general feeling of bloating and puffiness, perhaps due to water retention.
- PMS, irregular periods, and reduced libido.
- Sensitivity to chemical smells, such as perfume, or certain foods.
- Cravings for desserts and other sugary foods.
- Problems with the skin, including eczema, hives, rashes, or fungal infections (jock itch and athlete’s foot).
- Rectal or vaginal itching.
- Low body temperature.
- More frequent illnesses.
Risk Factors of Yeast Syndrome
Given the list of symptoms associated with yeast syndrome, the potential for long term discomfort is high.
Causes of Yeast Syndrome
Some of the same conditions that can put a person at risk for yeast infection can also predispose them to developing yeast syndrome. Repeated courses of antibiotics, for example, may hinder the body’s normal flora as it recolonizes the intestines. More than twenty weeks of antibiotics during the life time or four courses of antibiotic treatments within one year can significantly increase the chances of yeast syndrome. Excessive sugars and refined carbohydrates also seem to contribute to the incidence of yeast syndrome. This disorder is also commonly associated with the use of hormone-based medications, including fertility drugs and oral contraceptives. Prednisone and other steroid treatments may also put a person at risk. Naturally, any immune compromised person is at risk for opportunistic infection of microorganisms, including yeast.
Conventional Treatment of Yeast Syndrome
While normal yeast infections are treated commonly through the use of anti-fungal medications, yeast syndrome as a collective disorder is not currently recognized by the medical community. Considered a fad illness, most medical doctors will neither investigate nor design a treatment plan specific to yeast syndrome, as they do not consider it to be a valid diagnosis.
Patients Medical’s Treatment of Yeast Syndrome
We often a very carefully designed yeast syndrome treatment plan that is specific to your symptoms and the levels of yeast that you are harboring within your body. Before your treatment begins, we will first culture a stool specimen to measure the amount of the yeast Candida albicans that your body is dealing with. This will also allow us to test the particular yeast strain that you are infected with for suitable anti-fungal candidates if it becomes necessary. We can continue to monitor your yeast levels in this manner throughout the treatment.
We will also take a blood sample to examine the levels of IgA, IgM, and IgG, which are antibodies produced by the immune system. Elevation of these antibodies suggests that your body is mounting an immune response against the invading yeast, which can also make you feel terrible, as though you are battling an illness. This diagnostic can also be performed later in the treatment to ensure that your program is working for you.
Following the initial diagnostic, we will begin a threefold treatment of your yeast syndrome. The first step is to design a modified diet for you that will essentially starve the yeast that is living in your gut. Yeast thrives on sugars, fermented food, and additional yeast. You will need to avoid all sugary foods, fruits, fruit juices, dried fruit, alcoholic beverages, bread, cheese, vinegar, and soy sauce. Some of the recommended foods include fish, poultry, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and selected whole grains. Natural yogurt containing live cultures is recommended if milk is tolerated.
Butter is acceptable for inclusion of oils in the diet, as are olive, flaxseed, sunflower, and sesame oils.
The starvation of the yeast through modification of your diet will begin to reduce its numbers within your system. The second step is to diminish the amount of yeast present. This is done primarily through the ingestion of nystatin, a potent anti-fungal drug which will kill the yeast in the gastrointestinal tract. Because this drug is not absorbed well through the intestinal wall, it will simply serve to clear the yeast from your GI tract. There are also natural inhibitors of yeast grown that may also aid in reducing your yeast levels. Garlic capsules may be taken (if low blood pressure is not an issue), as can caprylic acid, a natural component of coconut oil. These natural remedies may not necessarily kill the yeast directly, but they may diminish its growth to help reduce overall levels within your GI tract. The colon should be cleared every few days to help rid the body of the yeast, aided by colonic irrigation if necessary.
The final phase of your yeast treatment will involve restoring the normal flora of the GI tract through the introduction of such probiotics as acidophilus and bifidus. These friendly bacteria will colonize and grow in your GI tract and can be taken concentrated in pill form. By restoring your intestinal flora back to normal, you will once again return to healthy digestion and be rid of the discomforts of yeast syndrome.
It must be recognized that this treatment program may be a long one, so other supplements may be suggested to be sure that your overall quality of health remains as high as possible while your body undergoes this transition. Many vitamins, including vitamin A, C, and beta-carotene can potentially boost your immunity to help the body aid in the elimination of the yeast. Antioxidants, germanium, and other supplements may also help boost your immunity to support your immune system as it works to clear the invading infectious microorganisms. Essential fatty acids and natural oils, such as garlic oil, fish oil, and thyme oil, can also help improve metabolism, reduce yeast growth, and rebalance the GI tract. (**will expand this, given all the info on the PM web page, and make it more "narrative" and less list-y.)
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