Taking the Holistic Approach to Treat Candida
After years of seeing a GI doctor for what I can only describe as embarrassing and awkward symptoms, I would have periods of time where I felt simply ok but I never felt quite right. Looking back, everything started after I had a bout of appendicitis. My appendix was about to burst by the time they did surgery to take it out, and I was on antibiotic medications for quite a while – both because of the surgery itself and then because of a subsequent infection at the surgical site. At first I, and my doctors, thought my symptoms were a result of the surgery and that my intestines just need to go back to normal. After time, though, I really started to worry and wonder.
My Eventual Candida Diagnosis and First Treatment
Two years after my surgery I felt worse than ever. I decided to switch to a new GI doctor and he reviewed my files carefully. There was no doubt about the fact that I hadn't had any problems before my appendix came out and my new doctor seemed to be very down to earth. He explained to me that in some cases long-term antibiotic use can cause an overgrowth of yeast in the body. They call it Candidiasis. In my case, he thought I had an invasive form that was leading me to have the GI symptoms, leaky gut syndrome, and – of course- the mood swings and depression I was feeling.
He ordered a simple blood test and my diagnosis was confirmed. I felt great to have an answer but what I didn't realize is that my GI doctor, while open to alternative theories, didn't really know much about Candida. As a mainstream medical doctor, he leaned towards the mainstream pharmaceutical approach, which I thought was alright.
According to the CDC, “Invasive candidiasis requires treatment with oral or intravenous (IV) antifungal medication for several weeks. The type and duration of antifungal treatment will depend on patient-specific factors such as age, immune status, and severity of infection” (source).
Based on this mainstream protocol, my doctor put me on a long course of antifungal medicaions, but that was it. We didn't discuss any other type of treatment. While my symptoms did start to subside, I had periods of time where I felt simply horrible. After a few weeks, when my course ended, I felt about 50% better than I had before, but I still felt like I had a long way to go. I started to question my doctor's knowledge of the condition.
Looking for a Holistic Alternative
My wife, who sees a naturopathic physician, suggested I speak to her doctor. She'd mentioned Candida on one of her visits and her naturopath seemed to have a lot of information. I figured it couldn't hurt, so I made an appointment.
What I learned that day changed my life completely. Despite being on antifungal medications, I was still eating my normal diet. For me, that diet wasn't completely horrible, but it had a healthy amount of fruits, carbohydrates, and the occasional sugary snack or cake. What I didn't realize is that even though I was taking medication for my Candida, I was eating foods that would fuel the growth of the yeast fungus. In short, I was counteracting my own medications with my diet.
Even Dr. Eric Bakker, ND, speaks about the Candida diet. "The most important part of treating yeast overgrowth is avoiding sugar and other sweets..."(source).
The naturopath I saw subscribed to the same philosophy, though her's was much stricter than Dr. Teitelbaum's. She had me start a Candida diet that completely eliminated carbohydrates, yeast products, and sugars – anything that would promote the growth of Candida. She had me continue on antifungal medications, but she also added probiotics to the mix. I also took a couple of herbal supplements to help strengthen my immune system.
As I noted in the other article, the diet was strict but it wasn't all permanent. After a few months, I was able to slowly but surely add foods back to my diet, but I was also able to quickly tell which ones made me feel ill. I found that the whole grains and natural foods were good for me but anything processed or containing chemicals would cause different symptoms. As a result, I now eat a very clean diet on a regular basis and I honestly don't miss sweets or junk food very much at all.
The reality of the situation is that not many modern doctors understand, or even care to understand, the true nature of Candida. After years of feeling awful I spent a year getting treatment and I am now 100% free of symptoms. I'm not sure if I ever would have gotten to this point had I continued down that original path of treatment.