The discussion about Natural Anti-Fungal Treatment for Intestinal Candida would not be complete without looking at probiotics, beneficial bacteria taken as a nutritional supplement.
The increase incidence of Candida infections is thought to be due partly to the increased use of broad spectrum antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the bacteria in the gut but leave yeast and fungi undisturbed. Studies have shown that the normal bacteria found in the gut keep Candida in check but once the bacteria are killed then Candida can grow uncontrolled. This has led to the idea that taking supplements of good bacteria could help to reduce the Candida numbers back to normal.
The use of probiotics in the form of fermented foods has been used for thousands of years. People in various parts of the world have eaten fermented milk, vegetables, fruit, beans, meat, fish and cereals. At the beginning of the 20th Century Metchinoff, a Russian scientist, noticed that
people in Bulgaria who regularly consumed fermented milk products lived to an unusually great age and in very good health. Metchinoff isolated a bacteria which he called Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. This bacteria is widely used in the production of yogurt.
Russians, Scandinavians and Japanese have used probiotics in the treatment for humans for decades but in the West probiotics were mainly used for animals. A lot of scientific studies showed the health benefits of including probiotics in their feed. In the last 25 years or so the study and use of probiotics for humans has has a revival. Unfortunately good quality studies on the use of probiotics against Candida are uncommon.
There are about 400 to 500 different types of bacteria that live in the bowel and 20 different species make up three quarters of the total. Most of the so called “friendly” or “good” bacteria belong to lactobacillii or bifidobacteria family. These are the ones that have been studied the most.
Lactobacillii are a large family of bacteria that produce lactic acid. They are the normal and most plentiful inhabitant of the stomach and small intestines where they have a protective function.
They also inhabit the mucous membrane linings of the mouth, throat, nose, respiratory tract, vagina and genital area.
Lactobacillii have a very important function in that they also stimulate the immune system. This is very important when it comes to keeping Candida under control. They also produce a number of substances that are anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial. They keep the gut lining healthy and intact through the stimulation of renewal of the cells of the gut lining. They renew themselves very 4 – 6 days.
More studies have probably been done on this species than any other and it is the most common bacteria found in probiotic supplements.
Bifidobacteria are 7 times more plentiful than lactobacillii and are found predominately in the colon and lower intestines. There are about 30 different species and they can also be found in the vagina and genital area. They produce different antibiotic like substances, stimulate the immune
system and produce some B vitamins, Vitamin K and aid absorption of calcium, iron and Vitamin D.
Lack of Bifidobacteria can lead to undigested food, excessive histamine release from putrefactive bacteria, toxic build up and allergic reactions. Bifidobacteria are the second most common bacteria found in probiotic supplements.
There has been a lot if interest in Saccaromyces Boulardii as a natural anti-fungal treatment for Candida as it has been shown in animal studies to prevent Candida reproducing in the digestive system. It does not attach itself to the lining as other bacteria but simply passes through.
Although itself a yeast it is completely unrelated to Candida yeast. It is however related to Brewer’s yeast and people who are intolerant to Brewer’s yeast are likely to react to it. It is thought that S. boulardii produces antifungal toxins that kill and inhibit Candida species although it’s exact mechanism has not yet been discovered.
Bacillus subtilis is spore forming soil organism that was discovered during the second World War and has been extensively studied and since been used by doctors in Europe, Russia, China and Japan. In the past humans used to consume a lot of soil organisms from food and water from wells and streams. But more hygiene means that we do not get them these days.
Soil organisms pass through the digestive tract and clear out putrefying matter and stimulate the immune system. Bacillus subtilis can be very effective where there are allergies or autoimmune diseases.
There is some controversy over whether these organisms found in commercial supplements should be consumed or not. On the one hand it is reported that Natasha Natrev, reputed to be a world expert on microrganisms, said that “there are simply too many questions and unknowns to sanction the use of soil organisms for human consumption and one can certainly cannot qualify them as safe at this time”.
On the other hand Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride who wrote the book “Gut And Psychology Syndrome” and is an expert on the natural treatment of gut disorders states that in her experience probiotic products that contain soil organisms are the most effective on the market.
Bacillus subtilis is one of the three organisms contained in ThreeLac that is promoted all over the internet as a cure for Candida. There is no doubt that many people have found it to be the wonder cure for their Candida but for others it is only part of the solution if it works at all.
The truth is this also applies to all probiotics. Some people with Candida find that taking probiotics will make all the difference but others do not seem to notice any benefit from them. As I explained at the beginning of this series of articles about intestinal Candida yeast overgrowth there are many facets to the control of Candida that include the anti-Candida or blood sugar control diet, bowel cleansing, mercury and other toxic metals detox if present, general body detox, gut healing, natural anti-fungal treatment, replenishing good gut bacteria, improving nutrient deficiencies, balancing hormones and reducing stress. Quite a list!
Probiotics are not equal
Probiotics on the market come in a variety of forms from drinks to powder, tablets and capsules. Many are not strong enough to be of any benefit and a number of tests have found that some supplements do not contain the species or amount of bacteria that the manufacturers claim on the label. Is it any wonder some people do not see any results from taking probiotics.
In addition good quality studies on the use of probiotics against Candida are uncommon so a clear picture of the the best probiotic to use against Candida is not known. Microbiologist Peter Cartwright who specializes in human microflora states that pending more research a good quality multi-species one may be the best choice
Here are a few guidelines for choosing a good probiotic:
- Look for one that contains a number of species of bacteria. Different species have different strengths and a mixture has a better chance of providing the maximum benefit.
- Look for a probiotic that contains a high concentration of bacteria. You are more likely to notice a difference if you take them in high enough doses.
- Find a dairy free variety in case you react to dairy as many people with Candida overgrowth do.
- A good manufacturer will test every batch for potency and bacterial composition and should make this available on request.
How to take your probiotic
A high potency probiotic is likely to cause die off reactions. Fungi, viruses and bacteria release toxins once the good bacteria start to destroy them. This could make you feel unwell, more tired, give you a rash. It should only last a few days but the best way to prevent this is to start with a small dose. Use half a capsule if necessary and gradually build up the dose. This could take a few weeks.
Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends that adults take 15 – 20 billion organisms a day. But some practitioners are now recommending supplements that contain 50 billion organisms per capsule. The greater the imbalance, the higher the dosage that may be required to overcome Candida. The dose needed may be as high as 6 capsules a day.
Many people have found that probiotics are more effective as a natural anti-fungal for intestinal Candida when also taken with fermented foods such as live yogurt and raw cultured vegetables.
Previous articles in this series about Intestinal Candida are: