From the Desk of Carolyn Dean MD ND
Recently, on my radio show, I was asked about prostatitis – inflammation of the prostate. He was surprised to discover that Yeast Overgrowth is a likely cause. In fact, Yeast Overgrowth is a factor in the inflammatory response in the entire body.
Here are 12 factors that you can control to reduce yeast overgrowth:
1. Not Replacing “Good Bacteria” when Using Antibiotics
Yeast Overgrowth as a medical condition has been with us for decades, ever since we began using antibiotics. But as we killed off good and bad bacteria with these drugs, we neglected to replace the good bacteria.
In times past, fermentation was a way of preserving foods and when we ate these bacterial organisms used to create sauerkraut, yogurt, and kim chi, they kept our gut microbiome happy and balanced. That bacterial microbiome physically kept yeast in check.
Cultivation of yeast in our intestines is not the intent when we take antibiotics, but it is one result. When we are prescribed antibiotics to kill a marauding microorganism, we imagine the drugs as smart missiles specifically targeting the enemy. However, antibiotics do not necessarily target the bacteria in question. Instead, they often mow down significantly more good bacteria than bad. The collateral damage to the “good” bacteria in the intestines can be severe, leading to huge gaps in defending the intestines from a takeover by yeast.
The onset of intestinal Yeast Overgrowth is slow, insidious, and is often missed. Even when a woman develops vaginitis from antibiotics, it can be diagnosed as a bacterial infection and treated with more antibiotics.
We have known for decades that antibiotics upset the natural flora of the bowel. One study in 1985 showed that 86% of Syrian hamsters suffered a decrease in total bowel flora after being given antibiotics. After the antibiotic treatment, a group of hamsters that were given C. albicans by feeding tube developed Candida infection in the liver, spleen, and kidneys.
In that same study, the authors said that those animals whose intestinal flora survived did so by forming a dense layer of beneficial bacteria in the mucus gel of the intestines, out-competing yeast cells for adhesion sites. They also found inhibitor substances (fatty acids and bile acids) that reduced C. albicans adhesion. This provided early evidence of the benefits of probiotics.
Therefore, it is very important to use pre- and probiotics to reestablish good bacteria in the gut. This is something we can all do when we choose to take antibiotics.
2. Alcohol Consumption
We have a big clue about the association of yeast and alcohol. For the most part, people with severe yeast overgrowth avoid alcohol because it makes them feel so much worse. In fact, alcohol may have been a contributor to the evolution of their symptoms. But at a certain point, the additive effect of drinking alcohol to the actual alcohol produced by yeast is too much to bear.
Yes, alcohol itself is one of the 78 toxic byproducts of yeast metabolism. Alcohol carries a double punch. It is a fermented yeast product and an alcohol sugar, both of which encourage yeast growth. Just as you can crave sugar and carbs urged on by ravenous yeast, you can also crave alcohol. In fact, yeast overgrowth could be one of the reasons that people become addicted to alcohol. Unfortunately, people who run Alcoholic Anonymous substitute yeast-promoting sugar treats for alcohol.
3. Stress and Steroid Hormones
Stress puts your body on steroids. Steroids, both natural and prescription, feed yeast. Our own body’s steroid hormones are there to help treat inflammation, but when on overload, they cause problems. Steroid hormones are produced during stress and stress in the body is equated with starvation so one function of steroids is to stimulate the breakdown of glycogen in the liver into glucose, and glucose is the perfect food for yeast and for weight gain. We have heard that stress produces excess cortisol, and that hormone promotes belly fat. But yeast and yeast toxins could also be involved.
4. Mercury Contamination
Mercury is second only to plutonium in its toxic effects. When you chew food with teeth that have mercury fillings, you create mercury vapor that you then swallow. This mercury vapor acts like a super antibiotic that kills gut bacteria.
We are also exposed to mercury as the preservative called thimerosal in vaccines. However, single dose vials may not contain mercury.
Many kinds of fish are contaminated with mercury and can cause elevated levels in our body.
We may be exposed to mercury if we live near a coal-burning plant or crematorium or work in a dental office.
We can moderate mercury contamination by making sure that if we eat fish, the source for the fish is mercury-free. Also, if there is mercury in the environment, we can use pre- and probiotics to support good bacteria and research, “nutrients that detoxify heavy metals,” such as magnesium and glutathione in order to reduce mercury in the body. Pre- and probiotic formulas containing Humic/Fulvic acids can help bind heavy metals, yeast toxins, and chemical toxins.
5. Birth Control Pills
The premenstrual surge in hormones that happens the week before your menses provides an environment that encourages yeast to grow. However, when we take hormones in the form of birth control pills, for three out of four weeks in the month, we are creating that very same environment. One thing we can do to avoid this challenge is to research natural and healthy alternatives to the BCP.
6. Immunosuppressant Drugs
As the name of the drug implies, suppressing the immune system will take the focus away from keeping yeast and yeast toxins under control, allowing them to run rampant in the body. Using nutrients like Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, and Zinc can help build the immune system and can be alternatives.
One of the things I learned when I was working on an AIDS and Chronic Fatigue study in Manhattan in the early 90s was the 100% incidence of Yeast Overgrowth in AIDS patients. Their weakened immune systems just couldn’t keep yeast under control.
Hormones reach very high levels during pregnancy and can encourage yeast overgrowth. Pregnancy is also a time of cravings, and when women give in to carbohydrate and sugar cravings, even fruit cravings, Yeast Overgrowth is an outcome. When a woman has Yeast Overgrowth and yeast vaginitis, she can pass yeast on to her child during vaginal delivery. I’ve seen children with yeast ear infections from birth that were badly misdiagnosed and mistreated with antibiotics.
8. Diets High in Sugar, Carbohydrates, and Yeast
All these foods are fodder for yeast. Toast and jam for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, lots of coffee with sugar, and pasta for dinner is “high carb heaven” for yeast. If concerned about yeast overgrowth, start eliminating these foods from your diet by replacing them with non-starchy vegetables and adding organic chicken and beef to avoid the antibiotics that are fed to chickens and cattle.
9. Trauma/Gut Surgery
When the gut is altered through surgery, the microbiome can be susceptible to Yeast Overgrowth from the stress and from the antibiotics that are usually given.
Environmental Factors that Cause Yeast Overgrowth
10. Depletion of the Soil Due to Corporate Agri-Farming and Chemical Fertilizers
When our grandparents still grew at least some of their own food, the soil was teeming with nutrients and good bacteria. Who remembers their parents going out into the garden, picking a few carrots, knocking off the clods of earth, and lightly washing those carrots? Didn’t those carrots have a bit of residual dirt on them? That is how our ancestors maintained a healthy balance of soil-based bacteria.
Unfortunately, with the advent of chemical fertilizers and corporate Agri farming, most farmers do not replenish a balance of nutrients and good bacteria in their soil. This means that supplementing pre- and probiotics may be necessary to maintain balanced yeast.
11. Chlorine in the Water
We can be exposed to chlorine in swimming pools, showers, baths, drinking water, and water used in restaurants or to cook processed foods that end up in boxes in your freezer. Chlorine kills microorganisms in water, and it does the same in your body, disrupting your intestinal flora leaving room for intestinal yeast to overgrow. Chlorine also binds magnesium and contributes to magnesium deficiency. We can minimize this challenge by using reverse osmosis and/or whole house water filters to remove the Chlorine.
12. Exposure to Mold and Mildew Due to Untreated Water Damage
Mildew, mold, and black mold in homes are increasing in epidemic proportions. Every time you hear about flooding or water damage – mold follows. You can remove the leak, wash off the mold with strong detergents or even bleach, while wearing a mask, and install an ozone machine to help kill the airborne mold. You can get a small $60.00 unit on Amazon that you turn on in a closed room for half an hour at a time. However, mold remediators might have to be called.
The above twelve causes of yeast overgrowth have an even greater impact in a body that is already compromised by the following factors:
- High carbohydrate and sugar diet
- Lack of HCL, bile, and pancreatic enzymes leading to incomplete digestion
- Overburdened immune system
- Intestinal dysbiosis (imbalance in the microbiome)
- Toxic gastrointestinal tract
- Leaky gut
The yeast protocol I recommend consists of picometer-sized, stabilized ions of liquid silver, an antifungal, Sacchromyces bourlardii, and Humic, Fulvic acids.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future