L. Francesca Ferrari, L.Ac.
Instructor of Medical Qigong
Five Branches Institute,
College and Clinic of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Santa Cruz, CA
"Candidiasis, a controversial disease, deserves recognition as it may perpetuate
into epidemic proportions. The fact that some medical doctors brazenly discount its very existence coupled with a lack of current information allows unfortunate people suffering from Candidiasis to exist without an accurate diagnosis (particularly with reference to traditional western medicine), much less proper treatment. It is my intention to facilitate an awareness for health care practitioners and the public to the causes, symptoms, various testing and treatment protocol for Candidiasis."
Candidiasis, a controversial disease, deserves recognition as is may perpetuate into epidemic proportions. The fact that some medical doctors brazenly discount its very existence coupled with a lack of current information allows unfortunate people suffering from Candidiasis to exist without an accurate diagnosis (particularly with reference to western medicine), much less proper treatment. It is my intention to facilitate an awareness among primary care physicians and nurses to the causes, symptoms, various testing, and various treatment protocol for Candidiasis.
Although Candida albicans exists harmoniously in the human body, it can become dimorphic, thus metamorphisizing into a pathogen. Some of the causes of Candida transforming into a pathogenic state are: "the aftermath of steroids (hormones) in food (residues in factory-farmed meat and poultry) or as medication (cortisone, "the Pill, etc.), the long-term effects of antibiotics in food (factory-farmed animals or their products, such as milk) or as medication, diabetes"1, multiple pregnancies. Often it is a compilation of a few of the above mentioned factors that can induce Candidiasis.
One avenue from which Candidiasis can stem is antibiotics. As antibiotics are prescribed to kill bacterial infections, much of the "friendly flora", acidophilous and bifidous to name a few, in the small intestine and large intestine are also destroyed; thus the delicate ratio of friendly flora and Candida albicans becomes disrupted. Further research in 1980 at the University of Pavia in Italy "tested the effect of five antibiotics on the candidacidal activity of human white blood cells capable of ingesting and killing bacteria. Each of the antibiotics blocked the actions of the WBCs against Candida albicans"2 Biotin, balanced with other B vitamins and trace minerals, has been found to prevent the transformation of Candida into pathogenic form. Biotin, like vitamin K and B12 is produced by friendly flora in the intestinal tract. David Feldman, MD at Stanford University states that Candida albicans has a steroid-binding protein which binds corticoids and progesterone; this information supports the statements that women on oral contraceptives, people on steroids, and women with multiple pregnancies may be more susceptible to Candidiasis.
Perhaps the myriad of Candidiasis symptoms poses a challenge for health care givers to properly diagnose, although once informed and familiar with the symptoms of: bloating of the intestines, fatigue, chronic nasal discharge, abdominal pain, vomiting, poor appetite, cold hands and feet, belching, diarrhea, leukorrhea, rectal itching, prostatitis, impotence, cystitis, vaginal itching, food allergies, lack of concentration, asthma, depression, tinnitus, skin rashes, and hormonal imbalances that can lead to infertility, a practitioner should be able to follow with diagnostic testing.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, further symptoms such as a "slippery pulse" (like pearls rolling on a plate) and a greasy tongue coating are further clues for dampness, which can be associated with Candidiasis. In addition to a slippery pulse, or a greasy tongue coating, a scalloped tongue (one with teeth mark indentations on the edges of the tongue) can indicate Spleen Qi deficiency. Other signs of Spleen Qi Xu can manifest as fatigue, poor appetite, cold hands and feet, abdominal bloating, flatulence, loose stools or constipation.
Another TCM pattern presenting with Candida infection is stagnant Liver Qi. Liver Qi stasis may be revealed by: a wiry pulse, emotional irritability or depression, breast distension, hypochondriac pain, painful menstral cycles, prostatitis. When Liver Qi stagnation occurs with Spleen Qi deficiency, Liver (wood) overacting on Spleen (earth) might be diagnosed by symptoms such as: headache, sore eyes, lassitude, epigastric pain, greenish face, diarrhea. Additionally, the efficacy of the Stomach is subdued with symptoms of belching, hiccoughs, and even vomiting. According to Bob Flaws: "when there is spleen vacuity, liver depression, and damp heat, there is often also chong or parasites in the intestines" (July 2000 Herbal Crossroads, Khan Herbal Company). Flaws' further research revealed information of Dr. Heiner Fruehauf's publication regarding observations from the Qing Dynasty on gu chong (parasites) whereby certain herbs ( Bai Zhu: Radix Angelicae Dahuricae, He Shou Wu: Radix Polygoni Multiflori, Lian Qiao: Fructus Forsythiae Suspensae, Zi Su Ye: Folium Perillae Fructescentis, Bo He: Herba Menthae Haplocalycis, and Wu Mei: Fructus Pruni Mume) promote a regularizing effect on intestinal flora; again, another association concerning the delicate balance of intestinal flora and the presence of gu chong, or parasites.
Once the balance of bacteria and Candida albicans becomes disturbed, the Candida overgrows, colonizing more of its own species. Simple sugars ingested readily serve as a source for further Candida proliferation, as are steroids and progesterone. In its pathogenic state, Candida is known to release seventy-nine toxins, according to Stanley Weinberg, "The Quiet Epidemic". The intestinal tract is an area where Candida overgrowth thrives: "the excessive toxins will make membrane linings in the gut leak" which weakens the epithelial lining, whereby large protein molecules permeate through the lining into the bloodstream, causing a variety of food allergies. Upon lacking enough nutrients, the Candida species grows hyphae. On the tip of the hyphae, an enzyme, phospholipase, can penetrate the human cell wall by splitting fatty acids, enabling the Candida to utilize nutrients within the human cell.
The presence of Candidiasis can be verified by fecal and blood plasma testing. Fecal testing can be beneficial because Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratories not only tests for Candida overgrowth, it also supplies information on relative quantity of acidophilous and bifidous. Though with Candida albicans being dimorphic, it is wise to do additional blood plasma testing of Candida antibodies and antigens to note a chronic or acute condition. Ultimately, a root diagnosis based on the clients' specific constitution, symptoms, and lab findings, if any, should be addressed.
Treatment protocol is broad. Elimination of simple sugars, supplementation of B vitamins, sometimes via intra muscular injections (per a Medical Doctor's recommendation) when the epithelial lining is badly damaged, Vitamin C, Biotin, Acidophilous which is primarily found in the small intestine, Bifidous, primarily found in the large intestine, manganese, magnesium, chlorella, essential fatty acids, herbal formulae, and exercise can serve as the foundation towards regaining balance.
With TCM, tonifying the Spleen and Stomach, smoothing the Liver, and dispelling dampness serve as a basis. Acupuncture points such as SP6, ST 36 with tonifying tecnique support the digestive system, K3, K5 (Xi Cleft) for overall tonification because Candidiasis can overtax the arenals, Liver 3 sedating, SP 9 to dispell dampness, LI 4 with Liver 3 for balancing Qi and Blood, LI11 sedating to clear excess heat in the intestines, Ren 3 (front Mu point of Urinary Bladder) Ren 4 (front Mu of Small Intestine), ST 25 (front Mu of Large Intestine). Additionaly, moxa on ST 36, SP 4 (source point of the Spleen), and over the general abdominal area if a deficiancy of the middle and lower jiao is present.
Lastly, in dealing with microscopic pathogens, it should be noted that a general co-evolution of species is occurring from stronger antibiotics, and subsequent resistant strains of pathogens. Candida albicans is one of many species... Candida has been known to mutate into stronger, more resilient strains. Since some strains are more resilient, it remains important to regard Candida as infectious; currently too many health care practitioners do not educate their clients with this information.
1 "Candida Albicans", Leon Chaitow, DO, ND. 1998 Healing Arts Press,
Rochester, Vermont page 19
2 "The Yeast Syndrome" John Trowbridge, MD Morton Walker DPM. 1986
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. New York, New York, page 48
3 Ibid, page 61
4 "Candida Albicans: The Quiet Epidemic", Stanley Weinberger, CMT. 1995
Healing Within Products, Larkspur, California, page 6
5 "The Yeast Syndrome" John Trowbridge, MD Morton Walker DPM. 1986
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. New York, New York, page 38