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Certified Health Coach
Institute for Integrative Nutrition
I have had minor yeast infections all of my life. I remember that they started in my teen years, and they were always such a nuisance, uncomfortable and itchy, but little did I know how severely this little yeast infection problem would impact my life as time went on. I had never heard of Candida, which is short for Candidiasis, the true medical terminology. Candida overgrowth, or yeast overgrowth, was never talked about as a potential serious condition. A yeast infection is a sign that something is truly wrong with your immune system.
A yeast infection not only stole eight years of my life, but it nearly killed me. Western medicine failed me. I lost my job, my home, my relationship of eight years, and I even lost myself on the way, and ultimately went flat broke and had complete financial failure. With just the change left in my wallet, I turned in my leased vehicle because I could no longer make a payment, and I moved to California to stay with family until I could get back on my feet. After the whole ten year ordeal, I made a full recovery and am healthy today. But please allow me to share my story so that I might prevent this from happening to you, someone close to you, or just someone you know.
I was born with a pelvic kidney. Having a pelvic kidney just means that my kidney is not up behind my rib cage where it should be, it is lower in my abdomen, and so my ureter is shorter than most women’s, and because of that, I am prone to bladder infections. What this meant was that I was always running to the doctor’s office in search of relief, and was always prescribed an antibiotic. Then, inevitably, in those days, I would have to go to the doctor’s office to get a prescription for Monostat. I remember when I had to go to the doctor to get a prescription for Monostat, and how much easier life became when it became available at the local drugstore. This was just part of my life’s routine, and I became accustomed to it.
In my mid-30s, I was traveling a lot for my work. I am a sales and marketing professional, and worked for Fortune 100 companies for many years, and was on planes a lot. I was living in Cincinnati and flying back and forth to New Jersey for business, and my boyfriend lived in New Jersey, so I was staying there on the weekends. I was crazy in love at the time, and my boyfriend and I were romantic and amorous, and making love a lot. Sexual activity would usually increase my frequency of bladder infections, and I found myself running back and forth to the doctor. They would put me on one antibiotic or another, and I remember asking if my body would build a tolerance to them, as I had heard about the superbugs, but I was assured that if an antibiotic lost its effectiveness, they would just switch me to another one. I didn’t like being on antibiotics, but I had tried cranberry supplements and cranberry juice, and neither of these worked, so I stuck with what worked. If you have ever had a bladder infection and known its discomfort, you know what I am talking about. I would do anything to get rid of a bladder infection, as most women would!
This became a very big problem for me. I was finding myself in doctors’ offices every week, until they finally gave me a prescription for antibiotics in advance so that I could fill it on my own, and have them with me as needed, as I as traveling so much. Sometimes I would be on a plane or in an airport or at a business meeting, and I would find myself with a sudden bladder infection, and I would have the bottle of antibiotics in my purse to provide quick relief.
Then, one day, I started having severe pain in my abdomen. It felt like I had to go to the bathroom, but I could not seem to go, and I was locked up. I would be lying on the floor in an airport bathroom, unable to move, with severe cramping and pain and my skin would feel like it was on fire. After a couple of hours, I would finally go to the bathroom, and have a normal bowel movement followed by diarrhea, and I would be back on my feet in no time. This was happening about once a month and so I went to a gastroenterologist to investigate. They did a colonoscopy, testing me for all diseases, and did not find anything wrong. They suspected it might be irritable bowel syndrome, and then they gave me a pain relief pill to take when it occurred. So, that’s what I did. And it worked. It did not stop the problem, but it did relieve the pain when the episodes would occur, and so I did not even experience any downtime.
The bladder infections became so frequent that eventually they put me on a low dose antibiotic called Macrobid, as they were concerned I might get a kidney infection, so this was to prevent any infections from occurring and it worked for a couple of years at least.
Eventually, I started to have some mood shifts. I would be laughing one minute and crying the next. I started to have panic attacks, and screaming nightmares. I went to see a therapist, and she thought I had a childhood trauma open up, and so I went into counseling for abuse, even though I had no memory of such an event. Eventually, when I did not improve, I went to a new doctor, who thought I had bipolar disorder, and I was put on a cocktail of lithium, with an antidepressant and an antipsychotic drug. It helped some, but did not really fix the problem, it just alleviated some of the chaos that was happening in my brain, which later on I learned was from the yeast toxins that had inflamed my brain tissue. My synapses were not working properly, and I was having all kinds of issues, such as short term memory loss, brain fog, anxiety, panic attacks, and screaming nightmares. I couldn’t focus and I couldn’t pray for help, as my brain was not operating properly. It was inflamed, or swollen, if you will. If you think about how a swollen ankle affects your ability to walk, think about what swelling could do to your brain.
It was so painful to live moment to moment and sometimes I am not sure how I made it through. There was just so much interference going on that it was difficult to want to go on with life, yet I managed to continue to work and continue on with my life. My head was constantly pounding with negative and intrusive thoughts, and I could not get my mind to settle down, like a war was going on inside. There was so much mental chaos. For two years, mental health professionals continued to try to find the right cocktail of drugs for me, and I had the unfortunate opportunity to experience many of the side effects of these very serious drugs, in addition to the ongoing problems created by the underlying yeast infection that was going untreated by western medicine.
While this was all going on, I noticed how much I was craving sugar. Sugar feeds yeast. I had always been a sugar lover, but had never considered myself to be a sugar addict. I just loved candy. But now I was having serious cravings. Every night, I would have a root beer float, and sometimes two or three. I found myself eating pies, brownies, licorice, cookies, and candy bars. And I was always a wine drinker, but I started drinking a lot of red wine. Alcohol converts to sugar, and so it was just another way to feed the yeast. I actually know a couple of people who became mid-life alcoholics from the yeast cravings for sugar.
I finally was encouraged by a dear friend to go and see a holistic doctor. I found an MD who was not just a psychiatrist, but a neurologist and homeopath. I figured maybe he could figure out how I went from being a very successful professional working for a Fortune 100 company to a woman who was struggling with such a wide variety of health problems. He concurred that I had bipolar disorder, but he also diagnosed me with thyroid disease. So then I began all of my visits with the endocrinologists, who could not figure out what was going on. They were confused. I ended up with a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. Over the course of the next year, I was diagnosed with irritable bladder syndrome, adrenal failure, and chronic fatigue syndrome. My stomach was bloated, and I gained 50 pounds, growing from my meager weight of 125 pounds to 175 pounds. I also began having trouble with my knees, and it became difficult for me to kneel down for simple chores. I was diagnosed with Chondramalacea Patella.
I had severe allergies and was on a four day food rotation, and was told that I had leaky gut syndrome. That was a challenge because I could not eat the same food within that four day period and I was not supposed to eat anything I was allergic to, which was almost everything! I was allergic to all fruits and vegetables, according to the sophisticated allergy tests that were done with my blood work. I later had an even more sophisticated test done that told me it was not the fruits and vegetables that I was allergic to, but the pesticides that were on them. So then I became a health nut and started eating only organic fruits and vegetables and I became a new client of Whole Foods and all of the higher end health food stores.
My lower back was experiencing problems and I thought I needed a new mattress, so I bought a new bed, but as it turned out, the tissue in the muscles in my back was inflamed from the yeast toxins. It exhibited itself as serious muscle pain in my lower back, which I had suffered from for years, off and on, but this was so severe that it was difficult to lay down flat without serious discomfort.
Finally, I was so fatigued that I could barely move. I would slowly go up and down the stairs of my apartment on my butt, because the energy to walk was just exhausting. I had two cats and I would feed them their Fancy Feast cat food out of the can, but I could not make it to the trash can three feet away, so a pile of empty cat food cans was beginning to pile up on my kitchen counter, and I was starting to look like a hoarder. Within a few days of this level of fatigue, I went out on medical leave from my job because I could not lift up the phone anymore, and I could not return phone calls to my customers. Since Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was my last diagnosis, I decided to look it up on the internet. I could still move my fingers, and I had my laptop with me in bed. So I googled it. A link came up that said, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Major Cause Candida.” I read the website and it said that antibiotics cause systemic yeast overgrowth, more commonly known as Candida, which is known in the medical community as Candidiasis. I read the information and realized this was what I had all along. Everything fit. I had almost all of the symptoms and the antibiotics were a nightly event.
The antibiotics had not only killed the bad bacteria, but also the good, and ruined my ecosystem in my gut, causing me to get a systemic yeast infection—systemic Candida! I had a compromised immune system! My biggest health problem was caused by yeast! Well, we all have good and bad bacteria in our GI tract, where most of our immune system resides. They are meant to stay in balance. Antibiotics kill not only the bad bacteria when we take them, but they also kill the good bacteria. Candida then grows into the voids, exponentially, as yeast is very aggressive. Too many bad guys and not enough good guys. What happens then? Your immune system can no longer fight the yeast and bad bacteria that live in your gut. Then it begins to wreak havoc in your body. (Steroids and Birth Control medications also damage your immune system over time in a similar fashion).
Normally, candida begins to spread in the digestive tract, and symptoms begin to develop, such as gas, bloating, cramping, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, constipation and/or diarrhea. You will likely begin to have major cravings for sugar, starches and possibly alcohol, which are the foods that candida thrives on to grow. The more of these foods that you eat, the worse you begin to feel as candida grows, releasing toxins, such as acetaldehyde, and interfering with digestion and the absorption of nutrients. The yeast begins to eat your nutrition. The process has begun to wreak havoc, and over time, more and more varied symptoms may begin to appear, and will become more diffuse and convoluted.
Once I figured all of this out, I went on Amazon.com, and bought a probiotic that is designed to kill yeast. It was so aggressive and it started killing off the yeast so fast that I experienced a severe die off reaction. A die off reaction occurs when the yeast is being killed off and the body is overcome with toxins. My body felt like it was at war inside, and I got scared and called 911. I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room. The doctor on staff asked what was wrong and I told him my story and he did not believe I had Candida. He said that Candida only happens to people who have severely compromised immune systems, like someone with HIV or AIDS. He tested my blood and said my bloodwork was normal. They kept me for observation for a couple of hours and my body slowly began to settle down from the reaction.
I called my favorite doctor. He told me to stop taking the supplement. But, I had lost faith in doctors. I had been to countless doctors over the eight years that I suffered and it was amazing that I still even took their counsel. I listened to them for so long because I had the ultimate and undying trust of the man or woman in the white coat. I decided to think for myself. I knew that it was working so I kept on taking it, and within 10 days I was back on my feet. I was not fully recovered yet, but I was on my way. At least I was up and moving. My head started to clear. Within two months I was on a plane and I flew to California to see my family for the holidays. But, I had a long way to go!
I later learned that the treatment I used was really not the best choice. It was a powerful antifungal, available online, but it contained Bacillus Subtilis, which is based on an antibiotic, and so even though it was killing off my yeast, it was also likely killing off my good bacteria, so I stopped using it, and I found new and improved ways to heal.
While I was still doing everything I could to heal, I discovered a video with Dr. Jeffrey McCombs talking about undecenoic acid, and I heard him mention that it was derived from castor bean oil. Instantly, I remembered that my massage therapist had gotten rid of her fibroid tumours with castor bean oil, and this was derived from it. My mental processes put two and two together and I said to myself, “I think this guy has got it figured out”. Not only is Candida difficult to diagnose, it is also difficult to get rid of.
Diagnosing it is difficult because it mimics other health conditions, and it is the con artist of the medical community. As an example, I looked like I had bipolar disorder, but I did not. It was an absolute misdiagnosis, by some very accredited medical professionals. It just looked like I had it, and since the mental health community does not test for mental illness, and they do it mainly by observation, they had observed it, and so it was so. That was a very costly mistake, for me.
The tests for Candida are also unreliable. The stool test I was given showed that I did not have yeast overgrowth. And my favorite doctor fired me as his patient because I did not agree with him. I went to another Integrative MD because I wanted to confirm it. He asked me to open my mouth and he looked at my tongue. My tongue was swollen with a white coating all over it. He said, oh boy, do you have a yeast problem! He did another stool test, and confirmed that I had dysbiosis, an imbalance in my ecosystem with too much yeast. The other doctor had not done an intrusive enough stool test. But the testing reliability issues are extensive. Because Candida is sticky, it sticks to your intestines and does not necessarily come out in your stool, so stool tests do not give you a true indication. And with blood tests, there are false negatives and false positives involved. The best way to determine if you have Candida is by reviewing the symptoms, and evaluating your history of antibiotic, steroid and birth control pill usage. If you think you have it, then begin treatment for it and see if you see improvement. It may take a while to see improvement because of the die off symptoms. The condition will definitely worsen while you are killing off the yeast.
Once the yeast infection becomes a systemic infection, it is actually a systemic fungal infection, and fungus is hard to get rid of! Fungus has been around since the dinosaurs, and it is highly adaptable. It adapts! This is why Western Medicine does not have a cure for fungal infections. The have antifungals, but they have to rotate them, because they lose their effectiveness. There is only one thing that has learned to survive from fungus. Take a look outside. It is plant life. The greenery around you is fungus free! This is one reason that undecenoic acid does not need to be rotated. It is effective against fungus and does not lose its effectiveness.
How I Recovered from Candida
As a survivor, what did I do to heal? I became empowered in my own health, and I would suggest that you become empowered in your own health too. I did research on the internet, I spoke to many holistic doctors, and found other Candida survivors to find out what worked for them, and networked extensively to find out what was working for people and what wasn’t.
There is not a universally agreed upon treatment plan, so you will need to be your own judge of what works best for you. We are all different physiologically in our history, and the cause of our health condition, and how we respond to treatments.
I used different methods to heal from Candida, and many were helpful and effective. I am sharing below many of the steps I took to eliminate my yeast problem.
-Candida Diet and Nutrition
I did a basic Candida diet while undergoing treatment. I eliminated all sugar, all white carbohydrates (white flour and all flour, pasta, bread, white rice), and alcohol. I also eliminated fruit for a period of time, until my body was able to handle it again. I adjusted my diet to ensure I was consuming adequate protein. I eliminated all junk food, and soda pop, and all processed foods. I started eating healthy foods. I stopped going to the regular grocery store, and I began shopping at health food stores, began to eat organic meats, fruits and vegetables. I also learned how to begin juicing, an ever so popular means of increasing nutrition, but was careful not to add fruit juice. Without the fiber, fruit juice would really feed my yeast. I learned about the importance of nutrition and how it helps the body to heal, and became certified as a nutritional advisor at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City.
-Undecenoic Acid: The Most Effective Antifungal for Candida That No One Knows About!
It took me a long time to find this particular treatment. I finally found 10-Undecenoic Acid, (also known as Undecenoic Acid or Undecylenic Acid) which is derived from the Castor Bean. It is an all-natural treatment. In its pure form, it is extremely effective.
Undecenoic acid is a capsule that is used internally, and is derived from the castor bean. It can be purchased from Dr. Jeffrey McCombs as a part of his protocol, at candidaplan.com, and it is called Candida Force, or it can be purchased from Thorne Research, and the product is called SF722. Undecenoic acid is six times more effective than Caprylic acid, and most people do not know about its existence. It is recommended that you take 5 soft gel capsules three times a day, for a total of 15 per day. I was totally amazed by this antifungal. I had not been able to eat fruit for a year without having a yeast problem, and once I began taking undecenoic acid, I could eat almost any fruit without difficulty. You can click on the link below to get this supplement.
I had tried so many different treatments, many of which were helpful, but nothing came close to undecenoic acid. Within an hour, I could feel it hold my yeast down. It felt like my immune system had kicked right back in—it was so powerful. I used to say that I could feel my Candida pounce on me, as soon as I ate something that would feed it, and this took care of that problem.
This virtually eliminated Candida from my body, and then I was able to rebuild my immune system by taking vitamin C immune support supplement and probiotics. I found that the probiotics were much more effective once the Candida was cleared out of my body. The best way to explain this is that it was like raking the leaves off of the grass before planting the new seedlings. Dr. Jeffrey McCombs Candida Plan supplements include Candida Force, Detox Essentials, and Flora Prime, which I highly recommend.
Prior to finding this treatment, a massage therapist told me a story about her own healing many years before while using a castor oil pack. She was pregnant, and had a lot of fibroid tumors. Her doctors told her that she wasn't going to be able to have her baby. She went home and put on a castor oil pack for 2 weeks straight, around the clock, and it eliminated all of her fibroids. I asked if she had the baby. Oh yes, she told me. She is 19. A castor oil pack is an old remedy, one that our grandmothers used, and how lucky she was to find it.
In order to properly flush my system of Candida related toxins, I needed to drink a lot of water, specifically I would drink about 108 ounces of purified water every day. As a rule of thumb, you should drink 36 ounces of water for every 50 pounds of body weight. I did it, every day for months. It helped to flush the toxins out of my body, and when I did my daily sauna, I had plenty of water in my system to sweat out the toxins. I also bought a water alkalizer and ionizer as I learned how important it is to drink clean alkaline water.
-Detoxification and Elimination
Oh, the importance of using a hot dry sauna. Eliminating Candida increased the toxicity of my body while I was healing so I learned how to detoxify. I cannot tell you how important the use of sauna was in my healing. I bought a little infrared sauna that fits in my closet, from www.healthandmed.com. It was around $300. I was drinking a lot of water to flush my system, and when I did my sauna every day for 15-20 minutes, I would sweat like it was pouring rain. I would feel amazing relief from many of my symptoms, especially fatigue and depression. I would then take a cold shower for 90 seconds and make sure I let the cold water run on the top of my head. If I had any symptoms at all from brain fog or depression, the symptoms would subside almost immediately. It just confirmed that it was the toxins that were causing my symptoms. Taking the cold shower releases toxins from your tissue and drops them into your lymphatic system. Very effective! I also did a hot bath several times a week with 2 cups of Sea Salt, 2 cups of Epsom Salt, and 1 cup of aluminum free baking soda. I would stay in for at least 20 minutes for detox of your largest organ-your skin. Link is provided below for a sauna suggestion.
I also used Trace Minerals to keep my bowels moving, and sometimes I would use a Vitamin C Buffered Ascorbate Powder. If I wasn’t going to the bathroom, my body would build up toxicity, and I would get sick. Learning to detoxify my body properly was of utmost importance. It is also important to note here that sweating from exercise does not work for this detox. The buildup of lactic acid from exercise interferes with the release of toxins. Sweating from heat is the only way to do it.
At one point during my detox, I could not go to the bathroom at all, as I was so constipated, and it was a serious problem. I went for several colonics and even they did not work. It was very frustrating, because if you cannot go to the bathroom, the toxins just recirculate in your body and keep you sick. A friend of mine who had survived Candida told me to try Dr. Schulze’s 5 day bowel detox and I did that, and I have never had a problem since.
I learned to take probiotics, known as "pro-life" as opposed to antibiotics, which are "anti-life". Probiotics are found naturally in breast milk, by the way. Probiotics are the good bacteria, and you can rebuild your immune system by replenishing what has been lost in your body through the use of antibiotics, steroids, antibiotics, and other stresses. Probiotics are all natural, and are found in yogurt, and are even being used now as an additive in baby food. I needed more probiotics than that to rebuild my system, as do most people who suffer from Candida. Probiotics do not require a prescription, and are available in dosages that are much higher than are available in yogurt or baby food. They can be purchased at most health food stores, and online. I like to use Renew Life. But there are a lot of choices available.
I learned many of these techniques from Dr. Jeffrey McCombs, the leading expert on systemic Candida. I am writing about his Candida Plan with his permission, but the real plan are much more extensive and can be found at www.candidaplan.com. . It was his Candida Plan that truly saved my life and got my body completely cleaned up. Most people who do his plan end up with zero to one health issues, and I recommend it with all of my heart. It is recommended that you do the Candida Plan for sixteen weeks and follow with the recommended maintenance.
Candida stole my life, one moment at a time. It stole it in many ways, and on all levels. It impacted me mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physiologically. By stealing these aspects of "self", it became an identity crisis of enormous proportions, and probably beyond your imagination. I was no longer who I used to be. I couldn't think the same, as my body had been so invaded and interfered with, and my emotional balance went out of whack because of it, and my body began to fail in many places. I begin to lose hope, and it was not possible for me to pray through the chaos. We can call it biochemically identity challenged. It was nearly impossible to work, maintain a relationship, or be who I once was. And stripped of who I was once, I was in a position to try to save myself, with virtually no help from the conventional medical community. Some of us are lucky enough to find our way to holistic medicine. And, in the meantime, we try to save ourselves, our jobs, our relationships, and our own health, when we no longer have the same survival capacities we once had. Systemic Candida not only steals your life, it steals who you are, one moment at a time.
My experience taught me that in addition to the impact of Candida, there may also be an emotional component prior to getting Candida, and I have since learned through many holistic doctors that this is also very common with disease. Many people who have suffered a trauma also experience issues with yeast/Candida, as well as other health issues. The trauma itself jolts your body and has a negative impact on the immune system. Healing from the inside is as important as healing the physical body. I learned that forgiveness is a key to healing. Letting go of our painful past, and forgiving others and forgiving self are very important in the healing process. Holding onto negative emotions only gives energy to someone or something else, and we need that energy to heal ourselves. .
I hired a personal trainer, jumped on a rebounder (mini-trampoline), and used my Elliptical Machine Daily. Exercise does help the body heal. I found this to be very helpful to my healing process, and pushed myself to do so, even on days when I was so fatigued I could barely move.
In the beginning, my trainer told me that he could not train me because I had lost so much range of motion. He told me to go to a massage therapist, which is what I did. The massage therapist had to do a myofascial release on my back, probably because I had gained so much weight and also had so much inflammation. After several sessions with a massage therapist, I regained my range of motion and then I resumed my work with my trainer. I successful got my weight back down to 125 pounds.
While I was detoxing from Candida, I developed an infection in one of my teeth that was so severe that I had a growth the size of a baseball on the right side of my face. I went to the dentist, and was vomiting in his parking lot. He sent me to an oral surgeon who then performed immediate oral surgery on me and removed the infection. My dentist was afraid the infection would get to my brain which is why we acted so quickly. Of course, the oral surgeon put me on another round of antibiotics to perform the surgery, which I did not desire, but it was a requirement for him to help me. A week later the growth came back.
Since I could no longer handle antibiotics, I found a holistic dentist that was able to treat my dental infection that would simply not go away with ozonated water and ozone injections. I found this to be an effective way to manage these infections while I worked to rebuild my immune system so I could help my body to heal naturally once again. I learned that there are other holistic doctors that do ozone treatments to eliminate other infections in the body as well. If you are experiencing dental issues, you may want to read the section on Biofilms. And if you think you may need ozone treatments, the dentist that helped me was located in New Jersey and his name is Dr. Phil Molica. I spent a Summer visiting his office getting ozone injections from the base of my neck up to the top of my head. http://rockmolldental.com/DrMoll.html
It took me two years to fully clean my body, and restore my immune system. My condition was just that severe and so my healing time frame was longer than most people. So, if I can recover, anyone can! I did get my life back and I am in excellent health!
Kathleen Kalaf, Founder, Candida.com