A noted allergy specialist questions many of the most common assumptions about candida overgrowth.
As a well known clinical ecologist once remarked, "If all you've got is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail." He was referring to candida albicans infection and the tendency of many doctors and alternative practitioners to diagnose anyone suffering a collection of unexplained symptoms as another victim ofthe "yeast syndrome". Some doctors with extensive experience in treating candida are beginning to doubt some of the most popular theories about candida. Candida albicans may only one of several bugs wreaking havoc in the gut; so called candida sufferers may have several, quite distinct problems; the classic anti candida diet may be needlessly harsh. Keith Mumby, author of The Allergy Handbook who has treated countless cases of candida, questions a number of supposed symptoms of and treatment for the yeast syndrome now accepted as gospel.Candida, that is, infection with candida albicans, the thrush germ, is now big business. Probably no condition in the natural health arena is attracting more interest at present. Dr Orian Truss of Birmingham, Alabama, first brought the candida hypothesis to us in 1978. He is a psychiatrist with a special interest in clinical ecology ,and his seminal papers in the Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry (Vol 7, No1, 1978 and Vol 9, No 4, 1980) revealed an extensive and fascinating area of personal investigation. His work was taken up enthusiastically by Dr William Crook, an allergist in Alabama, who has done more than any individual to popularize the candida hypothesis, or what has now become known as the "yeast connection", taken from the title of his book (Professional Books, Jackson, Tennessee, 1983).
Since that time, Truss's theory seems to have gripped public imagination. Clinical ecologists have been keen to extol the enormous benefits of tackling it vigorously. Unquestionably, there are gains, through following an anti candida programme, taking anti fungal drugs and excluding sugar and yeast.
Yet Truss's idea is no more than a theory. It has been 12 years now since Truss's innovative papers, and that is ample time to carry out detailed studies which would make his claims valid. Yet they are singularly lacking. A catalogue of startling recoveries does not constitute scientific study. The fact is, we may be getting the right results for the wrong reasons. There is some evidence that the "yeast syndrome" may be several syndromes, or the fallout from a generally weakened body with several unrelated problems. Candida albicans may not be the only pathogen, but one of several.
Some of the confusion about Candida comes from the fact that a number of widely circulated "anti candida diets" do have a beneficial effect, at least at first. But what isn't understood is that the "cure" is often simply that of eliminating a food allergy and not eradicating Candida at all. One diet in Sweden excludes dairy produce as part of an anti Candida routine; a naturopath here in Britain cuts out all grains. There is absolutely no rationale for these dietary restrictions in the fight against candida. All they ensure is that a great many of those who are dairy or wheat allergic will become miraculously better. This creates the false impression that they suffered from candida.
If the real origin of the recovery isn't understood it can be confusing and even counter productive. It may lead to a patient being stuck on a difficult and inadequate diet almost indefinitely since the patient may feel ill each time he or she tries to come off it without knowing why.