My Healing Journey
I’ve stated in the past that I have been battling many health issues. One of which is Systemic Candida…that means it is in my blood. Everyone, EVERYONE, has Candida. However, it is contained in the gut and in a good balance. However, as soon as you add antibiotics, sugar, gluten, stress, anxiety, it can cause your Candida levels to get out of control. Throw in leaky gut (which is basically little holes in your gut), and now the Candida is free to move out of its home (your gut) and travel into your blood, and even into your brain and other organs.
Amy Meyers MD’s website states it well:
Candida has the unique ability to change shape in order to protect itself from harsh environments. It responds to a shift in temperature or acidity levels by transforming from a rounded yeast cell into an elongated hyphal cell. These elongated cells have the ability to permeate the gut lining, causing leaky gut. Once in the bloodstream, Candida can invade other tissues. This means that Candida can quickly transition from a gut problem to a full-body problem. It can colonize the skin, mouth, ears, thyroid, reproductive organs, or elsewhere. For this reason, symptoms of Candida overgrowth can be experienced in many different forms.
I was finally diagnosed with Candida in November 2019. This was after spending YEARS getting blood work and seeing doctor after doctor, trying to figure out what was wrong.
Candida symptoms vary for each person and you don’t always get them all. I didn’t get a lot of the tell-tell symptoms (like yeast infections). I was just tired. Not just mom-tired. I was exhausted when I woke up. Lived on caffeine. I would drink 5 cups of black coffee in the morning, drink a Starbucks in the afternoon, and crash as soon as my kids went to bed at 7pm. I would sleep all through the night and still wake up tired. That’s not normal.
In addition to extreme exhaustion, I was experiencing horrible breakouts. I also had digestive issues, which is very common with a bunch of other ailments and thus why I did a comprehensive food allergy testing…and guess what? It came back CLEAR! At that point, I was literally about to cry. I had all this other blood work telling me everything was mostly normal (other than some hormonal imbalances and thyroid not optimal…I’ll get to that in a minute). I was sure I had Celiac or Crohn’s…but nothing. No food allergies. I was desperate for answers and knew something was wrong.
After feeling defeated, I figured I could start with healing my thyroid, so I joined a holistic thyroid Facebook group to try to find a doctor and glen from others. My GP (General Practitioner) told me that my thyroid was not great but never mentioned getting on a medication or something else to help heal it. He focused more on my hormonal imbalances, thus why I joined the Facebook group. I called a few doctor offices and left messages but never booked anything…doctors were too far away, first appointment would be 5-6 months later, etc. I posted again in the Facebook group and asked specifically for a doctor that could help my thyroid and hormones that was close by. One lady commented about an OB/Gyn that specializes in hormonal and thyroid imbalances. I looked up her information online and decided to give it a go. I made my appointment for about a month later, which was a lot faster than seeing a thyroid doctor. In the meantime, I got more blood results back and shared it in my portal with this new OB. I added all my symptoms and she emailed me back asking for me to get one more test done (yup…she added the test for Candida).
The time came for my first appointment with my new OB and I felt welcomed and knew in my gut that I made the right decision by going this route first. As soon as she walked in, she introduced herself and then went right into it. “Know wonder you are exhausted! You have Systemic Candida!” She then showed me all of my blood work, and boy was I a mess!!
In addition to the Systemic Candida, I also had pretty much no testosterone, hypothyroidism, low estrogen, a ton of vitamin deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, MTFHR mutation, and Epstein Barr Virus (a few of these things I found out later with a different integrative doctor that did more extensive blood work and microscopy blood work).
Our first item to tackle was the Candida. She believed that that was the root cause to a lot of other issues I was experiencing. If we could get that in control, then hopefully the other issues would start to balance out.
There are so many symptoms of Candida overgrowth. These are just a few of the many and these were the ones I was experiencing:
- Feeling tired and worn down or suffering from chronic fatigue
- Digestive issues (bloating)
- Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, and/or brain fog
- Skin breakouts
- Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, depression
- Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
- Sinus infections (I was getting a TON of them!)
- Weakened immune system (I was getting sick all the time)
- Muscle weakness
- Sleep problems and night sweats
How Do You Test for Candida Overgrowth?
Blood tests check for IgG, IgA, and IgM Candida antibodies in your blood, and they can be performed at most any lab. High levels of these antibodies indicate that an overgrowth of Candida is present somewhere in the body and that your immune system is reacting to it.
Remember, Candida has the ability to suppress the immune system so it is important to ask your doctor to test your total IgG, IgA and IgM levels along with the Candida antibodies. Low levels of total IgG, IgA or IgM could cause a false negative response to the Candida antibodies, meaning you have Candida but since your immune system is lowered, you are unable to produce a response and your blood test comes back negative. I see so many patients with suppressed immune systems, so I find that blood tests can often be negative even when the stool or urine tests are positive.From Amy Myers MD
Mine was found in blood work. I now see an integrative doctor that works on whole body healing and specializes in cancer treatments, healing Candida, and other health issues. Since seeing him, we’ve been tracking the Systemic Candida with microscopy blood work. It is the coolest thing ever! The nurse pricks my finger and places a small drop of blood on a slide, then places it under the microscope. We are able to look at the blood right then and there! The nurse is able to point out Candida, toxins, and allergens. My blood looked so much healthier at my last visit (at the end of March) – blood cells were larger, spaced out more, and moving much better than last time! It is seriously amazing to see! I still have some Candida floating around but not as much, toxins still present (we are doing a push-metals test next visit), but overall it is looking promising!
“How Did You Get Sick When You Eat Healthy Foods?”
I have been asked this numerous times. Or, “why do other people not get sick when they eat crap foods all day?”
Honestly, I don’t know the definitive answer to this because everyone is different. But I will share my thoughts.
I believe a lot has to do with your genetics and how you ate growing up. I ate a TON of McDonalds and Kids Cuisine in my formative growing-up years. My dinner almost every night (up until 5th grade) was a Kids Cuisine, sitting in front of my great-grandmothers tv, watching Wheel of Fortune. I ate McDonalds breakfast on the weekends, chicken nugget kids meal way to frequently, and the Filet-O-Fish.
In the grand scheme of things, I only recently started eating clean. I ate processed, sugar-loaded, chemical-laden food from childhood all the way into my late 20s. I am 36. So I have only had good, clean food for a few years.
I was also abusive to my body as a young adult. I took more diet pills than you can imagine, I suffered from bulimia in college, and would punish myself with over-exercising (I will go into these things in a later post). In recent years though, I was so tired and reliant on my caffeine to keep me going. I would drink a Starbucks Venti light-ice Pink Drink about 4-5x/week. I knew better!! Those things have over 35 grams of sugar (keep in mind that the suggested amount for women a day is 25 grams). I got MORE than that in 15 minutes! In addition to sugar, I was consuming GMO’s, chemicals, and other horrible ingredients. I was also consuming way too much sugar in other foods. My body had no chance!
Stress is also a HUGE factor. And I have had my fair share. I didn’t deal with it well and my body took the toll.
As stated before, I was getting sinus infections a lot. I was always catching something. It seemed like my kids would get a little cold and would get better in a day…I would catch the same thing and it took me 3-5 days to get better. So when I would get sinus infections, I was placed on antibiotics. Antibiotics destroy your gut flora and I was not replacing it with pro/prebiotics, so my gut was never going to fully repair.
How Do You Heal Candida?
First, you need to starve the Candida by removing the foods that feed it from your diet: all sugar (even from fruits), alcohol and limiting carbohydrates such as fruit, starchy vegetables, grains, and legumes. I followed The Candida Diet (which is a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet that promotes gut health and eliminates the sugars that feed Candida) to a T. I started as soon as I walked out of that doctors office in November (though it did cross my mind to have just one more Starbucks). I went home, purchased their eBooks and guides. I stuck to it though Thanksgiving, Christmas, even a cruise that we took in January!
I also took prescription anti-fungals (Nystain and Diflucan), as well as a slew of vitamins, 100 Billion CFU probiotic, and another sporebiotic.
For the last couple of months I have not taken any anti-fungals or Candida Cleanse supplements. I am continuing my regular vitamins and supplements, including a really clean probiotic, as well as continuing to eat good, whole, organic foods. I am not sticking to The Candida Diet anymore and able to eat more organic fruits and vegetables. I still see my integrative doctor for follow-ups and I get an IV every visit. So far I have had an H2O2, Ozone, and Diflucan IV therapy treatments. I have one more test to complete in July, along with a follow-up and more blood work to see how my thyroid and hormones are doing. Then we’ll go from there!
How Are You Feeling Now?
I use to LIVE on caffeine and still pass out at 7pm. Now, I don’t drink any coffee or tea and I still have energy at the end of the day to workout after my kids to bed at 7pm. Almost every night after putting our boys to bed, I am sweating it out to a good Tone It Up workout, followed by a quick additional weight-lifting session from Body Beast, and then cap it with yoga or a walk with friends. All without caffiene.
In addition to more energy, my skin has improved SO MUCH! I posted my new skin care routine last week and that has definitely helped to repair, but I am certain that healing the Candida as well as repairing my gut has been the biggest help. Take a listen to this podcast for more about acne and the connection to your gut.
I will have a few other posts to follow up with this one that will go into more details of my diet, how I am continuing to heal, as well as healing my other health issues that we are working on.
Hopefully this helps to answer some of your questions regarding Candida and maybe even shed some light on something that you may have been questioning.
If you have battled Candida or wondering if you have it yourself, feel free to message me and I’d love to help you find answers! If you live in the Dallas Metroplex, I would love to share my integrative doctor with you! He is awesome!
Check back in on Friday for my weekly Friday Favorites! Till then, friends, stay healthy!