I Got Some “Good” News Yesterday

I have a candida overgrowth!

I know… you’re probably thinking: “WTF, why would anyone be excited about that?” Well, after years and years of searching for answers, I finally feel like things are starting to make sense. Hopefully!

Photo by monica di loxley on Unsplash

Ok, so I was a little hesitant to share this news on the blog and social media because of what people might think (and say). I mean, candida is a yeast overgrowth. It sounds pretty gross. But even if one person can benefit from this information, it’s worth it. Plus, I know there are readers and followers who are lost and struggling with their health, so this could possibly be an avenue to explore. Candida issues are actually really common. Obviously, I’m not a doctor, but if any of this sounds familiar, please chat with your appropriate health professional.

Let’s start with the basics…

All sorts of fungi live in and on the human body, including yeasts known as candida. Candida is typically found in small amounts in the mouth, intestines, and on the skin. At normal levels, it’s not a problem and most people have some candida in their system. However, when Candida begins to grow uncontrollably, it can causes all sorts of health issues. Typically, the healthy bacteria in your body keep candida levels under control. But if healthy bacteria levels are disrupted or the immune system is compromised (aka autoimmune diseases), candida can begin to overproduce.

Here are some factors that can lead to candida overgrowth:

  • Taking antibiotics – I took antibiotics 4 times in 2008 and another 2 times (strong ones) in 2019 as well as a ton of them as a kid and teenager (acne meds)
  • Taking oral contraceptives – I took them for 15 years before getting pregnant.
  • A weakened immune system – Yep, thanks to UC and the various drugs I’ve been on over the years.
  • Using steroids – I was on and off Prednisone for 2 years.
  • High alcohol intake – I wouldn’t say high, but I like(d) to have a few glasses of wine each week.
  • Eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbs – I mean, I like dessert.
  • High stress levels – 2017 and 2018 were rough years for me.
  • Diabetes

Common candida symptoms (from Dr. Amy Meyers):

  • Skin and nail fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and toenail fungus
  • Feeling tired and worn down or suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
  • Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
  • Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD, and/or brain fog
  • Skin issues including eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes
  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
  • Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching, or vaginal itching
  • Severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears
  • Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings

Can you relate to the risk factors and symptoms above? I’ve experienced some of the symptoms, and I basically checked all of the boxes for risk factors, so I guess you could say I’m not all that surprised by my diagnosis.

The test that my functional practitioner recommended was the “Candidiasis FingerStick” from Alletess Medical Labs. It measures various candida antibodies in your blood (IgM, IgA, IgG), which may suggest overgrowth. This overgrowth could be of digestive, respiratory (i.e. my gross cough), nasal, oral, genital, or urinary tract origin. There are other tests available as well as the DIY “spit test.”

So, now my basic treatment plan looks like this:

1. Anti-candida diet for a minimum of 3 months. Basically, starve the “yeasty beasties” by removing the foods that feed it. Giving up peanut butter (mold) is going to be hard! I’m also starting Betaine HCl to help with my digestion since I failed the “burp test” so badly.
2. After 2-3 weeks on the candida diet, start an herbal anti-fungal(s) to destroy candida’s cell walls while supporting microbe balance in the GI tract and discouraging the growth of yeast. We might need to try a few different ones, and Diflucan is potentially on the table as well.
3. Repopulate gut with good bacteria using a high-potency probiotic to keep candida under control.
So, that’s the plan! I’m excited to get started and, hopefully, move in the right direction as far as getting me out of this flare once and for all. My practitioner even thinks that the yeast overgrowth may have even lead to my ulcerative colitis diagnosis. Isn’t that nuts? When I look back at what was going on in my life (i.e. antibiotics, birth control, beer, lots of wheat bread, stress), it’s definitely possible! I’m really hoping for the best with this plan of attack. I’m so sick of being sick!
If you have any experience with candida, please send it my way! I have a feeling these next 3 months are going to be tough (wahhh, no wine), but totally transformative! 🙂
If you’re interested in learning more, my practitioner suggested The Yeast Connection by William Crook, MD. I just ordered it and can’t wait to dive in!

65 Comments

  1. Happy to hear you have found an answer! Have you heard of the Instagram lilsipper? She had the same thing I believe and has some good tips!

  2. I know this didn’t come from you, but having rheumatoid arthritis, I resent that it is on the list of symptoms. If I could “cure” my RA just from a diet, I would, but it’s 100% not possible. It’s information like this that causes many people with autoimmune conditions to not seek medical treatment that can stop a lot of damage early on and instead try to fix their diet, thinking it’s the safe way to go. The joint damage is irreversible and the fear of actually taking medicine that helps persists 🙁

    It’s just a pet peeve of mine, so had to get it out there. I hope the diet helps clear up some of your issues!

  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/candida-cleanse/faq-20058174

    I just think you should let your readers know that most MDs do not thing that an invisible candida overgrowth in the gut is 1) real, 2) the cause of the health issues you describe, or 3) impacted by dietary changes. Candida is a real thing, but it manifests in physically obvious symptoms, usually in the genitals or mouth.

    I share this only because I have toyed with this diagnosis for myself and flirted with “candida cleanses” and after reading a lot of literature (and living my life), I’m pretty convinced that this is all a lot of ado about nothing. Yes, we may not feel 100%, and it is nice to put a label on that. Unfortunately, life and health don’t really work that way. These diets aren’t panaceas; in fact, in my experience, they cause a lot of stress, take a lot of time, and ultimately were worse for my overall health than a healthy, balanced mindset toward eating.

    Well wishes.

    1. Thanks for your opinion. A lot of doctors don’t believe in it because they prescribe many of the drugs that cause it, and they need those drugs to do their job. I personally want to feel 100% in life. I’m sorry you don’t believe in this diagnosis, but a lot of people do and they’ve gotten better by making changes to their diet and lifestyle.

      1. I’m sorry, but this is false. As a healthcare provider I can assure you that I do not discredit an “illness” because I want to continue to prescribe medications that contribute to it for whatever reason (I assume you mean financial gain). I follow science and facts. I don’t think that it is fair to make a statement saying “a lot of doctors do…such and such.” You received one diagnosis from one source of functional medicine. It does not mean that your diagnosis is accurate and that every other medical healthcare provider is wrong. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and to do what they want regarding their own health and I applaud you for being an advocate for yourself, however, It would be more accurate and ethical to present this post as something that you believe in and that you feel works for you, not as scientific fact.

      2. You can do and think what you like. However, it is irresponsible as someone who presents herself as a source for information on health and diet to present this as medical fact, when it is far from that.

        I’m troubled by this post because it perpetuates misinformation and turns something highly dubious and controversial in the medical field as something that is proven science.

        1. I’m not trying to present misinformation; I’m just sharing information that’s not typically the norm. There are SO MANY studies out there about candida. It took me 5 seconds to find this one related to IBD and candida. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20885347 Just a quick search might help you understand it better.

          There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to health, especially when you’re living with a chronic disease. Hopefully, you can be more open-minded to different kinds of healthcare.

      3. This is a really ridiculous statement: “A lot of doctors don’t believe in it because they prescribe many of the drugs that cause it, and they need those drugs to do their job.” This is a very general and unfair statement.

        I have ulcerative colitis, with chronic flare-ups, so I feel for you. I get it. But I also know that changing a bunch of variables never allows things to even out..in my body anyway. So perhaps people just aren’t seeing the benefit in “candida cleanses” and functional medicine, just like you may not be seeing the benefit of treating with MDs.

        Also, just because something is on PubMed does not believe it is gospel. As you know, anyone can find SOMETHING to support any idea or symptom that they have.

        Best of luck, and I hope this works for you.

      4. Need to chime in re: PubMed article. As a medical librarian, this is definitely not gospel. It’s a cohort trial, and they only analyzed 10 people fully as a subset of their original sample. It’s also 10 years old, and medicine changes a lot in 10 years. Finally, you can only get the abstract for free online- not the full text. The abstract will always try to make it sound more conclusive than the study actually is, and without a background in this type of basic science or a background in the tests that they have run in the study, there’s no way you can conclusively draw anything from it.

        Also, “a quick search” is not how you do health information.

  4. Hi Tina
    Going through the same thing here.
    Checked off a lot of those thing.
    Last night I read about Boric Acid Capsules? Have you heard that kind of treatment?

    Keep us posted.
    WR

  5. Wow – I think I mentioned to you on IG a few months ago you should look into Candida but you said you had already been tested and it was negative. Many of my clients have it and one of the big symptoms is that mucous-y cough. I’m really happy you’ve gotten answers. Curious what your doctors say about this. Mainstream medicine doesn’t believe Candida is real.

    1. I did the GI Map test in 2017, and it said I didn’t have an issue. I wonder if it wasn’t that bad? Or maybe testing stool versus blood makes a difference in results?

      1. Possible it wasn’t as bad at the time and yes, different tests yield different results sometimes. You know the world of GI health is relatively new in terms of autoimmunity. As you know, there’s good research that the majority of autoimmunity is in the gut, but testing for things like Candida, SIBO etc. really isn’t conclusive or reliable IMO. I think there’s just so much yet to learn and part of the reason why it’s controversial is because the testing isn’t that reliable.

  6. Thanks Tina for sharing this! I have also been strugling with mucus in throat for some years now, and doctors (general MD, ENT, etc) can’t find what I have… Since I have some of the risk factors for candida and also have athlete’s foot, eczema, allergies and anxiety, I will try the anti-candida diet and see if it helps. Hope eveything goes well for you!

  7. I did the candida diet about 10 years ago. I won’t lie, the restrictive diet was tough, but it does work. Hopefully you can start phasing food back in again fairly quickly! One word of caution: there’s a potential for becoming deficient in certain vitamins and minerals with any extended time on the diet (my sister experienced this when she did the diet), so if your practitioner OK’s it, I’d recommend keeping up with a multivitamin or something similar.

  8. Is this the same “functional practitioner” who last week said that you were asking too many questions and wasting her time asking about your cough and ongoing flare? I guess what I don’t understand is why you would trust her rather than the board-certified MDs who are caring for you, who also took the time to respond to your questions?

    You say that doctors need to prescribe the medications that “cause” this issue, implying that’s how the get compensated (which BTW isn’t true), but wouldn’t a “functional practitioner” have a financial incentive to hand out fake diagnoses to keep her customers coming back for visits while refusing to answer their ongoing questions since she’s not getting paid for that?

  9. There is no actual science that proves that Hashimoto’s, RA, Lupus etc are caused by yeast overgrowth.
    It is really irresponsible to post that here.

    There is little science supporting any of this. Its easy to blame everything on a candida overgrowth – I have frustrating and confusing medical symptoms myself.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing and its something I wanna try out! I read your blog everyday and find it so inspirational!

      1. It would be great if you could share these! It sounds like a lot of your readers are skeptical and would like some objective evidence.

  11. You seem to try random junk science treatments and preach them as gospel until you have a flare or some other issue and then say it never worked for you. This is just the new latest thing. Try going to the doctor and actually following what they tell you to do. Not stretching out treatments longer than you’re supposed to, overexercising, and eating slop meals to save calories. If a mainstream magazine like SELF can easily debunk your latest trendy diet, then you should take a step back and reevaluate your choices https://www.self.com/story/candida-overgrowth-problem-too-much-yeast-no-too-little-science

    1. Wow, what a crazy comment. You seem like you know me, my life, and my disease so well, but, really, almost all of what you assumed is incorrect. And I pray that you never experience autoimmunity or a chronic condition. It’s not straight-forward. If it was, so many people wouldn’t be struggling with their health. For real. It’s miserable.

      I hope you’re not serious about Self magazine as a credible source for medical information. If you look on Pubmed or other research sites, you’ll find all sorts of research related to candida. Good luck!

      1. Tina, I think Melissa’s point was that if even a magazine like SELF, that is not exactly known for its great reporting skills, can easily debunk this diet, then it should be pretty easy for the average citizen to also see through its claims.
        And she has a point about all the random diets. I’ve been a reader for 10 years, and off the top of my head I can list celery juice, seed cycling, no eggs, “vegan” (but with meat and fish?), paleo, CBD and now this candida diet as all different restrictive diets and/or supplements you’ve tried. I’m sure if I searched your archives I could find even more. We know you are struggling with a chronic disease, but jumping from diet to diet (or supplement to supplement) is probably not the answer, and at the very least, should involve a lot of research.

  12. I think it’s smart to look to both traditional and function medicine—especially if you’re running out of success. Good luck, and I really hope it works!

  13. It would be very helpful if you would include the sources where you are finding this information. I am a healthcare provider and have had clients following stressful and unnecessarily restrictive diets for yeast overgrowth when there isn’t scientific evidence to back it up. It is possible to find individual studies that seem to “prove” almost anything, but nutrition research in particular is very complex and recommendations should be made on a whole body of evidence. It also is insulting to say that medical doctors would ignore a diagnosis because it would compromise their ability to make money off of drugs. The same thing could be said for naturopath/functional medicine doctors who will prescribe endless supplements and treatments for the diagnoses they discover. I have a husband with UC and I get how frustrating the search for a cure can be, but please understand that your language can be off putting for other people also trying to navigate chronic illness.

  14. I read your blog every day and am stunned at the disgusting comments I am reading. If traditional medicine knew so much and was so great, there would be a lot more healthy people out there. And what’s the harm of eating a really really clean diet for a bit and seeing what happens? I am totally behind you and thoroughly grossed out by the women who wrote the crap above. They should be ashamed of themselves. They seem to take such pleasure in trashing another soulful smart woman. And a great mom. And a really great blogger too.

    1. I would agree with what dawn said. As a healthcare practitioner I find it hard to always follow evidence over what actually works for a patient (within reason and ethics). I see a lot of people NOT take action for their problems and rely on medicine, medications or even unnecessary surgery to “fix” their problem instead. Tina I’ve followed your blog for 8 years and I can’t say I always agree with everything, but I don’t always agree with every person or thing I read either! I am proud of you for always putting yourself out there to help some of us. I loved this post because I just WAS tested positive for a weird growth of candidiasis, have had a weird athletes foot flare and a mucousy cough develop over the past 6 months. It’s good to know they might be connected and will help me communicate this to my provider.

      Thanks!!!! Love your blog

  15. I don’t really have an opinion on this topic either way, but, it’s been really interesting to read the comments says:

    Wow, this sure caused a stir! I don’t really have an opinion on this topic either way, but, it’s been really interesting to read the comments

  16. Hope this helps you and works well for you! For someone who prioritizes a healthy lifestyle especially, constant sickness and medical issues is terrible to have to fight thru and I so sympathize with you. Enjoy your blog for so many reasons, thanks for putting it out there.

  17. As a practicing health care provider, it’s important to be up to date on many aspects of all health research. From a medical perspective, the website up to date has the most credible and evidenced based practice that most physicians and mid level providers rely on for the best research that should be put into practice. I would just be sure you double check research before putting these plans into action. I would also let your gi doctor know your plans because he would be the one that would know best

  18. Hi Tina,
    My functional medicine doctor is treating me for a candida overgrowth with fluconazole (diflucan). I’m also taking a probiotic plus glutathione for liver support. I am not doing a candida diet as it is too strict and there is a lot of evidence now that shows you don’t have to do that. I will definitely cut out processed carbs, peanuts, pistachios, and will cut back on sugar, but that’s not nearly as strict as the actual candida diet. I wish you luck with whatever route you choose!!

  19. Good luck with your new treatment!
    I cannot imagine how hard it is to deal with a chronic illness!
    Thank you for providing a blog I look forward to reading each day!
    Recipes that are quick and easy- love to read about exercise- and what you are trying recently!

  20. Tina,

    I am so glad you have a plan in place that you feel good about. I am not in your situation but have been told the craziest things by a half dozen board certified physicians such as I cannot be in menopause since I have never had a hot flash, I am a hypochondriac since I ask for options to fight anxiety and exhaustion besides medications. That is just the a couple things. It is nothing compared to what you have been through but I understand your frustrations.

    I am sad to see how people communicate in these comments. I understand differing opinions but wow is all I can say.

    Best wishes in feeling better!!

  21. Well this certainly caused a stir today. I can tell you from my personal experience that this is worth a try. I too experienced candida overgrowth years ago and was fortunate to find someone who could tell me what was happening in my body. My issue was triggered by antibiotic use and birth control pills. I used, and still use today, a candida killing herbal combination. I use probiotic daily. Other people don’t have to agree with you or support you. You do what is best for you. This is a thing regardless of what other people believe. I wish you well as you work your way through this.

  22. Hi Tina. My mom is struggling with possible RA. She has always been so healthy and now her health is declining . We are working as a family to be an advocate for her. I think anything is worth a try, especially when medicines that work for most are not working for her. She has several doctors and no one seems to know what to do for her. Hoping to find a a functional medicine provider for her but not really sure how to go about it yet. Best of luck to you!!

  23. Oh, I am so hopeful that this works for you. Your video the other day, while refreshing to watch your honesty about how life just sucked right then, made me feel so much for you and this long journey of trying to figure out what has been going on. I do hope this is “it” for you and you experience better health!!

  24. HI Tina!

    Thank you for sharing your jouney with us! Some of these comments are shocking….I’ve found all the different stuff you’ve tried throughout the years really interesting to read about. Bodies change all of the time. Good for you for being open to new stuff! No one wants to be on medicine all their lives. Of course you are going to try to find something to help you! I can’t wait to hear more about how this goes for you.
    Xo,
    Misty

  25. I don’t think you have anything to lose trying this diet. I suffered from an illness for 5 years. Saw doctors at MGH and down at Yale. I waited for the Yale appt for 6 months and then it cost a fortune and gave me zero hope. 5 years of suffering and I decided to cut out alcohol, legumes, dairy, sugar, soy, most carbs except berries and apples and potatoes. I was cured 2 months later. My doctor at MGH had no explanation and seemed totally baffled that I was all better so suddenly. Hugs to you. I’m in the Boston area if you ever want a friendly and supportive meetup!

  26. Tina, I’ve been reading your blog for ages and I am kind of disgusted by some of these comments. Some of them are respectful and just state opinion but others are clearly trying to get a rise out of you. I can see both sides and I don’t see anything wrong with pursuing a different course of action for your health, especially since you have tried so many others and haven’t found success. I am definitely excited to hear how you feel in the next few months!

  27. All the negative comments *face palm* You do you, boo! If anyone has “expertise” on health, its you! You’ve been through it all! From traditional medicine, to non traditional and everything in between. Love that you continue to fight for yourself and never stop seeking answers! Thanks for sharing that in this post (and others) knowing you’d get some negative feedback! <3

  28. I hope you feel better soon! Obviously people have many opinions on this subject. Even if your content in this post contains “fake science”…you totally provide a disclaimer that you’re not a doctor and to consult a health care provider! I agree with some of the negative commenter’s key points (not all!) but honestly…they just should refrain form commenting or gently provide some more resource links! You are just living you life and sharing anything you think might be helpful to us…appreciated!

  29. Tina, I can so relate to your story. In 1999, I became very ill, with flu like symptoms, but so severe, I could not function (I was 29). After visiting numerous doctors, no one had a diagnosis. Thankfully, a friend recommended an MD, that was more of a holistic doc. Immediately, he diagnosed the candida overgrowth. I went on a no sugar, no wheat diet, and took diflucan for 10 days, followed by other herbal supplements. I felt better, just days on the no sugar diet, but I felt awesome 6-8 weeks later. All my symptoms were gone, and it was amazing. I never felt so good! I stayed on the no sugar way of eating for a year and a half. I was scared to eat sugar!

    I wish you the best on your candida diet. It can be tough, but the results are amazing.

  30. Wow, the fact that people care so much about what you’re doing for yourself, is astounding to me. And why the nastiness? It’s unreal.

    I’m not big into functional medicine myself, but I also don’t have an autoimmune disorder or live in pain, so it’s not my place to tell someone else how to treat their illness. If this helps you, wonderful, you are entitled to try things and reap the benefits from that. And I truly hope this change helps you feel better; no one deserves to be unwell with no answers. Good luck!

  31. Good luck Tina. I’m proud of you for never giving up on yourself and for trying nearly everything to feel better. I’m sorry you are receiving such negative criticism about this.

  32. I think having access to SO MUCH INFORMATION the way we do nowadays can be really empowering in many ways. But in the context of medicine it has perpetuated so much distrust and self-diagnosis, which can be really dangerous. I absolutely love that PubMed is a publicly available resource, but as someone who has trained in science for many years, it’s important for people to understand that interpreting these articles is a learned skill. Nobody is saying the average person isn’t smart enough. I’m an intelligent person. But would I do some research online and then go around telling teachers the best way to implement a lesson plan? HELL NO. I don’t have the training for it. That’s all a few of these commenters are saying (albeit, somewhat rudely!), not every study is well-controlled or well-conducted enough to support the conclusions, and it takes a trained eye to see that. Information overload also puts this pressure on people to “fix” themselves, which isn’t always possible or even necessary. I think it’s great to try different things and I totally do it too sometimes. If something works for you, that’s AWESOME (big CBD fan here!). But it’s also okay to say, you know what, bodies do weird shit sometimes. Disease happens, sickness happens…and it’s nobody’s fault.

  33. Thanks Tina for sharing all the info you gather +your experiences. As a family w/ different autoimmune diseases , we appreciate the searches you do to find answers , it’s a constant desire to keep moving forward to a healthier life. Rheumatoid, Reynauds, + now UC is our latest battle . Following w/ hope for ideas + answers !

  34. Not crazy at all that the bc pill may have contributed to your uc . I know several women who have been on it for a while and are currently suffering from gastrointestinal issues. I’ve also read that there is a fairly significant increase in rates of IBD amongst users. I wish I had shared this knowledge with my daughter long ago. Glad to hear you’re feeling better.

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