Reader Question: What To Do About Candida

Yesterday I got an email that’s perfect for another reader question post. This time the question deals with Candida:

Hi, i was briefly reading your articles about candida and you say we shouldn’t have to spend months on a FOD diet and use herbs? I actually read that right after I was about to draw up my candida diet plan. Anyway, how else would you suggest combatting and destroying candida entirely? I understand the fact that we have to eat low carbs and sugars so we don’t feed the yeast, I just need help when I introduce probiotics, anti-fungals and when I’m done.

Oh and a little medical history, I took doxycycline last summer for 6 months. Now, my health and gut are suffering tremendously. (and, my acne of course) 🙁 also, would a hospital like kaiser be suitable to ask for a stool test?

Thanks for creating such a resourceful site!

Thanks for a great question. Let’s see if I can help you out.

It seems to me that you are starting with a false premise. I don’t know your situation, so I have to make some assumptions. Such as that you haven’t been tested for Candida infection? I mean tested by a real medical doctor using a validated test? The spit-test is not reliable, for anything. I would also take any diagnoses by alt-med practitioners with a grain of salt, because they use so many dubious diagnostic ‘tests’. If you have been tested, then much of what follows is not relevant.

Proceeding with the previous assumption, here are the facts from your email:

  • You took antibiotics for 6 months
  • Now you are suffering from unexplained health, gut and skin problems

Where you make the error is concluding from the above that you have Candida. Candida is one possible explanation, but it’s not the only explanation. Perhaps the antibiotics disturbed the bacteria in your gut and what you now suffer is a manifestation of that. Basically you are making a logical leap.

Get tested to know for sure

What I would recommend is for you to talk to your doctor about getting tested for Candida infection in the gut. You can also ask about getting tested for systemic Candida infection, though I’m not sure your doctor will do that, given how implausible the whole thing is, but you can always ask.

So get tested and you’ll know for sure.

If you do have a Candida infection in the gut, then your doctor is probably going to prescribe you with anti-fungals to take care of it. If you don’t want to use prescription drugs, then by all means use whatever herbs or other remedies you wish. But don’t start self-medicating based on symptoms that have many possible causes.

And I certainly don’t recommend going on extremely restrictive and impractical diets based on such assumptions. The problem is that such diets often cause more harm than they help. They make your life difficult and impractical. They lead to social isolation and fear of foods. Many acne patients have ended up with an eating disorder going down that road.

By all means make sensible diet changes. Cut out sugar and refined carbohydrates (if you haven’t already). Lower your overall carbohydrate intake and focus more on fat. All of these are sensible suggestions even in absence of Candida. I just don’t think it’s smart to resort to extreme measures until you have established that such measures really are the best course of action. And it sounds to me like you haven’t done that.

I don’t know about Kaiser hospital (I’m not from the US), so I can’t help you with that. But any doctor should be able to help you with stool test for Candida.

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Hi, I am Acne Einstein(a.k.a. Seppo Puusa). I'm a bit of a science nerd who is also passionate about health. I enjoy digging through medical journals for acne treatment gems I can share here. You can read more about my journey through acne and how I eventually ended up creating this.

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12 thoughts on “Reader Question: What To Do About Candida

  1. Science and fact don’t help much with acne when everyone’s skin is different. What seems to work best is finding out what works best based on personal experiences that each individual goes through when trying to find their acne cures. You may provide information on a website but you shouldn’t talk down to everyone who sends you a message or comments. You are not above them.

    • Not quite sure where you get the idea that I’m talking down to everyone who emails me or posts a comment here. I may question and challenge when I think people make false assumptions and or hold beliefs not supported by evidence, but that doesn’t mean I would be ‘talking down’ to them.

      And yes, we are all individuals and causes of acne vary somewhat from person to person. At the same time, there are a lot of similarities. And what works for one person struggling with hormonal acne is likely to work for many other people with hormonal acne. And we can use science to figure out those things. Throwing away science in favor of anecdotes and unreliable personal experience is a recipe to bring back the dark ages of medicine.

      While there certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to acne, it’s safe to say that

  2. >The problem is that such diets often cause more harm than they help. They make your life difficult and impractical.

    Not more difficult than living with the symptoms of a fungal infection.

    >But any doctor should be able to help you with stool test for Candida.

    The problem with testing for Candida is that everyone will test positive for candida, because C. Albicans live in every single living creature, and usually in harmony. The problem is the overgrowth, and to test for a yeast overgrowth (meaning fungal infection) in the gut one needs to use a very specific type of testing that only a handful of labs in the world actually can execute competently, and usually it’s necessary to use two different techniques of diagnostics as the possibility of a false negative is very real.

    I like your website and your rational approach to everything that may be connected to acne, but I must reserve the opinon that your representation of fungal/parasitic infections isn’t adequate advice for someone who may very well have an overgrowth in the gut or elsewhere, an overgrowth which could in the long term be lethal. I agree that getting tested is a crucial step in finding the root cause of ones symptoms, but the average MD will not be able to sufficiently test for a fungal infection in the gut nor in the blood–if they even acknowledge it as a possibility!

    • Thanks for the reasonable comment, Joel. I don’t know that much about testing for Candida, I presumed it would have been fairly simple, but what you said also makes sense. But even if the tests are difficult to do, it still doesn’t provide any evidence that fungal overgrowth would be an undiagnosed epidemic. We certainly can’t make that assumption based on vague questionnaires and symptom lists, many of which can also have other explanations.

      I may indeed be wrong about Candida, and if someone shows me good evidence to that effect I’ll be happy to update these posts.

  3. Antibiotics CAN be a cause of severe gut problems because they kill both dangerous and friendly bacteria.
    Some years ago I had to take high doses of amoxicilline for angina treatment.
    This was the beginning of my chronic inflammatory gut syndrome with chronic acne.
    I suffered a long time, but finally a clinical test called “quantitative gut flora analysis” found out:
    The cause of this symptoms was not Candida albicans, but a serious deficiency of Enterococcus and E.coli bacteria! killed by the amoxicilline.
    So after taking antibiotics it can be very helpful for your skin to take pro- und prebiotics for several weeks to rebuild your gut flora.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Sandra. There’s quite a bit of evidence that links gut issues to skin problems, and giving people with acne tons of antibiotics likely just makes the problem worse. I also suspect that many people who claim Candida problems actually suffer from bacterial issues in the gut. Fortunately, many anti-Candida supplements contain herbs that can also kill harmful bacteria in the gut.

  4. “I’ve looked far and wide and haven’t found any reliable evidence to indicate Candida is a widespread problem, or that normal doctors couldn’t diagnose or treat it.”

    Candida is and will become more of a widespread problem since children eat antibiotics like candy, then get on birth control at the age of 16 (to help their acne of course), all while accompanied by a standard American diet. All of these factors contribute to a poor gut flora.

    And I agree with Richard, that this entire “letter” is extremely condescending. With your statements such as,

    “I don’t know your situation, so I have to make some assumptions. Such as that you haven’t been tested for Candida infection? I mean tested by a real medical doctor using a validated test? The spit-test is not reliable, for anything.”

    And,

    “…though I’m not sure your doctor will do that, given how implausible the whole thing is, but you can always ask.” <– You're really encouraging them there!

    And,

    "I just don’t think it’s smart to resort to extreme measures until you have established that such measures really are the best course of action. And it sounds to me like you haven’t done that.

    • Nobody denies that taking antibiotics affects the gut flora, or that they can encourage fungal growth in the gut. This is one of the reasons I tell people not to take antibiotics for acne.

      But when most people speak of ‘undiagnosed Candida epidemics’ they refer to systemic Candida overgrowth. It seems unlikely that undiagnosed systemic Candida epidemic is a myth.

      The fact that people experience skin and other problems after taking antibiotics several times doesn’t mean those problems are caused by Candida. They could equally be caused by bacterial imbalance in the gut or bacteria migrating up to the small intestines.

      Bacterial issues in the gut require different treatment from fungal overgrowth. So it would seem sensible to me to make sure you know the problem you have prior to doing anything about it.

  5. I would like to address the people who feel like Seppo’s responses seem belittling. I am new to this website and have only had a chance to read a few articles with comments, so I might safely assume that there have been numerous similar comments on other articles which I have not yet read. Firstly, I am very thankful that Seppo has taken the time to try to help others suffering (although I do realize this is also a business for him). What little I have read from Seppo so far, he repeatedly states that he is not a Doctor – just someone who has suffered from Acne and is sharing what has worked for him. MOST IMPORTANTLY we all need to take into account that Seppo is from another culture/country than many of his readers. Being from South Eastern United States, Seppo’s direct comments could be interpreted as rude or belittling based on our general manner of speaking here in the South. However I have personally known other people from Scandinavian countries (I understand Seppo is from Finland) and their manner of speaking is very direct. I actually think communications would improve a lot if more people spoke more directly – such as stating what their assumptions are. Stating your assumption is not the same as belittling.

    • Thanks for your comment, Christine. Indeed, Finns are known for being direct and speaking our minds.

      Other reason people may consider me condescending is that I don’t automatically accept what people tell me. I’m not saying people are lying, but I’m acutely aware that humans (me included) come hard-wired with dozens of cognitive biases. These biases make it extremely difficult to objectively assess complex causal relationships. I’ve been fooled by these before.

      It’s these biases that make user reports and other anecdotes so unreliable, and they are the reason why medical science doesn’t rely on anecdotes.

      That’s why I occasionally challenge and question people on their assumptions. Of course, nobody likes it when their sacred cows are questioned, but I’d rather take hate from a few true believers than mislead people who come to this website for information.

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