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Candida & The Endocrine Factor

~ by Jo Jordan

There is some controversy around what the underlying cause of yeast overgrowth is, and disagreement over whether, in fact, candidiasis is itself a symptom of some other problem.

Some researchers believe that Candida is a side effect of hormonal imbalances. They refer to Candida as a continuum of illnesses with mild thrush at one end, and at the other end of the continuum they list severe, especially persistent and difficult to treat APICH syndrome (autoimmune polyendocrinopathy immune-dysregulation candidosis hypersensitivity syndrome).1

In the same way that antibiotics diminish the presence of healthy bacteria, the endocrine system can be triggered to alter the acidity of, say, the intestines, raising the pH level to make it more alkaline. This creates a less hospitable environment for the healthy bacteria that live there. As they die off, the vacancy they leave becomes occupied with an alkaline-loving organism such as Candida albicans.

What Does The Endocrine System Do?

Part of the hormonal system, the endocrine system is comprised of glands such as the testes, ovaries, adrenals, and thyroid – all controlled by the pituitary and hypothalamus glands, located in the brain. Our glands are instructed by the brain to release hormones into the blood stream. These hormones circulate until they find their receptor, the place where they are needed.

How Does Candida Affect Endocrine Functioning?

Candida can bind to hormones, altering their shape so they're no longer able to fit into their target receptor, making certain hormones inactive. This creates a hormonal imbalance.

Many of the symptoms of Candida overgrowth – weight gain, weight loss, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual irregularities, joint pains, muscle fatigue, asthma, and hay fever – are caused by hormonal imbalances.

Estrogen and progesterone control bladder and bowel functioning, and regulate blood sugar. Endocrine disruptors (also known as hormone disruptors or estrogen mimics) such as dental mercury amalgam, the chemicals found in dry cleaning materials, paints, pesticides, plastics, corticosteroids, etc., are known to block estrogen receptors.

Although the exact effects of endocrine disruptions are unknown, excess estrogen puts people at risk for cancer – especially breast cancer.

Low estrogen (progesterone dominance) can cause depression, headaches, blood sugar irregularities leading to asthma, and adrenal gland exhaustion leading to allergies.2

And since estrogen and progesterone are especially crucial to women, the fallout from endocrine disruptions may explain why more women than men suffer from candidiasis.

Known Endocrine Disruptors

Many of the factors common to people with severe, chronic candidiasis are known to disrupt the body's endocrine system, resulting in hormonal abnormalities that, in turn, can be aggravated by antibiotics, and even by Candida itself.

Various experts suggest that candidiasis sufferers tend to be experiencing similar hormonal fluctuations, share certain lifestyle habits, and/or have had exposure to certain products:

  • Antibiotics – long-term use of products such as tetracycline for acne and/or broad-spectrum antibiotics for recurrent bladder, ear, throat, or vaginal infections
  • Chemical handling (pharmaceutical, dry cleaning, farm workers) / chemical poisoning in the home, garden, office, or workplace
  • Cortisone/steroid-type drugs used regularly
  • Dental mercury amalgam poisoning
  • Hormonal changes (puberty, sexual maturity, pregnancy, sterilization, menopause including peri- and post-menopause)
  • Hormone replacement therapy, including natural progesterone
  • Oral contraceptive use
  • Paints, pesticides, plastics
  • Recreational drug use
  • Stress (as a contributory factor)

Steps to Recovery

As discussed in Do You Have Candida?, relief from candidiasis can be achieved through a multi-pronged, 4-step approach. For those whose endocrine systems may have been compromised, extra steps may prove helpful.

Get Tested

It is important to work with a health care provider who is well versed in helping people struggling with chronic candidiasis. Determining the underlying cause requires careful consideration and may involve several types of screening, including a lifestyle questionnaire, stool specimen, and tests to measure the blood levels of specific antibodies (IgG, IgM, IgA), the presence of which indicate past, present infection, and/or mucosal-type infection.3

Tests to determine coexisting medical problems are sometimes a key to discovering the root causes of yeast overgrowth. Often, predisposing factors such as poor digestion, low stomach acid, and the presence of parasites are common in those suffering from candidiasis.

Remove Endocrine Disruptors

If you use or are exposed to products on the list of known endocrine disruptors (above), it would be best to avoid them and consider alternatives. It may be necessary, for example, to have fillings made of dental mercury amalgam removed and replaced.

Herbal Relief

There are various herbal supplements known to help alleviate low estrogen:4

  • Black cohosh
  • Dong quai
  • Licorice root (not with high blood pressure)
  • Red clover*
  • Siberian ginseng
  • Wild yam

* Red clover flower is one of the ingredients in Puristat's Colon Cleanse and Liver Cleanse.

A Few Final Words

While women are affected the most from candidiasis, men and children are experiencing the effects as well.

There is a mounting concern, for example, about the detrimental results of the numerous vaccinations being administered to infants with fragile, still developing, immune systems. Some experts say this practice may predispose them to chronic illness, including candida, later in life.

We can list obvious culprits – such as the myriad of hormonal pills – as a major contributor to candidiasis in women. But the truth is, hormone disruptors are found in ordinary, everyday items such as personal care products and toiletries, spermicides, and pesticides. They're also a breakdown product of the plastics used in some water jugs and baby bottles.5

The list of endocrine disruptors and their devastating health effects is growing. If you or someone you love is suffering from chronic candidiasis, it is vital to get at the underlying cause in order to benefit fully from treatment.

Help is available. Contact your health care provider, or seek alternative advice about how to eliminate the endocrine factor from the equation, and make a full recovery from chronic candidiasis.

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Notes: 1. National Candida Society, "Is Candida an Endocrine Disorder?" Appeared in Candida Digest, July 2000, http://www.candida-society.org.uk/ (accessed September 18, 2007).
2. Ibid
3. Bio-Center Laboratory, "Candida albicans Antibodies-Qualitative,"http://biocenterlab.org/tests/profiles/candida.shtml (accessed September 18, 2007).
4. National Candida Society, "Is Candida an Endocrine Disorder?" Appeared in Candida Digest, July 2000, http://www.candida-society.org.uk/ (accessed September 18, 2007).
5. Nutrition Health Review, "Environmental Toxins and Infertility," Spring 1996, http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0876/is_n76/ai_18850569 (accessed April 10, 2007).

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