Friday, 12 October 2007

Candida Albicans and MS - a life story

[A few MSers have asked me about this, and I meant to write it years ago. A bit late then, I hope the following helps.]

Ah, the enemy! The dreaded fungus that is Candida Albicans (commonly known as just ‘Candida’), that is the ruination of so many people – whether they know it or not. And, almost certainly, a contributing factor in – if not the actul cause of - multiple sclerosis (MS).

I probably need a disclaimer here. I am no medical expert and certainly not a microbiologist. I’m just someone talking from experience who’s done lots of research (many naturopaths agree) and who, most importantly I think, isn’t afraid to face the truth – even when it involves a revolting little parasite living within our own bodies that decides to take charge!

I owe much of the ground-work for what I know to Leon Chaitow who with his book, CANDIDA ALBICANS Could yeast be your problem?* probably saved my life. I cannot recommened this text highly enough for anyone who wants to know more, and maybe has their own suspect symptoms of a “yeast allergy”. Information I give from Mr.Chaitow I will bracket L.C.* and the book itself I will give details of at the end of this piece.

‘The end’? But where to begin?...

Well, I guess where the Candida does, when it changes from its yeast form in your gut (everyone has it) into its mycelial (reproducing through a network of threads called hyphae), fungal form, Candida Albicans. (L.C.*). When it bursts through the abdominal wall, enters the blood-stream and breaks through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to cause the brain allergies which create so much havoc. This is how Candida begins, but why? And what can we do to prevent it occurring in others?

Well, to answer the last question first: can we prevent stress or trauma? Infections, pain, disease? Can we increase sunlight (in a temperate climate), eradicate damp?

Probably not, we think, these things are part of life. But you see, for the first two, stress and trauma, we can at least bolster ourselves to be able to deal with them if and when they do come along.

We can raise our children to be strong, secure and confident individuals, who will work to ensure a calm existence for themslves and their families. We can hope for all families to love and support one another, unconditionally.

Without doubt, a foundation of faith – religion - can be the permanent safety-net and friend we all need – the Truth we can depend on in those difficult times. And prayer is the best anti-depressant there is!

We can make sure everyone grows up eating the healthiest food possible. (We will come to the anti-Candida diet later.)

Then the next three: infection, pain, disease? “Aren’t they the ones you go to the doctor with?” you ask. And I answer with an emphatic “NO!”

Because, in my opinion (I’m not alone), this is where so much has gone wrong. In the treatments the doctors have handed out (not always their fault – they learn about anatomy, the body and its possible ailments, presumably want to heal it, but NOT the remedies – they are taught to trust pharmaceutical companies to provide the medicines they need).

And it’s pharmaceutical drugs: anti-biotics and steroids especially, that the yeast (now Candida Albicans) sees as a feast (on top of sugar, etc. which we will come to) and uses to spread out its deadly mycelium (mass of hyphae).

We need not to get ill in the first place - or learn to use herbs (many “conventional” medicines are derived from plants) - to strengthen our immune systems.

And this is where the last two in my “menu” (food for yeast) come in: lack of sunlight and damp. We need full-spectrum light to ignite our pituitary glands and drive the adrenals to produce the correct balance of hormones (L.C. and others). Without it we can develop SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and become depressed, physically and mentally. Our immune systems compromised. We need our environment to be dry – damp produces mould, shooting reproductive spores into the atmosphere, the air we breathe. With insufficient light and damp we become ill. Vulnerable. And the yeast will thrive.

If you can’t – or don’t want to - leave the northern climes, I advise – and have - a light-box and de-humidifier. They at least help.

It just takes a combination of two or more of these factors and, wallop, you’re a gonner. Candida has you!

We’ve all seen fungus rotting food (sadly, Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) saw it on a culture dish and decided it (penicillin) would help us (well maybe, in small and only essential amounts - if no one knew or had alternative herbs handy - it might have done!)). Food, metal, rubber, damp areas, FLESH.

Exactly! We’ve all seen it.

And all you MSers, can you imagine that, that voracious mould, and the effect it would have on your myelin sheath/nerve fibres/brain cells? I rest my case!

That’s how it starts. And proliferates. And takes over.

In my own instance I give you – so that I don’t cry - a cold, emotionless, objective-as-possible list of good times I gave the beast (oh, was that meant to be a ‘y’?!): an atheistic, neglected childhood; bad diet (yeast, dairy, sugar-rich); un-schooled from 15 - 40; pregnant (with, too-long-untreated, thrush) at 15; no permanent home from 15 – 28; homeless on several occasions (yes, park benches!); baby adopted at 16; through a windscreen at 18 (anti-biotics); dermatitis (steroid ointment); sexual assault (x3); violence; two (civil) marriages; suicidal depression (more a reaction to circumstance I imagine, but perhaps Candida/MS/SAD!); fibroids; two caesareans; one hysterectomy; one haemorrhage (vaginal); prescribed sleeping-pill addiction from 27- 34; “cold-turkey” for a year followed by agoraphobia; swellings/blisters/bad,bad digestion – full-blown, blatant (needs-to-be-dealt-with) Candida.

But I didn’t know what it was for another few – nightmare – years of symptoms. Until, after visiting a healthfood shop one day Tom (son, 27) found in one of their magazines an identitical list of maladies to my own. He read it out: “If you answer yes to [most] of these questions”. And we had it. We had a name. We never looked back.

Tom was 11, I was 39. It was 1990. And neither of us has had a prescription since then.

Through our favourite health-food store - G.Baldwin & Co. - which is also a medical herbalists, we soon discovered Leon Chaitow’s book*. And that was when the regime (as I call it) was born and became a way of life – which I hope Tom will pass on through his children (I will describe it over the next few posts).

The anti-Candida diet, supplements and herbs have now fought many battles and won (including TB (can be verified by Guy’s Hospital, London) which came on for me in 1994 but which Tom, thank God, never got). And every day they help me – along with my faith (Tom and I converted to Catholicism in 1993) with my MS.

God knows when the sclerosis began (or even the Candida really – I believe now they “ran” together) but I suspect (and I think the neurologist and GP did too when I was diagnosed in 2001) that I have had MS since at least my 20s. Maybe before if my bowels are anything to go by (and, therefore, also the Candida)!

It doesn't matter. It’s not important.

What is, is making the most of each tiny moment left and doing what we can for others.

We both got degrees in English (Tom at 22, me at 47!). And I, at last, had some confidence – I was quite chuffed that I got mine at the “laid-back” Goldsmiths’ College, University of London – 2:1!

And I did what I always wanted to do: worked as a reporter on a local ‘paper for a couple of years, before fatigue stopped me in 1999. That’s when the MS testing took off.

Tom, who had started at Baldwins with work experience aged 16, is now office manager there. How blessed is that – herbs whenever we need them?!

It’s not consistently easier – living on a council estate is better than homeless but really... I’ve had to do three years on a “Regeneration” (de-generation!) building-site before I came here for wheelchair access (2003). And we’re told they want to “improve” this housing soon. Over my dead body! Or insane mind! We’ve had Pharaoh ants, wasps and spiders - in infestation quantity. I had a second haemorrhage (this time lung) with TB – very frightening – probably caused by condensation pouring down the windows and walls. Terrible eczema (but now have chickweed – praise God! See herb post to come). Went bankrupt in 2000 as nerves examined by electrical prodding (‘Evoked Potentials’) MRI and lumbar puncture, and same year hammers and drills began. And, of course, the MS itself isn’t easy to live with.

But it has improved. And, ironically - or with God’s grace - I am happier now than I ever have been.

So, in answer to some: no I’m not physically “healed”. The MS is progressing – as it is meant to, the Candida still can be a nuisance. But I feel I have control now – they are under control. I know what to do and how to cope when the going gets tough.

And, best of all, I am cheerful. And that is a miracle.

* CANDIDA ALBICANS Could yeast be your problem? by Leon Chaitow N.D., D.O. Published by Healing Arts Press, USA 1998 ISBN: 0-89281-795X

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