"If you think research is expensive, try disease."
"Chronic candida" in not a conventional medical diagnosis, and has only been the subject of one peer-reviewed clinical trial. The term "chronic candida"(AKA the yeast syndrome, Candida-Related Complex) is used by a small number of patients and practitioners to refer to a cluster of GI and systemic symptoms which defy conventional diagnosis, and respond to anti-candida measures like antifungal medications and dietary elimination of sugar. Most physicians would attribute the same symptoms to IBS, if mild, or the DSM-IV diagnosis of undifferentiated somatoform disorder if more severe(if they gave them a diagnostic label at all).
Why Research Chronic Candida?
The "chronic candida" concept has been around for two decades now. There continue to be books, websites, and products that attest to it's validity. For example, below is a list of books that can be found on this condition at Amazon.com and bn.com. While popularity does not mean a medical concept is scientifically valid, long-term popularity is a sufficient indicator to warrant diligent investigation.
The Health Forum --- Yeast, Parasites and Bacteria: Important Factors in your Health Pub. Date: November 2002 ISBN: 0971987602 Publisher: Health Reflections Book Corp Overcoming Candida: The Ultimate Cookery Guide Pub. Date: June 1998 sales rank: 107,561 ISBN: 1862041725 The Authoritative Guide to Grapefruit Seed Extract: A Breakthrough in Alternative Treatment for Colds, Infections, Candida, Allergies, Herpes, and Many Other Ailments Paperback, 125pp. ISBN: 0940795175 Publisher: LifeRhythm Pub. Date: March 1997 sales rank: 150,933 Allergies and Candida: With the Physicist's Rapid Solution ISBN: 0945262205 Publisher: Human Ecology Balancing Sciences, Incorporated Pub. Date: January 1991 The Yeast Connection: A Medical Breakthrough ISBN: 0394747003 Publisher: VintageBooks Pub.Date: September 1986 EditionDesc: 3rd-ed. extensively rev. salesrank:16,678 The Yeast Connection and the Woman William G. Crook Cynthia P. Crook (Illustrator) ISBN: 0933478224 Publisher: Professional Books/Future Health, Inc Pub. Date: April 1995 sales rank: 14,924 Overcoming Chronic Fatigue : Effective Self-Help Options to Relieve the Fatigue Associated with CFS, Candida, Allergies, PMS, Menopause, Anemia, Low Thyroid and Depression ISBN: 0879837160 Publisher: Keats Publishing, Inc. Pub. Date: August1996 Chronic Candidiasis Michael T. Murray Jennifer Basye Sander (Editor) Format: Paperback, 192pp. ISBN: 076150821X Publisher: Prima Communications, Inc. Pub. Date: June 1997 sales rank: 95,009 The Yeast Syndrome: How To Help Your Doctor Identify and Treat the Real Cause of Your Yeast-Related Illness Format: Mass Market Paperback, 377pp. ISBN: 0553277510 Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Pub. Date: September 1986 sales rank: 19,474 The Candida Albicans Yeast-Free Cookbook: How Good Nutrition Can Help Fight the Epidemic of Yeast-Related Diseases Pat Connolly Beatrice Trum Hunter William G. Crook (Introduction) Format: Paperback, 2nd ed., 229pp. ISBN: 0658002929 Publisher: NTC Publishing Group Pub. Date: February 2000 Edition Desc: 2ND sales rank: 48,975 Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook: Everything You Need to Know about Prevention, Treatment, and Diet Jeanne Marie Martin Jeanne Marie Martin Format: Paperback, 2nd ed., 512pp. ISBN: 0761527400 Publisher: Prima Communications, Inc. Pub. Date: October 2000 Edition Desc: REV sales rank: 82,662 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Yeast Connection: A Get-Well Guide for People with This Often Misunderstood Illness--and Those Who Care for Them William C. Crook Cynthia Crook (Illustrator) Format: Paperback, 400pp. ISBN: 0933478208 Publisher: Professional Books/Future Health, Inc Pub. Date: July 1992 sales rank: 75,206 The Candida Yeast Answer: A Professional in-Home Anti-Fungal Program Gary Carlsen Format: Paperback, 323pp. ISBN: 1576360792 Publisher: SunRise Publishing Pub. Date: December 1999 sales rank: 173,382 Erica White's Beat Candida Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes With A 4-Point Plan for Attacking Candidiasis Erica White Format: Paperback, 294pp. ISBN: 0722538561 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, Incorporated Pub. Date: November 1999 sales rank: 140,757 The Candida Directory Helen Gustafson Maureen O'Shea Format: Paperback, 192pp. ISBN: 0890877149 Publisher: Ten Speed Press Pub. Date: May 1994 sales rank: 187,158 Candida Albicans: Could Yeast Be Your Problem? Leon Chaitow Format: Paperback, 1st ed., 150pp. ISBN: 089281795X Publisher: Inner Traditions International, Limited Pub. Date: September 1998 Edition Desc: Revised sales rank: 83,668 The Candida Format: Paperback, 114pp. ISBN: 1862041938 Publisher: Element Books Pub. Date: June 1998 sales rank: 231,197 The Yeast Connection Handbook: How Yeasts Can Make You Feel Sick All Over and the Steps You Need to Take to Regain Your Health William G. Crook Format: Paperback, 2nd ed., 275pp. ISBN: 0933478240 Publisher: Professional Books/Future Health, Inc Pub. Date: January 1999 sales rank: 5,716 Beat Candida through Diet: A Complete Dietary Programme for Sufferers of Candidiasis Gill Jacobs Joanna Kjaer Format: Paperback, 216pp. ISBN: 0091815452 Publisher: Trafalgar Square Pub. Date: March 1998 sales rank: 340,753 Back to Health: A Comprehensive Medical and Nutritional Yeast Control Program Format: Paperback, 252pp. ISBN: 0912547030 Publisher: Vitality House International, Incorporated Pub. Date: September 1986 Candida: The Epidemic of This Century Solved Luc De Schepper Format: Hardcover, 147pp. ISBN: 096147341X Publisher: L D S Publications Pub. Date: January 1986 Conquering Yeast Infections: The Non-Drug Solution for Men and Women S. Colet Lahoz,Foreword by Jonathan Collin,Cheryl Motheral-Lynn Format: Paperback, 139pp. ISBN: 1571970169 Publisher: Pentland Press, Incorporated Pub. Date: January 1997 How to Reverse Immune Dysfunction: A Nutrition Manual for HIV, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Candidiasis and other Immune Related Conditions ISBN: 1887831002 Publisher: Keep Hope Alive Pub. Date: December 1995 Edition Desc: New The Candida Control Cookbook by Gail Burton Paperback - 240 pages 3rd edition (April 1996) Aslan Pub; ISBN: 0944031676 Yeast Disorders: An Understanding and Nutritional Therapy John Finnegan ISBN: 0927425009 Publisher: Elysian Ar Pub. Date: January 1987 Yeast-Free Living Annette Annechild Laura Johnson Format: Paperback, 155pp. ISBN: 0399513043 Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group Pub. Date: November 1986
It is not being discredited as a diagnostic label. Whereas research on Gulf War syndrome and CFS has found evidence of physical pathology, there has been no investigation into CRC. It will persist as long as:
There is a market for candida treatment
The public response to the description of chronic candida has been substantial. The most popular book on the subject has over 1 million copies in print1. If the disease is a fiction, it is a popular one. The demand for treatment for this condition has produced a substantial number of books, nutritional supplements, and therapies.
Conventional physicians demand research before they will treat it
Medical authorities have criticized the diagnostic label of "chronic candida". They oppose anti-candida treatment, even if empirically effective, because research support is absent. Hundreds of physicians and thousands of patients consider anti-candida treatment safe, effective, and free of serious side-effect. This is not scientific proof, but it is evidence. When patients are denied the option of anti-candida treatment, they are offered the alternative diagnosis of somatization disorder. This attributes the patients symptoms to psychological causes, not because of proof of mental illness, but lack of medical proof of physical illness. Somatization disorder has no effective treatment, and is often found later to be an undiagnosed physical illness. Patients put in this position may leave their doctors in frustration. If they were emotionally stable before, this change that. Patients may have expectation they would be listened to and believed. This can seem naive in hindsight. Patients I've met who reports benefits from anti-candida treatment expresses confusion and animosity towards the health-care system that denied them access to this treatment.
The scientific proof medical authorities are holding out for does not appear forthcoming. While there is substantial research being done on candida and it's pathogenesis, there is none being done on this syndrome. In the absence of scientific proof, there is only anecdotal/circumstantial evidence to go by. Should a patient have the right to demand an unconventional treatment their doctor opposes? Should a doctor have the right to withhold a reasonably safe treatment a patient demands, because it lacks medical consensus? There are no easy answers, but patients are being left in the lurch. Some know from direct, personal experience that antifungal medications help them, but they cannot get them prescribed.
Perhaps medical opinion will capitulate under the burden of lost revenue due to patients jumping ship in favor of chronic candida proponents. In 1996, the late Dr. Keith Sehnert, who reports treating nearly four thousand CRC patients, wrote8:
"Change is occurring. It may seem slow, but it is happening...In the case of CRC, the generation (twenty-five to thirty years) of slow acceptance has passed...It is my firm conviction that this medical paradigm is on the verge of shifting."
In the meantime, research is necessary to prove the physical basis for the symptoms of chronic candida.
There is no effective treatment for somatization disorder
If people with chronic candida, who are diagnosed as suffering from somatization disorder, report improvement from anti-candida treatment, this suggests other patients with somatization might be helped. This is true even if you do not accept the label of chronic candida. You can continue to label it somatization, but if patients report improvement, it ought to be pursued. This is especially true considering there is currently no effective treatment for somatization.
This contradicts the hypothesis that somatization is purely psychological in cause. However, the cause has never been proven. There may more than one subset of somatization patients with unrecognized physical disorders.
Approaches to researching CRC
There are epidemiological similarities among CRC patients, which make them different from any other group. These are:
Some patients who match the above profile report developing symptoms after taking tetracycline long-term for acne. This practice is widespread, but is an off-label use of that drug. It has therefore not been accepted by the FDA as safe and effective, and should be subject to more vigilant post-market surveillance by pharmaceutical epidemiologists.
Seven hundred patients on minocycline treatment for acne were evaluated for side-effects in 199614. The mean duration of treatment was 10.5 months(range 2 weeks to 4 years). This study did not evaluate for CRC, but the results might be seen as supportive of it.
In the March 24, 1973 issue of "The Lancet", Leonard Sadoff and Theodore Eckberg wrote about an unusual cancer in a 16-year old girl taking tetracycline for acne. They closed their letter:
"The wisdom of giving long courses of tetracycline to young people for benign conditions is questioned--in view of the lack of long-term toxicity studies with this class of drugs."
Some toxicity studies have since been completed, but none looked for subjective symptoms, such as fatigue, brain fog, and depression. I would like to make a case for epidemiological research to follow up on the health of people who have taken tetracycline for acne, based on:
A health survey of those who have used tetracycline long-term might identify people who match the profile of CRC, in greater numbers than comparable healthy controls.
Biopsies of the duodenum (taken by endoscope) can be evaluated for increased intestinal permeability to intact antigens. This can be caused by GI infection, and is potentially the mechanism for systemic symptoms in CRC. Patients suspected of having CRC could be evaluated for disordered intestinal permeability. This might uncover a physical cause of the disorder.
Clinical trials of CRC treatments are not possible until the disease can be scientifically defined. However, treatments that have been anecdotally effective can be tried against the individual symptoms attributed to CRC. Antifungals or probiotics could be used to treat gi symptoms in patients who appear to have CRC, for whom conventional measures have failed.
How different groups might benefit from research on CRC
Advocates of the CRC diagnostic label have mainly been practitioners who use the diagnosis in their practice. They would be free to openly promote their approach to the condition if it were defined and validated scientifically.
The largest single group of patients seen by GI specialists are those with "functional" disorders, for which the physician can do little. If some of these patients could be helped by anti-candida treatment, it would reduce the frustration felt by these patients and their doctors.
Consumers with vague GI and systemic symptoms, which defy diagnosis or cure by conventional medicine, may resort to over-the-counter and alternative therapies which claim to address one or more of their symptoms. Scientifically established diagnostic criteria for CRC could allow those who don't, in fact, have chronic candida to save their money on anti-candida remedies. f CRC were discovered to be a cause of depression, gastrointestinal symptoms, and misdiagnosed somatization disorder(as is being alleged), people currently diagnosed with these disorders might be helped by screening for CRC.
Pharmaceutical and probiotic companies
If CRC is scientifically defined, drug and probiotic companies could begin to conduct clinical trials of proprietary treatments. Prescription antifungals already being marketed could be tested for effectiveness against CRC. A probiotic remedy effective against GI candida overgrowth might also help those at risk of disseminated candidiasis(such as immunocompromised patients). The commercial demand for CRC remedies appears steady, if not growing, even without scientific support.
Last updated on: 2010-11-06
Disclaimer: Information on this site, including comments on medical treatments, is not intended as medical advice to visitors. It should be evaluated critically and should not take the place of medical advice from a licensed healthcare professional.