Tackling Candida: Part 2
In Part 1 of Tackling Candida, we covered what it is, what causes yeast overgrowth, candida and acetaldehyde (yeast “intoxication”), and candida as it relates to hormones and fertility.
In Part 2, below, we cover the significant relationship between candida and hair loss, the serious risk of candida overgrowth after antibiotics, simple testing, and cleansing yeast, and a special consideration of heavy metals.
Let’s dig deeper…
Candida and hair loss
Back in the day, when alopecia wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is now, it was thought by many in the medical community to be caused by two primary factors: thallium poisoning and “scalp yeast infection.”
Indeed, one of the pioneers in alopecia research, Dr. Sidney Baker, who I’ve met and heard present on alopecia, says that “every” alopecia sufferer has some level of yeast overgrowth.
Remember how we talked in Part 1 about the systemic nature of candida? Well, it can colonize right down to the hair follicles and it’s largely implicated with patchy patterns of alopecia, but can certainly affect those with diffuse loss, including androgenic alopecia.
We cover this—and so much more—in the year-long Reversing Alopecia Roadmap course.
One of the reasons I’m against corticosteroid use for alopecia is not only the androgenic effects (including anti-androgenic effects) of these exogenous hormones, but also because steroid use is a known contributor to candida (and other issues, including skin thinning, which makes you more prone to an infection). Talk about having one foot on the gas and one foot on the brakes! You may be taking corticosteroid shots or creams for your hair loss, but if it’s contributing to systemic yeast, which is one of the biggest drivers of alopecia, you’re going to chase your tail.
If you read the fine print on your birth control pill drug insert, you’ll see that hair loss can be a side effect. A double whammy is that the birth control pill is notorious for causing candida.
The problem with antibiotics
Antibiotics can be life-saving, but they’re grossly overprescribed and overused. They can certainly wipe out a bacterial infection, but they’re often prescribed for viral infections, too. Don’t get me started on that.
Antibiotics take the good with the bad—they can obliterate friendly flora, which can cause such disruption in the microbiome that a raging yeast infection (digestive or vaginal) ensues almost immediately. I bet some of you women reading this are thinking, “Yep, every time I take a round of antibiotics, I get a yeast infection.” I hear it all the time.
When clients book a Jumpstart session with me, they fill out a questionnaire and one of the questions is: How often have you taken antibiotics? Never or rarely? Once or twice yearly? Frequently?
If those clients move forward with a full coaching program, they receive a GI Map test. (If you want to order a GI Map on your own, you can go here.)
I’ve seen a pretty direct correlation with frequency of antibiotic use (how they answered that question) and prevalence/elevation of pathogenic bacterial and fungal markers, including other markers (like deficiency in beneficial bacteria).
Like we discuss in the next section, a fecal panel isn’t the end all be all of fungal testing.
Given that antibiotics are definitely needed in certain circumstances, what to do?
Here’s how to protect your gut (and vaginal canal) if you have to take a round of antibiotics…take saccharomyces boulardii. S. boulardii is a beneficial yeast strain that acts like a probiotic. Because antibiotics target bacteria, they won’t touch the beneficial yeast. Pretty amazing, huh?
While there are several old school candida tests still on the market (skin scrape, mouth swab, blood test), they’re mostly inconclusive and even downright useless.
Mark Hyman, MD, stated, “Many tests we use for diagnosis of yeast problems are not definitive or foolproof. It is often a diagnosis that must be made from a patient’s story, symptoms, and physical findings on examination. Blood antibody levels for yeasts, stool tests, and organic acid urine tests for yeast metabolites can be helpful if they come out positive but don’t rule yeast out if they’re negative.
“The best method for diagnosis is a good history for risk factors like antibiotic use and symptoms of chronic yeast problems. The symptoms of yeast overgrowth vary from person to person and the response to treatments will vary. Some people may need aggressive treatment, while others many need only simple changes to make a significant difference in their health.”
While I can’t diagnose anyone with anything, I use a combination of a GI Map and spit test for candida. The GI Map, which you can order here, also tests many other extremely valuable digestive health markers. Like Hyman said, it’s possible to get a false negative, which is where a thorough health history and spit test can be helpful.
Some practitioners recommend an OATS (organic acids) test for yeast, but other experts say this is also inconclusive.
You’ll find plenty of conventional practitioners who disregard the spit test as quackery, but many doctors in the holistic/functional medicine community use it with their patients. I’ve found it to be very telling, including a good indicator of when to stop the anti-yeast protocol.
The spit test
Go at least two days without any dairy products. Then, first thing in the morning, before you put anything into your mouth, even a sip of water, work up some saliva and spit it into a clear glass of water. Healthy saliva will float on top. You may have candida if, within 1-30 minutes, strings appear coming down from your saliva or the water turns cloudy/murky or if your saliva sinks to the bottom.
- If it remains on top, it indicates that there isn’t excessive mucous in your mouth harboring candida.
- If it grows tentacles that hang down toward the bottom, you have some candida in your gut that likely needs to be addressed.
- If it sinks to the bottom, you likely have significant candida overgrowth in your gut.
For many, they don’t even need to do a spit test, as the yeast is obvious—on the tongue, skin, and nails. This is where a more aggressive protocol is needed.
This may seem “unscientific,” but many experts in the holistic medical community speak to its efficacy. Again, we recommend it along with a GI Map.
Countless times, my clients and course participants have said, “Yep, cloudy, murky, stringy, settled to the bottom of the glass.” They do a cleanse, see immediate and amazing improvements in their health, do the spit test again in 4-6 weeks, and the water is clear.
Many associate a “yeast cleanse” with no sweets, yeast, flour, or carbs. Or, if they’re following someone touting the old protocol, additionally, no mushrooms, dairy, fermented foods, or fruit. Heck, some even go to crazy town and say no table salt because of the dextrose. Oy.
I’m here to tell you that if you remove the conditions that are favoring yeast, you can enjoy these foods, in moderation, while doing your cleanse. Do I hear a collective sigh?
Many are loath to even start this journey because they feel they’ll be pushing a boulder uphill—including getting no enjoyment from their diet. Not true.
To do a candida cleanse, you don’t have to resort to those expensive yeast cleanse programs that you often see in brightly colored boxes at your health food store.
Below are instructions for doing one of the most important cleanses you can for gut, hormone, immune, brain, emotional, hair follicle, and skin health.
Before we continue, please know that the goal here isn’t to eradicate your body of all yeast. As we talked about in Part 1, candida is a naturally occurring organism and only becomes a problem with there’s an environment of overgrowth. You want to contain the overgrowth—not eliminate every bit of the yeast.
“It’s like someone stuck a pin in me and let the air out”
Once people begin addressing intestinal yeast, many begin dropping weight and seeing increased energy and alleviation of the symptoms I listed in Part 1. After years of bloating and gut distention, one of my clients said, “It’s like someone stuck a pin in me and let the air out.”
Yes, you do want to moderate (not eliminate) sugar, alcohol, yeast, and refined flour intake, as they are “food” for yeast and could slow your progress.
But perfection is the enemy of the good—you’re better off taking a slow and steady win the race approach than losing your mind from restriction and subsequently falling off the wagon.
Now, when I say “slow,” I don’t mean slow. “Slow” is the old protocol, where people were told that it could take up to six months—or even two years—to clear yeast. Nope, nope, and nope. Not with this approach…
[Please see the end of this post for ordering in the U.S. If you’re in Canada or Europe, email us and we’ll hook you up with some trusted colleagues.]
Hands down, my go-to, single, anti-yeast supplement is Biocidin (Biocidin Potent Broad Spectrum), a synergistic combination of botanical medicines that targets the entire GI tract, including not only yeast, but also some bacterial overgrowth. It’s also good to take for “winter wellness.”
Before I continue, take Biocidin as directed. I repeat…take as directed.
Too many people have gotten so excited about this and taken the “if some is good, more is better” approach. More isn’t better—it can result in a massive Herxheimer reaction. See below.
Biocidin not only kills yeast and (certain) bacteria, but it also breaks down the cell walls of the yeast organism and dissolves the biofilm that the yeast produces. This is critically important.
This is WHY the old protocols fail. Not that herbs and botanicals like oregano oil, grapefruit seed extract, pau d’arco, and caprylic acid aren’t anti-fungal—they are. But for an effective cleanse, we have to get at the biofilm, the slimy protective mechanism that yeast forms around itself. Biofilm is what makes yeast so pervasive and difficult to cleanse with the old way of doing things.
For more intense, external manifestations of candida, including scalp itching, tinea versicolor (fungal infection of the skin), oral thrush, or fungal fingernails/toenails, I recommend Biocidin tincture (Biocidin Broad Spectrum Liquid) applied externally, along with the capsules. The tincture can be ingested orally if you have a difficult time with pills.
There’s a spray formulation (Biocidin Advanced Formula Throat Spray), but it can be used topically and is excellent for thrush. It’s also great for a sore throat.
For cleansing yeast, Biocidin is what you want.
But if you’re allergic to any of the ingredients, like black walnut, in lieu of Biocidin, I recommend the anti-yeast herbal products, Candibactin AR and Candibactin BR by Metagenics. AR and BR must be taken together.
Additionally, it’s important to stay vigilant with a probiotic during this cleanse.
Take Biocidin for a minimum of 30 days. You may need to order more than a month’s supply. Try hard to not miss a day, including any external application you may feel is necessary.
And remember, as we discussed in Part 1, it’s highly recommended that you do this alongside anyone you’re sexually intimate with.
After 30 days, do the saliva test again. If you still test positive, and/or you’re not feeling like you’ve had an adequate cleanse (still symptomatic), continue with the protocol for another 15-30 days. Stick with these increments until you’re clear.
Again, be consistent. Most of my clients say that right out of the chute, a fog/haze lifts, energy increases, outlook changes, they lose weight, skin issues clear up, and they feel lighter and brighter.
Please be sure to read the final section on this post about heavy metals and candida.
Caution: the Herxheimer reaction
You may notice that things flare for a couple of days at the onset of your cleanse. Please know that this doesn’t happen for everyone.
It’s called the Herxheimer or “die-off” reaction (“herxing”) where flu-like symptoms and feelings of malaise set in. It’s a toxic response to the waste produced by the detox and while it only lasts a few days, it can make people unproductive, fatigued, and cranky.
You can lessen the die-off symptoms by taking activated charcoal tablets, which are extremely effective. Be sure to also drink ample amounts of filtered water and get plenty of dietary fiber.
Be sure to get enough whole foods fiber in your diet. Some take a fiber supplement during their cleanse, but I don’t feel it’s all that necessary. You could try psyllium husk powder, triphala, or acacia. But for some who are just beginning to heal their digestive distress, fiber can be a little challenging. Start small and work up to a teaspoon a day in a glass of water.
Once you’ve been on the Biocidin for a week or so, you can add more garlic and onions into your diet. Raw is best, but cooked is okay. Many people can handle a small clove or half a clove of garlic before bedtime. Eating a cracker or two or a bite of grains can help eliminate odor.
If you’re in the U.S., you can get Biocidin from my online dispensary, Fullscript, at a discount. Actually, you can get anything you want from Fullscript (including products for your family) and keep your account in perpetuity.
This includes the above-mentioned Candibactin AR and BR (if you can’t take Biocidin), S. boulardii, activated charcoal, and a probiotic.
Again, if you’re in Canada or Europe, reach out and we’ll hook you up with a colleague’s dispensary.
Set up your U.S. Fullscript account here >
And feel free to peruse my Categories to see some of my best thinking on other supplementation.
A word about heavy metals
This topic cannot be adequately covered in this post. It’s a complex subject—and testing is controversial.
I will say that while Biocidin is extremely effective in clearing yeast, you run the risk of reinfection if you have heavy metals in your system. I mean, who doesn’t? But we’ve all had different exposures and some of us are able to clear metals better than others.
Remember when I said that my study on candida goes back way before I started nutrition school? The naturopath I was working with at the time said, “Yeast feeds on metals, especially mercury.”
For those with alopecia, there’s also the risk of high levels of thallium, but that’s not as common.
I don’t want to freak you out—and I don’t want to make this complex.
The truth is that traditional chelation re-infects surrounding tissue, leaving people worse off. And oral chelators like NAC, ACTH, DMSA, cilantro, and the allium vegetables aren’t enough, plain and simple.
Zeolites safely remove metals. Safe, as in, they’re not only highly effective, but they have no effect on surrounding tissue. You can read more about zeolites here.
I do recommend them along with the Biocidin. There are many other benefits to zeolites and you can order in the document linked above.
A lot of people are hesitant to start a candida cleanse because they’ve heard how restrictive and grueling they can be. So it’s a nonstarter for them while they continue to suffer myriad symptoms.
I can’t tell you how impactful clearing yeast can be for your gut, hormone, immune, brain, emotional, hair follicle, and skin health—the benefits simply cannot be underestimated.
I’m excited for you to experience the life-changing benefits for yourself!