Hello everyone and thank you so much for joining us here on Health Talk by Doctors Health Press. I’m your podcast host Sarah Cownley and this is episode 13 titled Candida Overgrowth: Everything you need to know. Today on the show, we’re going to be talking about Candida. Now, you may have heard about Candida, but maybe you’re not really sure exactly what it is or maybe you’ve heard about it and you’re wondering if you could be suffering with it. There really seems to be a lot of information circling around right now about Candida, so today we’re going to be giving you all the facts and really separating those facts from fiction. If you read any of the information online, it really seems like everyone could be suffering from Candida, but is this really true? Today we’re gonna be talking about the signs and symptoms to help figure out if you are indeed suffering with Candida.
And of course, your best course of action for treating and preventing candida overgrowth. Our guest today who is going to be giving us all this information we need is Dr Erin Ellis. She’s a naturopathic medical doctor currently practicing at Arizona’s first holistic urgent care and primary care in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr Ellis has really quite an inspirational story about how she became a doctor, which has really provided her with a tremendous passion to help others with their health challenges. But I’m going to let her really share her story with all of you, so let’s not waste anymore time and get right into things here. So, Dr. Ellis, welcome to the show and thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. Ellis (01:55)
Oh, thank you Sarah. I’m so excited and blessed to be here. So thanks for having me.
Now, as I mentioned, you’ve really got quite an amazing story about what led you to become a doctor. So could you just share a little bit about that with our audience?
Dr. Ellis (02:11)
Sure. I’d love to. Well, before medical school I was working in the bars and restaurants for many, many years and, it wasn’t until eight years ago when I was diagnosed at age 31 with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And I never thought at 31 years old, that I would have cancer. However, it literally changed my life in more ways than one. I was diagnosed in February and I was cancer free by July of the same year. So needless to say, I kicked cancer’s butt. And because of that diagnosis, like I really started learning more about health and wellness and I wouldn’t call myself an unhealthy person prior to diagnosis, but I really just started reading, researching about health and wellness and changed my health habits, my outlook of life. And then I decided this was a wakeup call to follow my dreams of becoming a doctor.
Dr. Ellis (03:09)
And here I am today and naturopathic physician. So I graduated last year in 2017 from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. And I’m now I’m practicing like you said in Scottsdale, Arizona. And I don’t know, I feel like, you know, I never, I don’t have any regrets, nor do I ever wish that would have happened to me. But I don’t think. I think that if that never did happen, I would not be where I am today. So, I have a whole new outlook on life and now I can, you know, instill the passion of health and wellness and others and really speak on a perspective. I have my own perspective and I’ve been through it so, you know, helping patients with cancer is one of my passions and I feel like I can relate to them on a personal level because I’ve been there and yeah, so I just share my positivity and passion for life and everything to my patients and it’s what drives me every day
That’s really inspirational. And I know as a patient maybe coming to a doctor who’s been through what they’re going through, it must really kind of give them a sense of that, you know, things are going to be okay because you’ve come through it.
Dr. Ellis (04:23)
Exactly. I can actually say I’ve been in your shoes, which, you know, obviously I’d never wanted to say that but I can and it kind of really eases and calm patients down when they know that, that I actually know how they feel.
Right. And now in your practice you do treat those with cancer. But you also do kind of a host of other health problems and ailments in one of those includes Candida, is that right?
Dr. Ellis (04:53)
Oh yes. We see candida very frequently.
Okay. And so for those listeners out there who maybe don’t know a lot about it, could you start off by telling us what is Candida?
Dr. Ellis (05:09)
Sure. Well, there’s over 20 species of Candida that can wreak havoc on us, but the most familiar and probably the most common that most listeners will probably know about is Candida Albicans. Candida is actually found in or natural microbiome. We all have candida inside of us right now. However, an infection can occur when this microbiome becomes unbalanced and there becomes an over abundance of candida. So candida has also been known to be the most common cause of human fungal infections. So it’s very common. It’s just a matter of if your body’s going to become unbalanced with it and you know, therefore you get an infection.
Okay. And what would cause this candida infection?
Dr. Ellis (05:58)
Well, there’s many different causes and various reasons. The most common would be from taking an antibiotic. After people take antibiotics that’s usually a yeast infection can occur mostly vaginal, however it can, it can occur in other areas like your mouth, your gut, etc. But the reason that that happens because of the antibiotics that you take, destroy all your bacteria, good and bad. So we don’t have any more of that good Bacteria to fight off the bad bacteria. It can also be caused by an unhealthy diet. Standard American diet nowadays still isn’t that great. There’s a lot of high end office sugar consumed, refined carbohydrates, a lot of alcohol intake, all of these feed candida and can cause an overgrowth. The, a weakened immune system. So we see it a lot in patients with cancer because there could be under chemotherapy agents which suppresses your immune system or the elderly who are in the hospital or anybody that’s been in the hospital that may have a weakened immune system.
Dr. Ellis (07:00)
Their immune system can no longer fight off any bad bacteria, so overabundance can occur. Any women that are taking birth control. So, birth control disturbs the balance of our hormones, especially estrogen, and estrogen is the main ingredient, found in birth control pills and estrogen promotes the growth of yeast. And there’s also been some studies that I was reading lately that the copper found an IUD birth control can cause or can stimulate the growth of yeast. So birth control, I just recommend patients to be cautious if they do decide to go on birth control because there’s a lot of various side effects that can happen with that. Diabetics typically have, obviously they have high blood sugar and the high blood sugar can keep the candida to grow. And diabetics also could have weakened immune systems so that can occur. An overgrowth can occur from there. And then, I mean we’re all stressed. We all have stress in our life. So when we’re stressed to release cortisol and cortisol can depress your immune system and also raises your blood sugar. So that’s what sneaky candida can feed off this. And then when your immune system can’t do anything about it, that’s when the overgrowth can happen. So there’s many different reasons why it can cause an over abundance of growth in our system.
For those listeners that are kind of wondering, well, maybe I have candida, what are the symptoms that they should look out for?
Dr. Ellis (08:31)
Well, there’s many different symptoms, but it can all vary depending on where it’s occurring so bad and it can occur badly vaginally, or in the mouth. That’s commonly known as thrush. It can happen in the throat, the esophagus, it can even, it can happen in the gut. You can get it manifesting on your skin or nails, and it can also be very badly in the bloodstream, which is least common, however that can happen. If you’re experiencing candida in the gut, your bacteria can become unbalanced. Due to an unhealthy diet. So, you could have symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping. Oftentimes, candida of the gut is often associated with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. We see those coinfections happen a lot if you have like bad skin or nails or wonky looking skin or nails. This can be caused by candida, athlete’s foot, ringworm.
Dr. Ellis (09:33)
Any type of fungus on the toenails can be caused by an overgrowth of candida. I’m your mouth. If you have lights, patches on your tongue, your inside of your cheek and it, you’re having like painfulness when you eat or drink could be likely candida of the mouth. I see this a lot in patients with cancer because their immune system is depressed and it seems to manifest in their mouth. And then the most common for females is vaginal. Finally, you would see like odor, itching, uncomfortableness, maybe some discharge. Those are pretty much the common symptoms of candida where it manifests.
Okay. Now as you’re talking about these symptoms, I’m thinking, okay, usually if you get something like this, let’s say for example, you, you have a toenail that’s looking kind of funny that you’re thinking you have a toenail of infection. So you go to a conventional doctor and they put you on a prescription medication. Am I right in thinking that’s just going to get rid of kind of the surface, but you’ve still got that candida inside of you, is that right?
Dr. Ellis (10:42)
Absolutely. And that’s the beauty of naturopathic medicine, like we’re not about prescribing the drug, however, we do have the rights to do that and we will if necessary, but there’s a reason why you have toenail fungus. There’s a reason why you have, you know, the unbalanced flora in your gut. So we try and get to the root cause of that and figure out why that’s happening so it doesn’t happen again rather than just giving you a antifungal that could just get rid of it now. But two, three, four weeks down the road, you’re, it comes back and there you are again.
Right. Okay. That makes sense. Now, if somebody does come to you, let’s say they have thrush or the, you know, the toenail problem, is there a test that can detect candida or how do you know that that person is indeed suffering with candida?
Dr. Ellis (11:32)
Well, we would take a detailed history and find out what’s going on with that and see if they have any of the recent, you know, causes, like recent antibiotic use, you know, weakened immune system if they’re on birth control, if they’re diabetic, etc. Like I went over earlier, sometimes you can just diagnose it based on symptoms and presentation, but if it’s, you know, sneaky and we’re not really sure. We like to do a lot of comprehensive lab work and so I would throw that into the testing. I would test for candida. The other blood. There’s also, stool tests that can be done. This is the most useful because it can tested. There’s abnormal levels of candida in your gut, but it can also tell you how much good bacteria you have. So even if you’re not dealing with candida, the stool test can tell you a lot about your gut health, and maybe there’s another parasite that’s causing your symptoms. So oftentimes we’ll go to that. It’s necessary, but we can usually diagnose with just based on symptoms and slash or doing a blood test.
Ok, Now I know some people might be listening to this right now and thinking this sounds like I have candida and they might be getting really worried because they’re wondering can they give it to their partner? So is candida contagious?
Dr. Ellis (12:50)
Well, it’s not considered so it can be spread through sexual intercourse. However, it’s very, it’s not common and it’s therefore it’s not considered a sexually transmitted disease. Like I said, we all have candida in our body. We have it in our mouth, we have it everywhere, but it’s based on your own immune system and your own microbiome and how you’re gonna respond to it. So I wouldn’t say that it’s not contagious, but it’s very unlikely that if someone was to have, you know, thrush, that you would just pass it on. I mean anything’s possible in medicine. However it’s not, I wouldn’t say it’s contagious.
Okay, good. that makes sense. That makes sense. So, if somebody comes to you with candida and you found out that they do indeed have it. Is it easy to treat? I’ve heard some people say it’s not easy and it can reoccur. Let’s start maybe by talking about diet changes. Is that the way to start treating it or what’s the protocol?
Dr. Ellis (14:01)
Well, like I said, I think anything is treatable and that’s what we as naturopathic physicians like to do is get to the root cause and a lot of things can be changed by what goes into your mouth, also known as what you’re eating. So that’s where I would first start. We have a low mold, or a low diet that we put people on which yeast and mold are oftentimes linked together. So we would educate our patients on getting rid of, you know these exposures in our foods such as breads and fermented alcohols. vinegars which a lot of people aren’t aware of, sour milk, sour cream, any most dairy products or something that patients should avoid corn. Mushrooms, dried fruit, processed smoked meat, a lot of things can have mold. They’re prone to mold, which is something that a patient should avoid if they’re having a candida outbreak.
Dr. Ellis (15:08)
So that’s where we would start, but it is easy to treat however, it’s ultimately up to the patient and how compliant they will be with your treatment recommendations. So it’s a even if there are 100 percent compliant and stay away from anything yeast or mold containing and follow the supplement protocol that’s recommended, then it’s easy to treat. However they decide one night, oh, I’m going to go have a beer or I’m going to go out with my friends and have some pizza. Then you know, I don’t. I can’t say that it won’t come back, but it is easy to treat if the patient is compliant and really wants to give up the things that are contributing to their symptoms.
So they really have to be strict and stay on this strict red regime that you would put them on with diet and supplements. And so it would really be ultimately up to the patient to stick to this treatment and take it very seriously.
Dr. Ellis (16:03)
Well, yes, right. Especially in the beginning, I would think later on, once they, you know, eradicated the over abundance and other microbiomes are balanced and they’ve got the good bacteria and bad bacteria back in their system and their balance and there’s no overgrowth. At least they know what’s causing it and you know, they can reduce their stress and finding other outlooks to their daily life to help them cope with all these things that contributed to it too in the first place. And if it’s still coming back, we will dig a little bit deeper. and as I mentioned before, like it could be linked to both the rate of colitis or Crohn’s disease and therefore that would be, you know, a lifestyle that they would have to, you know, change for the rest of their life. But, oftentimes, you know, it’s, it can go away and it’s very easy to treat and it’s safe to treat with just without an antifungal on just the supplements and dietary recommendations, and just like some lifestyle changes.
Now, I’ve heard that when people do go on a candida diet that they can experience something called candida die off. Can you just talk a little bit about that?
Dr. Ellis (17:14)
Sure. So when it can’t eat, it dies off and it is basically when you have a large amount of candida in your body and you’re killing it. You can develop, you know, kind of a die off reaction to candida called Herxheimer reaction. It’s just kind of like your body detoxing and it could be taught to rapidly where you might feel like you’re having to flu and think I’m feeling really sick and really awful. We see this a lot in our patients that we treat for various reasons. If they detox too quick in their cells die off in their body’s trying to process everything that’s going on, this can occur. Like they could get a fatigue, nausea, headache, bloating, gas. It’s kinda like the symptoms of how they felt before all coming back. Body aches, joint muscle pain, chills, sweating, fever. Their skin may break out.
Dr. Ellis (18:11)
They may feel itchy because their liver is working really hard to detox everything that’s going on, but I like to try and treat patients slowly like I don’t throw the kitchen sink at them and be like, take this, do this, do this, do that. I’m so that I can reduce the likelihood of this happening and I’ll also give them, you know, liver support, encourage them to rest and increase their water intake to flush any of these are flush these toxins out quicker and therefore hopefully reduce the chance of any of this, you know, high die off reaction to be, to happen.
If someone listening is thinking, I never want to experience candida, what’s the best thing they can do. Is it maybe like you said, a healthy diet or maybe taking probiotics?
Dr. Ellis (18:59)
Probiotics are good. One probiotic I think anyone should take, especially nowadays with you know, how much junk is in our food and you know, processed foods and hopefully people are starting to jump on the bandwagon as clean and healthy eating. However, you know, you can’t go wrong with a probiotic as long as it’s, you know, the right probiotic and the right billion or million, a bacteria, good bacteria that’s found in it. But yeah, we’ve put patients on a protocol for a good probiotic, usually a higher dose, that typically you can’t really find and you know, in Eds, or Sprouts or Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or any of the health food stores. Typically those are found, you know, at your health practitioner. And that way there’s so many different forms of probiotics. I’m actually going to be doing a post about probiotics here coming up because I’ve had a couple patients asked me about, you know, what’s, what’s the difference between this and that and the strain, that strain.
Dr. Ellis (20:02)
So there’s a, there’s a lot of education that needs to go into picking probiotics. But definitely probiotics can help along with, you know, the right diet, decreased amount of refined carbohydrates, decrease your alcohol intake, decrease your sugar intake, and then lead a healthy and happy life. So therefore you don’t have a high stress life. And you know, it’s not just candida, that can become imbalanced, it could, you know, stress and unhealthy diet leads to many, many other things besides candida. So it’s just important to be healthy overall for your own wellbeing, not just candida,
Any last words for those who may be struggling with a health issue and they’re not sure if it’s candida or not, maybe where should they go for help or who should they turn to?
Dr. Ellis (20:59)
Well, this is why I became a physician because I really believe in health and wellness and I feel like we can get to the, to the reason why people are feeling ill and it’s, I see it almost daily. Like we get new patients who may have, you know, been to this doctor and that doctor and had this test and that test. And then he ended this drug and they come in with the whole bag of pills that they don’t even need. Where we, if someone were to come see me, like I start off with blood work and, we call ourselves very nosy, like we ordered tubes and tubes into the blood and it kind of freaks patients out there. We’re taking too much blood, but it’s really a small percentage of the actual amount of blood in our body.
Dr. Ellis (21:38)
But to be able to get the whole picture, we need to take some blood work and tests, the thyroid, your hormones, your metabolic panel, your cholesterol, your blood sugar, inflammation markers. And when we do all that, we do it all comprehensive. It’s not just testing, you know, you’re insulating. We look at all factors of your blood sugar. To me, another big thing is the thyroid. We, we don’t just look at your thyroid stimulating hormone. We look at your whole thyroid and that’s the beauty of our medicine. Like you look at the whole, we look at you as a whole person. We’re not just treating, you know, why does she have a stomach ache or why does she keep having migraines? I’m going to look at everything going on because it could be something manifesting in your gut that’s causing a headache. It could be your hormones that are causing a headache.
Dr. Ellis (22:25)
It’s, you know, that’s what I would recommend this to come see a naturopath because we really take your whole body into perspective rather than just treating, you know, what you, what your main symptom is. And then, you know, based on your lab work, we can go further and you know, come up with a treatment protocol specific for you. And that oftentimes doesn’t include any prescription medication. It’s all treated with diet, lifestyle, maybe just increasing water is all you need. And then some basic vitamins and herbs that can really boost that immune system. We can give you, you know, iv therapy. Then you need a little bit of liver detox with saunas or even like a gallbladder flush.
Dr. Ellis (23:19)
And, you know, it’s amazing how, how fast patients can feel better once they come in us because we actually figured out what was wrong with them, where they’ve wasted, you know, years and years and years or they’re just too scared to go get it checked out. But finally they become sick and tired of feeling like this. So there’s a lot we can do and we do it faithfully and without giving you a prescription drug that’s going to cost them more side effects down the road or further, you know, hurt your or your organs in your body.
Well, that’s perfect. Thank you. Just really explained to a lot of people, I think about the difference between, you know, maybe their conventional family doctor and a naturopathic doctor. I know I go to naturopathic doctors and they really look at the root cause instead of just kind of slapping a Band-Aid on the problem.
Dr. Ellis (24:13)
I don’t have anything against medical doctors. I, you know, I love what they do and you know, they’re good at what they do and we’re good at what we do. And I hope that as medicine, as medicine progressive is that we can all work together a lot of times they don’t like us, but now I don’t know to each their own, but I think that there’s a time and a place for everything and we really can make patients feel better because like you said, we get to the root cause it’s one of our principals naturopathic medicine.
Well we’re almost out of time here today, but you’ve really given us all the facts that we need to know about candida. And for those listening who maybe you’ve been struggling with health issues, you’ve definitely given them a new outlook on their health. So Dr. Ellis, I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today.
Dr. Ellis (25:02)
Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for having me. This was, this was awesome and I really hope that I helped someone out there, you know, go seek the help that they need.
So for more information or to contact Dr. Ellis, please visit www.holisticurgentcare.com. Or you can also find her on Instagram @doctor_erin_ellis or @holistic_urgent_care. You can also visit her Facebook pages, Dr. Erin Ellis NMD and Holistic Urgent Care. And thank you so much to our listeners for tuning in today. If you like what you’ve heard, please remember to give us a star rating and make sure we’re bringing you all the topics that you want to hear. Until next time, I’m Sarah Cownley reminding you that it’s never too early or too late to work towards being the healthiest version of yourself.
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