While millions of people suffer from Candida overgrowth, the cognitive distress it causes is seldom addressed.
Candida is a type of fungus found in the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina.
Recent discoveries into the etiology of Candida present in the gut have found that it may be linked with increased instances of mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Considering how many people are affected by both Candida and mood disorders, more attention should be paid to this issue.
In the following article, we aim to address these connections between Candida and depression and offer some tips on controlling Candida as a way to manage associated mood disorders.
What Is Candida?
Candida is a broad genus of Kingdom Fungi, having more than 200 different species.1Claudia Spampinato and Darío Leonardi, Candida Infections, Causes, Targets, and Resistance Mechanisms: Traditional and Alternative Antifungal Agents Biomed Res Int. 2013
Contrary to popular belief, apart from C. albicans and a few other species, most members of this genus are non-pathogenic.2Charles E. Skinner and Donald W. Fletcher, A REVIEW OF THE GENUS CANDIDA Bacteriol Rev. 1960
However, the ones that are infectious in nature account for 9% of nosocomial bloodstream infections in the US.3Hilmar Wisplinghoff, Tammy Bischoff, Sandra M. Tallent, Harald Seifert, Richard P. Wenzel, Michael B. Edmond Nosocomial Bloodstream Infections in US Hospitals: Analysis of 24,179 Cases from a Prospective Nationwide Surveillance Study Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2004
Various species of genus Candida can be found in soil, shrimps, fruit-producing plants, etc.
The most notorious of all the Candida spp. is Candida albicans, which is pathogenic and feasts on human skin and mucosa.
It is a common commensal of the human body and does not cause infection unless the host is compromised immunologically.
In such a host, yeast overgrowth can result in various Candida infections.
Some of these ailments are superficial and require topical treatment only, while others invade our blood, and vital organs and thus are difficult to eradicate.
Candida and Biofilm
C. albicans mostly lives in our body in the form of biofilms.
A biofilm is an adherent community of microorganisms that live together in order to withstand the harsh external environment.
In a biofilm, these microbes are embedded in a sticky ECM (extracellular matrix) that helps them resist the action of various antifungal medications as well as the host defense.4Julie Bonhomme , Murielle Chauvel,Sophie Goyard,Pascal Roux,Tristan Rossignol1,and Christophe d’Enfert Contribution of the glycolytic flux and hypoxia adaptation toefficient biofilm formation byCandida albicans Molecular Microbiology. 2011
Thus, these biofilms (bacterial and fungal) are responsible for 80% of microbial infections in the human body.5Emily P. Fox, Clarissa J. Nobile Untangling the transcriptional network controlling biofilm development in Candida albicans tandfonline. 2012
Any artificial surface like a denture or a pacemaker facilitates the growth of Candida biofilms by providing it a platform to grow its hyphae into.6Clarissa J. Nobile1 and Alexander D. Johnson, Candida albicans Biofilms and Human Disease Annu Rev Microbiol. 2016
Natural Candida Treatments
- Megamycobalance is carefully crafted with two special ingredients, i.e., undecylenic acid and bee propolis.
- Bee propolis is a resinous material with antifungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties.7Vijay D. Wagh, Propolis: A Wonder Bees Product and Its Pharmacological Potentials Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2013
- It shows antifungal tendencies against 40 strains of Candida.8Vijay D. Wagh, Propolis: A Wonder Bees Product and Its Pharmacological Potentials Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2013
- On the other hand, undecylenic acid is a fungistatic unsaturated fatty acid that is used in various antifungal creams. It disrupts fungal hyphae growth as well as inhibits biofilm formation.9NLM, COMPOUND SUMMARY Undecylenic acid NLM. 2022
- These ingredients help maintain a perfect balance of yeast in the vagina and intestines, thus protecting the patient from a leaky gut and vaginal infection.
- It has been created from a combination of probiotic spores and a botanical mixture called Biocidin.
- Probiotics including Bacillus subtilis HU58 and Bacillus coagulant (SC-208) are shown to promote a strong immune system.
- It is a perfect oral probiotic for children who can be given 1-3 sprays in their mouth 2-3 times every day.
- Biocidin is a herbal blend having garlic, milk thistle, echinacea, white willow bark, etc., which improves the functioning of the immune system.
- Biocidin also helps tackle Candida overgrowth.10Jennifer A. Shuford, James M. Steckelberg, and Robin Patel Effects of Fresh Garlic Extract on Candida albicans Biofilms Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2005
Blood Sugar Breakthrough
- Blood Sugar Breakthrough is the top blood sugar controlling product on the market today. One of BSB’s main benefits is that it helps curb sugar and carbohydrate cravings which is crucial for combatting candida as the fungi feed requires limiting sugar intake
- It has been created from a combination of Biotin, Bee Propolis, R-Alpha Lipoic Acid, Dihydroberberine, etc.
- It regulates blood sugar levels and helps curb sugar cravings that people with low blood sugar levels often have.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid and Propolis are strong antioxidants.
- Unregulated blood sugar levels also cause hormonal imbalances causing low libido and hot flashes, but this formula effectively counters them.
- Berberine can help inhibit the resistance forms of Candida albicans.11Jiangyan Yong, Ruiling Zu, Xiaoxue Huang, Yiman Ge and Yan Li Synergistic Effect of Berberine Hydrochloride and Fluconazole Against Candida albicans Resistant Isolates Front. Microbiol., 02 July 2020
- It has been created from Betaine HCL and an enzyme blend having Protease 3.0 and Protease 4.5.
- Helps absorb minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, etc., properly.
- Improves gut health, bile flow, and enzymatic secretions.
- Acid suppression worsens Candidiasis, and HCl breakthrough helps restore natural and healthy stomach acid levels.12H W Daniell Acid suppressing therapy as a risk factor for Candida esophagitis Dis Esophagus. 2016
- It also improves the digestion of protein and enhances muscle growth.
Herbal Power Flush
- It has been made from a combination of dietary fiber, herbs, and digestive enzymes.
- The herbal blend of 13 herbs contains five digestive enzymes that fuel digestion and biofilm breakdown, and detoxification.
- Helps eliminate bad gut bacteria by maximum absorption of nutrients.
- It activates stomach enzymes and helps with food movement from the stomach to the small intestine.
- It curbs the growth of yeast and bad bacteria inside the gut.
Anti-Fungal Diet and Food List
For people looking to control Candida overgrowth, here is a list of foods you should and should not consume.
Foods to Eat
- Fruit such as tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.
- Grass-fed beef
- Dark chocolate
- Chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, etc.
- Green Tea
Foods to Avoid
- Anything made from flour such as pizza, bread, etc.
- Beer and champagne.
- Fermented Foods
- Refined Carbohydrates
The relationship between broad-spectrum antibacterial medications and fungal growth is undeniable.13M S Seelig Mechanisms by which antibiotics increase the incidence and severity of candidiasis and alter the immunological defenses. Bacteriol Rev. 1966
These medications increase the chance of Candidiasis by following mechanisms:
- Some anti-biotics have a direct role in the enhanced growth of C. Albicans.
- They also kill the good bacteria present in our digestive system; these healthy bacteria not only help in the digestion of various nutrients but also keep the fungus in check.
So, if you want to evade Candidiasis, you must avoid the overuse of antibiotics and other medications like oral contraceptives and steroids.
Helpful Gut Tests You Can Do
The Gut Intelligence Test checks your gut microbial gene profile.
It has over 20 different subscores such as gut lining, gut bacteria, microbial activity, inflammation, diversity, etc.
The collection method/sample for this test involves your blood and stool.
After analyzing these samples, nutrition recommendations are given according to the test target to improve your GI health.
Health Conditions Associated With Candida Overgrowth
Candida can result in yeast infections on skin and various body surfaces; for example, in the oral cavity, it can result in oral thrush.
Normally Candida yeast lives in our mouth in small amounts without any side effects.
When the host’s immune system is weakened due to some illness or medication, this yeast is multiplied. It can lead to Candida infection, known as oral thrush or oral Candidiasis.
This Candida infection is particularly common in children and the elderly because of the vulnerable state of their immune systems.
Similarly, athletes predisposed to C. Albicans are especially susceptible to skin and nail fungal infections, including athlete’s foot and ringworm, etc.
Urinary Tract Infections
C. albicans exists in 3 forms in our body, i.e., individual cells, true hyphae, and pseudohyphae.14Payam Behzadi, Elham Behzadi, and Reza Ranjbar Urinary tract infections and Candida albicans Cent European J Urol. 2015
The pathology of Candida infection depends on its morphological form.
In kidneys, true hyphae and yeast cells produce protease enzymes.
These proteases and other toxic byproducts of this pathogen disrupt the kidney’s normal function.
Such yeast overgrowth can lead to urinary tracts infections.
The symptoms of urinary tract infections include an enhanced urge to urinate, pain during urination, and blood in the urine.
Sometimes the environment inside the vagina changes favorably for Candida and encourages its growth, leading to Vaginal Candidiasis.
The symptoms of this infection are pain, soreness, and increased vaginal discharge.
Usually, women who are pregnant, have diabetes, take antibiotics, or have compromised immune systems can develop Vaginal Candidiasis.
Wearing cotton underwear is suggested to avoid an infection.
How Does Candida Grow in the Gut?
There are several reasons why the growth of Candida happens inside our gut.
A gut inflammation means there are already lesions inside your gut, and fungi can easily infect them.
Diabetes also helps the growth of fungi inside the gut because of the blood sugar imbalances caused by it.
Good bacteria inside our gut can be killed by consuming too many antibiotics, paving the way for fungal infections.
Overload of steroids can also compromise the immune system and increase the chances of infections.
Anticancer drugs can also harm immune cells while doing their job and compromise the immune system.
The Gut-Mental Health Connection
The gut-brain connection is one of the root causes of mental disorders like depression, chronic stress, poor memory, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.
A constant exchange of impulses takes place between the two; therefore, any problem with your intestines can affect your neurological functions.
In the case of yeast infections, intestinal functions are impaired; as a result, several toxins called mycotoxins are produced in the GI tract.
From the colon, these toxins can be absorbed into the bloodstream and move around the body, causing symptoms to appear in other parts of the body as well.
People with a yeast infection crave a diet high in sugars and carbohydrates, causing a dietary imbalance that can result in hormonal imbalance.
All this leads to the release of certain chemicals by the brain. These chemicals can affect brain activity resulting in symptoms like anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, brain fog, and mood swings.
In patients with Candida overgrowth, the fungus lines the walls of the GI tract blocking the release of serotonin in the blood.15Natalie Terry and Kara Gross Margolis, Serotonergic Mechanisms Regulating the GI Tract: Experimental Evidence and Therapeutic Relevance Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2017
Serotonin is known as the happy hormone and plays an important role in regulating mood.
Its deficiency can cause severe anxiety, depression, mood swings, and in some cases, panic attacks.
Patients suffering from anxiety and depression often complain about having digestive issues, and a yeast infection could be the reason behind it.
Similarly, many psychiatric disorders are known to be treated with micronutrients, and the absorption of these micronutrients is highly dependent on gut fitness.
Thus the presence of a yeast infection can greatly impact the optimal activity of these micronutrients by minimizing the nutrient absorption by the GI tract. This can slow down the treatment.
Candida and Mental Health
Candida and mental health are greatly intertwined.
John Hopkins researchers have been working to study the relationship between yeast and mental illness.
They could not prove that Candida infections cause mental disorders. Still, they were able to deduce that these two might be strongly related.16Johns Hopkins Medicine Yeast Infection Linked to Mental Illness Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2016
People suffering from depression often complain about feeling tired. They also experience other symptoms like bloating, rectal itching, brain fog, itchy ears, eczema, and oral thrush.
These additional symptoms point towards the involvement of fungi-related infections.
According to research, chronic Candida infection is a potential cause of chronic fatigue syndrome.17R E Cater 2ndChronic intestinal candidiasis as a possible etiological factor in the chronic fatigue syndrome Med Hypotheses. 1995
Similarly, People with Candida overgrowth are more likely to suffer from mental illness than people who don’t have the infection.
A study done on mice showed an increase in the appearance of anxiety-like symptoms in the mice infected with C. albicans.18Laura Markey , Andrew Hooper , Laverne C Melon , Samantha Baglot , Matthew N Hill , Jamie Maguire , Carol A Kumamoto, Colonization with the commensal fungus Candida albicans perturbs the gut-brain axis through dysregulation of endocannabinoid signaling Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2020
According to a case-control study, a group of men suffering from schizophrenia more often had a history of Candida.19Emily G Severance, Kristin L Gressitt, Catherine R Stallings, Emily Katsafanas, Lucy A Schweinfurth, Christina L Savage, Maria B Adamos, Kevin M Sweeney, Andrea E Origoni, Sunil Khushalani, F Markus Leweke, Faith B Dickerson & Robert H Yolken Candida albicans exposures, sex specificity and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder nature. 2016
Similarly, the same study conferred the relationship between Candida positivity and memory deficit in women suffering from schizophrenia.
According to another research, female patients with vulvovaginal Candidiasis (RVCC) were more likely to develop some sort of mental illness. These women suffered from symptoms like mood swings, stress, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, and depression.20Zeinab Moshfeghy, Somayeh Tahari, Roksana Janghorban, Fatemeh Sadat Najib, Arash Mani, and Mehrab Sayadi, Association of sexual function and psychological symptoms including depression, anxiety and stress in women with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis J Turk Ger Gynecol Assoc. 2020
Thus, in the light of these studies, we can conclude the interrelationship between C. albicans and mental disorders.
Therefore, a doctor looking to treat these disorders should consider the involvement of this microorganism as well.