Fungal infections… That oh so NOT sexy sounding thing that does however hit quite a few of us at some point in our lives. We’re tackling this topic in my new ‘geek out corner’ with many more interesting topics to come. It’s no secret I’m a science nerd, nor is it a secret that I’ve had my fair share of health challenges in my time. I am delighted to have Martin Mayer, Biomedical scientist from Concept Holistic Health, shed a little light on these tiny things and why, if not kept in check, they could become a serious hindrance to your health, resulting in chronic symptoms and vicious cycles. If this helps just one person closer to an answer, then we are thrilled.
Fungal infections to varying degrees are common. In fact, the very pathogen who starts to “eat”us immediately after our death are fungi not bacteria or viruses, worms or insects. Fungi have such a close enmeshed biological and biochemical relationship with us humans that it is impossible not to have them, somewhere in or on our body. Our body got used to them through evolution and fungi got used to us as well: Fungi share common morphological and structural cellular features with us – believe it or not, even their genetic set up has many similarities with humans: Fungi have b-type and c-type cytochromes which higher plants lack and which are found in animals and humans, only. And certain DNA programming within fungi, particularly the translation of the DNA coding called “UGA”is translated into Tryptophan – same with us.
There are many pathogens living in happy harmony with us ( symbiosis) and fungi are one of the many. Latest research suggests that some fungi get into tissues and are not recognized and killed by the immune-system. You probably know already about the gut flora, consisting of good and bad bacteria and viruses, but very little is known about types and quantities of gut fungi.
Fungi are very resilient, they survive under extreme conditions which bacteria or virus cannot. Expose them to heat, cold, acidity….they will survive. Even under X-ray bombardment they will survive much better than bacteria or viruses. What is their favourite food? Sugar. That means obviously sugar in all it’s forms, including fruit, dried fruit, rice, potato, pasta and alcohol.
So what are some common types?
Fungi include a wide range of moulds, yeasts (candida) and mushrooms. They are scavengers and eat nearly anything organic (now I don’t mean organic kale, I mean organic matter) and particularly thrive on sugar. They can hibernate as spores to survive even better, and then become active again after years, if the environment happens to become more favourable.
Candida Albicans – A well known and very opportunistic yeast fungus.
How can one know that a fungal infection might be at play symptomatically?
Fungal infections can manifest with a variety of symptoms. They are either on the skin, and then they are visible with typical pigmentation changes and round areas of growth. Internally, they are most commonly in the intestine but can migrate to or present in other parts of the body – gall bladder or lungs for example. They become noticeable through feelings of weakness, thrush, white tongue,bloated tummy, gas or even pain in the intestine. They can have a dangerous impact on the nervous and endocrine systems as well. They could trigger autism, depression, thyroid disfunction, hormone imbalance or even delayed development as a child.
Treating a fungal infection is difficult and takes time, because if we use a really potent anti fungal medication we actually stand risk to harm our own body as well. As I explained before – you don’t want to play a full game of wipe out on your insides. It can take a long time to recover from that and you of course lose too much good stuff in the process.
This is the very reason anti fungal medications are so dangerous, particular over long term usage. There can be significant toxic side effects, because if they work to kill the fungus they will have a toxic impact on us as well, by definition.
In my clinic we have had several cases recently where patients had taken anti fungal medication as a chronic fatigue medication for many months on end at the suggestion of their doctor, and in one case the patient had eventaken it for 9 months with terrible side effects manifesting themselves: He had digestive disorders, diarrhoea, increases liver values, depression, foggy thinking, strained kidneys etc. It’s not easy short term stuff to recover from such an array of side effects.
So if a long term treatment with anti fungals isn’t the solution, then what is?
Well, the best way to treat fungal diseases is by strengthening your own immune system and of course identifying what type of fungus it is. This can be done with a special test unfortunately not covered by Medicare. Once we’ve identified it, we then set about starving the particular fungus by not providing him the food he needs to multiply. The fungus will not be killed as such, but becomes then more manageable through the immune system and shrink in population size.
Here is a case study where someone with fungal overgrowth was wrongly treated. It shows the magnitude of the problems that we found in testing, followed by the healing protocol we took.
A 26 young male patient presented with chronic fatigue in our clinic.
His previous specialist doctor prescribed antifungal medications, antibiotics and vitamin C. Note, anti fungal medication isn’t even that commonly prescribed for chronic fatigue, however here it had been.
The patient took this suite of medications for 9 month because he was told that it would take quite a while to kill the responsible bacteria and fungi which make him fatigue.
We tested his Neurotransmitters and performed an Organic Acid Test – an expensive but extremely useful test that shows environmental toxins and biochemical data from the digestive tracts, nervous system plus the mitochondria energy output present in the patient’s body. The results showed that his Glutamate was 200% higher than the reference range, however his Dopamine and all other excitatory Neurotransmitters including Epinephrine and Nor-Epinephrine where very low, below threshold. This would make him feel “fatigue for sure”: He was also hyper- stimulated with reduced ability to transfer the signals into biochemical action.
The Organic acid test showed a high level of upper gut pathogenic microbes. As a result of 9 month antibiotics those pathogens became multi drug resistant and not sensitive to antibiotics anymore. A significant high level of organic pollutants, such as Toluene and Styrene was detected as well. In addition, mitochondrial activities including the production of energy in his Krebs Cycle was greatly compromised. The Krebs Cycle is the biochemical center of energy production within each Mitochondrion in every living cell. (Alexx translation: It’s your cell’s ‘mission control’. Super important. When something’s blocked in the messaging there, then cell energy is low and of course, you don’t feel great)
He had severe deficiencies in many vitamins and minerals, as well. The patient told us in confidence that he had a lot of drugs in the past, predominantly the party drug “cocaine”, and that he did and still does binge drink on week ends. So this was the explanation of why he had so many toxic chemicals in his body blocking his mitochondria from being able to produce sufficient energy, along with why he was drained from vital Vitamins.
This case is not a one off in our clinic. In fact we have seen many cases like that in the last 30 years and it is a good sample how a treatment with antifungal medications could go wrong.
Firstly, antifungal medications cannot solve chronic fatigue. There can be a few exemptions to the rule, but in most cases it is about the mitochondria’s energy production and neurotransmitter biochemical imbalance, or of course also hormonal and thyroidal issues. Liver, kidneys and environmental toxicity or heavy metals could be the cause as well. In any case this patient was wrongly treated, evidently because his symptoms had worsened.
So what did we do?
We treated the patient by educating him that he cannot combine antifungal mediations and /or antibiotics with binge drinking, because it would create a dangerous toxic mix for his liver and brain. Secondly we informed him, based on doctor’s MIMS recommendations ( MIMs is a pharmaceutical bible if you like, listing all drugs, side effects, usage, which enzymes they pass through to be utilised and more) that his antibiotics and antifungal medications should not be taken for 9 months, but only 1 week or so.
So after we changed his lifestyle and type of medications from his specialist doctor we treated his nervous system with nourishing Naturopathic herbs and relevant vitamins. We also changed his lousy diet in addition, because his diet consisted of food which were causing inflammation in his gut, causing dysfunctional Mitochondria – Mitochondria are in every living cell, from head to toe. They are the batteries and make energy for each cell. When they are defunct then the energy of the cell drops and therefore the whole tissue and organ has lower energy and lower functionality, including the brain and immune system.
We educated him about the biochemical impact of “recreational drugs” and told him that cocaine as a sample has many other chemicals in it, other than the active ingredient ”cocaine”. These chemicals place enormous stress on the brain and liver especially.
Based on the information, support and education we provided, he developed a strong motivation and worked through his issues successfully.
This particular case was not and is not unusual. We witness on a weekly basis that there is no “quick”cure for profound biochemical imbalance created through wrong medications from the doctor or pharmacist, bad foods or toxic party drugs. It is thus so important to speak to more than just one practitioner when tackling a major health concern.
Education, information, motivation, comprehensive questioning about patient’s lifestyle and detailed pathological tests are needed to have a long lasting health benefit.
What’s the easiest way to prevent fungal overgrowths?
Low sugar diet, moderate starches, lots of veggies, good sleep and probiotics or lactofermented foods which are full of probiotics. A healthy overall lifestyle of course too goes without saying.
by Martin Mayer.
Indeed, thanks Martin. I’m truly excited to be bringing you content that will offer clues and helps solve some of the trickier health issues that people experience. This example might have been a 20 something party-on-dude, but fungal overgrowth and its symptoms certainly aren’t confined to such an age, or to males. The candida issue is a HUGE one for women and children alike, in our sugar fuelled world.
This series will fortnightly demystify a number of interesting health topics and if you fancy seeing something of particular interest to you, just shout in the comments here and I’ll see about putting in a good word for you!
Have you ever healed from a fungal overgrowth or chronic fatigue?
Why not share your story if you feel comfortable? You never know who you might give hope to, who’s on the journey as well.
Martin Mayer, Bachelor Biomedical Science
Martin joined Concept Holistic Health in 1997 as a Biomedical Scientist. His particular clinical interests lie in molecular biology including DNA biomarkers, pharmacogenetics, very early disease and cancer detection and environmental toxicology. He is at the leading-edge of science in many of these areas, being able to offer testing not available elsewhere in Australia.
Martin puts science into the holistic context, interprets pathology reports into understandable language and brings pathology alive to everyone.
Martin’s scientific analysis complements Concept’s naturopathic solutions, providing an advanced, unique and effective approach to health and wellbeing.
Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. If you are experiencing any such symptoms, please see your health care practitioner.
What’s my relationship with Concept? Christine Schwedhelm is my naturopath of 10 years, with nearly 30 years experience and I really like the scientific and concrete evidence approach to healing, before throwing a bunch of pills, albeit natural ones, at the problem. Being a nerd, I take comfort in knowing that, while the testing side of things is expensive because it’s a private lab, at least we know exactly what to treat, given so many symptoms can overlap across various problems. I’ve particularly loved the psychotherapy / counselling element during the time of quitting smoking nearly 10 years ago now, or learning relaxation, or going through a hard time as a new mum. Anyway, Martin and I got chatting as they didn’t have a blog, about providing some free information and investigative pieces here, and I said, of course, yes! I take a nominal fee to cover my couple of hours editing and preparing the post for publishing and am really thrilled to bring this new dimension to the blog to life.
This is interesting. How does one go through such testing as you outlined above to diagnose this 26-year old patient?
Hi Carolyn, Im not too sure where you live but if you’re in Sydney they do the test at Concept. If you’re out of Sydney you could google Organic Acid Test and see what comes up near you 🙂