by Bruce Semon, M.D., Ph.D.
This page is based on Dr. Bruce Semon’s clinical experience and research. This page discusses how yeast can affect health. For detailed explanations, including an more case studies, and how you can treat these health conditions–we recommend that you read An Extraordinary Power to Heal.
What is this yeast, Candida albicans?
Candida albicans is termed a yeast or a yeast-like fungus, which is found in the intestinal tract of human beings. Yeast cells are much like our own cells in terms of size. Yeast cells have a capsule. Yeast display receptors (branch like stuctures coming out from the surface of the cell), much as our own cells do. In the intestinal tract, yeast share space with bacteria. Both bacteria and yeast can attach (adhere) to the inside wall of the intestinal tract. The good bacteria which adhere protect us from the adherence of “bad bugs” such as Salmonella and Shigella. These bacteria both cause diarrhea. Candida albicans unfortunately can adhere also. Bacteria are much smaller and do not resemble our own cells. The usual bacteria present are benign and do not harm us. The use of antibiotics can clear out these more benign bacteria and make room for yeast and for other bacteria which can cause disease.
Candida is not the same as the common yeast used in making bread. The common bread yeast is called Saccharomyces and this yeast does not usually grow inside of humans. Candida and Saccharomyces both make chemicals such as alcohols.
Why is Candida harmful?
Even though the presence of this yeast Candida is commonly regarded as normal, the intestinal yeast is capable of and frequently does cause major health problems. Intestinal Candida causes major health problems by a number of mechanisms. The first of these mechanisms is by the production of toxic chemicals, which are then absorbed into the human body. The second mechanism is by causing the body’s immune system to react to Candida. Unfortunately the body¹s immune system cannot clear Candida completely. Then the immune response to Candida can remain turned on, which leads to health problems. The third mechanism is that Candida aids ” bad bugs” and helps them grow.
People have asked me if this yeast does anything good for human beings. The short answer is “no.” To use an analogy, if this yeast was your neighbor, it would be as if living next to a leaky toxic chemical plant, one of whose products is a nerve poison (hydrogen sulfide). Not only that, but this neighbor is ready to invade. You must employ a police force to keep it out. Gradually, this neighbor wears the people next to it down until they are weak and sick.
Is Candida normal? I do not think that having a neighbor making nerve poison is in any sense normal. And the nerve poison is only the beginning of the story.
What are yeast related disorders? These disorders are many and range from diarrhea and depression to fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. Briefly, the yeast Candida comes into our intestines from the food we eat. There, in the intestine, the yeast can attach to the inner intestinal lining. Yeast can cause health problems by making toxic chemicals. The chemicals which yeast make literally poison the nerves. The body’s immune system continuously tries to rid the body of Candida by attacking Candida. However, the yeast evades and tricks the body’s immune system, which leads to health problems as the body continues to try to get rid of the yeast. The yeast can affect different people in different ways. In some people, yeast chemicals slow down the brain. In others, yeast causes the body to appear to attack itself, as in fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Antibiotics cause yeast problems to become worse. In our bodies, in the normal state, yeast and bacteria are in balance. When we take antibiotics, we upset that balance. Antibiotics kill the bacteria in our gut and elsewhere. Killing this bacteria opens up space for the yeast to grow. In many people, the yeast and bacteria never regain a normal balance. We see this in reactions to antibiotics that may include diarrhea, constipation, rashes, itchiness, thrush (a yeast infection of the mouth), hives (a yeast infection of the skin) and women’s yeast infections.
We also eat foods that contain chemicals similar to the yeast chemicals.
By treating the yeast inside us, and by eliminating or limiting the yeast chemicals we eat, people can regain control of their health. So, the treatment consists of a taking a non-toxic, non-absorbed medicine called “nystatin” and changing what we eat.
The History of Anti-Yeast Treatment and Candida Diet
Many people wonder why my treatment is different from the treatment that other people recommend. To understand this, you need to understand how anti-yeast treatment came to be. This goes back to the 1960’s, starting with Dr. Orian Truss Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Truss, an allergist, describes these problems in his book The Missing Diagnosis. He wrote that he had a female patient in 1961 suffering from both allergies and migraine headaches, depression and premenstrual syndrome. She was allergic to the yeast Candida albicans and he, as allergists do, gave her an extract of the yeast Candida albicans. He found that not only did her headache resolve but so did her depression. He then theorized that the yeast was making some toxic product which was then absorbed, causing the brain and other parts of the body to suffer disease.
This finding has led to many books published by different people about how treating yeast can be helpful for a number of problems. The main writer about anti-yeast treatment is Dr. William Crook, whose many books have been helpful to people in understanding that they have a yeast problem. The main thrust of anti-yeast treatment is that yeast must be eliminated from the diet, and treated through anti-fungal medications. Dr. Truss recommended a certain type of diet. His diet was recommended by others such as Dr. William Crook in The Yeast Connection Handbook. The most important concept at this point is that effective anti-yeast treatment depends first on the proper diet and for some problems also on the use of anti-yeast medicine, the main one of which is a non-absorbed medicine called nystatin. The treatment that I prescribe differs from that in other books.
Dr. Semon’s Candida Diet and Anti-Yeast Treatment
I have studied all of these writings extensively, as well as academic studies done on yeast and toxicology. Based on my research and my clinical treatment, I have arrived at the following understanding of the yeast problem.
Yeast cause many problems.
Fortunately, there is a tool to deal with this noxious neighbor. Candida can be dealt with in a non-toxic way. A change of diet is very important for fighting yeast. This diet is described in our first book, Feast Without Yeast, which is both a guidebook to implementing a yeast/wheat /dairy and allergen free diet and a cookbook.
The diet I recommend in An Extraordinary Power to Heal and in Feast Without Yeast is not the same as that originally recommended by Dr. Truss. Dr. Truss based his diet on the fact that yeast prefer carbohydrate to protein, so he suggested a diet of high protein and low carbohydrate. There are a number of problems with this diet. If you read reviews of my books on Amazon.com and other places, you will see that people are confused because my diet IS different. I allow many foods that Dr. Truss would not have allowed. However, my clinical experience is that my diet is much more effective.
Here I suggest a better approach to designing an anti-yeast diet, which works in clinical practice. This diet is based on the principle that to prevent yeast from growing in the intestinal tract, we should take away from the yeast everything in food which helps them grow. While such foods may seem obvious, they are not so obvious. I will give the list of foods to be excluded and the reasons why.
The First part of Anti-Yeast Treatment: the Candida Diet
To begin to understand the proper Candida diet, we need to know two things. First, we need to understand how yeast and bacteria share space in the intestinal tract. We need to leave the bacteria alone so they can grow back after the yeast is gone. Not all bacteria is bad. Some is very helpful. If the bacteria cannot come back or grow again, then the yeast will come back instead. The diet is extremely important in enabling bacteria, not yeast, to come back.
Second, before talking about different diets to eliminate yeast, we need to understand that the average American diet contains growth factors which will favor yeast growth and keep the bacteria down. Growth factors are things that help yeast grow. The average American diet can overcome the anti-yeast effects of even the best anti-yeast drugs. The average American diet will help yeast grow back even after the use of anti-fungal drugs.
To arrive at the best anti-yeast diet, one would exclude foods which contain growth factors for yeast and exclude foods which have chemicals which kill bacteria and which contain toxic yeast chemicals. This is the diet described in An Extraordinary Power to Heal and in Feast Without Yeast.
Dr. Truss recommended a diet of high protein, (usually meat and fish), and low carbohydrate. In addition, he recommended excluding sugar and the yeast from bread. The reason for this diet is a laboratory finding that yeast grow better on some energy sources (carbohydrate) rather than others (protein).
Limiting the easiest energy source (carbohydrate) for yeast may be helpful in the short run, but not necessarily in the long run. Yeast can grow on any source of energy. Yeast just do better on some energy sources than other ones. Changing the energy source may slow Candida but will not stop it.
A different approach, which is my approach, is to exclude anti-bacterial chemicals and foods containing growth factors for yeast. There are foods in the diet which help yeast grow. If such foods are removed, we will severely limit intestinal yeast growth.
The idea of excluding foods which contain anti-bacterial chemicals and foods containing growth factors for yeast is not the standard anti-yeast diet. Nonetheless, such a diet may work considerably better than trying to limit the best energy source for yeast. I have found, in my clinical practice, that this diet does work.
The basic principle of excluding foods containing anti-bacterial chemicals and other toxic yeast chemicals and foods containing growth factors for yeast is the basic principle behind the diet of An Extraordinary Power to Heal and Feast Without Yeast. The reason for writing An Extraordinary Power to Heal is to show the power of such a diet in fighting yeast. But first the question is asked, “In what foods are all these anti-bacterial chemicals and all these growth factors for yeast”?
Foods to Eliminate
This section is just an outline to get you started. For much more detailed information and instructions on how to eliminate foods that cause yeast problems, see An Extraordinary Power to Heal and Feast Without Yeast.
The two main foods to eliminate are Vinegar and Malt. Vinegar includes any type of vinegar, including cider and rice vinegar. Malt includes anything containing the word “malt.” To see how common the word “malt” is watch the shopping video!
Any time that yeast or mold or fungus is allowed to grow, these organisms produce anti-bacterial chemicals. These organisms do this because they want to keep the bacteria from utilizing the same foods for themselves. All these chemicals clear out room for yeast by killing bacteria. As long as such chemicals are present, yeast will have an easier time. The bacteria will not be able to grow if there are chemicals to kill them. Getting rid of the yeast in the intestinal tract is very difficult without first excluding these anti-bacterial chemicals. So what foods must be excluded?
Anything which has been subjected to yeast or fungus during processing potentially has anti-bacterial chemicals. One obvious source are alcoholic beverages but there are many other such foods in the diet. The first such food is vinegar. For example, vinegar, literally spoiled wine, contains many chemicals, one of which, present in large quantity, is ethyl acetate. Ethyl acetate is used in industrial food processing such as bread making to keep the bacteria down without touching the yeast. This chemical kills bacteria at the same time that it leaves yeast alone. In addition, vinegar also contains a number of toxic alcohols as well as methanol . These alcohols will also kill bacteria, besides being toxic to the brain. In other words, vinegar contains chemicals which are used to promote yeast growth by killing bacteria. But vinegar is present in many foods, from ketchup and mustard to salad dressing to bread. To stop intestinal yeast, one must stop eating vinegar.
The next main food to eliminate is malt. Malt is a specially sprouted barley which is sprouted and then heated. The resulting product is used as the raw material for beer. Malt is sweet and flavorful and is also sold as a sugar substitute. The best way to grow yeast in the laboratory is to put the yeast on some malt. Malt contains growth factors for yeast. Malt is used to grow yeast when people really want to know if it is there. That means they want to give the yeast the best chance possible to grow. Malt must be excluded from the diet to prevent yeast from growing in the intestinal tract.
Malt also contains chains of sugar molecules. The science here is complex but these chains of sugar molecules could also act to inhibit the interactions between immune cells. The inhibition of such interactions results in decreased immune response in general and to yeast in particular. This inhibition of the immune system makes it very difficult to clear intestinal yeast.
When people exclude such foods as vinegar and malt from their diets, yeast related problems improve because the intestinal yeast diminish in activity and quantity. The use of the diet described in Feast Without Yeast will help people with yeast problems be on the right diet. In my upcoming book, I will give case studies on how patients with even very difficult medical problems improved with this non-toxic therapy.
The Second Part of Anti-Yeast Treatment: Nystatin
We have just explained that the first part of anti-yeast treatment is changing diet. You start with eliminating vinegar and malt, and continue with the foods recommended in our books.
The second part of anti-yeast treatment is using the non-toxic, non-absorbed anti-yeast medicine Nystatin. Nystatin kills yeast in the intestine. Although there are natural products available that say they kill yeast, Nystatin is the most effective. It is non-toxic and you can stay on it for years without problems, if necessary.
Nystatin is only available by prescription in the United States. I prescribe it as oral powder, which can be put into capsules or mixed with water or honey.
Nystatin is not a systemic anti-fungal like Ketaconozole (Nizoril(TM)) or Diflucan. Neither of these medications are as effective as Nystatin for this problem, because Nystatin works directly in the intestines.
So there you have it. The full anti-yeast therapy consists of the Candida diet (Feast Without Yeast diet) and taking Nystatin. You can start with eliminating Vinegar and Malt. You will need to see a health care provider to get a prescription for Nystatin. In Feast Without Yeast, and in An Extraordinary Power to Heal, we give you several lists that you can go through to get the best results. These lists are prioritized for easy use.