The Connection Between Candida and the Immune System

By: Jeff Levin, R.N.C.

There is much concern these days to make sure that our immune system is functioning at peak efficiency, particularly as we are witnessing an increasing abundance of diseases that are caused by immune system deficiency, such as Aids, cancer and others.

Pollution from our food, water, air, electromagnetic radiation, not to speak of our stressful lifestyles, is also effecting our immune systems. However, we are seeing a dramatic rise in a variety of seemingly unconnected conditions which include fatigue, digestive disturbances, food and environmental allergies, emotional disturbances, weight disorders, headaches, "brain fog", urinary and reproductive problems. In many cases, this broad spectrum of symptoms is caused by a condition known as Candida Albicans, Chronic yeast Syndrome, Candidiasis or just simply Candida.

What is Candida Albicans?

Candida Albicans is a single-celled yeast that inhabits our digestive tracts. In a healthy body there exists a correct balance between "friendly" and "unfriendly" (aerobic and anaerobic) bacteria and so long as a balanced ecology exists between these bacteria in the colon, all is well. However, when that delicate balance is disrupted through excessive consumption of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, steroidal type drugs or sugar, the candida yeast gets out of control and the following chain reaction begins to occur:

1. When the beneficial or friendly bacteria have been destroyed, the yeast gets out of control and begins to multiply.

2. The relatively harmless yeast begins to develop into an invasive, moldlike form ( tiny threadlike structures), that invade and penetrate the intestinal wall, producing microscopic holes, and causing it to become leaky.

3. This triggers the immune system to attack the invading yeast.

4. The yeast toxins and undigested food particles find their way into the bloodstream through the microscopic holes and the immune system, not recognising these foreign invaders, is alerted and goes on the attack.

5. The intestines become inflamed and malabsorbtion results. This is initially triggered by the immune system's attack on yeasts which enter through the weakened intestinal wall.

6. The hyperactivity of the immune system caused by this attack is stressful causing it to become exhausted. The body then becomes vulnerable to the attack of other organisms such as viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites.

7. The immune system is further suppressed due to the production of free radicals caused by the toxins released by the yeast, as well as by the attack on the yeasts themselves.

Evidence for immune suppression by Candida Albicans

The evidence of the effect of Candida Albicans on other immune deficiency conditions and autoimmune illnesses is increasing. Dr. William Crook M.D. is his book, "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and The Yeast Connection" reports that in 1967, a Japanese bacteriologist, after studying Candida Albicans for 7 years, found a potent lethal toxin called canditoxin from a virulent strain of Candida Albicans . They reported it's effect on the immune system on several occasions. "...Upon Candida Albican's infection the toxin produced in the invaded tissues may act as an immunosuppressant to impair host defense mechanisms involving cellular immunity...".

Dr. Orkin Truss M.D. in his book "The Missing Diagnosis" made observations regarding the dramatic improvement of symptoms of several autoimmune diseases after treatment of candidiasis. Those include chronic bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, erythemotosus, myasthenia, gravis and others.

Steven S. Witkin Ph.D., Director of Immunology Division, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Cornell University Medical School, New York, has, during the past decade, studied many women with recurrent vaginal yeast infections stated "I think the evidence is now very good that Candida can be involved in the induction of immune suppression."

It is sometimes difficult to know whether the immune system dysfunction causes the candidiasis or whether the candidiasis causes the immune system dysfunction. Apparently both scenarios are correct. It is clear that in either case one needs to get to the root of the problem by making the necessary dietary, lifestyle and attitudinal changes, whilst undergoing a recom­mended treatment.


A detailed discussion of specific treatments for candida albicans is beyond the scope of this article. However, several basic steps need to be taken to balance this condition, preferably under a practitioner's supervision.

1. Cleansing and Detoxification to rid the body of accumulated toxins from

- environmental pollution, poor eating habits, stress
- the yeasts themselves
- constipation and a slowing down of the metabolism caused by candida.

2. Improving digestion and assimilation to enhance absorption of nutrients. Digestive enzymes are often needed for this purpose.

3. Elimination of parasites - often a major player.

4. Elimination of yeasts and fungi - there are a variety of anti-fungal supple­ments available, such as caprylic acid, grapefruit seed extract (also an excellent anti-parasite), garlic, taheebo tea etc.

5. Replacement of the beneficial bacteria with acidophilis / bifidus supplements.

6. Yeast-free diet - eliminating brewers and bakers yeast, sugars, refined flours, vinegar, processed and fermented foods, alcohol, condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, mustard and soy sauce, dried foods, mushrooms, and any foods that one may be sensitive to. Milk products, wheat and corn, are common causes of sensitivity to foods.

7. Protecting the body from free-radical deterioration. Anti-oxidants such as betacarotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, methionine, SOD, selenium, etc.

8. Boosting the immune system.

9. Lifestyle changes to protect oneself from molds, pollutants, electromag­netic radiation, and other stressors.

10. Emotional and mental changes that would contribute to empowering the immune system.

The most important step is to take charge of the healing process with a supportive team of health practitioners who understand this condition . As you take responsibility for healing yourself from candida, you empower your immune system.


Crook, William G. M.D. CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME AND THE YEAST CONNECTION, Jackson, Tenn. Professional Books.

Trowbridge, John P, M.D. & Walker M, M.D. THE YEAST SYNDROME Bantam Books.

Sereda, Andrew Wm., M.D. THE MANY FACES OF YEAST Edmonton, Alb. Amaranthine Press, 1989.
De Schepper, Luc, M.D. CANDIDA 1990

Philpott, William & Kalita, Dwight. BRAIN ALLERGIES: THE PSYCHONUTRIENT CONNECTION New Canaan, Keats 1980.

Jeff Levin, R.N.C., is a registered nutritional consultant in private practice at the Natural Health Institute in Toronto. For the past several years, he has actively promoted health and nutrition by lectures and workshops both in North America and Europe.

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