Candida, Mental Health & Fatigue: A Scientific Review
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness. Many of these people have been prescribed medication to treat conditions such as depression, ADHD, anxiety, and hundreds of other cataloged mental disorders.
But what if these mental illnesses weren’t the result of an imbalance in the brain, but instead were caused by something as simple as a yeast infection?
Well, we are not about to make a ridiculous statement like “All depression is caused by candida” or anything like that, but today we’re going to honestly review what effects an overgrowth of candida can have on your body and your mental health.
Furthermore, we’re going to provide guidance on how to resolve a candida infection.
What is Candida?
Let’s start from the beginning. There are three basic types of microorganisms that live in and around the human body and are generally classified as “germs.”
Many of them are beneficial for the body, but as the Greek poet Hesiod said in 700BC, “moderation is best in all things.” The three types of germs are:
- Virus: A virus is the simplest form of microorganism, and it can do nothing by itself. It survives and expands by infecting other cells and using them to replicate and survive by increasing in number. Viruses are the cause of common illnesses like the cold and flu, as well as a slew of more threatening diseases.
- Bacteria: Bacteria are single-celled organisms that, unlike viruses, can survive on their own. They feed on the material in their environment to replicate. Many forms of “good” bacteria live in your digestive system and are an essential part of your body’s ability to digest the food we eat. “Bad” bacteria can cause infections, food poisoning, or very serious illnesses such as tuberculosis.
- Fungus: A fungus is a complex microorganism that has multiple cells in a scientific category called eukaryotes. Fungi are generally classified as either environmental or commensal – which simply means that some fungi live outside our body in the environment while others live within or on our bodies. Mushrooms are a common example of environmental fungi, while commensal fungi play critical roles in our body’s internal ecosystem. Both environmental and commensal fungi can be harmful to the body under certain conditions.
Candida albicans (the common form of candida) is a yeast, which is a fungus. Almost everyone has small amounts of candida in various parts of their bodies, including your mouth, digestive tract, skin, and reproductive systems of both men and women. In small, normal quantities, candida is generally harmless.
It only becomes a problem when it begins to multiply uncontrollably.
Candida Overgrowth: A Modern Problem
Candida, like all forms of yeast, feeds on sugar and carbohydrates. It becomes a problem in the human body when the yeast grows uncontrollably – which often occurs in people who eat a diet high in sugar or processed carbs. An overgrowth of candida can also occur when a person:
- Takes antibiotics (which kill the good bacteria in your system, leaving room for candida to grow)
- Drinks a high quantity of alcohol
- Takes oral contraceptives
- Has diabetes
- Has chronically high stress levels
- Has a weakened immune system
One of the most common forms of candida overgrowth occurs in a woman’s vagina, which is known as a vaginal yeast infection. According to modern research, it’s estimated that up to 75% of women will suffer from at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime. Other common forms of candida overgrowth include:
- Oral thrush
- Genital infections and urinary tract infections
- Chronic sinus infections
- Skin and nail fungal infections, such as ringworm and athlete’s foot
The most severe form of candida infection is called candidiasis, which occurs when candida enters your bloodstream and begins wreaking havoc on your entire system.
And here’s a fact for you: Candida is the number one cause of yeast infections in human beings.
Candida, Digestive Health and Fatigue
There is one insidious effect of candida that we have not yet discussed, but that plays an important role in your overall physical and mental health: digestion.
An overgrowth of candida in your digestive system does not usually present visible symptoms like rashes, sinus problems, or white gunk appearing on your tongue. Instead, it simply prevents your body from properly digesting food and absorbing critical nutrients. It also begins to break down your intestinal walls, causing leaky gut and releasing toxic byproducts directly into your system.
A magnesium deficiency is a common side effect of candida overgrowth. Magnesium is part of over 300 biochemical reactions in your body. Magnesium has a direct relation to your energy levels, your nervous system, and blood sugar levels – and it is also used to eliminate the waste products of candida in your digestive system.
Put simply, the more Candida you have in your body, the more magnesium in your system is used to flush out waste, with less of this vital nutrient available to support your other body functions.
As a result, those who suffer from too much candida also often suffer from magnesium deficiency, which causes fatigue. One study has even shown that prolonged candida overgrowth can cause chronic fatigue syndrome!
Candida and Mental Health: The Connection
- Bipolar disorder
- Loss of memory
- Difficulty concentrating
- Brain fog
- Neurodegenerative symptoms
Several studies have been done on people who suffer from mental illness, and the results were astonishing. Over the course of six case studies, every single person responded with a reduction in mental symptoms after being treated for fungal infections – and none of them had visible symptoms of candida overgrowth.
This has been confirmed with further studies over the years, which further cement the basic take aways that:
- Many people suffer from Candida infections without knowing it, and
- Candida infections are linked to mental illness
How to Treat and Prevent Candida Infections
If your candida infection is serious or has visible symptoms (such as oral thrush, rashes, or a vaginal yeast infection), you may want to see your local physician and get a prescription antifungal. These drugs come in many forms and can help rapidly kill the candida overgrowth.
The efficacy of these medications is, unfortunately, limited by the strength of your innate immune system. Candida cells contain tough skeletal walls (primarily composed of chitin) that help protect them from being easily identified and targeted by your immune system and medication – especially when your immune system is compromised. Furthermore, most antifungal medications cannot pass the blood-brain barrier, which makes it exceedingly difficult for medication treat a candida infection that has spread to your brain.
But – hope is NOT lost. There is a solution: Starving the candida so it dies on its own.
One of the most effective methods of eliminating a Candida infection is to simply cut off its food source. Going on a “Candida cleanse” is a common, effective method of stopping Candida that involves cutting out:
- Refined carbohydrates
- Refined oils and fats
- High-lactose dairy products
- Sugary beverages
There are many excellent dietary plans available online, and you will probably find that one or two months one of these diets will lead to dramatic improvements in your physical and mental health. Adding high-quality probiotics to your diet can also help, as probiotics assist the “good” bacteria in your gut and help them get the candida under control.