When it comes to interstitial cystitis and candida overgrowth they can often run congruently. However, that is just the beginning. Many people with IC also suffer from additional problems such as digestive issues, autoimmune diseases, hormone imbalance, brain fog, chronic UTI’s, fatigue, food intolerances, and chronic yeast infections. It’s believed that these are often caused by gut dysbiosis. Considering the American Diet is high in sugars and carbs, it’s no surprise that Candida overgrowth is at an all-time high.
Candida (yeast) typically live in small amounts in your mouth and intestines and its job is to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. When your body is in balance the good bacteria in your gut keep your Candida levels in check. However, when Candida overgrowth occurs creating an overproduction, the situation can wreak havoc on the body. It’s at this point that the intestinal wall becomes compromised, which in turn permeates the gut lining causing leaky gut. Candida can be difficult to eradicate due to its sophisticated ability to change shape in order to protect itself. Once in the bloodstream, Candida can begin to attack other tissues, colonizing areas such as the skin (eczema), mouth (thrush), brain (brain fog), vagina (yeast infection), and elsewhere.
Furthermore, once leaky gut is in play, candida is not the only thing breaching the barrier. Substances such as undigested food particles, toxins, viruses, and bacteria are suddenly able to pass through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream. In response to these invaders, the immune system steps up and begins to fire off inflammation as it gives an all-out effort to kill the offender and to protect you, the host. Without addressing the situation, a long term problem occurs and the immune system loses the ability to handle the stress. At this point, the immune system becomes weakened by the onslaught of invaders, eventually becoming so taxed that it no longer fires accurately. With enough time, one’s autoimmune condition can become a full-fledged autoimmune disease as the immune system becomes confused and begins attacking its own tissues.
Signs of Candida Overgrowth
- Vaginal, jock, or rectal itching
- Brain fog
- White coating on tongue
- Cravings for sweets and carbs
- Chronic allergies or sinus issues
- Digestive issues (bloating, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea)
- Urinary tract infections
- Mood issues
The best and most effective approach is to get to the root cause of Candida and remove any and all offenders. As mentioned above, Candida overgrowth is fueled by a diet high in sugar and carbs. However, fermented foods and alcohol also feed active Candida infections. Other factors that can alter the gut’s microbiome can include certain medications like birth control pills, steroids, and antibiotics. The imbalance can provide the perfect environment for the growth of Candida.
Finally, we know that stress affects our health in many ways, but chronic stress impairs the immune system. Since 70% of our immune system is located in our gut, chronic stress can affect our digestive system.
The histamine connection
Let’s take a moment and dive a little deeper on this topic. Many with IC also have Mast Cell Activation Disorder (MCAD). This condition is characterized by either the accumulation of genetically altered mast cells (mastocytosis), or overactive mast cells (mast cell activation syndrome), or both. Mast cells are white blood cells found in connective tissues throughout the entire body, and they play a significant role in how the immune system responds to certain bacteria and parasites, including candida. When triggered, mast cells release their granules including histamine, heparin, and cytokines. Research shows that candida triggers histamine release. Many clinicians now believe that MCAD is a more accurate description of histamine intolerance. There are a number of contributing factors aside from excess histamine production which attribute to histamine intolerance including genetic mutations, poor methylation, and an enzyme deficiency of diamine oxidase (DAO).
Testing for Candida includes a blood test to check IgG, IgA, and IgM Candida antibodies in your blood, A Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology x3, a urine organix Dysbiosis test. It’s important to note that even these tests are not 100% definitive.
Steps to addressing Candida Overgrowth
- The best and most effective way to treat Candida overgrowth is to starve it. This means you need to remove foods from your diet that feed them. By cutting out refined sugar and alcohol, and limiting the amount of fruit (1-2 servings), natural sweeteners, carbohydrates, grains, and vegetables high in starch, you remove the very “food” that Candida needs to thrive. If possible, avoid antibiotics or steroids, and opt for bioidentical hormones if necessary to address hormone imbalance.
- Researchers at Tufts recently found that a diet rich in coconut oil reduces the amount of Candida albicans in the gut of mice by 90%. This means that you will need to consume foods rich in coconut oil, which may be even more effective than focusing solely on a candida diet. In fact, you may find it far more beneficial to focus on a low-histamine diet rather than the candida diet since histamine intolerance seems to be a major culprit in IC. You can also use coconut oil topically if needed.
- An additional approach to attack Candida can be through the use of a number of supplements. Caprylic Acid serves to create an inhospitable environment for yeast to live in, oil of oregano has antibacterial and antifungal properties and is effective against Candida, garlic is antibacterial, Berberine fights harmful microorganisms, curcumin & turmeric are antifungal, Milk Thistle cleanses the liver aiding in detoxification, and clove oil and Thyme oil have shown to be effective against candida biofilms. This, of course, is not a full list but it should be fairly effective in addressing candida overgrowth.
- If you struggle with histamine intolerance you may need additional support. A genetic mutation or DAO deficiency will impair your body’s ability to get rid of excess histamine. Histamine Scavenger from Methylgenetic nutrition aids in the body’s ability to support normal histamine levels. Dr. Amy Myers sells a supplement called Histazyme that contains diamine oxide (DAO) that helps break down food-derived histamine and supports the immune system’s response.
- You may benefit from digestive enzymes. Pure encapsulations Digestive Enzymes with or without Betaine HCI helps support digestion, nutrient bioavailability, and absorption. If you take the Digestive enzyme with Betaine HCI but experience a mild burning sensation in your stomach after taking it this means you have stomach acid and should to either decrease your dosage or stick to the Digestive Enzyme without HCI.
- You will need a good probiotic to help repopulate the good bacteria in your gut. I highly recommend MegaSporeBiotic which is currently one of the best on the market.
Remember that it is important to get to the root cause of whatever the issue is, and when it comes to Candida Overgrowth it can definitely increase interstitial cystitis symptoms, as well as play a role in UTIs and histamine intolerance. Diet and Lifestyle changes are your first line of defense, and they can serve as your strongest armor against autoimmunity and chronic inflammation.
If you are looking to address interstitial cystitis head-on you can find everything you need to know in my book How I Got My Life Back; My Journey with Interstitial Cystitis available on Now.