Candida & Vitamin, Mineral Deficiencies

I’ve been doing a fairly aggressive antifungal protocol, using Lufenuron (an animal medication not approved for human use) and taking quite a few herbal antifungals. Along the way, I’ve had moments of feeling wonderful, and yet the progress is not at all linear. Recently I’ve discovered how vitamin and mineral deficiencies may be harming my body’s ability to control candida overgrowth on its own, and how I may be able to solve this with simple supplementation.

For quite some time I’ve had heavy fatigue, which came on the last time I took Levaquin, a few years ago. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics contain high amounts of fluoride, a vehicle attached to the quinolone to allow penetration deep into body tissues. Fluoride binds to magnesium, so there’s reason to think those of us who have been “floxed”, that is poisoned by these powerful antibiotics, may be able to heal ourselves by improving our magnesium status.

A complicating factor for some of us: antibiotics like Levaquin and Cipro destroy beneficial barrier bacteria that keep harmful candida albicans overgrowth from occurring, and as it overgrows, candida appears to use up magnesium stores. There’s a great deal of debate about magnesium, whether supplementing it will feed candida or help us fight it off.

This study suggests magnesium can aid hyphal growth of candida, but the presence of calcium may negate that. Dr. Carolyn Dean feels strongly that magnesium supplements should be taken, not avoided. Given the controversy, supplementing magnesium seems safest to me if done in combination with an acid, to discourage fungal overgrowth, such as Betaine HCL, so that’s how I’m taking it.

How about other essential minerals? I was given IV Levaquin for food poisoning, which likely wouldn’t have happened if earlier use of antibiotics hadn’t wiped out a lot of my beneficial flora. While in the ER with a 104F temperature, I remember the nurses insisting I take two potassium capsules. They said my blood work showed dangerously low levels of this essential mineral.

Flash forward. Last night I felt anxious, I was having trouble focusing on my work. I noticed all my muscles were tense, tinnitus was loud, and my gut was full of gas, which is typical of SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. The bloating seemed to be irritating my vagal nerve, and I could tell my blood pressure was elevated. Here are the symptoms of potassium deficiency, which include bloating (due to transient neuropathy) and hypertension.

I tried sleeping, and it was impossible, so I went to the cupboard and noticed a bottle of Trisalts. It’s a blend of calcium, magnesium, and a small amount of potassium. I took a dose of this, and within 20 minutes felt the vast majority of my symptoms improving, including healthy peristalsis and no more trapped gas. This morning I woke up feeling very rested, with my nose wide open. My mood was much brighter, muscles were relaxed, and my tinnitus was barely audible.

Now a few hours later my tinnitus is totally gone. It’s hard to describe, but I just feel more grounded, present in my body and relaxed. More like my “old self”. That healthy person.

Beginning yesterday, and continuing into today, I’ve also started boosting my B vitamin intake, with a B-complex, because the last blood work I had showed my white count was in the low-normal range, and folate deficiency can worsen this. The brand I’m taking contains folate (as Metafolin®, L-5-MTHF), rather than folic acid, which has been shown to be unhealthy. Perhaps a low white count is simply a symptom of hyphal candida overgrowth, as is suggested in this article. In any case, I do notice a lift from B supplementation, which is consistent with candidiasis and impaired absorption of B6.

candida

Finally, I’m taking vitamin C with renewed interest, since it’s clear my whole body is in need of nutrition, but I was quite curious — how might vitamin C help with candidiasis? Buckle up for some exciting news: according to this study, ascorbic acid inhibits candida’s ability to transform from a benign yeast form to an aggressive hyphal infection. Hooray for that!

So here’s my plan for the days ahead: I think all my antifungal protocols are important, but they won’t result in lasting healing unless my body has the nutrients to fight the infection off and keep the fungal overgrowth in check. After last night’s solid results from simple mineral supplementation, and the tonic effect I’ve had from vitamins B and C, I am encouraged, and don’t think minerals (when taken properly) feed candida more than they aid in vital immune function.

To be continued. 🙂

Are you taking magnesium to heal from fluoroquinolone antibiotics? Have you noticed if this helps or hurts your body’s ability to cope with candida infection? How about vitamin C and its role in fighting fungal ovegrowth? Please join the conversation in the comments section, and let us know how you’re doing.

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Hookworm working, feeling great!

Today I’m 10 1/2 weeks into a 75 hookworm dose. As far as I know, I had no worms remaining when I did that top off, because stool tests for ova were negative at the time, but I have had blood work done recently suggesting the new dose is alive and well. My EOS level is quite high, which is consistent with a parasitic infection.

I should add that for nearly everyone providers won’t allow a dose of 75 at once, but in my case I’ve demonstrated a very high tolerance, and have some health issues that make hosting for longer periods difficult, so my provider was willing to make a rare exception.

How am I feeling? Fantastic. Today Spring has sprung, the air is so loaded with pollen you can see it blowing in the wind. This year I can smell all sorts of flowers and other plants in the breeze, which is a nice change of pace. In previous allergy seasons when I was not hosting hookworm I was stuck inside, huddled in a dark room next to an air purifier, and shoveling down vitamin C, the only antihistamine I could tolerate. So the scent of Spring is a wonderful, new thing.

It’s a joy to have no asthma, no sinus trouble, and my mood is also really balanced. I have more energy, no more insomnia, my skin is clearing up (less rosacea), constipation (one of many side effects of levaquin) is gone, and I’m starting to gain some healthy weight: 6 ft tall, and 160 lbs. After being underweight for the last 10 years, this is a major milestone. I now weigh what I did before I got sick with ulcerative colitis. On the IBD front, I have not had a flare in a year or more, and the last one was brief, and quite mild.

Besides the hookworm protocol, I am drinking home-brewed kefir daily, and eating raw, organic sauerkraut a few days a week. I have adopted a lower-fat “mediterranean paleo” diet, designed to keep my lipid profile optimized. This seems to be encouraging good gut flora diversity, too.

Apologies for not updating this blog sooner. I’ve been busy working, holding down more than one job, and at times working 12 days straight. Anyone who has followed my blog from the start knows how incredible this is. I feel “normal” again, but in some ways I feel better than I have in about 15 years. Seriously!

Autonomic Dysfunction

I’m still waiting to get some tests done — A brain MRI with contrast, an EEG, and flexion/extension xrays of my cervical spine to see if certain postures create greater narrowing of the spinal channel or impinge on root nerves. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to have these “attacks”, and they appear to be autonomic nerve-related: neuropathy in my face and hands, tingling in the top of my head, profuse sweating, extreme stuffy nose, high blood pressure spikes, dizziness, tinnitus, and a sensation in my body and mind like the onset of a seizure. Oh, and all of this makes me a bit anxious. One neurologist prescribed a sedative to abort them, which seems to work, but so do mega doses of vitamin C, so I’m trying to go as drug-free as I can when managing it.

What sets them off appears to be biomechanical. Last night all it took was sitting in front of the computer and shifting my weight slightly. Then I felt something slip, up high around C2 in my cervical spine, a clicking sensation was audible, then the attack started. No pain, just a lot of weird symptoms, including diarrhea. It’s as if my bowels don’t have a neural connection when this chain of events takes place. Sometimes I’m unable to even initiate peristalsis, and that’s a little spooky.

So what does all of this have to do with helminthic therapy? I see a strong potential connection, if I turn out to be one of the lucky people who get long term benefits. Apparently, many ulcerative colitis sufferers, even if they are currently in remission like me, can develop symptoms of autonomic dysfunction, or AD. If that’s the case, and if the helminths can keep my UC in remission, I’m willing to bet they’ll also calm the inflammation in my central nervous system. The fact that HT has been documented as effective against MS, where healing demyelination is the goal, perhaps if there’s an autoimmune component to my autonomic dysfunction I can find relief, too.

Right now I’m exploring the possibilities, and I’ll know a lot more with test results. When I look back over how my autoimmune issues have developed, this neurological component (high sympathetic state)  is something I’ve been coping with for a good part of my life. These most recent symptoms feel more like a progression from that early point, something where a low threshold was breached, rather than any isolated development. That gives me a lot of hope it can be reversed. Go, worms!

Cervical Spinal Stenosis?

We shall see, but (ulcerative colitis and some food allergies aside) I think the true cause of years of my health problems is about to be revealed. I go to my doc  in a few days and will get an MRI done to assess what’s going on with my neck. At this point it appears the most intense “allergic reactions” I thought I was having to the HT were actually nerve pain and respiratory symptoms emanating from my cervical (upper) spine. Wearing a foam neck support for a few days has helped a lot, especially as a diagnostic tool. I was intrigued to read there even seems to be a connection between TMJ and cervical spine injury.

My chiropractor suggested I do some imaging studies, and thought a narrowing of the channel for the spinal cord in the my neck, or “cervical spinal stenosis”, might be the culprit: nerve pain in extremities, and muscle weakness, plus low blood sugar episodes, tinnitus, anxiety, and poor muscle coordination at times. Even my “exercise intolerance” may be related, since the movement of walking, and especially running, aggravates this fragile part of the body. In my case, a few minutes of brisk walking was enough to trigger a very stuffy nose, and an asthma-like attack, which would make my heart race. A cold sweat often followed.

Vitamin C worked as a powerful medicine for this “worm flu” I thought I was having, due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. I can confirm it still works, and for the nerve issues, because when the pain and other symptoms are at their worst, the same moderately high doses of vitamin C (five to ten 1,000 MG tablets) clear it up quickly.

From what I can gather now, the only side effects of mine that appear related to the helminthic therapy is some diarrhea (with attendant dehydration), and fatigue. Neither appears totally resolved yet, at this, day 69, but it’s much improved from a month ago.

If I’m lucky, maybe the HT will help reduce inflammation in my neck on an ongoing basis. During my bounce, in week one post-hookworm and whipworm inoculation, I felt incredibly good, and was quite active. So let’s go, worms. Onward and upward!

Eat, to avoid allergies.

Overall, my progress has been quite good with helminthic therapy, but tonight (day 58 post-inoculation) I had another allergic episode. It wasn’t as bad as some have been in the past, but I did need to shovel down a fair amount of vitamin C, maybe ten 1,000 mg tablets, though the course of it. This was unpleasant, as always, but I was able to gather what seems like really important information from the event.

It occurred to me these attacks always happen around the same time — mid afternoon to early evening. I wondered if maybe the helminths tend to be more active during those hours. Then another conclusion presented itself: low blood sugar. Most of the recent “worm flu” events I’ve had are consistent with getting caught up in work and skipping meals. On the days where I’ve been less focused on tasks, and eating solid meals, I seem to do just fine. So I quickly fixed a bowl of yogurt, added fresh blueberries, a dash of stevia, and a shot of whipping cream, for some extra calories. Not ten minutes later, my allergic response (congested nose, tinnitis and tightening throat) disappeared.

That got me wondering if there might be a connection between low blood sugar, histamines, and generalized allergic reactions. Lo and behold, there seems to be a solid correlation. In fact, the more I looked, the more it appeared to be the case — autoimmune issues, histamine intolerance, food and seasonal allergies, may be exacerbated by a lack of “fuel” — even conditions as far-ranging as narcolepsy. So next time you feel that “worm flu” coming on, take some time out and feed yourself. And if you want to steer clear of it all day long, eat frequent small meals with plenty of protein, as this is the best way of coping with hypoglycemia, from what I’ve read.

Day 53 — Stability.

Today offered the strongest clues yet that the side effects phase is beginning to resolve. I woke after a fairly sound sleep with decent energy, and only a little of the brain fog and dehydration I’ve come to associate with “worm flu”. My appetite is slowly beginning to emerge again, and I’m able to tolerate the fairly narrow range of foods in my current diet quite well. I’ll test myself with more choices later, once I know I’m not reacting allergically to the helminths anymore.

Exercise is a key barometer — I continue to not only tolerate it, but I am starting to thrive on its effects. Curiously, it really seems to mediate my body’s reaction to the HT. I can feel the strength returning to my legs, as I push myself along at a good clip, searching for fatigue that never seems to come. My breathing is consistently clear and unaffected by temperature, humidity, airborne allergens, etc. By all measures my asthma and upper respiratory complaints are gone.

And it’s also time to celebrate 3 consecutive days of no worm-induced GI disturbances. My gut no longer feels tender, and I’ve started to gain back the weight I lost due to several weeks of compromised digestion — 5 lbs in about 6 days. So I’m now 149 lbs, 11 under my ideal target weight. That’s significant!

Tinnitus is only audible these days when I’m having a reaction to the HT, which came again this afternoon. I was able to deal with the symptoms by taking five 1,000mg tablets of vitamin C. That’s half of what I’ve used in the past, and the attack only lasted 90 minutes — about half the duration of a typical episode. This is one more indication my body  is beginning to submit to the iron will of the worms. The total absence of tinnitus throughout most of the day suggests my adrenal function is normalizing.

I’ll be quite happy if the trend continues, with modest improvement, for the foreseeable future. Obviously, I’d like to start feeling some of the more euphoric moments like I did during the initial “bounce”, post-inoculation, but as my sleep patterns rebalance (I still feel a touch of insomnia), and my diet becomes more varied, I would expect the benefits to start ramping, perhaps even with some synergy.

Histamines and Helminths

Here’s a bit of a recap after some observation: due to its impact on my adrenals in the past, and other wide ranging side effects, I have chosen to avoid taking prednisone, or limit its use as much as possible, during the side effects phase of HT. In its place, I’m using benadryl to cope with the worst attacks, but otherwise am relying on fairly large doses of vitamin C (up to 10K mg per episode), which I’ve found to be a safe and very effective antihistamine. Guess what? In my opinion, vitamin C is actually more effective than prednisone for “worm flu”. Here’s why:

When I have an allergic response to the HT, it is transitory, almost as if the attack is triggered by one or more of the helminths moving from one “site” to another in my gut. I can think of no other reason why I’ve had a total of 6 such episodes in the last 50 days, at fairly random intervals. Several days ago I was convinced Lamb was the trigger, now I wonder if it may just be the HT on its own. Whatever the cause, vitamin C acts quickly and has no lingering effects, so it is tailor made to address the 2 or 3 hour bouts I’ve had with allergic response to helminths.

Secondly, and I can only suggest this based on an intuition, the effectiveness of HT may very well be built up over time, as our bodies react. In other words, mounting an immune response may be what provokes the immune-modulatory action from the helminths, so by blunting this, for an extended duration with a drug like prednisone, do we ultimately reduce the benefits of the helminthic therapy? I can’t say for sure, but this is yet another reason I’m using the more benign vitamin C to deal with acute worm flu. Perhaps it will allow a more open “conversation” between worm and host.

I’m also drinking plenty of water, to flush my body of histamines. Here are some clues: since eating foods with high levels of histidine (which converts to histamine) seems to make me feel worse, I’m guessing my histamine levels are high, overall, and most likely due to the HT itself. Since too much water without electrolytes can be unhealthy, I make a point of adding a potassium/magnesium/calcium formula a few times daily, to fortify these fluids.

The results? Well, today I had the least amount of GI disturbance since the side effects began, which felt like a fantastic achievement, but suffered a smaller scale 2 hour allergic reaction this afternoon. I’ll call this yet another example of nonlinear progress.

Day 28 — Tug-O-Worm.

I hadn’t planned to post again until events warranted it, but since things are changing rapidly, here goes.

Today, like yesterday, I woke up feeling fairly good and as the afternoon approached had another reaction. It was a bit more muted this time, eventually coming on strong, then suddenly it would reverse and I would feel incredibly good. This push and pull continued for a while: body and mind, oscillating between harmony and dischord. Sleepy and relaxed, breathing freely, then I’d get hit with a stuffy nose and general unease.

At times the troughs were bad enough I decided to take more vitamin C, but there was no need for predinsone today, and for that I’m very thankful. My gut has been feeling really good most of the time, too, so if all goes according to plan, I hope to ditch the pills and lean on the worms, from here on out.

So what’s happening, why the back and forth? All I can think is the helminths are training my immune system to not harm them, by reacting when I react, and sending out the good vibes to calm everything down. It may sound a bit strange, but I’m really enjoying this process.

In moments I get glimpses of how I felt during the initial 5 day “bounce”, so maybe, just maybe, I can recapture that as my longer term benefit. Fingers crossed.