Help – Do I have candida? (and either way what do I do next?)

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    Guitar 02
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    Hi Candida sufferers (both current and hopefully former)

    I have had chronic digestive and mental health related issues for years, and in recent years have focused on anti-candida treatments. While I may have made some progress, overall I still have more questions than answers which is why I’ve come here for some urgent help. This is my first post, although for several months I have appreciated the great advice on both the main site and this forum. I have a good doctor who knows a lot about candida and digestive issues, but we are at a bit of a dead end after many years of attempted treatments.

    A big question I have is whether I even have candida at all. Some of my symptoms seem to fit the description, and some of the treatments appear to have had some effect, but not everything adds up and I can’t seem to ‘close the deal’ despite sometimes extreme and copybook efforts, such as a recent three-month stint on Stage 1 and 2 of this website’s treatment plan, without any lapses.

    A second big question is the obvious one – if I do have candida where am I going wrong? I feel like I’ve been fairly strict but am going nowhere.

    A third big question is whether my perceived symptoms, as well as perceived benefits of treatment, are partly psychosomatic or at least produced by stress / overconcentration on the ‘problem’. Have others here come to a similar conclusion, as unlikely as it may seem, and if so what have you done about it?

    A fourth question is -if this is NOT candida, what on earth do I have (if anything)? Can anyone offer some insight here on misdiagnoses and what the real culprits were?

    Obviously I need to spell out more about my situation. This will be a v long post. I’ll try to keep it as compact as I can. Here goes:

    CURRENT SYMPTOMS – SUMMARY
    1st set:
    * anxiety & unwanted fear (24/7, shaking & jolting feeling, generalised rather than panic)
    * nausea, ‘sick all over’ feeling, like body full of poison, unpleasant trying to move
    * lack of adrenal function (either that or something blocking ability to use adrenals – eg nausea, depression, toxins); can’t ‘feel’ anything without the fear sensation
    * weakness, lack of energy, like there’s ‘nothing in the tank’, but not relaxed
    inability to concentrate or enjoy anything.

    These are there most of the time, have been there much of the time since mid 2000s, and are quite severe. I have tried many things to get relief, mostly with limited success. Have tried many years of restricted diet, including variants on anti-candida diet over last six months. Have also ingested massive doses of antifungals for the last few years. The diet and antifungals appear to have produced some promising results, but part of me suspects the whole ‘candida’ angle is psychosomatic for me. Many things don’t add up.

    2nd set (occurs all the time):
    * reactions to food – always mental in nature (usually ‘hyper’, anxiety or fatigue feeling, sometimes followed by ‘crash’ (opposite sensation)) These appear to be separate from the above, and I’ve tried to manage these separately via diet changes, but this only slightly minimises the symptoms.

    POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS:
    * ‘gut dysbiosis’ – something’s out of whack but can’t put my finger on it (could be candida – this is the only theory where a treatment appears to have worked, even if psychosomatic)
    * depressive / anxiety disorder (with focus on diet/yeast/antifungals as psychosomatic ‘crutch’/outlet, but which has no actual medical effect for me)
    * side-effects of antidepressant meds
    * unwittingly missing doses of antidepressants (v rare, but could explain bad patches)
    * allergies/intolerances to food
    * allergy/intolerance to antidepressant meds
    * allergies/intolerances to antifungals (see below)
    * some kind of stimulant / drug-like effect caused by the large-dose antifungals
    * some kind of interaction between the antifungals and anti-depressants
    * heavy metal toxicity
    * stress
    * gut dysbiosis to begin with, but now other gut problems caused by heavy long-term use of antifungals (eg killing good bacteria, injuring gut, creating ‘superbugs’ that can’t be killed)
    * something I’ve never thought of before!
    * combination of some or all of the above!

    RECENT TREATMENTS WITH SOME EFFECT
    * Antibacterials & antifungals (both natural & prescription) for 8-9 years.
    In chronological order:
    – Flagyl (4-6 courses at recomm dose, 2003-04)
    – Fasigyn (6-10 courses at recomm dose, 2004-07)
    – Olive leaf & wormwood tea (v high doses – once a day, 2 tbsps each, blended into a powder & steeped in boiling water for 10+ mins – ate grinds too. Used 2007-11. Most durable treatmt, but ceased when stopped wkg 2011. Now started again Sep 2012)
    – Diflucan (5-6 scripts at recomm dose, Apr-Sep 2011, then higher doses Oct 2011) – best results, but stopped wkg
    – Oregano oil (40 drops a day, Oct 2011 to Jan 2012, then 80 drops a day Feb-Apr 2012) – great results as well, but stopped working after a while
    – Garlic (2-3 cloves per day, blended up with water & drunk, Jul 2012 for 2 wks, great results but had to stop due to unpleasant social consequences!)
    – Grapefruit Seed Extract (30-60 drops a day, in 1-2 glasses of water – current treatment of choice along with raw swedes. Effective but have to dilute sufficiently o/w will burn mouth & throat – very acidic. Jul 2012 – pres)
    – Raw swedes (2 per day, shredded & blended with water into a pulp) – current treatment of choice, along with GFSE, Jul 2012 – present)

    * Diet changes:
    – no gluten (since 2005)
    – no dairy (since 2008)
    – minimal sugar (since mid 2000s)
    – minimal alcohol (since last year) – not a big drinker anyway
    – no high MSG/amine/salicylate foods (most of last 10 yrs, with occasional exception. NB this only handles 2nd set of symptoms)
    NB – none of these are enough on their own.

    * Exercise (especially aerobic)

    * Antidepressants:
    Paroxetine (mostly 30 mgs a day, since Oct 2002 – Pretty effective – totally cut out panic attacks for first time in 5 yrs, and got me 8 hrs’ sleep a night as well)

    RECENT TREATMENTS WITH MINIMAL OR NO EFFECT
    * probiotics (on their own) (few times late 2000s)
    * digestive enzymes (intermittent, 2005-present)
    * various forms of elimination diet
    * various antifungals:
    * Nystatin (few times mid 2000s in betw Flagyl & Fasigyn)
    * Pau D’Arco (few times mid 2000s)
    * Coconut oil (few times Jul 2012)
    * Clove oil (couple of dozen times, mid 2012)
    * Creon (enzyme to dissolve bio-film) (2011)

    OLDER HISTORY
    * panic attacks, depression, anxiety since late 1990s (at worst 1997-99)
    * took antidepressant Citalopram 20mgs a day 1999-2000 – little or no effect
    * upped dose to 40mgs p.d. in mid 2000; possible subtle effect. Also made changes to diet – removed gluten & most dairy & high MSG foods
    * came off Citalopram mid 2001 due to dissatisfaction. Symptoms got a little worse.
    * Panic attacks & major depression returned mid 2002. Went onto Mirtazepine – 10, 20, 30 & 40 mgs a day – no effect except 10-12 hrs’ sleep a night
    * Went onto Paroxetine in late 2002 – minor to moderate improvements to sleep, and eliminated panic attacks (have stayed on this to present day)
    * Tried following other treatments with little or no effect: high-dose Vit C injections, low salicylates diet, self-injecting Vit B12, Vit B supps, (early 2000s), hypnotherapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, meditation, all manner of talking cures, L-Tryptophan supplements, food elimination diets, St John’s Wort, Magnesium supps (several forms) (late 90s).

    QUESTIONS I JUST CAN’T ANSWER
    * If I do have some kind of gut infection and the antifungals / diet are the way to go (I have been on a v v restricted diet for several months & taken massive doses of antifungals for years, and just finished a textbook candida cleanse/diet over 3 mths), how come I can’t “close the deal” on my symptoms? I have gone to such lengths recently that it is surely not, repeat NOT, possible for candida yeast to survive in my gut! And yet symptoms remain.
    * The antifungals are the only thing that seem to have had an immediate effect…most of the time. But is this too immediate to be true? I seem to get relief within a couple of hours, sometimes less, sometimes a little more, but certainly overnight, and if I miss a daily dose there will be hell to pay within hours. This immediacy doesn’t seem to be consistent with what anti-candida authorities say about how yeast infections and antifungals work.
    * Taking probiotics has never seemed to have any effect on me at all. I have even experimented with 500b bacteria a day. Is this a sign candida is not my problem? I don’t seem to have ever experienced ‘die-off’ – is this also a sign that candida is not my problem?
    * Despite the efforts to fix my health I seem to have gone backwards if anything over the last handful of years. While I probably feel better on average, this is purely because of the sacrifices/restrictions I’ve imposed (diet, antifungal relief etc). I reckon if I tried to eat/drink what I did 5 or 10 years ago (which was restrictive as opposed to v v restrictive) I’d feel worse than I did then. That’s not a good sign. What does it signify? Have I actually made things worse by trying (and failing) to treat whatever it is that’s affecting me? For example, if it’s candida have I simply created a ‘superbug’ that’s immune to all treatment?
    * If this is just depression what can I possibly do given that I’m already on high-dose Paroxetine, have tried 3 meds already on several dosages & allegedly Paroxetine is v v nasty to come off?
    * My stools are normal and these don’t seem to change despite how I’m feeling or what I’m taking – is this a sign that candida is not the issue for me?
    Had a few stool tests over the years – showed various things eg a few metals that are high, possible yeast, foods not being digested fully. But I have been trying to fix this for years, to no avail! And many people get these kinds of results. Do stool tests yield useful evidence?
    * If it is not a yeast infection, what possible explanation could there be for the relief in symptoms hundreds of times over many years from antifungals? Could it be psychosomatic?

    Very sorry for the very long post, but I am at my wits’ end and am sick of bandaid solutions and barking up wrong trees. Would appreciate any suggestions. Happy to answer any follow-up questions.

    Cheers

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