Dave's Post Viral Site
Post viral syndrome; Candida and Carbohydrate
By Dave Wood
(Printable version with smaller margins - opens in a new window)
Update, November 2010:
I'm putting this Update at the very top of the page because although I think my story still has a great deal of relevance if you're dealing with the same symptoms I had, I think there's a bigger picture here than was clear to me when I wrote this.
So - how am I doing? Great! I'm healthier than ever. And what I describe below regarding how I got healthy is still valid but it's not the whole story.
I am now even better at bouncing back from health stressors, am carrying more muscle mass and less fat than I have in years and have cleared up minor niggling health issues that I hadn't even been particularly aware that I had. Including the sinus problem I mentioned in an update below. That turned out to be tomatoes and chilis! I discovered it by accident when I was on holiday and coincidentally stopped eating them for a fortnight. After I removed them utterly from my diet for about nine months I then found I can eat them occasionally with no ill effects. Which is great since I love them.
Okay, okay but what is this larger story? Well since I have been living this way, many other people have been coming to very similar conclusions regarding how to eat. They've been coming to those conclusions mainly because they've had some kind of long term health problems (like being overweight - which although common, is still a long term health problem!) which have only been cleared up by understanding what's gone wrong with the way we typically eat and changing their diet to suit how we've evolved to eat. The results are always very obvious and undeniable.
"Yes - but what is that??" I hear you cry! Well - it's become known as the Primal or Paleo movement. It's essentially the way I've lived for eight years. It's the way my wife (she's now my wife!) has lived for seven years. Also my brother and recently my dad, who has dropped weight he's been carrying for a couple of decades and has just been taken off the heart medication he's been on for thirty years and was told he could never come off.
I must admit when you first hear about what this Primal stuff is all about it sounds rather nuts. Some of it runs contrary to the advice that we are generally given by health authorities. But there is plenty of good, well researched and supported evidence for it and more importantly the experience of people actually following a "primal lifestyle" graphically demonstrates that it is far better health and diet advice than anything else being given.
To sum it up in a very, very, ridiculously small nutshell:
This is not some "Fad Diet" - if it were, I would not have been eating this way for the last eight years. Arguably, stacked up against 3.5 million years of human evolution, eating grains and particularly eating so much vegetable oil is the biggest fad diet of all!
There are also people that have eaten this way for far longer and are far older and even healthier than I am. If you want to know more, then the best place to start is Mark Sisson's excellent web site:
Marks Daily Apple http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/
Mark has also written what I consider the clearest and best book on the subject. This book sums up the whole thing better than anything I've ever come across. I would highly, highly recommend buying and reading this (whether you have any severe health problems or not!):
For even more in depth, but now unfortunately subscription based information, there's the widely respected Art De Vany site:
Although if you're reading this you may not feel capable of getting up a flight of stairs, once you're healthy again (and I'm sure you can be!) the style exercise that the Primal guys favour is far easier and gets far better results than what you may have been used to (hint - you are not supposed to work hard for long periods...). Sign up for Mark Sisson's email newsletter at the site above to his excellent eBook that lays it all out.
As a final note, back on to the subject of this page, I'd highly, highly recommend some good quality probiotics (gut bacteria that we normally have in our gut that we can't live without). I've had a couple of courses of antibiotics over the last few years for a tooth implant that went awry (a mechanically induced infection - nothing to do with a poor immune response). The probiotics I now take are from Higher Nature and are excellent:
Higher Nature Probio-Intensive: http://www.highernature.co.uk/ShowProductFamily.aspx?ProductFamilyID=288
That's the end of the 2010 Update!
This page is my story of the fun time I've had with mononucleosis (glandular fever if your from the UK) and Candidiasis. I've written it this way because I know that reading other such stories by people that have gone through this and recovered have helped me. But I've included a summary and overview so that the salient points can be pulled out as quickly as possible. However, for all the details and reasoning you'll need to read it all!
Firstly, I'd like to say that I am not a doctor and this page is not meant to diagnose or treat anyone. This page is all "in my opinion" but I do try to back that opinion up with descriptions of my experience and references to other sites. It's up to you to decide whether you trust my description and the other sites of course.
And it's always worth bearing in mind, no matter who's quoting impressive sounding studies at you, who might have funded those studies and why. Ultimately the only thing I think we can be sure of is our own experience. So, try things for yourself!
The suppliers mentioned in this page are all UK based but I always give the manufacturers web site so you can start from there to look for suppliers outside the UK.
You might wonder why this is all on one page and why I have shown the web addresses explicitly in the text. This is simply because I think a lot of people will want to print this off to give to someone else.
I'm sorry this is so long! I've tried to cut it down but there's just so much info that I want to include here. And I think that the context of what I've found out and what I went through to find it are important.
Update, March 2004: Sub title changed.
You may notice the title on this page has changed from "Mercury fillings and Candidiasis" to "Candida and Carbohydrate". This is due to the fact that I sincerely believe it was the level of carbohydrate and lack of fat in my diet that was the greatest contributory factor in my illness. The mercury fillings connection is very, very likely but I can't back it up with much from direct personal experience other than the fact that I felt a lot better immediately after I had the mercury fillings removed and I am now well. That's not to say that the Mercury wasn't a big factor, it may even have been the biggest deciding factor, I just can't be sure about it. The point is I rapidly stopped getting better if I wasn't careful to avoid carbs so I think it's more relevant to stress them. Would I still pay a lot of money to have mercury removed from my teeth? Definitely. It's something that can be ticked off the list of things that might be causing the problem.
This is a very brief summary. The details are in the rest of the page.
Post viral syndrome is not all in your head. Though a positive mental attitude will help you recover. I also doubt that all PVS is due to Candidiasis though much of it quite probably is!
If you're looking at this page in amongst many others and you know all about Candida already you probably want to hear what I did to recover.
I've put the anti-fungals as the most important since I was already eating a very low sugar diet, because I believe we eat too much sugar, but that didn't cure me. I also was not absolute in my avoidance of potatoes and rice because not all literature says to avoid them but I kept them to a bare minimum (once or twice a week).
Skip this section and go to Post Viral Syndrome and Candida if you're only interested in the Candida!
I've had "post viral syndrome" (PVS) for about two and a half years now. I had severe mononucleosis (glandular fever) over Christmas and New Year of 1999-2000 (the millennium sucked more for me than most I can tell you ;). I was at Sussex University in the final year of a computer science degree.
Mono is generally caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (there's at least one other virus that causes it). A good friend of mine who was doing his PhD in biology at the time was working next to a guy in his lab that was actually doing his PhD on the Epstein-Barr virus. According to him, it's extremely common; the majority of the western population carries it. But we only develop mono once the immune system is suppressed.
In my opinion, I got mine in the first place by going through a messed up relationship at the same time as my final year of university while running the mountaineering club and still going out drinking and dancing till the clubs closed! Well, duh!
Mono was quite an education. Bear in mind that I'm the kind of person that tends to ignore colds and things and still goes to work. I've always worked on the belief that my body is very strong and is quite capable of destroying some annoying virus while I get on with life. While I was in business with a good friend of mine for several years I only took four days off sick with a very nasty cold and that was only because he was smarter than me and insisted.
Full-blown mono is amazing. Tiredness like I've never experienced, eyes swollen until I could hardly see, headaches and a sore throat that made having my adenoids out when I was seven seem like a tickly cough. I got it when I was twenty nine, which is not a good time to have it.
According to medical sites I have read, if you get it as a child it looks like a bad cold. But getting it as a forty-year-old, they recommended hospitalisation immediately. I was somewhere in between.
I didn't know this though. As far as I was concerned, I had a bad flu.
I spent over two weeks feeling nauseous all day until my hunger finally grew too strong and I'd eat a small (Christmas!) dinner. I'd then feel very, very sick indeed until the next day, and so on.
Eventually my sore throat became infected with a secondary, bacterial infection. After three days of not being able to breathe through my mouth, and therefore only forcing down about a pint of water a day, I was finally persuaded to go to hospital. Like I said, I tend to ignore illness.
Once I was admitted a nurse gave me a check over and found my temperature was 39.9C (once it hits 40C they start to get very worried indeed apparently) and my heart was doing over 120 beats per minute whereas my resting heart rate is 55.
I was astounded. I was just lying down! The nurse said, "You see why you feel so tired? Fighting an infection like this is like running a marathon for your body, but it can't stop and it goes on for days!"
I was given very strong oral antibiotics and sent home after three days with the wonderful advice from the "specialist" that there was nothing I could do about it except avoid any alcohol for six months.
So I went home and started eating the huge pile of sweets that I'd missed over Christmas. (Anyone that knows my family will be being feeling woozy right now, at the thought of how much junk we get through at Christmas).
I went back to university some time in February but was still very ill until April. I was then only averagely ill till about May, which made my final project and exams fun.
I discovered that the advice about alcohol should have been to go out and get drunk. That way whenever you are tempted to drink in future you look back at the two-week mother of all hangovers and reach for the water instead.
I also had confirmed what I already thought; I know some very, very kind people, including my family, who will go to great lengths to help wherever they can. Without them and some very understanding lecturers, my final year would have been a nightmare.
It's very hard to deal with an illness that makes you feel so tired all the time and yet you have no runny nose and red eyes to make you look ill when you look in the mirror. It's also hard for others who have been used to you getting on with stuff with them. I know I would probably have been bad at understanding it in someone else.
You inevitably end up thinking "Stop being so pathetic and just get on with it!" Which lands you in bed for a day or two. So, you learn, slowly, to ease back.
However, after what feels like a hell of a long time, you fell well again. I judged my health by the fact I could get drunk and not regret it for days after (physically anyway).
And that, you think, is that.
For some people it is. But for a lot of others, it isn't!
I would be okay for a seemingly random period of time then I'd start feeling weaker and weaker, wanting to sleep more and more.
I went back to the doc he gave me a blood test series of some kind. It showed up "no viral indicators" apparently. Which meant I had Post Viral syndrome.
Update, late October 2002: What I would do if I had mono now.
I've been asked this a couple of times so here's what I'd do. Please remember though, that I'm not a doctor and hold no medical qualifications in this regard but if you want my opinion here it is!
I would up the proportion of protein and fat in my diet and avoid any sugars or alcohol. I say this for two reasons. One, because it is the best way of avoiding Candida and two, because whilst fighting a viral infection you will use a heck of a lot of protein (this is according to a friend of mine whose PhD was in viruses!). Eggs are great for that.
I'd also take a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement.
L-Glutamine is very good for energy (helped me!). It's a food not a drug.
There will be a lot of stress on the liver (mono can cause mild hepatitis occasionally) so lots of water, aim for around four pints a day. It's hard at first to increase the amount of water that you drink but it's necessary to help the liver flush the toxins.
There's a herb called "milk thistle" that you can buy in capsule form. It's good for helping the liver when it's under stress (I saw a full blown medical explanation once - it was very complicated but it did back up what herbalists have been saying for years!). I would take olive leaf extract, at least 3mgs a day. This stuff is supposed to be capable of actually inhibiting virus activity in the body and it certainly seems to be good at killing fungi (it was one of the things I used when fighting off the Candida). Overall I would take this whenever I was unwell. (http://www.nutriteam.com/oliveleaf.htm but search the web for references. Amazon even stock a book about it. I get mine from Higher Nature http://www.highernature.co.uk/ Phone: 01435 883484. It's not cheap but I think it's well worth it. In the UK Holland & Barret carry it in their larger stores and although the tablets are only about 175mgs each it works out cheaper than the 500mg Higher Nature version even though you have to swallow more tablets. I have no idea of the quality since I've not used it).
Also, echinacea (http://www.healthpartners.com/Menu/0,1791,2136,00.html) is supposed to be very good at boosting the immune system (though I must admit I've not used it myself). Don't take it for more than two months without a break of at least two weeks or the effect wears off as the body becomes used to it.
There are plenty of definitions around on the web of what PVS is and I'm not an expert on it, (just a keen amateur!) so I'll just say that for me, PVS is like having the virus again but with less symptoms to point to.
My glands still swell up, I feel tired, and when I have even one pint of Guinness I wake up the next day feeling like I've had six, and the day after that, like I've had five.
The "foggy head" though, is the worst. The closest thing I can liken it to is having woken up only ten minutes before at 4 AM. You know what it's like. At 4 AM, you very often will wake up with a kind of shock. Your body's thinking "What? What? What the heck's the emergency here?" But ten minutes later when it realises you're just catching an early flight it stops bothering and just wants to go back to sleep.
And you find yourself brushing your teeth with your girlfriend's moisturiser.
No matter how hard you try, it's like thinking through treacle (which in a funny kind of way may not be far from the truth).
This PVS rubbish has gone on, with a bit of a break last year that made me claim with renewed vigour that I'd finally shaken it off, for two years.
This time I got hit with it very hard (too much work combined with too much Guinness! :) After Christmas 2001 (and the sugar binge), I found that walking up stairs was hard.
As usual I ignored it and took my girlfriend to Wales. I took her up Snowdon via the Pyg track and found to my horror that I could hardly make the last 5 minutes from the col to the summit on the tourist track. I was horrified because I don't usually walk Snowdon let alone the tourist track because I'm snobby about it and think it's too easy. ;)
Instead of the romantic night I had planned I was forced to go to bed at 7:30 and only surfaced using a lot of willpower at 9:30 the next morning.
"Bugger!" I thought "Not again!"
I spent a lot of time sat on my arse, with a laptop, not drinking or going out, just researching PVS on the web. After a heck of a lot of reading, I'm talking days and days here, I found that there seems to be four things generally blamed for PVS.
In a rough order of how loud the crowing about each one is they are:
Now, the first things I did when I got ill was check what there was on the web about mono. All the information I could find said that the best thing to do was to sort out your nutrition thereby giving your body the best chance of fighting the disease. So I doubted that was the cause because I now eat healthily (to be honest I wasn't too bad before, especially by student standards!) and take very good quality multivitamins and minerals.
The second point, allergy to such things as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), doesn't seem likely since I have never found myself allergic to anything and have had allergy tests that have shown nothing. That being said, I'm starting to use toothpaste without SLS http://www.naturallyhealthyonline.com/convert-bathroom.php and Triclosan http://www.lindachae.com/triclosan.htm. Can't hurt!
That leaves mercury and Candidiasis. I always hated the fact that I had nine mercury fillings in my teeth. They look horrible and I've not liked the idea that they are made of 50% mercury (as are all metal fillings). Since it was something I could just do, and mentally tick off the list of possible causes, I found myself a dentist from the British Society for Mercury Free Dentistry (http://www.mercuryfree.co.uk/ Phone 020 7373 3655 Send and stamped self addressed envelope to: 225 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 and ask for their list of dentists in the UK. Try this link for a list for the USA: http://www.bioprobe.com/faq.asp#question_10). This is important since they use proper techniques to stop you being exposed to the massive doses of mercury you would be if going to an ordinary dentist.
So I paid my money (£275 overall - not at all bad really!) and felt very happy about my newly whitened gob.
And within two weeks of having the last ones out I felt better than I'd felt since getting ill two and a half years ago!
In the interests of medical research I stress tested my body. I got roaringly drunk one Friday night, got up the next day, drove to Wales and walked with a pack across the Carnedds for three days. I felt great!
But then I started to wonder. If it was mercury poisoning, why had I recovered in only a couple of weeks? Come to that, why had I not been ill before the mono?
I started to wonder about Candida...
I talked to my nutritionist about it and she said there was a strong link between mercury in amalgam fillings and Candidiasis. According to her, mercury fillings produce methyl mercury when bathed in saliva. Methyl mercury is a potent bactericide and it goes in to the gut where it wipes out the "good" gut bacteria we need to digest our food.
Hang on a min! What's that got to do with Candidiasis then? Candida albicans is a yeast!
The theory goes like this: Good bacteria eat the same part of our food that Candida eats, sugar. If you kill them then there's much more of the sugar around for the Candida to feed on.
Once it gets enough food, Candida changes from the harmless single celled yeast form it usually takes in our gut and gangs up in long chains called rhizoids to form a mat called a mycelium (the fungal form). Which then rampage about punching holes in your gut wall. Imagine a mat of white mould on an old bit of wood and you get the idea!
A good way to wipe out the bacteria in your gut is to take antibiotics. A really good way is to take prolonged, high doses of high potency, broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Once you've wiped them out the best way to get the Candida growing really strongly is to feed it with all the nice sugar we have in our diets. Or in my case all the sugar in most normal peoples diet for one year in about a month.
This isn't some weird hippie theory about nasty old fungus eating us from the inside that I'm talking about here. Its well-documented medical fact. The only point of contention within the general Western medical community seems to be that mainstream thought says only immuno-compromised patients are at risk of developing it (e.g. AIDS, hepatitis, chemotherapy). When you think how often our immune system is compromised by the diet we enjoy (sugar suppresses immune response) then arguably most people are immuno-compromised. Someone with a severe infection such as mono is demonstrably immuno-compromised. How else would I have acquired the secondary, bacterial infection in my throat?
On the other hand, Candidiasis does apparently get over-diagnosed by alternative practitioners. It is common, but it's not the only cause of ill health!
There are thought to be other forms of Candida besides albicans that can cause it as well as there being other ways of letting it overgrow such as steroids and the contraceptive pill. As a weird side note - dolphins kept in captivity can get it! (Isn't the Web great?)
Candidiasis is also heavily linked to allergies of all kinds as well as other fungal infections such as athlete's foot and thrush. The allergies are thought to be a result of the rhizoids making the gut wall leak ("leaky gut syndrome") and allowing undigested proteins into the blood stream where they then cause allergies. They are also likely to be as a result of the endocrine system malfunction that Candidiasis seems to be strongly related to. The fungal infections seem to be either blooms of the Candida in other areas of the body or other fungi taking advantage of the weakened immune system.
But I was quite happy that I'd killed it. After all, I felt so much better didn't I?
Just to be on the safe side I thought I'd better have a go at the anti-Candida diet.
It sounds pretty awful, no simple sugars of any kind including fruit. No white flour, no dairy, no yeast based products (bread, beer and wine). But you just have to keep reminding yourself of how ill you have been and how this could be the key to getting back to normal.
If you're lucky though you get an amazing thing called a Herxheimer (http://www.nutriteam.com/herx.htm) or die off reaction. I got the works. Massive red raised rash over my back and arms and legs, fantastically sore joints, particularly my fingers, muscle ache and major tiredness.
I say lucky because it convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had Candidiasis. I knew I couldn't be imagining it since I wasn't expecting it at all, because I thought I'd already killed it.
My nutritionist had mentioned a die off reaction but I hadn't taken it in since I was sure I wasn't going to get one. So, when I got one I didn't know what it was and so ignored it. Which was stupid because all you need to do to stop it is to lay off the anti-fungals and the Candida stops dying so quickly, allowing your liver some breathing space before it gets any more damage.
But, as I keep saying, I tend to ignore illness.
It wasn't until I looked on the Web about something else Candida related and happened to find a description of a Herxheimer (http://www.nutriteam.com/herx.htm) reaction that I realised what I was having.
Up till then, I'd been following the diet really well but sneaked in a couple of pints of Guinness. The Guinness though was still not enough to save the Candida from starvation and the anti-fungal I was taking.
Ah yeah, the anti-fungals. So much of what I've read screams that you will not get rid of Candidiasis without both strict diet and anti-fungals. Where people have tried to do without the anti-fungals, it's taken them in the order of two years and they are much more prone to relapse.
I was doing the diet fairly well but was taking Kolorex (http://www.kolorex.com/) suppliers: http://www.kolorex.com/wheretobuy.html#uk or http://www.candida-treatment.net/horopito.htm) morning and evening for about a fortnight before I had my first Herxheimer reaction (I've had a second minor one that lead to a nice cold-type secondary infection for a few days. Whoopee! There's a lot of gut down there). The point being that I am sure I would not have had the Herxheimer without taking the Kolorex.
Since I wanted to be sure of killing it I also took Olive Leaf Extract which is meant to be an extremely potent anti-microbial and Citricidal (http://www.nutriteam.com/oliveleaf.htm I got both these from Higher Nature http://www.highernature.co.uk/ Phone: 01435 883484). Citricidal is fantastic stuff, kills fungus, bacteria, viruses and even gut parasites. Again, this is not hippie rubbish; this is solid, clinically tested stuff that's been around for 25 years commercially. They use Citricidal instead of chlorine in South American swimming pools. But it's completely safe for mammals like us and biodegrades.
Update, late October 2002: Also worth mentioning here are L-Glutamine and MSM.
The L-Glutamine is an amino acid that feeds the cells in the gut wall. It's the only thing that they live on apparently. It also seemed to help my energy levels quite a lot. It is a tasteless white powder that can be mixed with a drink or simply taken on a spoon and washed down with water.
The MSM (methyl sufonyl methane) is mentioned on many pages relating to Candida and there's a lot of anecdotal evidence to say that it helps in recovery. Taking into account the fact that it is a readily available form of the fourth most abundant constituent of our body, and that many articles claim that because it is destroyed by processing food we are almost all deficient it in I thought it would be a good idea to add it into the mix.
MSM governs the permeability of the body's cell membranes. Since Candida is heavily linked to endocrine disorder it seems reasonable that a lack of permeability in the cell membranes would have an adverse effect. But whatever the mechanisms involved it does seem to be beneficial to many people.
There are people that have had what appears to be a die off reaction using it MSM. But since MSM is not anti-fungal in any way a more likely explanation is that their bile duct is blocked and is not allowing the larger and more normal level of bile to flow through it properly. This is since taking MSM is thought to cause the liver to release its stored bile properly if you were previously low in MSM. (http://www.healthyawareness.com/_Archives/_can_gen41/00000163.htm).
However, in another post someone else says that the liver can be badly blocked and therefore the production of the extra bile will make you feel very ill, whilst at the same time saying that it can clear the blockage (http://www.healthyawareness.com/_Archives/_can_gen41/00000285.htm Not very conclusive I'm afraid, but I would still take this as a supplement since it seems unlikely to cause harm but is far more likely to help.
I got both the MSM and the L-Glutamine from Higher Nature http://www.highernature.co.uk/ Phone: 01435 883484).
There's a heck of a lot of advice about anti-Candida diets and regimes around. Some of it makes sense and some of it's a bit hysterical. Personally I don't see mould from compost in my plant pots as a threat but I could be wrong.
That being said, yeast from things we eat is agreed to aggravate Candidiasis because around 70% of people with Candidiasis are also allergic to yeast (or rather "intolerant" of yeast which is essentially like being allergic except you can recover from it). So, it's possible that breathing it in and swallowing could be an equally bad idea. We end up swallowing the particulates that we breathe. The lungs push the mucous containing all the dust up into the throat where it drains back into the stomach. As long as you don't smoke of course!
If you followed all the advice from everyone, your diet would be even more restricted than it probably has to be. Some practitioners say no grains, some say no dairy, and some say no fruit. The only thing that's universally agreed is that the diet should be low in fermentable carbohydrates and that yeast (from pickles and alcoholic drinks) can make it much worse (http://www.positivehealth.com/permit/Articles/Colon%20Health/abraham62.htm.
It's what's sometimes called a MEVY diet, meat, eggs, vegetables and (plain, live!) yoghurt.
No dairy because it contains things that Candida feeds on but plain (no sugar from fruit!) live yoghurt is positively good (as long as you are not allergic to dairy of course!). There doesn't seem to be complete agreement on exactly why this is but medical trials based on thrush patients at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center back it up (http://www.lef.org/protocols/abstracts/abstr-028.html#18). It seems that the bacteria have two basic effects, partly they just out compete the Candida for the sugar they both eat and partly they produce an acid environment that the Candida doesn't like.
There is also a lot of disagreement as to whether the bacteria in the yoghurt actually implant into your gut and carry on helping you after you stop eating it all the time.
One thing is generally agreed though, you need to eat things that the good bacteria thrive on. I am going to use Robert Gray's Lactobacteria Food but there is a lot of praise for fructooligosaccharide or FOS (bad bacteria like Salmonella won't eat it http://www.lef.org/protocols/abstracts/abstr-028a.html#16). The good bacteria unarguably love to eat FOS but there are some people that wonder what else might be thriving on it.
Meat and eggs are in there because we absolutely, positively have to eat protein to stay alive and healthy. We need a bunch of different proteins. Some we can make out of the basic ones but those basic ones we have to eat in the first place. If you're vegan, you have to get them from pulses and so on or you will get ill in the long term. I'm not even veggie so I can't comment there.
But I have always been a big meat eater. So one thing I'm going to try is The Sausage Shop (http://www.thesausageshop.co.uk) Tina Crossman does top quality mail order sausages and she will happily make sugar and yeast free bangers! (Look under "Special Diet").
Vegetables, well you need vitamins, and minerals obviously (duh!) and veggies are about the best way to get them. But importantly, you can't get at the vitamins and minerals if your guts haven't broken all the food up properly. The process of breaking the food up starts with the mechanics of mashing it all about and pushing it along the gut. Without the bulk of vegetables that doesn't work properly.
Just eating meat, eggs and yoghurt would make you very constipated. Meaning that even if you managed to kill the Candida it wouldn't leave your body, meaning you'd get very ill. I know whereof I speak!
There are a few other things that are worth noting. Some people say that dairy is okay if it's thoroughly cooked to kill off the moulds in it. Maybe, but I imagine it might still provide food for the Candida that's already in your gut and cooked cheese is great for causing constipation.
Pickled things have lots of yeast so I had to break my olive addiction. But omelettes just aren't the same! So, I decided to slice them really thinly and fry them first. No more yeast spores! I've since read in a couple of places that this is thought to be fine. I hope so but I keep it to a minimum.
Also, a lot of people say avoid mushrooms. Which makes sense if they're raw but if they are really thoroughly cooked to kill off the yeast spores on them, I see nothing wrong with them. It makes the fried breakfast I now have every morning more interesting too!
This section added late October 2002
I've had several people ask what I actually eat on this diet so here's some examples. Bear in mind I am not vegetarian! All this lot is very easy to prepare. As, rule I am too lazy to prepare anything that it would take me more than a day to train a chimpanzee to make! ;)
After a month or so of feeling really bad, I had about a week and a half where I started to feel really good again. Then I started on the Robert Gray Intestinal Cleansing Program and felt terrible again!
I would strongly recommend taking this stuff. It's easy enough, mix up some powder with some water and drink it then drink another cup of water and use it to wash down a tablet. The powder kind of swells up and gently sponges out your gut and the tablet breaks up the "plaque" that coats your gut wall.
The import thing to realise is that your gut is not a smooth pipe. It has two features that increase the amount of surface area it has so that it can suck all food value out of the material in your gut. Firstly it's sort of wrinkled up into big folds and secondly it's coated in little hairs called villi. They are about a millimetre long and thinner than a hair. It makes the inside of your gut look like velvet (you'll see them described as "finger like projections", they're not finger like as far as I could see when I saw an example of them in an exhibition!). Between the wrinkling and the villi, one meter of your gut has about fifty square meters of surface.
So, if your gut is covered in old mucous (plaque) and that mucous is going to be protecting the Candida living on the surface of your gut you really need to remove the mucous to kill all the Candida!
It's not cheap but at the very least, I'd just get a bottle of cleanser and a bottle of tablets. I also bought the "body brush" but have remembered to use it exactly twice.
It's made in the US. Info here: http://www.holistichorizons.com/
I got it in the UK from Baldwins: 020 7703 5550 (I'd call them - their web site ordering is always broken!). For their site:
http://www.baldwins.co.uk/ (Click "Shop" -> "Miscellaneous" -> "Robert Gray" - this site is much improved recently - very nice!)
Update, late October 2002:The Robert Gray Program, whilst very good, is a bit fiddly to remember to take plus it tastes not too great so I would consider having a colonic enema if I had to do it again! Whatever you decide I would still very strongly recommend that you cleanse your gut.
Avoiding all sugars and dairy means that just about everything except water is out. I can't speak from experience because I haven't drunk tea or coffee since getting ill but I know that herbal teas are okay. It's generally agreed that tea and particularly coffee are best avoided completely. This is mainly because they affect your energy levels. Specifically they have an effect on your endocrine (hormonal) system, which is messed up by Candidiasis.
Alcohol generally comes from fermenting sugar (industrial processes not withstanding!), and some of that sugar will remain, so it's out on that count alone. Having Candidiasis means your gut wall will be perforated badly by all the Candida rhizoids (the threads that make up the mycelium, the big white mat of fungus). That means your gut will leak badly (especially, I'd have thought, if the fungus is dying?).
That being said, I have got drunk on two occasions, with no ill effects but only during the first fortnight of the diet, on good quality vodka and water chasers. I certainly wouldn't recommend it but if you absolutely must have a drink...
But since then, I've resisted completely having been thoroughly convinced the Candidiasis is at the root of my PVS. The (British) National Candida Society does say that whiskey, gin, brandy and vodka might be okay if you can tolerate them.
As for water, drink lots and lots of it! You need it to flush your gut.
I've found I'm just thirsty all the time anyway since I've been on the diet and anti-fungals. Admittedly it's summer (though you wouldn't know it this July 2002!) but I don't normally get through five to six pints a day as I am now!
The startling things was that my urine was as dark as a good Guinness! And the colour always matched how well I felt. As I got better so the colour returned to normal.
Update, mid October 2002: Although I am currently still following the diet and taking the anti-fungals I am no longer feeling constantly thirsty so it wasn't the anti-fungals that were causing that.
There are anti-fungal drugs available and a specific test for Candida. However, I've not been to the doctor with this specific problem so have no personal experience as to the availability of the tests from doctor or efficacy or side effects of the drugs.
My assumption is that I will remove the Candida overgrowth with diet and the ant-fungal herbs/Citricidal, so I shouldn't have to find out!
As I said earlier, most orthodox medical opinion is that you have to be immuno-compromised to have Candidiasis. There are many people that strongly disagree including many medical doctors.
In the UK, there is the (British) National Candida Society (http://www.candida-society.org.uk/) run by a woman who is lobbying the medical profession to change their minds about just how common this disease really is. They have an excellent article that is well worth reading on the link to endocrine disorders (http://www.cmtomlinson.freeuk.com/digestv1i3.htm).
There are tests available in the UK for Candida from Individual Wellbeing http://www.individual-wellbeing.co.uk/candida.htm. These are either blood or saliva tests and cost around £65. The saliva test does not require a doctor. They also offer a urine test that will test for Candida outside the gut for around £20.
Unfortunately, these tests only indicate the presence of Candida albicans, which although it is by far the most common form, is not the only cause of Candidiasis. So, a negative result does not mean you are not suffering from Candidiasis.
Could I have imagined that anti-fungals and a low fermentable sugar diet would cure my PVS? Yes. Of course I could. The placebo effect is extremely powerful.
But I have two things to say about that. Firstly, so what if it was? I would have done just about anything to have got well again. Which brings me to the second thing. I tried just about anything to get well for two and a half years and nothing else gave anything but temporary relief from the symptoms.
I was convinced that simply eating well would sort me out. Nope.
I tried acupuncture, which has helped other things (long term knee injury, massively helped my IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome - which now appears to have gone completely and was very likely down to Candidiasis) but it didn't make a dent.
I tried yoga, reflexology, osteopathy (I have had a stiff neck for 15 years - I still have it - that wasn't it!) and even western medicine to the extent that I had blood screenings looking for viruses, amongst other things, and they showed nothing.
I tried just plain ignoring it and trying to convince myself that it was all in my head, and that I should stop being so wet and just get on with it. I got fed up with feeling better, telling everyone I was totally back to normal and then getting ill all over again.
So, I tried just being very good and not eating sugary food (of course I still ate fruit because it's healthy, right? Not when you have Candidiasis!), not drinking, staying in and sleeping all the time. Which worked to the extent that I could go to work but I still wasn't getting well!
All the above have value but none of them actually worked. I only got better after I cut the fermentable sugars and took the anti-fungals. The mere fact that I wasn't expecting to get a Herxheimer reaction because I thought I didn't actually have Candidiasis anymore (even if I'd had it at all) would seem to suggest that it was not simply a placebo reaction!
Update, mid October 2002: Once I felt better I continued to take the anti-fungals, and follow the diet with the exception of eating some cheese and on some days drinking some dry red wine. As of writing this I have not shown any die-off symptoms whatsoever and continued to feel fine. Therefore I do not think that some kind of reaction to the anti-fungals were causing any of the die-off symptoms I was experiencing but rather it was an actual die-off reaction.
It's impossible to say for sure. When I started the diet I wasn't convinced I had Candidiasis and the thought of managing to keep the diet up for a month seemed laughable. Once I had discovered that did have it, the length of time it would take to get rid of it became much less of an issue. I wanted it gone. If it was going to take weeks then, well, it was just going to take weeks.
It took about two and a half months of feeling very ill before I felt better. That ties up with a rule of thumb I've seen mentioned that says that for each year you have had Candidiasis you will take a month to recover.
Update, mid October 2002: After nearly four months I find it very easy to continue the diet with the odd slip here and there. Having eaten and drank the way I have been for this long it all seems perfectly normal. In fact when I tried some 70% cocoa chocolate, the kind that many people find too bitter, I found it so sweet the hairs on my arms were literally and visibly standing on end! I'm currently planning to keep up the diet for several more months and in fact see no reason to reintroduce anything more than fruit (and just possibly the occasional beer instead of red wine or whiskey!) for the rest of my life.
My nutritionist has said it would be advisable to keep doing it for a total of around a year. This might sound very scary indeed if you are contemplating following the diet. All I can do is stress what I have just said - it's very, very easy and natural once you've been following it for a while! Another way to look at it is, depending perhaps on just how ill you feel, what would you pay, give or do to feel normal again? If you even felt half as ill as I did then you would do a lot more than just follow this diet!
The link between Candida and mercury seems fairly strong. There are several theories as to why this is. The (British) National Candida Society says it is likely to be the fact that mercury damages the endocrine system leading to the symptoms associated with Candidiasis.
There is also another theory that I think is worth mentioning:
Candida absorbs mercury. In fact, it is thought by some to be a basic defence, from our point of view, to heavy metal poisoning via ingestion. In other words, we eat something with heavy metals in it, the metal is absorbed by the yeast cells, which in the normal way eventually die and are passed out of the gut.
However, when Candida is growing in its fungal form the mercury it absorbs will be passed along the rhizoids. When a macrophage cell (part of our immune response) attacks the rhizoid it gets a "mouth" full of mercury. Macrophage cells are very susceptible to mercury and so are promptly inactivated. Meaning your immune response to the Candida is severely limited!
I don't know if this is the actual reason of course, it's just a neat theory.
This diet, with its restrictions on carbs, looks very similar to low-carb slimming diets. I did lose some weight overall on this diet but only to the point where I had my normally low level of body fat. I lost more than I would have liked early on when I was feeling very ill with the Herxheimer reaction but have since regained around 4 or 5 pounds.
If you are eating enough protein and fat and, importantly, not going hungry you will not lose any more than body fat. Unless you start to starve yourself you will never lose muscle. Since you are restricting your carbs it's important to up the protein and fat - you must get your energy from somewhere!
I want to say that again. You have to replace the carbs, so you must eat more protein and fat. It's very important not to starve youself at all. If you are hungry - eat! Your body will need a lot of fuel as it heals.
As it happens I am thoroughly convinced that a low-carb diet is a very good idea for long term health. I also believe that raising the level of fat in your diet is a healthy thing to do. It is hard to avoid doing so if you reduce your carb intake. There are many conflicting views on this, the best thing to do is read a few of them and try things for yourself! If you want more info on this then a good book to read is "Eat Fat, Get Thin" by Barry Groves ISBN: 0091825938 Another book that thoroughly details the effects of a low-carb diet on the endocrine system is "Protein Power" by Dr.s Michael and Mary Dan Eades ISBN: 0722539614 Although I disagree with them on their rather paranoid view of fats to be honest. For a really quick read up on why eating this way is the most natural thing to do try "Neanderthin" by Ray Audette. Although I disagree with him when he says obesity is an auto immune disease (I think it's simply an endocrine imbalance caused by eating the wrong things, that seems to be the simpler explanation).
I must admit to never having read the Atkins Diet book. I really ought to since it's the low carb diet that most people have heard of! Overall I am rather suspicious that the Atkins Foundation has now taken Dr Atkins's ideas and made rather a mockery of them by allowing so much of what I would consider to be processed junk food. It's just replacing processed carbohydrates with other processed foods whereas the underlying point to low carbing in my opinion is that you eat more natural food.
If you have PVS then by all means try nutrition and get some good friendly personal care products from someone like Weleda http://www.weleda.com/.
But everything I've read, and my own experience suggests you should be looking at removing any mercury you may have, anywhere in your mouth and then going on an anti-Candida diet and taking anti fungals.
Once I've been feeling well for a few weeks, I am going to try a course of chelating agents to attempt to remove the last of the mercury from my system. At the moment I'm intending to use Sea Greens Amalgam Detox followed by their Wild Seaweed Food capsules (http://www.oceansofgoodness.com/).
I am not planning to then go back to the dizzy heights of Guinness consumption I kept up during my student days or the pounds of sugar I used to eat a few years ago. Severe illness gives you a very good lesson in exactly why eating the right things is the only real option. But I do plan to be able to have a drink and enjoy chocolate again! Mmmm chocolate...
More importantly, I am going to be healthy again!
Update, March 2004: I did take the Sea Greens tablets but never used the Sea Greens Amalgam Detox since it was so expensive and my health now appears to be very good. If it wasn't so good I may well consider spending that money and seeing if it made a difference.
Update, late September 2002: I seem to be much, much better. In fact, better than I can remember being since long before I had mono. Much better memory, longer concentration span, clearer thinking, more relaxed.
Being rather stupid, I booked a holiday in the Alps some time ago. It was walking part of the Tour of Mont Blanc. Not technically demanding (you can do it with the guidebook and no mountaineering skills at all) but very physically challenging! It involves walking up 2500 meter peaks with a rucksack for five days.
It was not the smartest thing I could have chosen bearing in mind that in March walking up two flights of stairs was very hard work. But I survived it at least as well as my two friends! I even managed to survive the cheese, bread and wine I was forced to consume.
Although a couple of little indicators convinced me to be much more careful with my diet now I'm back. I noticed that after a couple of nights in a row of drinking wine my guts would be a little upset. Also that I'd need to go for a leak a bit more often than I would normally. And the weirdest by far is something that I'd not noticed until it cleared up; the skin around my finger nails used to be ragged and would often bleed. Now it's okay but if I start to overdo the wine/carbs then they get ragged again!
Update, mid October 2002: I managed to get myself out to the Alps for another few days and this time avoided the bread but ate 70% cocoa chocolate (the last time I was eating 99% cocoa chocolate!). Everything went much better. The only glitch was one night when I drank a pint of lager as well as the wine - I was up five times to go to the toilet and felt slightly hung over the next morning!
At the moment I'm planning to see what whiskey will do to me instead of wine...
Update, late November 2002: I am still getting even better! More energy than ever, still better concentration but what's really noticeable is the lack of irratability and the background level of anxiousness that was slowly rising in my life with no apparent underlying cause has receded. I could never figure why I would get so anxious about so many things that I consciously wasn't actually concerned about.
A close friend of mine first pointed out that I was irritable when I was Post Viral and at first I didn't believe her. Now that it's gone I very much do! The change is amazing and has already directly affected my life in several ways.
The other thing is that I've started climbing again and so have managed to acquire some nice thick skin on my fingers. So what? Well, since getting ill I noticed that when the skin softened in water, like when I was washing up, it wouldn't soften along the lines of my finger prints as it used to. It should soften in small circles about one or two millimetres across. It would then stay soft and shear off leaving soft skin underneath, which was no good for climbing. I even showed it to good friends of mine that climb and remember even then saying that it looked like a fungal infection. They dismissed it and so did I. The point here is, that when the skin softens in water now, it softens along the lines of the thickened skin and finger prints, not in many tiny circles anymore!
A small sign but a good one.
I'm off all the anti-fungals and supplements apart from the vitamins as of this week. Just finished some gentle chelation from Sea Greens (see Conclusion). Plan to try out something more powerful next...
oh, and whiskey does indeed seem to do me no harm even in amounts sufficient to see me very merry and out dancing!
Update, October 2003: This might sound odd. Oh bugger, this will sound odd but here it is: I was walking to the car after work today (I work a lot at the moment - evenings and weekends - big project finishing) when I started to think about how not only do I not feel ill, I feel positively, glowingly healthy. Colds and flu sweep through the office and if I'm unlucky I'll have a slightly sore throat first thing in the morning and last thing at night for a few days. My holiday this year was walking the length of the Tatra mountains along the Polish/Slovak border doing big height gains and long distances carrying a 14kg rucksack. It was easy(ish!) and learning enough Polish to carry on eating low-carb was fun! So what's so odd sounding you may ask? Well I was so happy at not only being not-ill but very healthy I welled-up a bit and had to scurry to the car...
So how is it I am this way? I eat stupid amounts of fat, meat, dairy and vegetables and no appreciable carbs. In other words I eat no grain (bread, pasta etc.), no fruit (though blue berries, straw berries and lingon berries (Swedish things) seem to do me no harm now so they are coming back into my diet - whoohoo!), no potatoes and no rice. I also take a Patrick Holford's "Advanced Optimum Nutrition Formula" multi-vitamin (I disagree with that guy over the proportion of carbohydrates in his dietary recommendations but he makes a fantastic vitamin pill!), some organic MSM (1000mg - just gut feeling on this one, can't put my finger on it), and a magnesium supplement (Note 2004 March: This text used to say that it was calcium that was doing me good but I was taking it in combined form with magnesium. When I went for a pure calcium tablet all the benefits went away!) It's worth mentioning that the Magnesium I find very important indeed. It seems to prevent any constipation I would occasionally get (after drinking wine actually!) and seems to have a generally very positive effect on my health. It also helps someone I know massively with depression (much more info here http://www.coldcure.com/html/dep.html). All the supplements I get from Higher Nature except the magnesium which I get in a chelated form from Holland & Barret (a high street health shop in the UK) or Bio Care does a very good but expensive Magnesium Taurate (http://www.biocare.co.uk/Pages/page5.html).
Just to say that again, I eat a lot of fat and veg and I don't eat carbs - that's the key to me. I'd like to stop the vitamins but with the documented decline in the levels of vitamins and minerals in food I doubt I ever can.
My health has improved over the whole period since my last update albeit unsteadily. I have not woken up every day and felt better. Some times I felt worse but only worse than I happened to feel the week before - which was great! In other words, try not to be disheartened when you feel bad again - even if you felt great for a month then felt a bit rough for a few weeks. Stick with it and I think you stand a very good chance of feeling better still eventually!
What's more, my lovely girlfriend has been converted by my rantings and my cooking and now eats as I do. And we probably daily remark on how well we eat - eating and preparing food is a central part of our relationship! She has also noticed all kinds of health benefits. Including her weight steadying (it's come up to normal and is holding there), a complete lack of tendency to faint (she used to hold on to something as she stood just in case - now she doesn't) and the lack of dizziness when out walking for long periods (she used to carry sugary snacks especially - now she wouldn't touch them!).
People ask how long I will stay on this "diet". I find it a slightly odd question - this "diet" is the way I plan to eat for the rest of my very long and very healthy life!
Update, October 2007: Still better than ever! Since I'm basically healthy I now only notice how much better I am when I realise I either bounce back from something more quickly or am simply unaffected by it. For instance, for a long time after I got well even a single pint of beer would make me feel a little tired the next day. But now a couple of pints of beer or even three and I won't feel it the next day (not a regular occurence by any means!).
My cholesterol balance (HDL/LDL) levels have been tested by a company health checkup on a couple of occasions and are excellent. The last time I was tested the nurse said she'd been doing the job for nine months and mine were some of the best she'd ever seen!
I am convinced that vitamins have a big part to play in all this. Eating lots of vegetables and everything possible organic helps there without loading up on pills. Though a good quality vitamin pill I think is a good idea.
My sinusses are the only thing that aren't perfect. They can be a little congested and each time I think they've finally calmed down they flare up again a few months later. But that's something I'm sure I'll crack!
There are countless Candida pages on the web. These are a few highlights that would be worth checking out as a starting point.
Russ's Web: Candidiasishttp://home.earthlink.net/~bmgei/yeast/home.htm
An extremly useful and in depth information goldmine on Candidiasis! This ought to be read!
The Candida FAQ
Just about everything you ever wanted you know about Candida. Excellent info. (The site never seems to be up so I've grabbed a zipped up copy - better to try the original site first of course).
Candida: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Approaches
A very, very good page with good explanations and well backed up information.
Grape Fruit Seed Extract Main Information Page
This is the main page on the NutriTeam site who sell Citricidal as Nutribiotic in the U.S.A. In the UK, it can be purchased as Citricidal by mail order from Higher Nature (01435 883484). Or from some health food shops including Infinity Foods in Brighton. (Higher Nature sell very high quality supplements, try not to let their magnet and energy cream selling leaflet weirdness put you off!).
Candida Specific Page on the above NutriTeam site.
Treating Candida with Grapefruit Seed Extract
The book this guy's written looks interesting too.
The Fungus Among Us Candida albicans
Pam's Helpline (mercury fillings information)
There's a lot of info on mercury fillings out there. This is a concise site with a lot of good info.
How I Was Cured of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
A very interesting story about mercury fillings and CFS (very much linked to PVS).
Battling Chronic Yeast
The same guy and his yeast battle.
This page was first posted (after many days of writing and editing!) in late September 2002. It was last updated on the 31st of October 2007. It usually lives here http://www.daves-pvs.org.uk/
Please feel free to email me with any, comments or corrections! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org But please bear in mind that I do not hold any formal qualifications in medicine! I will therefore be unable to give anything more than a personal opinion of what I might do in a hypothetical situation.