Friday, July 12, 2013

Ulcerative Colitis and the Role of Candida

One of the main causes of ulcerative colitis is the overgrowth of Candida, a gut flora. The inflammation of the colon, which is the main characteristic of ulcerative colitis, is due to the body's immune response against the proliferation of Candida.

A disease of the large intestine, ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease which is accompanied by severe inflammation of the colon and rectum accompanied by ulcers and open sores. Its major symptoms include diarrhea with bloody, mucus lined, watery stool and abdominal cramps. Rectal bleeding, anemia, weight loss, fatigue, nutritional imbalance, and even joint pains and arthritis are also some of its associated symptoms. Ulcerative colitis is often confused with Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome due to the similarities in symptoms and often becomes difficult to diagnose. Crohn's disease is also an inflammatory bowel disease but occurs mainly in the small intestine. Irritable bowel syndrome on the other hand is a functional disorder.

Though no particular cause of the disease has been found till now, ulcerative colitis is regarded as an autoimmune disease i.e. in which the body's immune system attacks itself. Actually the attack is not on the body but is triggered by an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans. A common gut flora, Candida usually is quite harmless. It is fed upon by probiotics, which are friendly bacteria that help kill harmful disease causing agents. When probiotics fall in number due to overuse of antibiotics, the yeast proliferates and takes over all healthy microbes.

Normally resident in the intestinal tract, genitals, throat and mouth, Candida can penetrate the intestinal lining and make its way to various organs of the body through the blood stream. Releasing several toxins in the body and the initiator of many illnesses, the overgrowth of Candida triggers the body's immune system into launching an attack which results in many chronic diseases like ulcerative colitis. The immune response to Candida leads to the inflammation of the colon resulting in colitis. The inflammation is actually a defensive weapon of the immune system in order to prevent the yeast from penetrating the intestinal wall. Hence, ulcerative colitis develops in the course of fighting a harmful microbe.

Being attached to the inner wall of the intestine, Candida provides a stimulus for the immune system to respond. The inflammation can be prolonged and can lead to further aggravation of the disease if the Candida overgrowth is not cleaned out properly. It is usually quite difficult to remove Candida as it suppresses the body's immune response on itself. Taking antibiotics further worsens the situation. Also foods rich in sugar, alcohol, cheese, chocolate, caffeine, nuts and fermented foods help in further proliferation of Candida and should be avoided.

For ulcerative colitis resulting from Candida overgrowth, the only way to heal the body is to get rid of the yeast. A holistic Candida cleanse goes a long way in healing the body. Treatment usually involves taking the right diet along with the prescription medication Nystatin which kills intestinal yeast like Candida and thereby removes the cause of ulcerative colitis.

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