Q I've been suffering from anxiety for many years. I have tried lots of things and feel like I'm at the end of my tether. However, deep down, I don't believe that anxiety alone is creating my symptoms. It could be the symptoms themselves that are making me feel anxious, and this has developed into a vicious circle.
My symptoms include a foggy brain, dizziness, a feeling of being unbalanced, as if I'm going to fall over. For years, my stomach has felt very uncomfortable. I sometimes find that if I press my fingers into the sides if my head, the dizziness and fogginess disappear. I get eczema in my ears that flares up now and again, and is very painful. I also experience adrenaline rushes, and feel like my body is running too fast, and I cannot relax.
I'm on a diet free from meat, dairy, yeast, sugar and caffeine, as I have Candida albicans. I would be grateful for your advice. - Wendy Attwood, Birmingham
A You may take some comfort in that you are not alone. The symptoms you describe may well be linked to your Candida, and have been described by other sufferers of the 'yeast syndrome'.
While bloating and intolerance to certain foods are well-known physical indications of Candida, the psychological symptoms of the disorder are less well recognised. The foggy brain, dizziness, poor coordination and anxiety all feature in the long list of symptoms pointing to a yeast problem.
Your situation is indeed a vicious circle: the anxiety may be worsened by your other presenting symptoms, leading to full-on anxiety attacks (and, hence, the adrenaline rush) and this, in turn, does little good in managing the Candida.
Animal studies have revealed a link between psychological stress and a worsening of Candida symptoms. Spanish researchers, using rats, found that psychological stress aggravated the yeast infection, significantly increasing Candida counts and symptoms (Clin Diagn Lab Immunol, 2002; 9: 852-7). However, these findings may not necessarily apply to humans.
To alleviate your symptoms, you probably need to work on both your yeast and anxiety problems at the same time. So, it's good to hear that you are following an anti-Candida regime and have eliminated meat, dairy, yeast, sugar and caffeine from your diet. This will starve the yeast and halt its spreading. Other anti-Candida agents include:
* caprylic acid
* golden seal
* tea tree oil
It's a good idea to supplement your diet with some, if not all, of these items.
After ridding your system of the yeast, the next steps are to bring the gut and its digestive juices back on form, and to replenish the good gut flora. Try taking:
* antioxidant nutrients (such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and selenium), zinc and L-glutamine, commonly recommended to speed up healing of the gastrointestinal wall lining and restore its immunity
* pancreatic enzymes, which assist in the breakdown of protein in the gut and improve digestion. These enzymes - known as 'proteases' - also have beneficial antiparasitic properties (Gut, 1990; 33: 1331-7)
* probiotic supplements, specifically Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which will help to reestablish the normal gut-flora balance as well as increase intestinal acidity to repel Candida. High-fibre 'colonic cleansers' such as psyllium husks will also scrub out any yeasts breeding in the large intestine.