I want to preface this by saying: I’m not a doctor. I’m not medically trained and what I say in this blog is the accumulation of my own personal experiences, opinions, and research. I encourage everyone to do their own research when it comes to their health. We only get one body. Make the best of it and take care of it.
Also, I’d like to say this article is riddled with what some may consider “uncomfortable” biological terms and topics. Readers, be warned.
I have a systemic fungal infection. There is no one person to blame, therefore no blame to make. Unless, that is, I head back to the beginning of time itself and chastise Eve (and Adam) for getting their hands on that dirty Knowledge Fruit.
But, one must ask, why did God put the fruit there in the first place?
The eternal question. Or, one of many.
My guess? Because He likes to give us a choice. Because, without choice, love isn’t real. And even God wants real love.
But, I digress…
What is Systemic Fungal Infection?
A great majority of the population–especially advanced countries like the U.S. and Europe, where diets are lacking in green vegetables–suffers from systemic (“whole body”) fungal (“yeast“) infection. That’s right: we’re all walking yeast infections. We feed the disease with sugar or anything else we eat that gets converted to sugar in our bodies: alcohol, grains, starches, flours.
Okay. But, you may be wondering, if almost everyone has this infection, how did we contract it in the first place?
Answer: By being born.
You have it, your mother who carried you had it, her mother had it… all the way back to dear Eve. Same with dads (so don’t get cocky, fellas). Just as women transmit fungi to their children through bodily fluids (e.g. shared blood during pregnancy or through breast milk), men transmit fungi through bodily fluids (i.e. semen) during intercourse.
So, unless we’re going to blame all of humanity that ever existed for our communal illness, we ought to start taking some personal responsibility for our individual health so we can minimize the damage.
I’ve mentioned the dangers of mold before–it’s mycotoxins and adverse effects on human health, why you should NOT clean mold with [chlorinated] bleach, et cetera. But you also may remember me saying that mold is everywhere; you can’t escape it. We breath it, touch it, and are exposed to it every second of every day. Even if you lived in a bubble, the mold already in your body would grow and continue to infect you.
That is, if you continued to feed it.
Symptoms of Systemic Fungal Infection (SFI)
Consider this: When I get a cold, my major symptoms are usually nasal congestion, body ache, and runny nose. When my husband gets a cold, his major symptoms are different: cough, chest congestion, chills. Same infection; different symptoms.
You may notice the same thing between members of your household: If a sickness goes around, each person may experience one symptom more than another person. Again: same infection, different symptoms.
Systemic fungal infection is no different: same infection, different symptoms.
The trouble for most of us is that, by the time symptoms of a SFI (systemic fungal infection) really start negatively impacting our lives, it’s extremely likely that one or more of four Incidents has already occurred:
- A Fake Normalcy: The symptoms have come on so slowly–over a period of months or years, even decades–that they are now “normal”. You don’t recognize these symptoms as “illness”, but just as a regular part of your daily life and, therefore, you won’t seek treatment or even realize you need it.
- The Sickness Label: You’ve been convinced this sickness you feel–this general malaise, “unwellness”, or “yuckiness” you feel–is due to something else and you’re determined not to accept anything other than this LABEL as the cause of your grief. (“I have XYZ Condition. Woe is me.”) You use this condition as your scapegoat and reason for not searching further. (For instance, I could have stuck with my pan colitis label, I could have surrendered and succumbed to the frustration, sadness, and depression of having a chronic disease, but I didn’t; I trusted my gut to tell me there was something else wrong, and now I don’t rely on steroids to function normally for the rest of my life like the doctors thought I’d have to.)
- The Trust Cycle: You’ve been convinced by doctors, who have “learn[ed] about fungal and yeast problems, but only in a limited way,” (credit) that your only hope is antibiotics (which make SFIs worse), steroids (which make SFIs worse), or other pharmaceutical drugs (which may likely wreck your immune system and make your SFI worse), leading to “new” conditions that cause the cycle to repeat.
- A Root Cause: You’ve finally figured out you’re sick from an SFI, but it’s too late. You’ve been so sick for so long that the fungus has genetically changed your body and you can’t go back to being healthy. All you can do is maintain the current course of illness, pain, or disrepair. This is “survival mode”. The best you can do (maybe) is to keep the infection from making you WORSE, but you must take drastic action that most people aren’t willing to take.
If a SFI has made you too sick for too long, it’s very likely that by now the fungus has genetically changed your body & you can’t go back to being healthy.
The tricky part of systemic fungal infection is that the list of symptoms are near endless. This makes systemic fungal infections exceedingly difficult to diagnose, and medical insurers are getting off easy because of it. Two people chronically affected by the same fungus (for example, two people who lived the same amount of time in a mold-infected house) can show dramatically different symptoms at very different times and at varying degrees, depending on levels of fungus toxins in their bodies and the general health of the individual’s bodies during the time of exposure (which determines the body’s ability to resist infection).
That said, the sickness caused by SFI is nearly untraceable, therefore insurance companies don’t/won’t pay up, yet the effects of the disease are broad and wide and sometimes very awful, even debilitating.
However, let me give a “short list” of symptoms that I’ve connected to my own SFI flare ups, that is, when my resident fungus gets out of control. WARNING: We’re dipping into human biology and bodily functions here, so avert your eyes if you can’t handle it:
- Athlete’s Foot (especially itchy around the nail beds)^
- Dry, itchy skin (also: dry [i.e. frizzy], lifeless hair)
- Stinky armpit sweat (Like, 16-year-old boy stank.)
- A white, dry crust that forms on the very tip of the inside of my nostrils. (Gross? Yes. Embarrassing, yes! Mysterious? Not anymore!)
- Uncontrollable itching around my nostrils^
- Small patches of scaly and/or itchy skin, especially on my upper arms^
- Restlessness/Insomnia (even if I’m really tired)
- Chronic fatigue*
- Brain fog*
- Belly bloat (a combination of gas and inflammation that gives me the four months pregnant, “ate too many burritos” look without the joy of experiencing either)*
- A CRAZY, drug addict-like craving for sugars, sweets, and/or carbs
- Intestinal inflammation & cramps (mine was labeled as Pan Colitis)*
- Psst.. inflammation can actually create the belly bloated look. It’s not necessarily gas or fat that’s making your belly stick out–it might actually be your intestines seriously inflamed! If that’s the case, reduce the inflammation and you’ll reduce the belly.
- Diarrhea and constipation, which were actually a sign of intestinal inflammation.
- Hint: If you don’t get anything out of taking insoluble fiber supplements–that is, if it just makes your tummy feel “heavy” and doesn’t firm up your poo to get it out of your system in, um, proper order–treating your intestinal inflammation should be your first order of business. It doesn’t matter how much “bulk” you consume. If the pipes aren’t big enough, it ain’t gettin’ through! (Think of insoluble fiber as the “scrubby brushes” that clean out your pipes and soluble is the “Drain-O gel” that absorbs water and carries toxins out by dissolving them. You need BOTH!)
So that’s what happens to me, in a nutshell, when my SFI gets out of hand. TMI? Well, I’m open about my bodily functions (Everyone Poops, after all!) and being in tune with our bodies is the best way of keeping them in tip-top shape.
*Just Asterisk Me!
If you’ve read any of my other posts on my gluten sensitivity, you may notice that the SFI symptoms with a single asterisk (*) overlap with those of my gluten allergy. You may wonder if I’m making all this fuss up about fungal infections and gluten, but let me explain:
Though my SFI and gluten sensitivity symptoms overlap, they don’t equate; that is, one doesn’t equal the other. Trust me: I’ve done a lot of food experiments on myself over the years (okay, not really “experiments”, but times I gave in to my cravings and re-experienced the awfulness of SFI and gluten sensitivity) and I can tell a difference. That, and I know when I’ve not been eating any gluten but have been eating sugar (i.e. usually in the form of chocolate or ice cream), and vice versa. Even though carbs/grains convert to sugar in the body, it’s an altogether different effect than when I consume a lot of purely sugary foods like candy and desserts.
The symptoms marked with a little “up” arrow (aka a caret (^)) are things I’ve learned to treat by use of certain essential oils, namely Tea Tree Oil (TTO) and, most recently, Lavender Essential Oil. I’ve been using TTO for a couple of years now and it’s my go-to for fungus-related ailments.
TTO has strong anti-fungal properties and, even though it smells like a super strong version of Vaporub (hubby thinks it smells like kerosene or gasoline), it totally gets the job done.
I’ll dab it on itchy spots of skin, use a cotton swab to treat my toenails (I do this every time as a precaution when I give myself a mini-pedi and my toes have never looked so good), or rub a few drops onto particularly itchy scalp areas. It takes only one or two applications of TTO to get the fungal itching to calm down–because dandruff, Athlete’s Foot, and some types of patched skin itching (sometimes mistaken for eczema) are caused by fungal infection.
Lavender oil is also an excellent anti-fungal treatment, but it costs significantly more than TTO. But, I recently purchased a bottle of lavender essential oil because, well, let’s face it: I don’t think the husband likes me smelling like a gas station when I crawl into bed. Not sexy! If I’m going to put any essential oil on my head, it’s better to use the expensive stuff and smell like flowers! (Plus, I’ve been brushing it on my lashes to make them grow thicker.)
Do you have an SFI?
It’s very likely you do, you just don’t know it.
Yours may materialize as a recurring cold. Or maybe you have flu-like symptoms without evidence of flu virus after taking a rapid influenza diagnostic test (RIDT) at the doctor’s office.
Ladies, if you get vaginal yeast infections often and Monistat(R) is a must-have in your medicine cabinet because you never know when your next “episode” will occur, I can almost guarantee yeast (which are fungus) are overriding your system and you need to treat the root cause, not just the symptom.
Other common signs of SFI include oral thrush (babies often get this), facial or body acne that doesn’t clear with antibacterial soaps or medicines, or other inexplicable illness.
I believe one reason the acne product Proactiv(R) is so effective for people who don’t see results with other acne treatments is because the first two of its three steps includes using an fairly powerful, 2.5% anti-fungal agent (benzoyl peroxide). The last of Proactiv’s three steps is a “hydrator” that includes mild levels of anti-fungal, medicinal plant extracts like sophora and koji (kojic acid), [which is, ironically, derived from the fungus aspergillus oryzae; my guess is that it’s kinda like how anti-venoms are made from venom, or vaccines are made from virus] as well as plant extracts that treat inflammation.
Even so, acne often returns once benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid treatment is discontinued. Why does acne return? Likely because the root cause hasn’t been treated. Say, a systemic fungal infection, for instance.
Now I want to make clear that there are such things as cold, flu, and other illness caused by things other than fungi. I’m not one of those people who believe there is a single culprit to the ills of the globe called Fungi; that bacteria and virus couldn’t get into your system and make you ill without the help of fungi. Bacteria and virus are smart in their own ways, and just because you have an illness doesn’t mean it’s rooted in SFI. This is where lab tests, doctors, and other medical practitioners come in.
If you can’t recognize when it’s the fungi controlling you, you’ll give in and feed the enemy without a second thought.
I don’t by any means intend to denounce the purpose and usefulness of modern medical practice; it has its place. I also don’t want to get crazy and make anyone think everything is caused by fungus (leading to over diagnosis).
But, if you’ve done labs tests and it seems like bacteria, virus, protozoa, amoeba, et cetera aren’t the cause of your trouble, I suggest you consider pointing a finger at fungus.
Treating YOUR Systemic Fungal Infection
So, if you decide you have a fungal infection, what do you do?
Well, you can go to the doctors’ and get tested for fungal disease. However, many labs only test for candida (kinda the rage right now, unfortunately) or a minor handful of the thousands of fungal residues and antibodies possible. If the fungus that is infecting you isn’t part of their test, the test will come up negative even if you are suffering SFI. See the problem?
In my opinion, the one clear teller of an out of control SFI is this: intense sugar craving.
If you ever crave sugar with a crazy passion (whether in the form of candy, desserts, soda, sweet drinks [e.g. sweet teas or juices], carbs, or alcohol), it is NOT NORMAL. You are craving FUNGUS FUEL because–surprise, surprise!–you have an out-of-control systemic fungal infection. Fight the craving!
(Nothing wrong with the occasional sweet treat, but having a “sweet tooth” is very different. The term and the related craving may be very common, but being “common” does not make something “normal”. Unfortunately, too many have succumbed to Incident #1: a fake normalcy. Wrong!)
I won’t go into the explanations of how fungi manipulate your brain and body to get what it wants, how it’s a mutagen and morphs your DNA so that your body’s natural defense system won’t attack it so that it has a safe, warm, cozy, well-fed place to be…
Just understand that fungi are living inside you and because they are alive their natural desire to stay that way is fully intact and they’ll do whatever they have to do in order to survive.
Fungi are no less concerned with their ultimate survival than any other living organism on planet Earth, and they’ll take advantage of you in order to achieve that goal.
I know. Sounds crazy, but it’s true: fungi are parasitic, they live inside you, they have intelligence, and will manipulate your mind and trick your body so that you’ll feed them. If you can’t recognize when it’s the fungi controlling you, you’ll give in and feed the enemy without a second thought.
We’re all in remission when it comes to SFIs. We all have fungus living inside of us and that’s OK. The trick is to make sure it stays under control, not IN control.
Just consider a tapeworm, another, more well-known (though not more common!) bodily parasite:
If you don’t know a tapeworm is in your system, stealing all your nutrients, you’ll just think you’re hungry and continue eating until you’re full, thus feeding the thing that may eventually kill you.
(For more on parasitic fungi, consider reading The Most Common, The Most Deadly: The Silent War Within by Jame Lim, who discusses many of theses complex concepts in simple terms.)
Don’t freak out. Just be aware.
No need to get extreme and write off all sugars and starches for the rest of your life. We need some carbohydrates for a balanced diet. About 10% of your diet being carbs is right, with the rest being protein and vegetables. Unfortunately, modern diets are in the 80%+ carb range. Check it out:
There’s a reason plastic plates like the ones in the picture are divided, and it’s not just to satisfy people with a phobia about one food touching the other. The big portion should be filled with vegetables (ideally, fresh ones and, no, potatoes don’t count); one small portion is for meat (protein); the other small portion is your total of carbs, including dessert.
Just remember: We’re all just in remission when it comes to systemic fungal infections. We all have fungus living inside of us and that’s OK. The trick is to make sure it stays under control, not IN control. As this website states when referring to candida albicans overgrowth in relation to alcoholism (Candida A. is only one of the thousands of types of parasitic fungi),
“A healthy body resists yeast overgrowth.”
And how do you keep your body healthy?
Start by staying away from as much sugar as possible. Then get your veggies (that is, your vitamins and minerals and fiber and enzymes from food), your sunshine (fungus can’t grow in sunlight [you ever see mold growing in sunshine?]), your fresh air (fungi hate fresh air, too), your exercise (better moving blood means better inner body cleaning)…
You know: All that stuff your parasitic fungi don’t want you to have.**
Have questions? Ask me!
I’ve been researching this topic for over three years and may have answers to your inquiries. Though, remember, I’m not a doctor, and my opinion should not be a replacement for professional medical care or your own research.
**Seriously, though. People with very advanced SFI are prone to eating junk food, sitting in the dark, sleeping during the day, staying indoors, and not moving. Funny–isn’t it?–how all those things are opposite of what contributes to a healthy body that will resist yeast overgrowth?