To throw in an extra complication, taking antibiotics makes you feel better! This is one that’ll really throw you for a loop, because your bladder is driving you nuts, but no matter how many test strips you pee on, or how many cultures you have done, there’s nothing there, and when the doctor gives you antibiotics just to shut you up, you feel better…but it comes back with a vengeance every time you stop.
You don’t have a UTI. And you’re not crazy, either.
What you have is a Candida overgrowth in your gut that is irritating the bloody hell out of your bladder. You may also have an undiagnosed co-infection of the surface tissue (click here to find out what to do about that part).
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Self, if it’s Candida, a fungus not directly affected by antibiotics, why would antibiotics make my bladder feel better?”.
I’ll get to that in a minute.
This is where I start to lay some science on you, but don’t worry, there is no math.
As most of us know, after you’ve been on antibiotics, for any kind of an infection, Candida goes crazy in your gut because the competition, beneficial bacteria, gets killed off. “But I took Diflucan, and probiotics!” you protest.
Here’s the thing: anti-fungals get absorbed into your bloodstream in the small intestine, meaning the Candida in the large intestine rampages unchecked. Same with the probiotics, they make a happy home and settle down to have babies in the small intestine. Over time, the Candida in the large intestine feels the urge to go adventuring, Genghis Khan-style.
They ride in, slaughter the peaceful villagers and ooze their toxins into your bloodstream in higher quantities, because the small intestine is more porous than the large.
Within the intestine, there is a proximal to distal gradient in osmotic permeability. As you proceed down the tube, the effective pore size through the epithelium decreases. This means that the duodenum is much more “leaky” to water than the ileum and the ileum more leaky than the colon. Do not interpret this to mean that as you go down the tube, the ability to absorb water decreases! It means that water flows across the epithelium more “freely” in the proximal compared to distal gut because the effective pore size is larger.
Toxins flow more freely too, right along with that water.
The symptoms of Candida poisoning creep up on you so gradually that you actually accept the slow deterioration of your health as normal.
Common symptoms include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of energy/general malaise
- Headaches/migraines/brain fog
- Decreased libido
- Inability to concentrate/poor memory
- Acid reflux
- Increasingly intense PMS symptoms
- Perpetual bloat that worsens with certain foods
- Recurring UTI’s
- Yeast infections
So what do these toxins have to do with bladder irritation and frequency?
One of the toxins Candida produces is acetaldehyde…
An accumulation of two toxins — acetaldehyde and gliotoxin — is especially common in those with systemic Candida overgrowth.
…which also happens to be a substance released into your body when alcohol is broken down in your digestive system.
Alcohol is metabolized by several processes or pathways. The most common of these pathways involves two enzymes—alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). These enzymes help break apart the alcohol molecule, making it possible to eliminate it from the body. First, ADH metabolizes alcohol to acetaldehyde, a highly toxic substance and known carcinogen (1). Then, in a second step, acetaldehyde is further metabolized down to another, less active byproduct called acetate (1), which then is broken down into water and carbon dioxide for easy elimination (2).
Remember, Candida is a yeast, and yeast ferments. Ergo, when you have a bad case of Candida, the toxic by-products of its fermentation process produce many of the same symptoms as drinking alcohol. Fatigue, malaise, headache, brain fog, nausea, heartburn ring a bell?
Check it out.
Acetaldehyde and its cronies are also irritants of the bladder tissue in their own right, in addition to their chemical effect in your kidneys that creates frequency. So, your Candida is growing more and more, which means it’s feeding more and releasing more toxins, and your physical condition is going steadily downhill. In addition to brain fog, headaches, PMS from hell and depression, your bladder is in almost constant pain and you daren’t get too far from a bathroom because you’re peeing your brains out.
Going back to why antibiotics can give you temporary improvement: Antibiotics wipe out beneficial bacteria in the gut, meaning Candida has less competition…meaning it’s fat, happy, and under less stress. When it’s not being attacked at all by any good bacteria, it’s releasing a minimal level of toxins, and your bladder breathes a sigh of relief. Then, you finish the antibiotics and take some probiotics because you’re smart like that, and all bladder hell breaks loose.
Congratulations, you’re worse now! The probiotics begin struggling with the Candida, some Candida dies, the dead bodies release all the toxins they contained, and those toxins move into your bloodstream.
Your bladder is so inflamed from the constant assault that all kinds of foods that are natural, mild irritants to the bladder, like dairy, nightshades, caffeine, and the like, are enough to send you off the deep end. You keep going back to the doctor, who diagnoses you with IC and suggests a strict diet. It helps a little, but not much, because when you’re really virtuous about your diet, avoiding sugar/carbs as well as outright irritants, you put Candida under stress, and it releases more toxins!
Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for: what to do about it.
Say it with me, people: Activated charcoal.
What you need to do is go on a charcoal cleanse, starting with the Q and D Cleanse and taking a capsule of caprylic acid with every meal and working your way up. You can take that, you can take OLE, you can drink strong cinnamon or ginger tea, just start killing Candida chemically as well as sweeping it away with charcoal. And don’t even think about just taking meds, going on a diet, and skipping the charcoal: it’s the only thing that will remove Candida through the length of your gut, restoring a healthy balance that will heal your whole body. Take the charcoal!
How long will it take to fix this, you wonder?
It depends on the quantity and virulence of your Candida, and whether or not it has a biofilm shield. Your mileage may vary.
It may fold in a day with a really big charcoal cleanse like I describe in the Shock and Awe post: you may need to take a daily charcoal dose for a week, or two, or three, with a big cleanse on the weekends. You won’t know until you start trying, but I can promise you this: as long as you keep going at it with activated charcoal and natural Candida killers, you’re going to win.
Your bladder will be calm, and happy, and you’ll be able to eat and sleep and live like a normal human being again.
Once you’ve started the charcoal, take a daily dose of probiotics, L-glutamine, and perhaps a digestive enzyme and DGL (take according to label instructions): links to them all are here. Basically, you’re doing a full gut cleanse and reboot, sweeping out the Candida, regenerating the gut lining, and streamlining the digestive process with licorice and enzymes while the probiotics start colonizing that new gut lining. Eat alkaline, hydrate, and exercise if you can: the increased circulation and perspiration speeds the detox process.
Godspeed, my darlings.