The Yeast Connection: Women at Risk: An Interview with Elizabeth Crook and Carolyn Dean, M.D., and N.D

Article excerpt

In 1984, Dr. William Crook published The Yeast Connection, a book that explained the subtle and frustrating effects that Candida yeasts can have on a woman's body. Dr. Crook's goal was to teach women how to better care for themselves and control yeast overgrowths.

Twenty years later, the American public is still largely unaware about Candida yeasts and their effects. Dr. Crook's last work, The Yeast Connection and Women's Health, published in 2003, is an updated resource for understanding the relationship between yeast and so-called "unexplainable illness."

Nutrition Health Review had a chance to speak with Dr. Crook's daughter, Elizabeth, and Dr. Carolyn Dean, an expert on yeast conditions.

Q. What is yeast?

A. Yeast are microorganisms that live, normally, in everyone's body. There are many different kinds of yeast, but Candida albicans can overgrow in the gut and in the whole body and can exacerbate a whole series of health complaints. Yeasts are part of the healthy flora and fauna in our bodies, and they grow in the warm, moist creases of our body.

When the good bacteria get killed off by repeated doses of antibiotics or other things, our flora and fauna become unbalanced through diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, by birth control pills, and by just the normal fluctuation of hormones that women have--although men and women can both be affected by candidal overgrowth. Candida can create weaknesses in the intestinal walls, and this allows toxins to escape and to create havoc in all types of places.

Q. Are there different types of yeast?

A. (Carolyn Dean): According to Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., who founded DAN! the autism network, there are as many as 30 or 40 different strains of Candida.

Q. Can men have yeast infestations?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Do men have problems with it as well?

A. They do have problems, but men tend to get yeast less often because--number one--of their physiology. They do not have the warm, moist places like the vagina, they do not have hormonal fluctuations, and they generally see doctors less often than women, so they tend to take fewer antibiotics.

However, men can have all of the same symptoms. They can have everything from headaches, depression, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and more obvious things like fingernail and toenail fungus or fibromyalgia. Many of the common complaints that are implicated with Candida can certainly affect men.

Q. Are we born with yeast, or do we pick it up at some point?

A. It's part of our natural healthy flora and fauna, but the problem comes when it overgrows, because the good bacteria that keep it in balance get wiped out from antibiotics Or become out of balance because we are feeding the yeast with a whole lot of sugar. Yeast is problematic only when it is out of control.

Physicians have recognized vaginal yeast infections for years, and there are certainly lots of treatments on the market for them, but what is more controversial is when yeast actually gets into our system.

Q. Are doctors aware of yeast-related infections?

A. Many physicians, if they know about yeast, disagree with it. Many times, when people see the physician and have many complaints, such as feeling sick all over, and standard kinds of blood tests are run, yeast does not show up. So people will go from doctor to doctor and get set up with antidepressants. Many people who suffer from yeast do not know that this is their problem. That is one of the challenges, and their doctors do not see it.

Many times I hear, "Someone gave me a copy of The Yeast Connection, and as I read it, I read about myself. So I went back to my physician and asked him or her to help me or work with me on dealing with a yeast overgrowth or at least exploring whether yeast overgrowth could be a factor."

Q. What good can yeast do? …