Candida are a genus of yeast or fungi which are frequently present in the skin, urinary organs, and digestive tracts of humans. Heavy growth of Candida can cause many health problems including diarrhea and food malabsorption, production of alcohol and other toxins in the intestines, and increased risk for asthma and skin rashes.
Candida can also cause life-threatening systemic infections in those with compromised immune systems such as premature babies, severely malnourished patients, patients with cancer or HIV, or those on immunosuppressive drugs. Candida overgrowth is especially common in people who have had multiple antibiotic courses, have diabetes, are malnourished and/or on high sugar diets, or who are on immunosuppressive drugs like steroids.
A number of earlier studies have reported that oral consumption of probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can reduce risk of both Candida related digestive problems such as diarrhea and Candida infections to the vagina/ vulva in women. Two recent papers have documented that oral probiotic therapy can be useful in both young and old patients.
An Indian study examined levels of Candida colonization in a group of 150 seriously ill hospitalized children (age 3 months to 12 years) on broad spectrum antibiotics for at least 48 hours. Seventy five patients received twice daily oral treatment of a probiotic mixture containing Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces (Saccharomyces is a mold used to make bread), while the other 75 young patients received placebo. After 14 days of treatment or placebo, the presence of Candida in the urine was significantly lower in the probiotic treated children versus the placebo children (17% vs. 37%, p=0.006).
A Brazilian study reported on the effects of probiotic treatment in elderly adults and effects of Candida in the mouth (oral cavity). Forty two women aged 65 or older received a supplement containing Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacterium breve 3 times a week for 3 months. After 3 months the patients have significantly lower levels of Candida in their mouth and also had significantly higher levels of levels of Candida-IgA- antibody levels. Candida IgA plays an important role in preventing overgrowth of Candida in the digestive and urinary tracts.