(NaturalNews) Certain biologists and "alternative" practitioners have long been supporting the notion that intestinal fungi can contribute to disease. When we take antibiotics or eat a western diet, yeasts like Candida Albicans gets a chance to flourish in the intestinal tract. Healthy gut flora is vital in maintaining our immune system, and severe alterations lead to poor health and disease.
However, the general medical community has been downplaying the role of intestinal fungi. This is largely due to the fact that little research has been done; it's difficult to diagnose and it can't be treated properly with pharmaceuticals.
New research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center looked at the connection between fungi and Ulcerative Colitis.
Dr. David M. Underhill and his team at the Inflammatory Bowel and Immunobiology Research Institute have been studying the interaction between Commensal Fungi and the C-Type Lectin Receptor, Dectin-1. In healthy animals Dectin-1 is produced and works as the body's immune response against fungi.
The risk of developing Ulcerative Colitis increases significantly in mice with a defective form of Dectin-1. Dr. Underhill and his team treated these animals with an antifungal drug called Fluconazole and observed that their symptoms moderated.
In humans, a mutated form of Dectin-1 is closely related to Ulcerative Colitis that doesn't respond to medical therapy. When this important receptor isn't working properly our protection against intestinal fungi is decreased and we are more prone to develop Candidiasis.
It's already known that gut flora in patients with UC differs significantly from healthy individuals. The fungal colonization of the colon may influence the activation of UC, and antifungal treatment causes clinical improvement in most individuals. Patients with Crohn's disease and their healthy relatives are colonized with C. albicans more commonly than control families.
30 years after "The Missing Diagnosis" by Orian Truss and "The Yeast Connection" by William Crook were released, there's growing research in the medical community on the importance of gut flora and intestinal fungi.
In a healthy individual yeasts like Candida are kept under "control" by beneficial flora and receptors like Dectin-1. Antibiotics and other drugs, sugar, grains, excessive hygiene and hereditary factors decrease our protection against intestinal fungi. Treating fungi with antifungal drugs is only a short-term solution since it doesn't address the underlying problems. Prevention and treatment should focus on establishing healthy gut flora which in turn will protect against gut dysbiosis.
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Standaert-Vitse A, Sendid B, Joossens M, et al. Candida albicans Colonization and ASCA in Familial Crohn's Disease Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Jul;104(7):1745-53. Epub 2009 May 26.
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N Engl J Med. 2009 Oct 29;361(18):1760-7. Human dectin-1 deficiency and mucocutaneous fungal infections.Ferwerda B, Ferwerda G, Plantinga TS, et al.
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