Not so many people know about candida, the little instigator inside your body that challenges the immune system to keep it in your toes. But when thrown out of balance due to poor nutritional health and diet, this can mess up your intestinal flora. You may not be able to process vitamins and minerals properly, causing different autoimmune reactions. Pamela Wirth sits down with naturopath Dr. Michael Biamonte to talk about how to treat candida instead of making it worse or helping it develop high drug resistance. Dr. Biamonte also discusses the best diet to adapt to improve gut health, the right diagnostic tests to get, and how candida interferes with the thyroid gland.
Tell us about your background, varied in a number of different experiences, how you got here, and what you've found to be the most impactful.
One of the interesting things about me is I'm a Member of the Scientific Council of the IAACN, which means I'm one of the people who rate the tests that the nutritionists take, so that gives an added dimension to things. Originally, when I graduated from school, I started very interested in the interpretation of lab work, particularly blood work from a nutritional viewpoint. I found some people who were doing this already, who were doing it by computer, which is what I wanted to do. This is back in 1984.
Back then, computers were not the mainstream by any means. They were experimental in a sense, and I met up with a group of doctors from Grumman Aerospace. They were under contract for NASA through Grumman to develop a computer that could analyze the blood tests of the astronauts to give them the perfect nutritional balance. I worked with these fellows for quite a few years and we developed this whole model, which to my knowledge still, it's the only existing actual workable model of the human body on a computer.
We're using this model on patients, and we had a certain percentage of patients who didn't react correctly. It was around 30% or 35%. When they took the vitamins, they had strange reactions to the vitamins. I volunteered to find out what this was. This was unheard of. You give them these things and they have opposite reactions. We knew that even then, people with low stomach acid had problems tolerating medications and vitamins, but this was something way beyond that.
I was looking through their lab work and I was looking for common denominators, and I found that there was a common denominator in the lab work that they all had low neutrophils and high lymphocytes. The more I pinned this down and pulled the string, I determined that they had some type of infection in their intestines. I didn't quite know what it was, but I knew there was something there. I had them do stool tests with the Great Smokies Labs at the time, which is now Genova Labs and we found they had candida.
The candida was enough to make them not be able to process their vitamin and minerals correctly.
On top of that, it gave them bad reactions. I didn't know what candida was at the time. I told them to go to their doctors and tell the doctor, they have candida infection and it's interfering with this vitamin program they're doing. Let the doctor cure them, and come back. The people came back and they said, "My doctor says he doesn't know what candida is." The other doctors said, "Everybody has candida." Another doctor said, "There's no such thing." It was weird.
I was practicing in New York City at the time. I looked up in the neighborhood, functional doctors who would advertise they would treat this. I ended up sending quite a few of them to Dr. Atkins and Dr. Ronald Hoffman, who later became a good friend of mine and the patient came back and said, "What a difference that was. These people knew what I was talking about. They put me on treatment. I felt better for a while, but then it came back."
They didn't know what to do when it came back. I said to myself, "I better figure this out." I spent the next couple of years researching candida, listening to the patients, and what they were telling me happened when they tried to treat either with their doctor or by themselves. Eventually, it led me to write the book, The Candida Chronicles. I call it the Chronicles because it chronicled my actual adventure in understanding candida and all the twists and the zigs and the zags that I went through in finding out exactly what was going on. It was tricky.
For the simplest of terms, what is candida?
Candida is an organism. It's a fungus or yeast. It's dimorphic, which means it lives in two different states. It can live as yeast or live as a fungus, and it does this in your mucus membrane. It's normal to find it in the intestinal tract of most mammals of all kinds. Birds are loaded with candida. Humans have candida, but it's not a dominant organism in your flora.
Everyone's heard the term flora nowadays. We know about probiotics from watching TV and seeing them on TV. The probiotics make up your good flora. Candida mixes up part of the normal flora, but it's not considered good. Candid is there more than an instigator or a challenge to your immune system to keep it on its toes. It’s there in small amounts, it is normal to have a small amount. The problem with candida comes when something happens to imbalance your normal intestinal flora. Now there's a whole list.
What do you find is making things unbalanced in your research?
The most common, of course, is always in terms of antibiotic use. Antibiotics kill the probiotics that are living in your intestines. There's a long list of possible things that it can be. It could be you got into an accident. The shock of the accident disturbed your flora. You got into an accident. You had to go to the hospital. You're automatically put on antibiotics. You had surgery, and they put you on antibiotics. You take too many antacid pills, which will kill the flora. You are on some type of hormone or steroid, which also kills the flora. You took chemotherapy, which also can kill your flora.
Nowadays we have a new one on the list, which is COVID. We have found that COVID can cause candida and even more so, the vaccine can cause candida. We have this entire list of things that can cause candida, but it all boils down to the same mechanism. Something happened to destroy your friendly bacteria and that allowed the candida to go into overgrowth.
Once the candida goes into the overgrowth, unfortunately, candida releases a whole host of toxins into your body that is part of its normal metabolism. These toxins would be considered metabolites or substrates of the organism, and they vary from alcohols to mycotoxins, which are fungal-related toxins to neurological toxins, and the list just goes on.
These toxins interfere with your normal metabolic processes. They affect your nervous system, your detoxification system, and your cellular metabolism. As this goes on, this can eventually lead to a host of symptoms that are related. I wrote an article once about candida symptoms, and I said that you can count between 75 to 150 symptoms depending on how you want to classify them.
If you want to say bloating and gas, you can say that. If you want to say bloating and say gas separately, you can do that. It's a minimum of 75 symptoms, and most of them are related. The average person who develops candida begins with fatigue, and they're not quite sure what the fatigue is from or why it's happening.
They start having digestive problems. They can start having cognitive problems. Their memory is not right, and as this develops, they started becoming allergic where they hadn't been before. They start becoming very chemically sensitive. It can get to the point where they become what we used to call a universal reactor, which is a person who is reacting to everything in their environment. It can cause arthritic symptoms.
The average person who develops candida begins with fatigue, followed by digestive problems and even cognitive issues.
It's wild how much of this is connected to our gut. What do you do? People think that taking prebiotics and probiotics, or controlling your diet, that's enough. What are some things that people can think about and do and take action on to help themselves be optimal gut health?
The problem is candida is tricky. If the person goes to their doctor, they get the doctor to identify this. The doctor puts them on medication. The person within 3 or 4 months is going to relapse again because when candida's exposed to the same medicine, drug, or herb to try to kill us for longer than 21 days, it starts to mutate and it starts to become drug-resistant.
This is why nystatin, which is one of the most popular drugs used against candida, is such a problem because many strains of candida have been exposed to nystatin and they've become drug-resistant to it. This is true of herbs and medicines. The typical story we hear from the person is, "I went on this program where the doctor put me on this medicine. I was feeling better for the first month or two, and then I stopped feeling better. I started feeling worse. He raised the dose of the medicine, and that even made me feel worse. At that point, I didn't know what to do."
They usually go into self-treating themselves using things they find on the internet which usually have the same reaction. There's the same limited reaction that they have. The first problem in treatment is that people haven't learned enough that candida is sensitive, genetically switches easily, and it mutates. The first rule in treating candida which you learn in my book is that you must rotate the antifungals that you use.
For general systemic use, we usually pick four different antifungals that specifically work systemically, and we have the person rotate them four days each. We typically take 4 herbs, or 4 naturopathic medicines, and have the person take them for four days each. We do that until we get the indications on the testing that we do, that they're ready to go to the next step.
The testing is done through stool.
The testing that we do specifically for our program is done through urine. What we measure in the urine are metabolites of the candida, free radicals that the candida produces, and different proteins that are byproducts of the candida. Sometimes these things are called organic acids.
What are some of your favorite medicines or herbs that you like to rotate over this multi-day period?
There aren't any. We go by what the test says. The test indicates to us what the best medicines to use are. I don't have a favorite.
How does someone find out about the test and how much does it typically cost?
Usually, they would come to our website and fill out the contact forms there. That's normally how they would contact us. We have them do an initial appointment with me. We go through a detailed look at their history and their symptoms and all their medical conditions. From that, I can figure out what the best testing is because aside from the urine tests that we do, there are also some other tests that you can do that are valid for candida.
The trickiest one is a stool test. I say that's tricky because often candida or parasites don't make it to the lab in one piece where the lab can replicate them. The whole idea of sending a sample of stool into the lab is so the lab can culture it or the lab can run different tests to isolate what microbes you have. Unfortunately, in many cases, when the sample gets to the lab, your digestive juices that are part of the stool have already destroyed the organism. The lab has not had that much to work with in terms of getting a live culture.
That's why when it comes to stool testing, the most important thing that we look at is the beneficial flora, the commensal bacteria there. We want to look at the sub-aggregate of all the organisms there, and then we break them down into beneficial flora, commensal, and possible pathogens. We look to see what the balance is.
Essentially, the simple interpretation of a stool test is that you have an absence of gram-positive, friendly bacteria, which are the bifidus family and the lactobacillus family. If you have an absence of the gram-negative bacteria, which is the E. coli family, that's like a friendly E. coli. You automatically will have candida because those are the things that are stopping the candida from overgrowing. You can't expect to find the candida on the test. 8 out of 10 times, it doesn't show.
Candida doesn’t show right away on tests eight times out of ten.
When people come in and they do the testing with you, do you also help counsel in other areas besides candida?
We can, but if they have candida, that's the initial thing that has to be addressed because the interesting thing I learned about candida over all these years is, as long as you have it, nothing else works. If you try to fix whatever it is you're trying to fix with some herbal program, vitamin program, or even medicine, the effectiveness is greatly diminished by candida being there for many reasons.
How long do you typically find that it takes to get candida under control?
Usually, 8 to 10 months. That's doing it by a test. When you go to different online communities, boards, and discussion groups, you're going to hear stories about people saying, "This medicine handled my candida in a few weeks." The thing that's absent in these cases is an actual test to show how much they had in the beginning and to show the effect of whatever it is they took.
They go by their symptoms and their symptoms key out after a few weeks, they're assuming that the candida's gone or greatly improved, which is not the case. The candida exists in your system in various layers. To get rid of it, you got to go through ripping out each layer and killing each layer. When I say 8 or 10 months, that's verifying it with a test that's showing that it is now gone. It's not based on opinion or such hearsay.
I would imagine that also, once you've found the candida, while you're treating the candida, you're probably going to find the presence of other bacteria, viruses, and things that may or may not, with a compromised immune system, might be taken hold too.
This is a very good point, and this leads us to the word dysbiosis. People who have candida have dysbiosis. Dysbiosis means there's an imbalance between the sum total or aggregate of all the friendly bacteria and the bad ones. The good and the bad are out of balance and categorically, you find candida, which represents the fungal yeast group.
You find different types of bacteria, things like Citrobacter, Klebsiella Pseudomonas, Staph, Strep, and whatnot. These are all bacterial organisms and then, you find parasitic organisms. You find intestinal worms and protozoa, which are smaller. You can't see protozoa with the naked eye. You can see the worms.
The point is that when you have an imbalance in your intestines and it's an imbalance to the point where it will support and be favorable to the candida, it's favorable to all these other bad guys too. You rarely find somebody who only has a candida of growth. They normally have an overgrowth of candida and these other co-infections.
By the time folks get to you, how long have they typically been having symptoms and been living with this, you think?
The story I constantly hear is, "I've been battling this for the last 10 to 15 years. I've seen 20 doctors. I've spent at least $10,000 and I'm no better than I was. I'm smarter than I was, but I'm not any better stably because once I go off the diet, everything comes crashing down around me again." As long as they're on the diet, they can hold it at bay. Once they go off the diet and sometimes they don't even know what they did with the diet, unfortunately. It can be tricky.
This goes back to your nutrition. Tell us about some of the things that you talked to people about. You have to rotate. What's going to kill this? It can't be one thing because it gets smarter and comes back. In addition to treating with the ideal ingredients, plant, medicine, or whatever is said in the test, what diet do you like to start people on? Is it over a period of time or what do you suggest?
The candida diet, typically, if you go online characteristically is a low sugar, low starch diet. It's similar to Atkins or Paleo.
Also, keto, I would imagine.
The Keto diet is similar. The primary thing that candida eats is sugars and starches. The one thing that all candida diets have in common is that they're low in sugar and low in starch. It can be different from one person to the next based on their allergies. People with candida develop allergies. One person might be able to tolerate food and another one may not.
You need to get some idea of what they're allergic to or not and come up with a diet that's based on that and based on their blood type because their blood type has a strong influence on this. Finally, the leaky gut syndrome has a huge influence on the diet that a person may have. A leaky gut is where the candida grows roots, which permeate the little blood vessels and the intestinal tract can cause an area where it's very porous, the intestines, and it allows things that normally go through your intestinal tract that would never come into your bloodstream to filter in.
Candida grows roots in leaky gut. This permeates little blood vessels and the intestinal tract, causing some things to be filtered from entering your bloodstream.
That sets off the autoimmune reactions when you get candida. It's primarily a leaky gut, but candida itself can invade different glands and organs and set off an autoimmune response. It does that with the thyroid very often, but that aside, a leaky gut limits sometimes what people can eat because certain foods trigger and aggravate the leaky gut. A candida diet has to take that into consideration.
This is a bit off-topic, but it's interesting to me how many people say that you have to put bio-purine or black pepper along with certain supplements that they absorb. If you have a strong autoimmune response or a leaky gut, that black pepper aggravates things and is not necessarily the best idea in the world, and you should be using some fatty acid instead.
It used to be a test we used to do. Many years ago before testing was available the way it is now before we had zonulin tests and all these other things, we improvised. One of the things that we used to see if the person had a leaky gut was black pepper. We used to have them take a significant amount every day with their meals and see how they felt. If they felt worse, we concluded they must have leaky guts.
Now in your experience with nutrition, what do you find has evolved over the years as you're certainly helping others become educated in nutrition? I certainly can speak to what it was like in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s and all the different trends and bad we've seen. What do you find as interesting or maybe potentially a fad or anything that comes to mind as you're helping the education system here?
What's helpful are the new lab tests and more advanced advancements in lab work. Genetic testing is going to be at the forefront of the future. It plays a significant role in what's happening with the person. The patient that you're dealing with is essentially his genetics, his diet, his environment that he lives in, himself as a spiritual person, and what affects him spiritually. Put all those things in a brown paper bag, shake them up, and that's what you've got. That's what he is.
Understanding his genetics is very important because it gives you an idea of what could happen. The big problem with genetic testing is one simple thing. People don't understand it correctly. A lot of patients, when they do genetic testing, then assume that this is what I have now, and they start treating their genetic weaknesses, which is not always to the point.
Genetic test only tells you what can happen now. Now, what's happening? It's like Ebenezer Scrooge in the movie saying, "Are these shadows of things that must be, or can they be changed?" For the most part, you can change or prevent, but you don't want to assume that what your genetic test says what's potentially wrong with you is wrong now. Testing is to determine what's wrong now.
That's a great point. Potentially, if I allow my body to get too far out of whack and allow some trigger, whether it's environmental, nutrition, bacteria, viral, or fungal, that's what could set off a whole chain of events if I don't keep things under watch.
That's a very good way to look at it. That's true.
Are you still involved in doing the testing for folks that are becoming a nutritionist?
What things are you changing on the exam here, going forward, or in the most recent?
There's a way that this isn't reality, but the way the trends go, the testing for intestinal organisms has advanced with the use of DNA stool tests. That's opened up a new frontier in being able to use those tests. The zonulin test has been very good in terms of being able to determine accurately or not if a person has a leaky gut. There's also a breath test, which can determine nowadays if you have a leaky gut based on the gases that are in your breath. That's the test I use very frequently.
Is it something that is a device that you breathe into and then it can tell you?
You take breath samples and mail them to the lab, and the lab figures it out. That's based on the same concept as the breath tests for SIBO and for any other organism that we're using the breath tests for, H. pylori.
I love this. I'm a numbers and data geek. Anytime that I can get to the root of what's going on through data and then start solving and then retesting, that's music to my ears, so that's fantastic.
Mast cell activation is interesting. The mast cell is something that is not new. People think it's new. They act like it's new. In the last year, we've had all these candid patients come to us and say, "I have mast cell activation." You had mast cell activation when you first got sick. Everyone does. The only thing different about mass cell activation is we have some tests now which identify the mechanisms and the circuitry in it, but in itself is nothing new.
Anybody who goes into that that severe allergic syndrome that you get with candida is suffering from the mast cell. Even when you get COVID and you're at the height of the infection, you're having mast cells. The mast cell is nothing new in that way. What's interesting is the tests we have now, we can look at the exact circuitry of it, which is the best way I like to describe it. We can see how you can shut it off in one person, which might be different from another. That's interesting.
Would that be aligned with levels of inflammation?
Oxidative stress and inflammation directly would relate to that. Some of the things that we find very common in people, common imbalances they have that are causing it, believe it or not, are deficiencies of molybdenum. It is a trace mineral most people don't know much about it, but it turns out to be an element that is very important for your liver's ability to detoxify many things, not just internal toxins, but also environmental toxins.
Molybdenum also helps you detoxify various alcohols. Molybdenum works synergistically with vitamin C and you see it often imbalanced in somebody who's got a mast cell. That's true of other nutrients too, even copper. Copper relates to histamine. With low levels of copper, you will find people with very high histamine. If the person has a high zinc-to-copper ratio, their histamine is very high which is interesting also.
The same thing is true of cholesterol. People with high levels of zinc relative to copper have higher total cholesterol than people who have those elements more balanced. Cholesterol is also involved in the cycle of detoxifying histamines, which most people don't know. There's a relationship between that ratio and all those allied conditions.
Is there anything else that you want to make sure folks think and learn about? How do they find you? Anything that comes to mind that you want to be able to share?
If the person thinks they may have candida, they want to get a copy of my book, The Candida Chronicles, so that they don't make all the mistakes that people who haven't read the book will make or that I made when I was first treating people with candida. What’s important is that if they feel they have candida, they get the book.
The second thing is how do you arrive at thinking you might have candida? You may want to look at symptoms. That is typically what we hear a lot of people say, "I looked at all these symptoms in this article and I said, 'That's me.'" How did you arrive at that? The person is best to sit down and draw a timeline. See if they can map out when different symptoms occurred. They occur over time. It'd be great if it happened all at once. You could say, "A-ha, but that's not what happens."
If they draw a timeline and put where their symptoms occurred and then go back to the beginning before they had any symptoms, then come forward, try to look for an event that took place. That might be the area where all this started and it was triggered. Typically, that event you're looking for is when they were on antibiotics for a length of time. If they had an accident, they had surgery, something significant that they had to go on medication for, or they had food poisoning. That is another thing that gets overlooked.
Sometimes people will travel. They'll develop bad food poisoning, the food poisoning wipes out their flora, and thereafter, they start developing candida. It's very helpful if they do something like this because it could help them to determine, "The probability of me having candida is high." Also, when you go to the practitioner, it's helpful for him because most practitioners at least know that you developed candida by having a flora imbalance. If you can document for them where this might have occurred and then what occurred afterward with the symptoms, that's a great help to them.
What's your website? How would people book an appointment with you, find your book, and everything else?
The book is on Amazon like everything else, and my main website is Health-Truth.com. That's the main site, and we have two other sites. We have the New York City Candida Doctor and the New York City Thyroid Doctor. "Why thyroid?" people may ask. There's a tremendous relationship between candida and the thyroid. It's not typically understood or recognized, but it's there and it's there enough that we specialize in handling thyroid cases from the viewpoint of how candida's interfering with the thyroid gland.
In that instance, do you take a look first at candida, and then you test the thyroid, and do you test that through blood? How are you doing that?
Normally people come to us and they already know this. To be honest, patients are getting much more sophisticated by studying things on the net. The patient will come to us and say, "I have candida, and I know something is going on my thyroid because I've been taking my body temperatures and I see my temperatures are off." One of the first things people will come across is the work of Broda Barnes. Broda Barnes wrote a book many years ago called Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness.
That was followed up by doctors writing some other books regarding reverse T3. You might have heard of Wilson Syndrome. Also, there's a website by Dr. Rind. He's perfected the use of taking your temperatures to understand your endocrine function. Dr. Rind will have the person take a set of temperatures, and from those temperatures, he can see and plot out how your thyroid hormone is being utilized by your cells, and also how your adrenals are functioning.
Blood work is limited with the thyroid. Blood work tells you what the thyroid gland is releasing into your blood that's maybe a hormone. Do you have antibodies attacking your thyroid? That's all it tells you. It doesn't tell you anything about the actual mechanics of how well your body utilizes your thyroid hormone. That's something that you have to study as a separate study. The people that are best at understanding this are nutritionists because nutritionists understand cellular metabolism.
You've heard of the term receptor site. The receptor sites for the hormone are all based on nutrients. This was first looked at by Guyton in his book on physiology. Guyton is like the Father of Physiology. In the book, Guyton wrote somehow not fully understood. He said calcium and potassium act as receptors or governors for thyroid hormones.
He talked about how your cells would be sensitive to thyroid hormone based on how much calcium and potassium you had. He came up with a ratio back then that holds true up to now. Calcium acts as a governor. It depresses or downregulates thyroid hormone and potassium in your cells upregulates thyroid hormone, and that's where you find these people, allegedly, whose hormones are low in their blood or barely normal, but they're heavy, as far as symptomatic issues, go low-thyroid.
They're functionally low-thyroid, yet the doctor looks at us and he doesn't understand it because the hormones are in the normal range. What he doesn't understand is that the hormones are not being accepted properly by the cells. Your thyroid hormones come into your cells, go through the electron transport chain, and then come to the receptor sites. Now you have the balance of calcium and copper versus zinc and potassium to regulate how sensitive your cells will be to the effect of the hormone.
You can go to the most famous thyroid doctor in Park Avenue and he's going to look at you like you're nuts. He has no clue what you're talking about. That’s an important aspect of rebalancing someone's thyroid. I can't tell you how many people I've gotten off thyroid medication by rebalancing their receptors. It's ridiculous.
Doctor, you have been a complete joy to have on thank you so much for everything that you're sharing about candida and the thyroid, and so much more around nutrition and all the tests that we could and should do to get to the answer of what's going on with us and then, get that visualized.
You're more than welcome. I enjoyed being here.
Michael Biamonte is the founder of the Biamonte Center for Clinical Nutrition. He is a co-creator of BioCybernetics, which is an unprecedented computer software program that is able to study blood work, mineral tests and many other lab tests to determine exactly where your body is imbalanced initially designed for aerospace purposes. As a practitioner for over 30 years, he is dedicated to improving the lives of his patients and helping them get back to living. He holds a Doctorate of Nutripathy and is a New York State certified Clinical Nutritionist.
He is a professional member of the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists, The American College of Nutrition and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board. He is listed in “The Directory of Distinguished Americans'' for his research in Nutrition and Physiology.