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Could Gut Microbiota Help Cure Fungal Infections?


by Karina Kaplun, Ph.D. - June 3, 2019


It has been established by scientists that our microbiota is a very complex community consisting from mostly bacteria but also archaea, fungi, viruses and protozoa that play an important role in our heath. Intestinal bacteria have been a center of scientific attention during the past decade and now that we have a better understanding of the bacterial microbiome (bacteriome) it has come the time for researchers to look into the fungal microbiome which is also known as mycobiome.

Different types of fungi are a part of our commensal (or in other words regular and healthy) intestinal microbiome. There are different types of fungi that inhabit our body however the diversity of these species is not that high. According to the Human Microbiome Project most fungi belong to Saccharomyces, Malassezia, and Candida. Most of us, however, know about Candida and specifically Candida albicans as a dangerous pathogen. What is the fuss about Candida? Is it really so harmful? There is so much confusing information right now so let’s talk about some scientific facts.

Is Candida a friend or a foe in gut microbiota?

As I mentioned above the presence of yeasts (fungi) in and on our body is a completely normal thing. In fact, the more diverse our microbiome is the better of we are. Different types of Candida species, like Candida albicans and Candida sake, maybe present in the gut of absolutely healthy individuals. Candida albicans have been previously shown to be present not only in the healthy gut mycobiome, but also in the oral cavity, vagina, and also skin of healthy people. As long as human overall microbiome is diverse and in a healthy shape it is capable of controlling the numbers of Candida albicans and other fungi in human body. However, there is a real risk that this balance can shift. One of the main causes, creating a perfect environment for the growth of yeasts, is usually antibiotic treatments. Antibiotic disturb the balance and eliminate not only bad guys but beneficial microbes that keep such players as Candida under control.

The link between fungus and disease

Researchers find that people with altered and dysbalanced gut microbiome and compromised immune system are more prone to candidiasis which is a “fungal infection caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida”. Most of the time it is Candida albicans however recently Candida auris appeared to be a serious threat too due to its resistance to anti-fungal medications.

The frequency of fungal infections is rapidly increasing. Scientists think it happens due to anti-fungal resistance, increasing number of immunocompromised people and better diagnostic tests. Another important reason is the increased use of drugs, especially broad-spectrum antibiotics, which indirectly increase the growth of fungi by disrupting the bacterial balance in the gut and subsequently suppress immune system.

As mentions previously, for most of us Candida infection is not that dangerous but for immunocompromised people it can be deadly. Candida albicans accounts for 70-80% of all diagnosed fungal infections. Candida infection can be associated with numerous diseases starting with skin disorders and ending with deep tissue infections, inflammatory diseases, asthma etc.

Gut microbiota plays an important role in human health and disease and scientists have demonstrated that numerous diseases are characterized by disturbed microbiota signatures. A form of inflammatory bowel disease - Crohn’s disease - is one of them. This disease is characterized by an altered microbiome compared to healthy individuals. For example, a type of yeasts named Malassezia restricta was found to be associated with the colonic mucosa in patients with Crohn’s disease but barely present in the gut of healthy individuals. The use of antifungal drugs in this study improved the symptoms Crohn’s patients. These findings indicate that yeast infection could be a part of the problem and antifungal treatment maybe an effective solution in patients with Crohn’s disease.

Microbiome modulation as an approach to treat fungal infections

Some fungi like previously mentioned Candida auris become extremely resistant to antifungal drugs therefore scientists are looking for alternative solutions. Because most fungal infection are indirectly caused by disrupted microbiome it is only natural to assume that bacteria and balanced microbiome is protecting our body from fungal overgrowth.

In fact, Bacillus subtilis have been shown to inhibit the growth of fungi by producing potent antifungal surfactants. Clinical effects of this bacterium can actually be comparable to those of antifungal medication ketoconazole.

Saccharamyces cerevisea, a well-known probiotic yeast, has been recently shown to be effective in treating vaginal candidiasis and as anti-inflammatory agent.

Formulation of probiotics bacterial strains, Lactobacillus rhamnosus DSM 14870 and Lactobacillus gasseri DSM 14869, used in combination with antibiotics and antifungal drugs results in a long-term cure against bacterial vaginosis and recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis.

Other probiotics have been shown to have anti-fungal properties which again suggests that balanced microbiome is the key in preventing of fungal overgrowth.

Current treatments prescribed for Candida infection.

Based on what kind of fungal infection one has and its location there are several antifungal treatments currently available. Sporanox (also known as Itracoznazole) is a prescription antifungal drug which comes in two forms: as an oral solution or in capsule form. This is a broad-spectrum antifungal medication which can treat anything from nail fungus to mouth or lung infection.

Jublia on another hand is a topical antifungal treatment which is used to treat toenail fungus. Another topical antifungal and anti-yeast medication is Ketoconazole tablet, which can be effectively used to battle the toenail or skin infection.

Both of these medications can be conveniently ordered as prescription drugs at Canada Pharmacy Online. Ordering online has never been more affordable and easier. Your prescription will be shipped and delivered right to your door.

Prevention is always the key. It is so much easier to prevent than to treat. Follow a healthy lifestyle, eat well, take care of your microbiome inside and out and take advantage of antifungal treatments when needed.

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