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Environmental and Nutritional Approach to Candida and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

by Dr Diana Samways(more info)

listed in colon health, originally published in issue 106 - December 2004

What is Candida?

Many common, long-term illnesses that are poorly served by Western Conventional Medicine can be effectively treated by what are currently considered as 'alternative' approaches. Eventually these will become mainstream. I regard my methods as Wholistic, rather than alternative.

Bowel conditions such as Candida problems and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) rank high on the list of these 'orphan illnesses' and I have developed methods of treating them effectively with a combination of a dietary approach and changes to the air we breathe with respect to its mould content. As a sufferer from allergy to mould, I speak from personal experience as well as having had a conventional medical training and been a GP.

The label given to an individual with bowel symptoms depends largely on who they first consulted. Those who saw their GP, and then had (rightly) very extensive tests to eliminate cancer, (all negative, so there's 'nothing wrong…' but there is) are labelled IBS or Diverticulitis and given pills and bulking agents. They nearly all have a gut Candida overgrowth problem and respond to treatment for this. Others come to me via various alternative therapists or have made their own diagnosis of a Candida problem through sensible research. They all have similar symptoms of which the cardinal one is wind and bloating, which implies a gut fermentation problem.

The colon (large intestine) normally contains two and a half pounds weight of microscopic organisms which aid digestion. There should be a balance of species, and if the numbers change in favour of the yeasts, Candida and moulds problems will arise, starting with fermentation and its consequences and absorption of toxins and by-products from this. Yeast, mould and Candida are all tiny members of the Fungi family (neither plants nor animals) and are very extensive in nature. Attempts to reduce their numbers in the gut by diet will be only partially effective unless we also tackle the moulds in the air we breathe. This is commonly neglected, and accounts for the variable nature of symptoms with 'good and bad days', which may improve temporarily in hot dry climates. The mould in the air may account for the mood swings and incomplete recovery of some Candida sufferers.

Major improvements in health and wellbeing can be made by attending to the air as well as diet.

Case Studies (Names have been changed)

John aged 28 had been depressed for years and was abused by his alcoholic father in childhood. He had developed a gut Candida and food allergy problem diagnosed by his psychotherapist some months after giving up smoking and caffeine in order to 'clean up'. He lived in a rented mouldy basement flat, had a busy job and tended to eat junk food. Lately he had been having attacks of waking terrified in the night and daytime anxiety. I saw him and explained the mechanism of gut Candida, the relationship to mouldy air and to terror in the night, also the physical vulnerability caused by the effects of old child abuse.

John moved house and followed the anti-Candida diet. He continued his psychotherapy and made a very good recovery.

Jane, aged 51, had IBS diagnosed by her GP (all tests negative) and had been treated with bulking agents. She had bloating, abdominal pain, weight gain, mood swings and diarrhoea, which varied but was disablingly bad in the early morning and prevented her from leaving the house. Five years before seeing me she had had a hysterectomy and several courses of antibiotics for infection; since then her bowel symptoms had gradually increased. She was a keen gardener and her house was full of plants.

Once Jane understood the mechanism of the gut Candida overgrowth, she did the diet and took Acidophilus supplements with good effect. She made some improvements by ridding the house of plants, avoiding grass cutting and sorting out mould problems in the house with heat and dehumidification. She got her energy back and can now safely leave the house at dawn if necessary.

Diet: Guidelines not Guilt Trips

My approach to the diet is a combination of the usual anti-Candida restrictions and measures to reduce the gas, pain and other effects from fermentation, thus reducing the body's 'total load'. To this end a simplified version of the Hay Diet (Food Combining) is used. People doing this properly will feel much better in only a few days. Some may have a die-off (Herxheimer) reaction, in which their symptoms worsen before they improve. The diet needs to be adhered to rigidly for a few weeks until improvement is sustained. It can then be used at times of emotional or other stress when symptoms may come back.

Modified Hay Diet (Food Combining)

The mantra is: 'Don't eat Carbohydrate (starch) and Protein at the same Meal'. It is non-restrictive in quantity, but the content is organized differently.

The following can be eaten with anything: all salads and vegetables (except potatoes) fruit, nuts, beans and legumes.

This version of the Hay Diet is used by me personally and is recommended to my patients. The original Hay Diet was more complex, which made social life difficult.

Candida thrives on sugar and anything that forms sugar after digestion, such as fruit and carbohydrates, which should be restricted for a time. It also likes other moulds, yeasted, fermented and malted foods and beverages, so that alcohol, vinegar and cheese (except cottage and Edam) should be avoided initially. Anything visibly mouldy must be thrown out.

Some novel foods including Quorn and Tofu are fermented from Aspergillus mould, and are best avoided.

The Other Half: The Air We Breathe

Because we have a damp climate, the air will contain a fair quantity of moulds and their spores (breeding particles) which are very small and go through most filters. We have no instruments to measure the mould count or to break it down into different moulds. There are thousands of species of moulds, about thirty of which can cause health problems and allergies. Since gut Candida lives on any other moulds it can get hold of, as well as sugar, and it is accepted that mouldy air doesn't help, I have assumed that the Candida in the intestines somehow 'resonates' or is activated by moulds breathed in via the lungs. I cannot explain the mechanism, but Candida and IBS patients, especially those who are 'stuck', do much better if airborne mould in houses is addressed. This includes furnishings and bedding.

I have a fantasy that, one day, we will have a machine that will allow us to see what air looks like. The nearest we have is the horror shown up by a sunbeam at a certain angle, when all the dust is exposed to view. Dust is a mixture containing moulds, pollens and general debris. To continue my fantasy, a sample of outdoor air would contain layers of some of the following substances, the heavier ones nearer the ground: a mist of moulds and dusts, pollens, some chemical pollutants, water vapour and particles of all kinds.

Indoor air would contain many of the outdoor pollutants and mould, but in a lesser concentration, together with any chemicals off-gassed by new carpets and furnishings, a spectrum of indoor moulds, dust, cigarette residue and much else.

My fantasy includes a way of showing all these substances in a full colour representation of an air sample. It would be alarming, but could provide the impetus for change.

As we have a damp climate, the relative humidity in most houses will be in the 60 per cent range, as measured by a humidity meter. Moulds thrive in this, but are almost non-existent if we drop the humidity to below 35 per cent. This can be done with central heating, dehumidifiers (air dryers) and sensible ventilation. Some people will find this too dry for comfort, but 35-40 per cent relative humidity will reduce the airborne mould count considerably.

The first step in reducing the mould count is to walk round and look for areas of damp or black dots (mould is black; look up – it's often on ceilings and inside dark cupboards.) Areas of visible mould should be tackled with bleach by a non-mould sufferer, and the structural cause sought and remedied. Usually this is leakage or condensation. Extractor fans are required in bathrooms and kitchens, clothes driers must be vented to the outside and clothes not dried on radiators. These are basic steps applicable to any house. The more expensive measures described below should not be embarked upon without being sure of the diagnosis, so discussion with a knowledgeable health professional is sensible. My comments about mould in houses in no way imply criticism or lack of hygiene. Moulds are all around us, we live with them, and they are extremely beneficial in rotting down the dead, both leaves, corpses and much else. Without moulds we would be 200 ft deep in dead leaves…

Common Moulds Causing Allergy

  • Penicillium Species;
  • Aspergillus Sp;
  • Alternaria;
  • Cladosporum Herbarum;
  • Candida Albicans;
  • Yeasts.


Drying the air discourages moulds. Dehumidifiers (Argos, Amcor) need to be run continuously on maximum setting. When the reservoir fills up, the machine stops so they should be plumbed for continuous drainage. A humidity meter (Argos) will monitor the situation. Moulds sporulate (breed) in huge numbers in the night so central heating should be programmed to come on in the early morning as it has a drying effect. Air filters clog up easily; moulds which are very small pass through. Filters in
dehumidifiers need frequent cleaning.

Airfree (Healthy House or Natural Collection) eliminates moulds by heat rather than filtration and undoubtedly helps.

Bedding and Furnishings

Bedding and furnishings get mouldy with time, so ideally carpets should be avoided. Short pile carpets seem to be better. Mattresses get mouldy and one solution is a water-bed which is made of plastic, and cheap synthetic pillows which can be thrown out.

Plants and Gardens

Conservatories are mould and damp traps; house plants are best replaced with artificial ones. Gardening is problematic; grass cutting throws up a huge mould load which is breathed by the mower; sprinklers used intermittently grow mould and it is ejected as a mist when they first come on. All this is best avoided until symptoms improve.


Most books and treatment programmes omit much reference to the mould side of this apparently digestive problem; we have no instruments to measure airborne mould (other than long-term culture plates) and no blood tests to prove the diagnosis – shades of Dr Snow who, in 1854 stopped a London cholera epidemic by turning off the Broad Street Pump's infected water, using sensible observation to deduce the cause. We do know the above methods help many sufferers, probably by reducing the body's 'total load'. The mechanism is obscure and we do not know if moulds cause allergy or just light up the gut Candida, or if a toxin is involved. Some people are undoubtedly acutely mould sensitive.

Food allergies often improve without elimination of the offending food when the mould side is tackled. As all food has an invisible mould count, I question the value of food allergy tests, since moulds are not tested for. Many sufferers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue and Post Viral Syndromes, also ADHD and Autistic Spectrum disorders improve if the airborne mould count is reduced.


Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization and/or Provocative Neutralization (Allergy Shots) may help some sufferers.

Emotional Problems

Most bowel sufferers will agree that symptoms get worse at times of emotional stress, especially criticism. In my practice I record details of upbringing and possible child abuse issues, which are very commonly found in Candida and IBS patients. Undoubtedly an optimistic outlook is important, and from my own and my patients' experience, people do get well and their energy back.


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About Dr Diana Samways

Dr Diana Samways MBBS qualified in Medicine from the Royal Free Hospital and worked in General Practice. She is an expert on Environmental Medicine and now runs a holistic medical practice in Haslemere Surrey with a particular interest in IBS, Candida, allergies, including moulds and much else. She advises about remedies for mouldy houses. Diana sees people with ES. Her consultations are educational and designed to give the person concerned the tools to make their own healing journey. She can visit and do an electrical survey for microwave pollution in houses etc. in Haslemere and the surrounding area. Dr Samways is an entertaining public speaker on holistic health topics. Her popular book: I’m a Patient… Get me out of Here… (the paper-back equivalent of rescue remedy...) is available through Tel: 01428 643021; and Dr Samways may be contacted via

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