Candida and Autism have many strong associations. The link between these two is discussed on several autism websites and even on Oprah, where actress and advocate Jenny McCarthy shared her experience of her son coming “out of autism completely after I killed Candida.” Many doctors have found great success when treating children with autistic symptoms through the use of candida treatments. I myself have seen wonderful results in our office with the Candida Plan. Dr. Shaw at the Great Plains Laboratory has been a strong advocate of testing autistic spectrum disorders for links to candida. A search on the US National Library of Medicine PubMed site brings back just 5 results and an additional 3 results are found when searching under Candidiasis and Autism. Not a whole lot of scientific research has been established in this area, but an expanded perspective reveals many common links.

Both conditions can be traced back to the impact of antibiotic use. A very strong link between the gut-brain axis/association exists. The health of the intestinal flora has been demonstrated to play a role in autism. Antibiotics cause drastic changes in the health of the intestinal flora which has been described by scientists as being “crucial” “essential” “vital” and “critical” to the health of humans. A 5-day course of antibiotics is enough to destroy all the bacteria within the body, leaving it void of these vital organisms for as much as a year or more. The intestinal flora has been designated as important an “organ” to the body as the liver. Would you live without your liver for 12 months or more?

Changes in the flora create the ideal conditions for the development of fungal candida, which then controls which bacterial species will grow back into the intestinal tract and body’s tissues. A study by researchers in Poland links the make-up of the intestinal flora  and the presence of candida to autism. Another researcher and former Research Fellow of the National Institutes for Health, Dr. Paris Kidd, states that in addressing autism “Gastrointestinal improvement rests on controlling Candida and other parasites, and using probiotic bacteria and nutrients to correct dysbiosis and decrease gut permeability.”

Given that candida can shape and alter the make-up of the intestinal flora after antibiotics, the role of candida takes on added significance. Research into the relationship between the gut and brain states that, “Regulation of the microbiome–gutbrain axis is essential for maintaining homeostasis (balance), including that of the CNS.” Other researchers point out the “ability of gut microbiota to communicate with the brain and thus modulate behavior.” The link between the brain and the gut is well known by most clinicians, or should be, as treatment of the intestinal flora for hepatic encephalopathies is well documented.

The link between candida and autism becomes even stronger when we look at inflammation. Candida is known to promote inflammation in the body, and inflammation further promotes the growth of candida. Candida also promotes dysregulation of the immune system towards a response that favors the development of autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune Rheumatoid Arthritis in a mother can increase a child’s risk of autism by 80%. Candida promotes and worsens Rheumatoid Arthitis. Celiac Disease has a strong relationship to candida via the candida cell wall proteins that resemble gluten proteins. The presence of Celiac in a mother can cause a 350% risk of autism in the child. Asthma and Allergies during pregnancy have also been shown to increase  autism risk in one study where, “A greater than 2-fold elevated risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders was observed for maternal asthma and allergy diagnoses recorded during the second trimester of pregnancy.” Candida can play a significant role in both asthma and allergies.

Inflammation and autism can also be related back to antibiotics which create a massive flooding into the blood and tissues of bacterial cell wall components that affect brain inflammation. These substances, Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and Lipoteichoic acid (LTA) have been shown to induce sustained levels of inflammation in the brain through pro-inflammatory cytokines that can be as much as 10-1000x the levels of inflammation in the body. Candida’s pro-inflammatory responses could create similar levels of increase.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine “demonstrated a marked increase in neuroglial responses, characterized by activation of microglia and astroglia, in the brains of autistic patients. These increased neuroglial responses are likely part of neuroinflammatory reactions associated with the central nervous system’s (CNS) innate immune system.”

The debate about an exact cause behind autism is likely to continue and is probably going to be fruitless. Evidence points to a combination of factors that most likely includes antibiotics and disruption of normal tissue flora, environmental toxins, and candida. A child who is predisposed by the health of the parents, and then has exposures to environmental toxins, is vaccinated, and then given antibiotics has the odds stacked against them. Restoring health and balance will provide the greatest opportunity for resolution.

Take back your health.   Live the life you create.   Dr. McCombs Candida Plan.