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The Role of Enzymes In Fungal Overgrowth

Candida albicans is an opportunistic yeast of the human body. Although many yeasts live in the body and can cause symptoms, c.albicans is the most prevalent.  C. albicans can be found on the surface of the skin, the oral and vaginal canal and within the digestive tract. Candida can exist in three forms: a budding yeast, pseudohyphae, and filamentous hyphae. In yeast form, candida is harmless and will not generate any symptoms or discomfort. Candida is kept in yeast form by the immune system and healthy gut bacteria.

Due to its opportunistic nature, when the environment becomes favourable, Candida can proliferate and develop into its hyphae form, which is the time that a person may begin to experience gastrointestinal symptoms.

Factors that contribute to the development of intestinal candida are bacteria killing medications such as antibiotics, a high sugar and high carbohydrate diet, gastrointestinal inflammation and any suppression of the immune system such emotional stress, systemic infection or steroid use.  When candida has developed into filamentous hyphae form, it become resistant to antifungals, thus presenting a significant clinical challenge for therapists.

Candida albicans likes to adhere to surfaces such as the lining of the intestines. Once candida develops into its hyphae form, it can adhere to the gut wall triggering an inflammatory immune response. This inflammatory immune response can damage the lining of gut and cause loosening of the tight junctions that bind the gut wall leading to ‘leaky gut syndrome’. The person suffering from candida induced gut inflammation may experience bloating, flatulence and IBS-like symptoms along with migraine headaches, skin rashes and generalised gastrointestinal discomfort.

 

Risk Factors For Candida Overgrowth 

  • Antibiotic use
  • Compromised immunity (HIV/ Cancer / Steroid use)
  • Diabetes
  • GI surgery
  • Cushings disease
  • Hormone supplementation such as oral contraceptives, or pregnancy
  • Iron deficiency 

Signs Of Intestinal Candida Overgrowth  

  • Bloating
  • Brain fog
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Flatulence
  • Increased skin problems such as acne or eczema
  • White mucus, strings or specs in stools
  • New food intolerance reactions
  • Sugar cravings

 The Role Of Enzymes In Candida Overgrowth

Enzymes are a little recognised tool in the candida clinician’s toolkit. Whilst understanding the efficacy with which specific enzymes operate on candida within an infected human host is difficult, if we look at the structure, function and behaviour of the candida fungus itself, we can see the reasoning for the long-documented use of digestive enzymes as part of a wider nutritional or naturopathic candida detoxification protocol.

The candida cell wall is thought to be very similar in structure to fibre, an indigestible carbohydrate component of plants. More specifically, the matrix of the candida wall is made up of glucans, chitin, chitosan, and glycosylated proteins.[1]


Chitin And Enzymes

Like cellulose, chitin is made up of branched polymers and forms the structure of the candida cell wall. Chitin has long been considered to be indigestible by humans. Recent studies have identified the presence of an enzyme called chitinase in the gastric juice of humans, which suggests that chitin is digestible by enzymes.  Chitin is abundant in the exoskeletons of insects, arthropods and fungi that may be found in tropical diets. This may be why higher amounts of chitinase is found in higher volumes in the gastric acid of tropical populations, where the diet is naturally higher in chitin.  

Chitinases are enzymes that break down chitin, and so could theoretically breakdown the cell wall of intestinal candida. The foods with the highest chitinase content are kiwi, papaya and pineapple which are naturally rich in many forms of enzymes. Lesser amounts of chitinases are found in tomato, green banana, avocado and chestnuts. Although there are foods that contain chitinase, the enzymatic activity is both temperature and pH sensitive – meaning the enzymes they contain are usefully topically, but may be denatured before they reach the intestinal environment.  

 Many enzymatic agents such as bromelain enzymes from pineapple have also been studied for their effects on candida growths and overgrowths.  Bromelain has been shown to induce phagocytosis, respiratory burst and killing of candida in human blood[2]. In addition to being an antifungal, bromelain like many other digestive enzymes have a secondary anti-inflammatory effect on the body which is highly beneficial in cases of intestinal inflammation.

 β-1, 3 and Enzymes

Beta glucans are indigestible beneficial fibres that are abundant in cereals and plants. Nutritionally, beta glucans are generally considered to have therapeutic value. Because beta glucans are largely indigestible by any digestive enzyme naturally synthesised by the human body, beta glucans tend to pass through the digestive tract undigested and provide prebiotic food for beneficial bacteria. Beta glucans have also been documented for their benefits on heart health, glycaemic control and blood lipid regulation. 

Beta glucans also make up large part of the cell wall of fungi such as candida, which may be why candida is able to reside peacefully in the digestive tract. Beta glucans that make up the wall of fungi can be digested by cellulase, beta glucanases and hemicellulases which are digestive enzymes that can break the structure of beta glucan. Theoretically, if beta glucans make up a large portion of fungal cell wall, the cell wall should also be partially digested by the same enzymes inducing a vulnerability in the wall of the fungi, leaving it more vulnerable to antifungals or the immune system.   

Candida Biofilms And Enzymes

Substantially developed candida infection may become resistant to antifungals due to the development of biofilms. A biofilm is a protective layer that is formed by bacteria and yeast, to protect itself from killing-agents. Biofilms are able to hide bacteria and yeast from the host’s immune system and can develop a resistance and tolerance to commonly used antifungal treatments, making biofilms a significant clinical challenge.[3]

Biofilms are frequently described as microbial cities, due to their ability to form complex territories within the equally complex environment of the gut microbiome. Biofilms are also responsive to their environment and are able to mutate and exchange genetic information to enable them to survive.  

Biofilms are resistant to antifungal agents, as they are not fungi in and of themselves. There are some natural molecules that have shown an ability to reduce the veracity of biofilms, and these are cinnamon oil, usnic acid, turmeric, linalool, fulvic acid and green tea polyphenols appear to inhibit biofilm formation. [4]

Biofilms are made primarily of proteins. Theoretically, protease enzymes should have a degrading effect on their walls. Research into the activity of protease enzymes on biofilm formation have mostly been conducted in in vitro settings where they have been almost as effective as effective as alcohols, phenols and surfactants in degrading biofilms.[5]

Capric acid is a saturated fatty acid that has been shown to inhibit biofilm formation. Capric acid is produced naturally by saccharomyces boulardii and lactobacillus species, and has shown in vitro to inhibit candida albican filamentation and biofilm formation. [6], [7] 

Enzyme Science CandiGold Pro TM

CandiGold Pro is a proprietary blend of potent cellulases, proteases and probiotic bacteria that have been combined to provide the ingredients for better balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, along with enzymatic disturbance of candida albicans and biofilms. 

When taken within the context of a two-week cleanse, CandiGold Pro can provide highly targeted support for the gastrointestinal tract, supporting health and reducing the gas, fatigue, bloating and indigestion that is associated with candida overgrowth.

References 

[1] Garcia-Rubio, R., de Oliveira, H., Rivera, J. and Trevijano-Contador, N., 2020. The Fungal Cell Wall: Candida, Cryptococcus, and Aspergillus Species. Frontiers in Microbiology, [online] 10. Available at: <https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2019.02993/full> [Accessed 22 March 2021].

 

[2] Brakebusch M, Wintergerst U, Petropoulou T, Notheis G, Husfeld L, Belohradsky BH, Adam D. Bromelain is an accelerator of phagocytosis, respiratory burst and Killing of Candida albicans by human granulocytes and monocytes. Eur J Med Res. 2001 May 29;6(5):193-200. PMID: 11410400.

 

[3] Caldara, M. and Marmiroli, N., 2018. Tricyclic antidepressants inhibit Candida albicans growth and biofilm formation. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, [online] 52(4), pp.500-505. Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924857918301912> [Accessed 22 March 2021].

 

[4] Bernard, C., Girardot, M. and Imbert, C., 2020. Candida albicans interaction with Gram-positive bacteria within interkingdom biofilms. Journal de Mycologie Médicale, [online] 30(1), p.100909. Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S115652331930157X> [Accessed 22 March 2021].

 

[5] Saggu, S., Jha, G. and Mishra, P., 2019. Enzymatic Degradation of Biofilm by Metalloprotease From Microbacterium sp. SKS10. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, [online] 7. Available at: <https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbioe.2019.00192/full> [Accessed 22 March 2021].

 

[6] Gulati, M. and Nobile, C., 2016. Candida albicans biofilms: development, regulation, and molecular mechanisms. Microbes and Infection, [online] 18(5), pp.310-321. Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1286457916000095> [Accessed 22 March 2021].

 

[7] Ramage, G., Robertson, S. and Williams, C., 2014. Strength in numbers: antifungal strategies against fungal biofilms. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, [online] 43(2), pp.114-120. Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924857913003816> [Accessed 22 March 2021].

 

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