Dr. Bruce Semon, M.D., Ph.D.

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Vitamins and Supplements

Nutritional Supplements don’t always work to fight yeast and may make it worse!

This page is based on the clinical experience and research of Bruce Semon, M.D., Ph.D., a child psychiatrist and doctorate nutritionist, who personally has used the 4-Stages diet for many years and personally has experimented with nutritional supplements.

As a physician-nutritionist I see people who are taking large amounts of nutritional supplements.

People may believe all of the claims of the supplement manufacturers, that taking one or more vitamins or supplements will cure their problems. Often these supplements are very expensive, and are sold by their health care practitioners. People could easily spend $100 per month on supplements and unfortunately not feel any better.

Many times they are not better. Sometimes they are worse and they do not know why.

Now, after years of studying and treating people for problems caused by the yeast Candida albicans, I have at least a partial answer to why all those supplement pills do not help and may even hurt.

Let us start with one of my recent cases. 

Angela, 44, suffered from chronic vaginal yeast infections and long standing depression, fatigue, compulsive overeating and difficulty with concentration. In the past she was very depressed and had been advised to take a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements. She said that she would cry if she stopped taking vitamin B6. But her problems had continued and the supplement pills were costing her between $100 and $200 per month, an expense she could not easily afford.

Angela had had a vaginal yeast infection for a year, for which she had been prescribed at least ten doses of Diflucan. She had also used Boric acid. She was taking 1000 mg vitamin B6 per day, DL phenylalanine, multi-mineral complex, 6000 mg vitamin C/day, L-tyrosine, vitgamin B2, zinc, B12, Acidophilus, flax seed oil, caprylic acid, 5 HTP, Glucosamine chondroitin, and the homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla.

I asked Angela to start the 4-Stages anti-yeast diet (described in Feast Without Yeast and in An Extraordinary Power to Heal) and the non-absorbed anti-yeast medicine nystatin. I told her to stop all the supplements because they were not helping her. She reluctantly agreed.

She came back four weeks later. She had stopped all the supplements and told me that her vaginal yeast infections were gone. (For more information on chronic vaginal yeast infections, click here.) She was no longer crying. She did not think that her depression was that much better but she said she could now cope with stress much better. (For more information on depression and yeast, click here.) Overall she was doing much better with the current treatment for Candida. She no longer had the expense of all the supplement pills.

Why this result? Why did the supplements not help her but anti-yeast therapy did? On other pages of this website are more detailed explanations about Candida yeast. To get this detailed information, click here.

But let me explain briefly here.

The yeast Candida albicans is found lining the human intestinal tract along with bacteria. Antibiotics kill the bacteria but not the yeast. The yeast can then grow and fill in the space left by the dead bacteria. Yeast then make a number of toxic chemicals which kill bacteria. These toxic chemicals keep the bacteria out even after the antibiotic is discontinued.

Candida-produced toxic chemicals irritate the intestinal lining. These chemicals can be absorbed and circulate in the human body. They can irritate blood vessel walls, causing headaches. Candida can also resist the body’s immune system. Unfortunately, the immune system has much trouble clearing Candida, leading to many problems as the immune system fights Candida but cannot win and clear the Candida. In the book An Extraordinary Power to Heal, I have documented all the chemicals which Candida makes and the interactions of the immune system with Candida. I have explained how I think these interactions cause major disorders such as multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis. Briefer explanations of how Candida causes these problems are found on other pages on this website.

I have treated many patients, many of whom are autistic. They may be taking large doses of supplements and probiotics, including Lactobacillus (found in acidophilus). In general, if a yeast free diet is added to a regimen of supplements and probiotics, there may be some improvement but the improvement may stop and the patients’s overall condition may go up and down. Autistic children who started the anti-yeast diet and the anti-yeast medicine nystatin improved steadily. Autistic children who were already taking large doses of supplements who then added on the anti-yeast diet and nystatin did not improve steadily. Instead one symptom may have improved while other problems became worse. The steady improvement seen with the anti-yeast diet alone is not seen when the patient also takes supplements.

When this happens, I recommend stopping the supplements and probiotics. Then I see the steady improvement that I have seen so many times with the 4 stages anti-yeast diet. The question on this page is what do the supplements do that prevents the steady improvement.

The short answer is that the supplements feed the yeast and the lactobacillus helps the yeast grow. The supplements help the yeast be more active, making the overall patient’s condition worse. The longer answer is as follows.

If we look at the human intestinal tract as a glass of liquid, the Candida would be lining the inside of the glass. Food would come in at the top of the glass and would be mixed with digestive fluids. When the food is done being broken down, little doors would open and the food would be absorbed.

Under normal circumstances, the yeast gets some of the food for itself. The yeast can use the food to grow and as the yeast grows, the yeast makes toxic chemicals. The yeast makes these chemicals to kill any bacteria present, so that it can have all the food for itself. The type of food coming in significantly influences how fast the yeast can grow. Some foods help the yeast grow much faster than others. We will turn to this subject in a moment. Fortunately, when food takes a while to break down, such as whole wheat or brown rice, the yeast does not get as much for itself. The yeast can absorb energy quickly from refined, already broken down foods such as common table sugar.

What happens if we add vitamin and mineral pills to the food mixture? The hope is that the body absorbs these nutrients in the supplement pills quickly and uses them for body processes. The problem is that in between the body and the supplemental nutrients is the yeast. The yeast, not your body, gets the vitamins and minerals first. The yeast absorbs the vitamins and minerals and use them to grow. Whenever the yeast grows, it makes toxic chemicals. Yeast is a toxic chemical factory.

There is no way to avoid feeding the yeast with the same vitamin and mineral pills that you are trying to use to feed yourself. The vitamin and mineral pills provide nutrients to the yeast. As long as the yeast is there and growing, it will absorb nutrients and make toxic chemicals. Such chemicals can cause problems such as constipation, headaches, and many other problems.

Nutrient pills may help your body in some ways, but they may hurt in other ways by feeding the yeast enabling the yeast to make toxic chemicals.

The reason that patients do better without the supplements, on an anti-yeast diet is that they have much less Candida yeast and yeast chemicals. People who try to use supplements alone may have more Candida yeast and more yeast chemicals than if they took no supplements at all.

How does the food we take in influence how fast the yeast can grow and make toxic chemicals? In An Extraordinary Power to Heal, I list the many foods which help yeast grow. For this webpage, I will talk about two foods, barley malt and vinegar. Barley malt comes from barley, which is sprouted and then heat killed in the malting process. The result is barley malt. This barley malt is the raw material for making beer. Beer manufacturers mix malt with yeast to make beer. Barley malt contains special growth factors which help yeast grow. Barley malt is also sweet and is sold as a sugar substitute. Barley malt is baked into nearly everything. Yeast are used in breadmaking, so malt is added to bread dough to feed the yeast.

Barley malt in food does the same thing in your intestine as it does in a bread bowl: barley malt feeds the yeast. Then the yeast make toxic chemicals. Taking in malt creates excellent growing conditions for yeast in your gut.

The other food item which helps yeast grow is vinegar. Why? Vinegar contains many chemicals which kill bacteria but leave yeast alone. Vinegar is added to bread dough to keep the numbers of bacteria down and the yeast numbers high in the bread dough. Vinegar will do the same in your intestine, kill bacteria and leave yeast alone.

If we think about your intestine as a glass cup with yeast lining the side and food in the center, what does adding malt and vinegar do for the yeast? You have created excellent growing conditions for yeast. The malt feeds the yeast and vinegar kills the bacteria so that yeast has more room to grow. The result is more yeast with more activity, making toxic chemicals.

Is there a way to stop the yeast? As long as one takes in malt and vinegar, creating excellent growing conditions for yeast, the yeast is going to be there and grow.

No nutritional supplement will stop the yeast. On the contrary, these supplements also may feed the yeast and help it make toxic chemicals.

Lactobacillus, which is supposed to replace the good bacteria and get rid of the yeast. Lactobacillus does not clear yeast. In fact, Lactobacillus has been found in a number of studies to help yeast grow. Lactobacillus clears another bad bug, Clostridia, but it does this in a few weeks. After that the Lactobacillus does little or even helps the yeast to grow.

The best answer is to take out foods and supplements which help the yeast. You can do this by following the 4 Stages diet as described in our books, Feast Without Yeastand in An Extraordinary Power to Heal. Both Feast Without Yeast and in Extraordinary Foods for the Everyday Kitchen contain recipes to help you cook. If you take away what is helping yeast grow, the yeast will not grow much and will not make the toxic chemicals. In An Extraordinary Power to Heal, I have described many cases of people who followed this dietary approach and developed better health.

What about the other supplements which are supposed to help fight the yeast? The more you feed the yeast, the stronger it will be and the harder it will be for any anti-yeast chemical to kill the yeast. When yeast are given foods such as vinegar and malt, yeast can more easily resist anything to kill them. And if they are killed, the malt is there to feed the yeast, enabling it to come back. Products sold to fight yeast may help if problems are mild, but they do not get around the basic problem of foods such as malt and vinegar helping yeast grow. Exclusion of foods such as malt and vinegar is extremely important for someone who wishes to reduce intestinal yeast. These are not the only foods which help yeast grow. Other foods much be excluded also. The complete list is given in our books Feast Without Yeast and in An Extraordinary Power to Heal.

If you have ever wondered why Candida grows back after you take an anti-fungal drug such as Diflucan, the reason is that eating foods such as malt and vinegar help the yeast grow back. No drug for Candida yeast works long term unless this diet of excluding malt and vinegar is followed.

We wrote the books Feast Without Yeast and Extraordinary Foods for the Everyday Kitchen to make it easier to follow this approach. In An Extraordinary Power to Heal, I have given information on the list of foods which must be excluded as well as what is in these foods that helps the yeast. I have also listed the toxic chemicals yeast make and how these cause problems. In An Extraordinary Power to Heal, I have also described the problems the immune system has with the yeast and how the yeast resisting the immune system leads to so many major health problems. I have also given many cases of people treated by anti-yeast therapy.