In my recent article Candida and Oxalate: The Chicken or the Egg? I explained the controversy over the relationship between candida and oxalate. In that article, I explained a possible mechanism by which oxalate can underlie a perpetual candida problem. I also explained evidence shared by Susan Owens, oxalate researcher extraordinaire, that the use of antifungals may actually add fuel to the fire. In the interest of representing both sides of the story, today I would like to present the other side of the debate.
I explained the basics of oxalate and how “healthy” foods that contain oxalate contribute to various health problems in a previous article, Oxalates: Plant Toxins on Your Plate, so I won’t spend much time on that here.
In a recent webinar, Dr. Bill Shaw from Great Plains Laboratory not only provided some excellent background information on oxalate, but he also proposed an interesting new theory on how candida could potentially contribute to oxalate production. In this presentation, Shaw described oxalate as “probably the most important unrecognized medical factor that is going on today”. I completely agree with this statement! I have embedded the entire presentation entitled “”The Green Smoothie Health Fad: This Road to Health Hell is Paved with Toxic Oxalate Crystals” below for you to watch at your leisure. But first, a little commentary from yours truly.
Oxalates are the primary cause of kidney stones and it is in the field of kidney and urinary health where oxalate gets the most attention, although oxalate is getting much-deserved attention with respect to chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, autism and many other health conditions now too. Shaw aptly credits the fact that while urologists know to look for oxalate, most doctors are unaware of the role of oxalate in other tissues and diseases to the specialization of medicine.
The primary objective of Shaw’s presentation seems to be to bring awareness to the dangers of the consumption of green smoothies, which are often promoted for improving health. Dr. Shaw explains that the amount of oxalate in a green smoothie made with just 2 cups of spinach would be 15 g of oxalate, which according to a MSDS Safety sheet would be a lethal dose of oxalate! I have to assume the calcium in the spinach is somewhat protective or many of us would be dead. Imagine if you were juicing it how much easier it would be to ingest – I juiced my share of spinach before I knew about oxalate!
It is interesting to note that Shaw calculated the average intake of oxalate in the average American diet to be about 100 mg, whereas those eating just one green smoothie (prepared as described above, with 2 cups of spinach or the equivalent) were netting 15,000 mg of oxalate! Know anybody who has gone on a healthy diet and grown SICKER? That describes a good portion of my clients when they first come to me, most oblivious about oxalate and its impact on health.
As an aside, some of you may think that you are off the hook with respect to oxalate issues because you would never consume such an abomination as a green smoothie, but you are wrong. If you are eating a diet high in vegetables and/or nuts (which I see often in the Paleo or vegetarian/vegan populations), if you are consuming large amounts of bone broth, gelatin or collagen (eaten perhaps to excess on “healing” diets these days), or you are taking high doses of Vitamin C, oxalate should be on your radar. I know I just described most of my readers! But food and supplements are not the only issues with which you may want to be concerned.
Shaw has been reporting for years that he believes candida to be a source of oxalate in the body, and that he finds that oxalate problems dissipate after anti-fungal treatment. Please note that this is pretty much the opposite of what Susan Owens has found and I shared in my article Candida and Oxalate: The Chicken or the Egg?.
In looking for a mechanism to explain his findings, Shaw found research that Candida albicans makes an enzyme that breaks down collagen, collagen being a protein which makes up about 30% of all protein in the body. As explained in the video below, he believes that Candida can use this enzyme to break down collagen in the intestinal wall and elsewhere, and as that collagen breaks down to hydroxyproline, and eventually glyoxylate, that can convert to oxalic acid when conditions are right (or should I say wrong!)
This is the research paper Shaw shared on the collagenolytic enzyme produced by Candida albicans.
Those of you that have been around the oxalate block know that having adequate levels of Vitamin B6 is important to protect us from this conversion to oxalate, as the enzyme AGT (which is deficient in a type of genetic hyperoxaluria), which is B6 dependent, can convert our glyoxylate to glycine (a precursor to glutathione!) rather than have it end up contributing to high oxalate levels in the body. In this scenario, B6 can help protect our collagen from converting to oxalate but it does not protect us from that collagen loss in the first place!
I must admit that the presence of yeast, loss of collagen and conversion of that collagen to oxalate certainly is consistent with certain conditions many of my clients suffer from (as did we), such as interstitial cystitis. Maybe this same process can help to explain some cases of leaky gut.
If Shaw is correct, dealing with Candida may be necessary to protect the integrity of our gut, our bladder, and perhaps more. But does that mean anti-fungal treatment is necessary or wise? We had very bad experiences with Nystatin as I explained in previous articles, and I do personally know others that feel that prescription anti-fungals pushed them into endogenous production of oxalate. But does that mean we cannot treat yeast? As described in my previous article, many people are using higher doses of biotin to keep yeast under control, my family included. We as well as many of my clients use Candex by Pure Essence Labs These enzymes are taken on an empty stomach to digest fungal cell walls without directly killing the yeast, but enzymes on an empty stomach as well as high dose biotin are not appropriate for everyone so ask your doctor if these things are appropriate for you.
I have had a few clients that swear that their reoccurring interstitial cystitis disappears when they use natural antifungals, which seems to support Shaw’s theory, but we still have a lot to learn. Basically, there is no easy answer here and this is definitely a decision for you to make with your doctor. Whatever route you choose, what I am advocating for here is a fully informed decision.
In Dr. Shaw’s words, “oxalates are a really big medical deal and so many people I think will have health benefits by addressing this particular problem”. I could not agree more! But I think it is important to know the risks and benefits associated with treatment for yeast. So talk to your doctor about this issue and work together on a solution so that this is one more layer of the onion you won’t have to peel yourself!
NOTE: As you watch this video please note that the food lists shared in this presentation (and most food lists shared all over the web) are not accurate. The only oxalate list that can be trusted can be found at the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo Group.