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How Nicotine Affects Candida Overgrowth

Q. Cynthia, I believe I have an overgrowth of candida caused by celiac disease. I would like to know if smoking can contribute to this and if I should quit now or get candida under control first as I fear it may be too much to take on at once. ~Sabina

A. Hi Sabina,

Yes, smoking is most definitely related to Candida overgrowth. You cannot overcome Candida if you continue to smoke, because every time you smoke it feeds the yeast. Our liver stores sugar in the form of glycogen so we can draw on it when needed for energy. So for example, our blood sugar level drops, the liver releases glycogen and it is converted back into glucose and released into the blood stream to be burned for energy. This is an essential function for the body and mind to function adequately.

However, if that process happens too often and blood sugar levels are brought too high through diet, then there is too much sugar in the blood stream on a regular basis and this leads to problems like insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, hyperinsulinism, obesity, heart disease, depression, insomnia, anxiety, adrenal fatigue and many more.

When the blood sugar level is high, then this alerts the pancreas to release insulin to bring it down and then our glucose receptors either store the sugar in the liver or as fat in the cell. If the body repeatedly has too much sugar to deal with the glucose receptors become resistant and stop performing their duties adequately. Glucose remains in the blood stream longer than it should and more insulin is released.

If one already has insulin resistance, and many people with Candida do, then the glucose receptors are not functioning properly so the blood sugar levels will remain high consistently. You’ll want to read my page on insulin resistance symptoms and good carbs bad carbs to understand this aspect more thoroughly.

Every time you light a cigarette, nicotine triggers the liver to dump a large amount of glycogen into the blood stream. The blood sugar level is brought up too high, so the body calls on the pancreas to bring it back down. The pancreas sees this as an emergency and releases high levels of insulin to bring it down and the blood sugar drops. You then crave another cigarette to bring your blood sugar level back up. Thus a vicious cycle ensues.

Keep in mind that sugar is Candida’s primary source of fuel. It is what it lives on. Keeping sugar levels in the body at a minimum is essential to overcome yeast overgrowth. So every time you smoke, it’s as if you eaten a candy bar and fed your yeast. Candida feeds on the glucose. Not only that, the constant fluctuation in blood sugar levels from smoking will result in cravings for carbs and sugar, which will feed the yeast as well. Therefore smoking must cease to get yeast overgrowth under control.

Not only is smoking a major contributor to Candida but also to neurotransmitter imbalances and adrenal fatigue. Nicotine depletes the adrenal glands and neurotransmitters in the brain.

When the blood sugar levels are too low, it is the adrenal glands that release adrenalin to trigger the liver to release glycogen. Additionally the body views this whole process of dealing with excess sugar as stress. When we are under stress, then the liver releases glycogen into the blood stream as well and the adrenal glands are called on to release cortisol, adrenalin, and noradrenalin to deal with the situation at hand.

If the adrenal glands are called on too frequently to deal with emergency situations, they eventually burn out and no longer produce cortisol in adequate amounts which results in the long list of disruptive symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue like chronic fatigue, weight gain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, cravings for carbs, etc.

Nicotine affects the brain in a similar manner as heroin and cocaine. It triggers the release of high levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine and endorphins which is what provides the feeling of being high, calmed, relaxed etc., when you light up. When neurotransmitters are overstimulated on a regular basis it eventually leads to depletion. Depletion of neurotransmitters results in a vast number of psychological and physiological symptoms like depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, attention deficit, memory problems and many more.

Keeping neurotransmitters in balance and the adrenal glands strong is important for many reasons, but in relation to Candida it is crucial because disrupted neurotransmitters and weak adrenals result in unstable moods, fluctuating blood sugar and cravings for sugar and carbs which will feed the Candida and weak adrenals make the body more vulnerable for yeast to proliferate.

So, as we can see, smoking is destructive to our health in many ways besides the well known dangers like cancer and emphysema. Quite simply, there cannot be good physical, emotional or spiritual health with nicotine in the picture.

You’ll also want to note that the effects of caffeine on the body are pretty similar to nicotine. It too triggers the liver to dump glycogen, the pancreas to release insulin etc. The consumption of sugar also impacts the pancreas, adrenals and neurotransmitters. Therefore in order to overcome cravings for nicotine, sugar and caffeine must be eliminated simultaneously. If your trying to give up nicotine and continue to eat sugar and smoke, it will usually result in cravings for nicotine when blood sugar drops and vice versa. Each one perpetuates the addiction to the other.

So yes, Sabina, you should absolutely quit smoking. The sooner the better.


{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Josh February 26, 2015, 3:41 pm

    Very helpful article. I have scoured the web and this is by far a very helpful piece of information. I have been battling candida and I chew tobacco every day….I can tell you that it won’t be an issue quitting for me. My candida has been out of control and its controlled my life. Also, the psychological affects of nicotine has ruined my life as well. No more :)

  • Lana March 14, 2015, 2:37 am

    Hi there,
    WOW is all I can say, I was recently diagnosed by my gp as having 3 things….Adrenal fatigue, candida overgrowth and a very low immune system. All three that you mention are affected by smoking. I must say that I haven’t stopped, but I am trying so hard. I know that I should just put it down and never return but so much easier said than done. I will continue to stop smoking until it is a done deal!!! I am now 41 and my terrible eating habits, sugar, and alcohol plus of course smoking have caught up on me. I have been on bipolar meds for 10 years and suffer with depression that is not being helped with meds!!!! I am also sick all the time and for the last 6 months or more have battled with fatigue like never before in my life. I just don’t have the energy to do anything. Here is the article I needed to kick myself into gear and get going!!! Life begins at 40, it’s about time I did something to make that happen. Here’s to all those who have quit and are quitting smoking. Keep it up it can only do you good! Thank you so much for your article, it has helped me adjust my thinking regarding smoking in a big way!!!

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins March 19, 2015, 10:06 pm

    You’re welcome, Lana. You can find help to quit smoking on the following pages.




  • Kai April 14, 2015, 6:21 pm

    Thank you Cynthia, What a great article, I now realize why candida diet has never worked for me in the past, it’s because I was a heavy smoker. I quit smoking a few weeks ago and I’m already seeing Some of my candida dying, and I also noticed my tongue becoming very pink, so the white stuff is disappearing.

    In addition, a recent study found that cigarette smoke promoted C. albicans transition from blastospore to hyphal form (which is a lot harder to treat), please see the following link:



  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins April 14, 2015, 8:26 pm

    Hi Kai,

    You’re welcome. That’s great. And thank you for the great link to the research.


  • ashish July 17, 2015, 4:56 am

    Thank You for such a helpful article. I think, I am also suffering from candida overgrowth. Though, I have quit smoking 5 months back, my stomach bloats regularly and i have eczema like infection on my feet. Whenever I visit my Doctor, he prescribe fluconazole and some other medicines. Eczema on my feet fades away when I take medicines and comes back when i stop taking medicines. I am also suffering from foggy brain.

    Please suggest what should i do to get rid of this.
    please help me out. I am tensed.

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins July 18, 2015, 9:00 pm

    Hi Ashish,

    I have hundreds of pages on my site that discuss what needs to be done for Candida. You can begin on the following pages.



    I also have an eBook on the following page.



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