You may see a lot of hype around products that are marketed as Candida cell wall suppressors also known as chitin synthesis inhibitors. One of the newest on the scene is a substance called lufenuron, which is the active ingredient in some veterinarian flea control products and parasite medications. It is a type of pesticide that inhibits the production of chitin. Chitin, a derivative of glucose, is a substance that helps form the hard outer shell (exoskeleton) of insects and crustaceans, and the cell wall of fungi like Candida. We will attempt to cover this topic by answering the following question submitted by a visitor to the blog.
“Cynthia, I researched online and found another product that is apparently new, would you have any advice on its safety? It’s called Lufenuron and there are apparently a lot of scammers that sell pesticide grade, instead of pharmaceutical grade as they claim. Thank you!”
Chitin, along with mannoproteins and beta glucans, helps provide the Candida cell with a protective shield. Although it plays an important role in this function, it is a minor constituent (0.6 – to 9%) in comparison to beta glucans, which constitute 47 to 60 % of the cell wall and is depicted in the image above. Candida changes its cell wall composition depending on what form it is in, so the degree of chitin that is present may vary depending on what form Candida is taking on at any given time. For example, hyphal cells contain at least three times more chitin than plankton yeast cells. If Candida is in an environment where chitin inhibitors are present, it will simply alter the amount of chitin present to preserve itself.
Additionally, one of the forms Candida may take on is a cell-wall deficient form, meaning it exists without a cell wall. Therefore, it’s critical to be aware that any substance that targets the cell wall like lufenuron is going to be ineffective against these forms. Chitin synthesis inhibitors may get rid of some of the colonies of Candida, but the ones without a cell wall will be able to survive and then repopulate. Furthermore, the cell wall deficient form is very small and has the ability to hide in human cells and one must still get beyond the biofilm before it can break down the cell wall.
Although lufenuron has been proven to be effective against fungal infections in dogs, cats, and chimpanzees, it has not been proven to be effective against Candida specifically and it is not approved for human consumption. A study on lufenuron at the University of California found it demonstrated no antifungal activity against Aspergillus fumigatus or Coccidioides immitis (two other types of fungi), so it is unclear whether it would truly be effective against Candida. However, many people who have tried it, swear by its effectiveness.
Proponents of lufenuron claim it is a non-toxic pesticide. However, it has been found that it can be harmful to epithelial cells and tight junctions that line the gut and ovary cells in animals, which means it can contribute to leaky gut, (which would perpetuate the overgrowth of yeast and other undesirable microbes) and possibly affect reproduction. It may also bioaccumlate in fat and interfere with absorption of N-Acetylglucosamine, a substance that is needed for the formation of the cell wall in many healthy bacteria that would be beneficial to us.
Furthermore, once lufenuron is in the body, it takes weeks to clear it from the system. Therefore, if you are having some kind of negative reaction to it, simply discontinuing use may not provide immediate relief. Therefore, it is my opinion that the safety of lufenuron is uncertain and one should exercise caution. I would not recommend its use until more information on how it affects humans is acquired.
One of the biggest promoters of lufenuron, Sarah Vaughter, states there is a veterinarian grade and a pesticide grade. According to Sarah, the pesticide grade is loaded with toxins and is significantly different than the veterinarian grade. I cannot attest to this, but I would like to point out, that the points I make in this discussion are true regardless of whether we are talking about veterinarian grade or pesticide grade. Pesticide grade would just add more problems to the pot. So, if you do choose to use this product, be sure to do your homework and purchase from someone reputable.
The human body can actually produce its own enzymes called chitinase that wiill degrade chitin and there are a variety of natural products on the market that contain enzymes for this purpose as well. They may also be referred to as cell wall suppressors or cell wall digestors. Many of these products combine enzymes that will digest the cell wall with enzymes that can also break down the biofilm. These products would be a better choice and can be beneficial when used in conjunction with some of the other antifungals and the low-carb Paleo diet of course as presented in my eBook, Candida Secrets. However, they are not a “cure” in and of themselves for all the reasons we’ve already discussed.
Ben-Ziony Y, Arzi B. Use of lufenuron for treating fungal infections of dogs and cats: 297 cases (1997-1999). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2000 Nov 15;217(10):1510-3.
Hector RF, Davidson AP, Johnson SM. Comparison of susceptibility of fungal isolates to lufenuron and nikkomycin Z alone or in combination with itraconazole. Am J Vet Res. 2005 Jun;66(6):1090-3.
Dean SR, Meola RW, Meola SM, Sittertz-Bhatkar H, Schenker R. Mode of action of lufenuron in adult Ctenocephalides felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae).J Med Entomol. 1999 Jul;36(4):486-92.
Juliana F. MansurJanaina Figueira-MansurAmanda S. Santos, et al. The effect of lufenuron, a chitin synthesis inhibitor, on oogenesis of Rhodnius prolixus. Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology. September 2010, Volume98(Issue1) Page p.59To-67
EFSA Scientific Report (2008) 189, 1- 130. Conclusion on the peer review of Lufenuron.
Chaffin WL, López-Ribot JL, Casanova M, Gozalbo D, Martínez JP. Cell Wall and Secreted Proteins of Candida albicans: Identification, Function, and Expression. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews. 1998;62(1):130-180.
Hamid, R., Khan, M. A., Ahmad, M., Ahmad, M. M., Abdin, M. Z., Musarrat, J., & Javed, S. (2013). Chitinases: An update. Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences, 5(1), 21–29. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.106559
Vaughter, Sarah. Candida Cell Suppressor Review Scam http://owndoc.com/candida-albicans/candida-cell-wall-suppressor-review-scam/
Chitin image courtesy of: Karina Vega and Markus Kalkum, “Chitin, Chitinase Responses, and Invasive Fungal Infections,” International Journal of Microbiology, vol. 2012, Article ID 920459, 10 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/920459