Candidiasis is any infection with the yeast (fungus) candida (usually candida albicans). Other forms of candida can also infect the body and the treatment is the same. Areas of the body most commonly affected are the vagina, mouth, intestine, nose, sinuses, skin folds and the napkin area in babies. Also known as thrush or monilia, candida can be a normal inhabitant in our bodies if it is present in only very small amounts. The yeast Candida albicans can change its form from a simple non-invasive cell to an invasive mycelial form with tendrils (tentacles). These tendrils grow like roots and can penetrate the wall of the bowel, and act like a leaking pipe through which waste products and toxins can enter into the bloodstream. These toxins can cause symptoms such as fatigue, allergies, skin rashes, itchy skin, headaches, cough, mental fogginess, indigestion, bloating and mysterious ill health.
What causes candida?
Generally, the friendly bacteria in our genital and gastrointestinal tracts keep the candida under control. However, in situations where the friendly bacteria have been disturbed or killed off, such as secondary to antibiotics, the contraceptive pill, steroids and even stress, candida makes the most of the opportunity to take over. Candida and indeed all molds are opportunists. It is with this overgrowth of candida that the problems start. The yeast loves warm, moist places, and this is why regions like the vagina, mouth, nose and sinuses and sweaty skin folds are so commonly affected. Long term use of antacid drugs, such as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), can cause a large overgrowth of candida in the stomach and small intestines.
What are the symptoms of candida?
Vaginal thrush or candida is characterized by itch, irritation and a white thick discharge. Many women are plagued by recurrent thrush infections in the vagina. This can indicate that you are carrying a reservoir of candida in the intestine or occasionally that your partner may have an unrecognised low-grade infection and is re-infecting you. Candida can also be a possible cause of recurrent cystitis, when urine tests are negative for bacteria. Pessaries containing Boric Acid 600 mg/pessary can be inserted into the vagina at night and are safe and effective.
Thrush in the mouth presents as a sore, white coated tongue or throat. When the skin is affected, a red itchy rash appears. In the intestine, candida can cause bloating, crampy pains, excessive flatulence or burning in the stomach. There may be itching around the anal area. If candida proliferates in the intestine, it can change its form from yeast buds to an elongated fungal form with root-like projections that attach to the intestine wall. This may open channels directly into the blood stream, and may result in the absorption into the blood of partially digested food particles. Subsequently, allergic reactions may be triggered with varied symptoms such as headaches, eczema, hives, fatigue, dizziness, depression and irritability. The term ‘systemic candidiasis’ may be used to describe this wide variety of symptoms. This is not to be confused with a ‘systemic candida infection’ in which the yeast invades and totally overruns the bloodstream causing a severe life-threatening illness. This latter condition is rare and can be seen in those who are already very ill with a poorly functioning immune system caused by immune suppressant drugs or AIDS.
How can candida be prevented?
There are a number of factors which put you at risk of developing problems with candida. These include long term antibiotics (frequently prescribed for acne), the oral contraceptive pill, cortisone medications, high levels of sugar in the blood (such as in diabetics), or chemotherapy for cancer.
Localised infections, such as a skin fold rash, oral thrush or a single episode of vaginal thrush, can usually be treated by application of tea tree oil cream, an anti-fungal cream or oral nystatin or nilstat anti-fungal drops or lozenges. There is a range of tea tree oil products available which are specifically designed for the vagina and include a tea tree oil cream and a douche solution. Some women find that douching with a natural acidophilus yoghurt is helpful, as this replaces the friendly lactobacilli bacteria. Boric acid vaginal pessaries, one at night for 7-14 days, are effective and safe.
For those with recurrent infections or systemic candidiasis, a much more holistic approach is required.
Firstly, you should avoid the risk factors where possible. Secondly, candida should be destroyed using safe, anti-fungal drugs. The safest is Nystatin, taken in powder form dissolved in water, in a dosage of half a teaspoon four times daily for eight weeks. It is best taken between meals on an empty stomach. It can also be taken as drops or tablets. Nystatin will reduce the fungus from the intestines, but it commonly recurs. Nystatin is usually free of side effects, as it is not absorbed into the bloodstream. An alternative is the more potent anti-fungal drug called Ketoconazole, which is very effective but has the potential to be toxic to the liver. It is taken as a tablet once daily for ten days. With this short course, liver problems are unlikely; however, avoid it if you do have liver problems. These anti-fungal drugs are available on prescription from your doctor.
While using these treatments tackle any oral infections by gargling with tea tree oil (1 in 10 dilution) every night. Oil pulling with coconut oil twice daily can be effective against oral thrush. It is not necessary to avoid sexual activity completely, although it is best to do so while symptoms are acute. Treat your partner also if they have any symptoms such as a red itchy rash in the genital area.
After you have made the effort to eradicate the candida, it is important to stop it coming back through attention to your diet and adding specific nutritional supplements. The anti-candida diet can be started immediately. Begin a regular course of nutritional supplements after the anti-fungal drug course is finished.
The most important features of an anti-candida diet are as follows :-
- Include often – fresh leafy vegetables; sprouts; legumes (beans, lentils, split peas, chickpeas); fish; poultry; lean meat; seeds and nuts (except peanuts); garlic, ginger, cinnamon, thyme and rosemary; natural unsweetened yogurt.
- Avoid – all sugars and sweets including honey, jam, cakes, chocolates, biscuits, and soft drinks; alcohol; yeasted or fermented foods like bread, soy sauce, cheeses, dried fruits, old or moldy foods, vitamin B supplements containing yeast, mushrooms, vinegar, pickles, mustard, mayonnaise; white flour products and pastas; all processed, preserved and refined foods. Avoid fruit juices and dried fruits, as they contain high levels of natural sugars. For the first four to eight weeks it is best to also avoid white potato, sweet corn and all fruit. Thereafter, reintroduce these foods gradually. Try to limit your fruit intake to two servings per day. The safest fruits are apples, pears, grapefruit, lime and lemons.
- Avoid all gluten and dairy products, as they inflame the gut lining and worsen intestinal permeability (leaky gut syndrome).
- Foods that have natural antibiotic properties will fight candida very effectively if they are eaten regularly. The best ones are raw garlic (finely chopped, minced, grated or juiced), onions, leeks, and radishes, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage), fresh ginger (finely chopped or grated) and raw cabbage juice.
- Thyme, oregano and rosemary can be included in your diet. Grow your own!
Raw fresh vegetable juices are vitally important. See the A-Z medical guide to juicing in the “Raw Juices Can Save Your Life” book and the recommended juicing recipe below to assist with candida from the book.
Juice for Candida
- 2 cabbage leaves
- 1 clove garlic or 1/2 red onion
- 4 green string beans
- 1 carrot
- 1 lime or lemon
- 1 grapefruit
- Wash, trim and chop and pass all through the juicer and drink daily.
Orthodox medical treatment
Many doctors don’t believe that the problem of systemic candidiasis exists and therefore don’t treat the patient holistically. However, doctors will regularly treat localized candida infections and are usually very familiar with the patient who has problems with continually recurring vaginal thrush. Various anti-fungal medications are used including nystatin, clotrimazole, miconazole and econazole. These are available as creams, vaginal pessaries, tablets/capsules and drops. For recurring infections your doctor may prescribe ketoconazole (as above) or fluconazole, which is taken as a single dose of one tablet.
Recommended supplements for candida
- Intestinal Para Clean
Take 1 – 2 capsules up to four times daily just before food – A combination of effective herbs that will give your intestines a thorough spring clean.
- MSM Plus Vitamin C
Take 1/2 teaspoon twice a day in water or vegetable juice – MSM is an organic sulfur which is active against many pathogens.
- Bacto Clear
Take 2 capsules once or twice daily. BactoClear is a powerful natural antibiotic for the gut and also reduces candida in the sinuses.
Take 1 capsule daily. Selenomune will strengthen your immune system to overcome candida long term. Selenomune has 3 types of selenium as well as iodine and other essential nutrients; it contains a small amount of Brewer’s yeast which is a healthy yeast that fights the bad yeasts such as candida.
Take 1-2 capsules daily. Floratone is an all natural probiotic.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.