Candida – looking beyond the envelope
Candida or yeast overgrowth (sometimes called “thrush”) is a very common condition most often experienced by women. It can be very itchy, often around the sensitive genital area, and sometimes smelly and always unpleasant.
Here are ten common Candida symptoms:
- Seasonal Allergies or itchy ears and skin
- Low Energy, Fatigue & Malaise
- Digestive Problems such as bloating, constipation or diarrhoea
- Auto-Immune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis
- Skin and nail fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus)
- Skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, hives and/or rashes
- Mood swings, anxiety, depression and irritability
- Vaginal infections, UTI’s, rectal or vaginal itching
- Brain fog, ADHD, concentration problems or poor memory
- Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings.
Lifestyle based environmental conditions upset the balance of microflora in the body. This allows the yeast to proliferate certain regions of the body.
When overgrowth occurs, Candida has the ability to burrow holes in the lining of the intestinal tract and enter the blood stream.
Once it gets into the blood stream it is able to make its way into any organ or region of the body. It can emit over 70 different toxins into the blood stream and body. The body will often create an immune response to Candida and its various toxins. This causes higher inflammatory levels during periods of overgrowth.
The liver has to detoxify these toxic elements. When Candida is present in high amounts for a long period of time it can overwhelm the liver, which causes increased whole body toxicity and immune and hormone dysregulation which leads to higher inflammatory loads.
The yeast by-products disrupt liver function, the liver’s role in immune function is compromised, and depressed immunity causes candida overgrowth to get worse.
There may be a whole host of symptoms while the Candida is alive and propagating and sometimes even worse symptoms as it dies off.
What causes Candida/Yeast Infection?
- Prolonged use of antibiotics
- Cigarette smoke – lowered oxygen levels in the body
- Toxic mercury in dental fillings
- Use of antacids, corticosteroids, HRT & contraceptive pills
- Loss of good bacteria in the gut
- Excessive consumption of sweets, processed food & refined carbohydrates
- Can be sexually transmitted from someone with a vaginal or penile yeast overgrowth
- Chlorine and fluoride in drinking water
- Chronic stress, lack of sleep, lowered immunity
- Alcohol consumption
Here is a 5 Step Action Plan to beat Candida:
- Nutrition that starves Candida
- Anti-microbial support
- Improve liver function
- Strengthen the immune system
- Restore the gut lining
Anti-candida nutritional recommendations include non-starchy vegetables and anti-oxidant rich herbs as the best sources for critical immune-boosting phytonutrients. Healthy fat sources include coconut products, butter, avocados, olive oil, nuts & seeds. Healthy protein includes wild-caught fish, grass-fed red meat and free range chicken and eggs.
People often jump to fermented foods as a candida-fighting strategy, as the bacteria in these compete with Candida for attachment sites. However, many individuals with a Candida overgrowth are unable to tolerate fermented foods right away. This is because most fermented foods contain wild types of Candida. These wild types are typically good for most people but individuals with Candida overgrowth often have a heightened inflammatory response to any yeast forms.
So start with a 30 day period with less fermented foods (perhaps some unflavored coconut yogurt is fine) while working on killing off the undesirable microbes.
After the initial period, adding in organic forms of sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut kefir and fermented grass-fed dairy can be great. Begin with small amounts (1-2 tbsps daily) and gradually add in more over time. Observe for any recurrence of symptoms and modify as needed while you heal candida overgrowth in your body.
Liver function – avoid exposure to toxic elements as much as possible while trying to reduce Candida, and if possible take a liver detoxification and support tonic, available from your naturopath or medical herbalist.
Strengthen the immune system – when is this not a good idea?! Always during winter, and especially this year when we are vigilant about Covid-19.
And finally, restoring the integrity of the gut lining. All the gain of the hard work done with diet and antimicrobials may be lost if the damage done by candida to the gut lining is not attended to and repaired.
As with any multi-step protocol, the programme may need to be tailored to each individual, so for further advice do not hesitate to seek the guidance of a qualified medical herbalist or naturopath.