Guest post by Shanti Cox
Candida albicans is a type of parasitic, yeast-like fungus that inhabits the intestines, genital tract, mouth, esophagus and throat. It is a fungus that resides in every human system. It usually lives in balance with other yeasts and beneficial bacteria in the body, but various factors can create conditions that alter the balance, weaken the immune system and set a perfect breeding ground for multiplication and result in an infection known as candidiasis (Balch 183).
Candida albicans lives in your intestines originally. It is when you become imbalanced that the fungus can spread to other areas of the body or make way to your blood system where you then are dealing with a systemic infection. The fungus thrives on nutrients in the body and can create a cycle of deficiency (Gates 24).
Over the last thirty years, the overgrowth of Candida albicans has become an all-too familiar health problem in our society. This rapid increase has been attributed to an increase in the overuse of antibiotics, birth control pill use and diets high in processed foods and sugars. All of these common culprits can throw our body ecology off. Experts estimate that one in three Americans have candidiasis, but most don’t make the connection between their symptoms and this “modern epidemic.” Numbers are much higher in young adults, especially young women (Gates 5).
Candidiasis is widely misunderstood because of its variation. It can manifest in many parts and areas of the body and more complexly, symptoms can vary from obvious ones like a vaginal yeast-infection to not so obvious ones like mental fuzziness or recurring headaches. So many of the symptoms that stem from candidiasis could easily be mistaken and blamed for other diseases and health issues. Some of the symptoms most often associated with candidiasis are food allergies, fatigue, digestive disorders, PSM, skin rashes, chronic constipation, recurring headaches, chronic vaginitis, chemical and environmental sensitivities, poor memory, mental fuzziness and loss of sex drive (Gates 5).
Not only do symptoms vary in general, but they also vary between males, females and children. When candida infects the vagina, it results in vaginitis characterized by a large amount of white, cheese-like discharge along with itching and burning. This can become problematic and easily transferable during vaginal childbirth when a mother can pass the fungus on to the newborn baby. Candida can infect the mouth, also called thrush and it often resembles while milk spotting sometimes accompanied by sores (Balch 184).
Candidiasis has become known as one of the more difficult conditions to treat due to its vicious cycle abilities. When the body becomes imbalanced, the fungus proliferates easily and produces toxins that weaken the immune system further. Because Candida albicans feeds and thrives off so many common diet foods, it can be quite tricky to break the cycle and restore balance. Although there are some pharmaceuticals on the market that contain the potency to kill off the fungus, the most successful approach is a comprehensive one that involves strong dietary restrictions combined with herbal support.
Any article, research, book or information website on the topic of candidiasis will agree that diet is crucial for beginning to heal. Sugar is the top nutrient for Candida albicans (this can include fruit, honey, maple syrup and especially refined sugar) (Crook 101-108). Other triggers that seem to feed the yeast are dairy products, mold and yeast-containing foods like alcohol, cheeses, peanuts and dried fruits (Murray 381-383). According to Gates and Murray, boosting immunity and providing cleansing at a deeper level is necessary. Candidiasis is a sign of a depressed immune system. “A compromised immune system leads to infection, and infection leads to damage to the immune system, further weakening resistance,” states Murray (382). Both recommend looking at the liver. They both claim that that liver function may be one of the most critical factors in healing from candidiasis.
Going beyond the initial understandings and implementations of immunity and cleansing support, you can begin to add in herbal support. There are many plants that have shown themselves to be key supporters for combatting Candida albicans. These include berberine-containing plants like Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) & Oregon Grape Root (Berberis aquifolium) along with Pau d’arco (Tabebuia avellanedae), Garlic (Alium sativum) and the extracts of Oregano (Origanum vulgare) & Olive Leaf (Olea europaea).
Goldenseal and Oregon Grape Root both contain berberine, a chemical constituent that has shown to inhibit Candida albicans as well as pathogenic bacteria. The recommended dosage for berberine is 25 to 50 mg three times per day. Garlic has shown in research to be more potent than more than eight anti-fungal medications on the market. A daily dose of at least 10 mg of the active component allicin is recommended daily. This is equal to about one clove of fresh garlic (Murray 386). As for Oregano and Olive Leaf extracts, it has shown most effective when administered in an enteric-coated capsule. This is to make sure that the oils will be delivered to the small and large intestines. Oregano has shown to be 100 times more potent in anti-candida activity than caprylic acid—a very popular natural candida-fighting supplement on the market. The phenols in oregano oil and the oleuropein in olive leaf extract are highly concentrated and extremely effective in fighting bacterial infections, fungal infections and candida overgrowth.(Murray 385-386). Pau D’arco (also known as lapacho or taheebo) is a South American tree that contains antibacterial and antifungal constituents and has been shown to have strong effects with combating candidiasis. The recommended dosage is 2 tablespoons of herb per quart of water and to decoct for twenty minutes (Balch 185).
Candidiasis is a complex infection with many paths to various health conditions. If left untreated, symptoms can increase with vigor and manifest into deeply seeded, more distressed problems. There are Candida questionnaires online and in many books that can be a good starting place for questioning if you have a yeast overgrowth in the body.
Balch, Phyllis A., and James F. Balch. Prescription for nutritional healing. 3rd ed. New York: Avery, 2000. Print.
Crook, William G.. The yeast connection handbook. Jackson, Tenn.: Professional Books, 1999. Print.
Gates, Donna. The Body Ecology Diet. Carlsbad: Hay House Publishers, 2011. Print.
Murray, Michael T., and Joseph E. Pizzorno. Encyclopedia of natural medicine. Rev. 2nd ed. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub., 1998. Print.