Combating Candida albicans
What is Candida albicans?
Candida albicans is a type of yeast-like fungus that is present in practically
every human being. In a healthy person it does not present much of a problem
as it is kept under control by the existence of other micro-organisms
sometimes called 'friendly bacteria.' Recently, candida has become more
of a problem for many people. Your diet, our intake of antibiotics and stress levels are the key areas in which change will help to reduce
of the amount of yeast residing in our system.
How do I know if I have it?
The most recognisable symptom of Candida infection is thrush or a similar
condition - vaginitis. It tends to thrive in females more readily, yet
it can be passed between the sexes. If you suspect you have thrush, it is important that you visit
the doctor to rule out the possibility of other sexually transmitted diseases.
Thrush can also be present in the mouth and in any areas of damp skin.
Other symptoms and related conditions are many and varied, including:
athlete's foot; toe nail fungus; migraine type headaches; fatigue; constipation; bloating;
allergy; sensitivity to strong smells; poor memory; feelings of unreality;
irritability; difficulty in concentrating; depression; numbness; tingling
and weak muscles; heartburn; abdominal pain; diarrhoea; recurrent sore
throats. If you experience any of these symptoms and they become worse
after eating sugary or yeast rich foods then it possible that you are
suffering from Candida overgrowth. Symptoms also tend to get worse in damp or mouldy
environments. Check with your doctor or a complementary therapist to be
How can I control it?
It is impossible to eliminate all of the Candida yeast from your body,
yet it is possible to return it to a level at which it ceases to cause
you problems. By improving your diet, reducing your intake of certain drugs
and allowing time for stress reduction and relaxation you can gain the
upper hand on the yeast. These changes will have a beneficial effect on
your general health and will improve your overall quality of life - they
are well worth attempting! If you have a sexual partner, it is important
that they are making an effort to combat the yeast as well. Using condoms
will help to prevent cross infection. Do not share bath towels as this
can also spread the yeast.
Dietary change is one of the key aspects of Candida treatment.
This is because most of the yeast tends to dwell in the digestive tract.
The three most important types of food to minimise in your diet are sugar,
yeasted foods and mouldy or fermented foods. Unfortunately, one of the
symptoms of Candida infection is a craving for these foods, particularly
for sugar. Once you recognise that by eating these foods you are feeding
the yeast, thus enabling it to multiply inside you more readily, it becomes
easier to resist the temptation. You may find it easier to stick to the plan if you regularly see a complementary health practitioner who will guide you through the process.
Sugar: Candida thrives on sugar; it is the micro-organism's favourite
food. To successfully treat Candida, it is important that you eliminate
it or, at the very least, dramatically reduce your intake. Avoid all products
with white or brown sugar; malt or molasses; syrups and artificial sweeteners.
Fruits, dried fruits, sweet potato and yams are best avoided or kept to
a minimum. Most nutritional experts feel it is impossible to eliminate
the yeast without ceasing to eat fruit for at least six months. That said a small amount of seasonal fruit - green apples or berries may be ok for some people.
Yeasted foods: yeasted bread; brewers yeast; yeast pates and spreads
(yeast extract type) are best avoided. Eat yeast free bread in moderation.
Mouldy or Fermented: Avoid foods that have mould on them including
blue cheeses. A small amount of miso or pure soy sauce (half a teaspoon
per day) may be beneficial. Avoid all vinegars except for cider vinegar.
Foods and food supplements which are beneficial:
- Carrots, beetroots and parsnips can help to reduce
sugar cravings. Food state GTF Chromium can help if the cravings
are very strong. Cinnamon is a natural source of this mineral, you can take up to a teaspoon a day to reduce cravings and help to balance blood sugar. Choose organic cinnamon to avoid chemical treatments and pesticides.
- The following grains help to inhibit Candida growth: millet,
roasted buckwheat (kasha), rye, oats, barley,
amaranth, and quinoa. Grains should be chewed thoroughly
and not overeaten. Rye and barley may cause bloating if you are sensitive to gluten.
- Green (chlorophyll rich) foods are purifying and help to promote growth
of beneficial bacteria. These include parsley, spinach,
dandelion, nettle, chard, watercress, wheat
grass, seaweed (all kinds especially kelp), and micro-algae
(blue green, spirulina, chlorella).
- Sprouted beans and grains are very beneficial, as are aduki beans
and mung beans; apple cider vinegar; garlic (half
a clove, twice a day or take garlic capsules); cabbage;
acidophilus goat's milk yoghurt (cow's milk acidophilus yoghurt
if too strong) and flaxseed oil (1 tablespoon a day).
- Pau D'Arco (available as a loose herb or tincture) is anti-fungal,
so are cloves which may be chewed. Also good are: cinnamon,
lemon balm, dandelion tea.
- Aloe Vera juice is helpful for digestive
problems, it encourages the growth of friendly bacteria, and soothes
- Food state vitamin B complex, certain B vitamins are important
for sufferers particularly folic acid, pantothenic acid and riboflavin,
B vitamins are vital if symptoms are associated with stress.
- An anti-oxidant formula will help the body to detoxify the
toxic substances released by the candida organisms. It should contain
Vitamins A, C and zinc and selenium.
- An omega-3 rich Essential Fatty Acid supplement such as flaxseed
oil or fish oil may be of value as it can help to reduce inflammation.
It also nourishes the nervous system and brain.
- For non-vegetarians: try to eat organic meat and fish containing no anti-biotics. Vegetarians should eat as much protein as possible to help blance their blood sugar.
|A note on dieting. The Candida diet can
be very tough for some people to adjust to. If you find yourself becoming
bogged down with it, allow yourself a treat occasionally (e.g. a low-sugar
wholegrain biscuit, some papaya, or two squares of dark, organic chocolate).
It's better to do that than to give up completely.
Anti-biotics: Many people experience a rise in the level of Candida
in their system after taking anti-biotics. These drugs tend to be over-prescribed
by GPs. Often a complementary practitioner can help to get to the root
of an illness without using antibiotics. If you have to take a course,
it is wise to take acidophilus tablets to re-populate the gut with friendly
bacteria. There are some products available that are specially designed to take with antibiotic medication.
Alcohol: alcohol is a fermented product, which stimulates the growth
of the Candida yeast. Generally people find they are more sensitive to
beer, lager and cider. Try to cut out alcohol completely, or dilute with
sparkling water and keep intake to a minimum.
Contraceptive pill: women taking the pill might find that they
are more susceptible to Candida, if all other measures have failed, it
might be worth considering a change of contraceptive. See your GP for
Caffeine: reducing intake of caffeine drinks can help to reduce
stress. If you are a regular consumer of caffeine cut down to one cup
a day. The following herbs may be drunk freely to help to reduce stress:
German Chamomile (can be combined with mint) Mellow-Calm
mixture and Lemon Balm.
Drug intake in general: most drugs tend to have a debilitating
effect on the immune system and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Acupuncture can be a helpful support in cases of addiction (e.g.
nicotine, alcohol and other recreational drugs).
|Please Note: Do not stop any regular medication
without the advice of your GP.
Many people find that Candida symptoms get worse when they are going through
a stressful period of their lives. When we are more stressed our immune
systems do not work as well and thus the yeast is more able to multiply.
Increased adrenaline levels cause the release of sugar stores into the
bloodstream, providing food for the yeast. Also, during periods of stress
we tend to eat more comfort foods (often sugar rich) that feed the yeast.
This is a cycle that is well worth breaking. It can seem difficult, but
it is important to make time for relaxation.
Going to a yoga or Chi Kung class; enjoying a walk in natural surroundings;
having an aromatherapy massage or bath are all ways of unwinding. Try
to make these treats regular occurrences in your everyday routine. Meditation
can be profoundly relaxing and its benefits can seep into your everyday
life. Simple practises like deep breathing in stressful situations can
be very beneficial. Therapies such as shiatsu,
reflexology and massage
all help to reduce stress levels. A course of treatments is ideal.
Treating the symptoms
Your GP may advise you on various products to control the yeast overgrowth.
If you wish to choose more natural methods, these are outlined below.
Please Note: In the following instances
- if you suffer a severe case of Candida albicans
- if you are pregnant or breast feeding
- if you have a long standing illness or
- if you are on medication
it is always best to consult your GP and a qualified
complementary health practitioner. Some of the herbs recommended
here are not suitable for people on certain types of medication
or for pregnant women. See also
|Please Note: commencing a course of any
of the following anti-fungal supplements may cause an acute reaction
as the candida yeasts are killed. This is known as a die-off reaction.
If you experience flu like symptoms or any other uncomfortable symptoms
stop taking the supplement or reduce the dosage. Consult a practitioner
if you are unsure. See also
Biocare's Caprylic Acid: a calcium and magnesium rich supplement,
which encourages the growth of friendly bacteria.
Grapefruit seed extract (Citricidal): this product is active
against harmful yeasts and bacteria, yet does not destroy the friendly
bacteria, which helps to push out Candida. Take for one month whilst following
the other guidelines in this article. Start off with 4 drops three times
a day, building up to 10 drops three times a day. It is not suitable for
those with sensitive/irritable bowels. Also available as capsules.
Acidophilus capsules: take one human strain acidophilus capsule
in the morning before breakfast. It is best taken with a glass of diluted
aloe vera juice. Once opened, store the capsules in the refrigerator.
If you have recurrent cystitis, try acidophilus with cranberry capsules.
Bioforce's Spilanthes tincture is anti-fungal (use instead of grapefruit
|Please Note: Always read the label carefully
to check for contraindications. Ask the Haelan Centre staff if you
Those with thrush should wear lose clothing and cotton underwear;
don't wear tights or tight trousers. After visiting the loo, wipe from
front to back to avoid cross infection. Use natural, unperfumed soaps
and detergents. Many women have found that tea tree pessaries help
relieve thrush symptoms. One single drop of tea tree oil, no more,
on a tampon can also be effective. (Do not use these methods if you are
Yoghurt, applied either on a tampon or with the help of an applicator
(block one tube and replace tampon with yoghurt), can be very soothing.
Leave in for four hours once or twice a day.
Biocare's Yeastguard is an acidophilus-garlic pessary which has been
shown to be effective for relief of thrush symptoms.
Healing with Whole Foods (Revised Ed.), Paul Pitchford
, (North Atlantic Books; 1993);
Candida Albicans: Could yeast be your problem?, David Hoffman, (Thorsons,
An Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine, Thomas Bartram, (Grace Publishers;
Candidiasis - An Update, Erica White, (Lamberts Bulletin)
Written by Julia Moore CHEK level 1 Holistic Lifestyle Coach
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