Candida albicans is one of the many types of fungi that live and grow inside most human bodies. Normally, Candida causes no harm; our bodies are equipped with probiotic (or “friendly”) bacteria and immune cells that keep it under control. However, some medications, high-sugar diets, allergies, and other factors can all cause the friendly bacteria to die, leaving Candida free to grow unchecked in parts or all of the body.
Candida: Thrush or Yeast Infection
The medical name for this overgrowth is candidiasis, but most people know the condition as either thrush or as a yeast infection. Thrush is marked by soft white patches in the oral cavity, around the anus, or on the skin. It most often appears in babies and in the elderly, but people with seriously compromised immune systems – such as those who have AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy – are also quite vulnerable. Many conventional doctors do not believe that such a condition exists except in cases of a seriously compromised immune system such as AIDS. Our view is different and we find many people with chronic fatigue and other chronic health conditions have problems with yeast overgrowth.
A vaginal yeast infection, by far the more common manifestation of candidiasis, causes burning, itching, and soreness in the vagina, along with a thick, sticky discharge. It’s often the result of antibiotic use, poor diet, hormone imbalance, or a combination of these causes.
Sometimes the fungus spreads throughout the entire body in a condition known as systemic candidiasis. This disorder can produce any out of a wide variety of symptoms and is often at the root of a persistent, mysterious illness. If you feel sick but are told by doctors that there’s nothing wrong, there’s a good chance that you’re actually suffering from systemic candidiasis. For those with dramatically weakened immune systems, systemic candidiasis is a grave threat, as the fungus can actually poison the blood.
- Depressed immune system
- High-sugar diet
- Hormonal changes and birth-control pills
- Mycotoxins in the diet
- Poor digestion and elimination
- Prolonged or frequent use of antibiotics or corticosteroids leading to a depletion of good bacteria
- Abdominal pain
- Canker sores
- Chronic skin rashes
- Genital or toenail fungus
- Kidney and bladder infections
- Mood problems
- Muscle pain
- Numbness or tingling in the limbs
- Persistent Fatigue
- Poor memory and concentration
- Rectal itching
HOW TO TREAT CANDIDA OVERGROWTH
Complementary treatments, which emphasize therapies that reduce the levels of candida to normal levels, are the best ways to resolve this condition. Depending on the person, there are several steps that are often required for success in treating candida overgrowth. This requires treating the underlying cause(s). One of the obvious steps to eliminate or cut down on simple sugars, alcohol, etc., which feeds yeast. Also, direct therapy that destroys candida works to assist the body in getting candida levels down to a controllable level. Examples include oregano oil and garlic.
However, many chronic cases require a change in the biological terrain. By this we mean the state and health of the digestive tract, organs of detoxification and elimination, immune system, and hormone balance. In particular, one often needs to improve digestion and elimination. The by-products of poor digestion can form metabolites that can promote candida growth.
Leaky gut syndrome, as the result of intestinal permeability is often a root problem of chronic candida. It is also imperative to promote the growth of the friendly flora that inhabit the digestive tract and many other areas of the body. These good bacteria are an essential component of the immune system’s presence that keeps yeast levels in check. Also, keep in mind that chronic stress can alter flora balance and suppress immune function.
And lastly, hormone balance is important, especially for women. The use of the birth control pill or other forms of synthetic hormones may set the stage for candida overgrowth.
Learn more about The Truth About Leaky Gut (Digital e-book) by Dr. Mark Stengler NMD, MS
Dr. Mark Stengler is a leading Naturopathic Medical Doctor and author. He practices with his wife Dr. Angela Stengler, at the Stengler Center For Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, California (855-DOC-MARK). You can also sign up for his FREE Newsletter at Americasnaturaldoctor.com