Candidiasis (Thrush and Yeast Infection)
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 pro- biotic (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.
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 that 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 dis- charge. It’s often the result of antibiotic use, poor diet, hormone imbalance, or a com- bination of these causes.
Sometimes the fungus spreads throughout the entire body in a condition known as systemic candidiasis. This disorder can produce any 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 nothing is wrong, there’s a good chance that you’re actually suffering from systemic candidiasis. For people with dramatically weakened immune systems, systemic candidiasis is a grave threat, as the fungus can actually poison the blood.
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, several steps are often required for success in treating candida overgrowth. This requires treating the underlying cause(s). One of the obvious steps is to elimi- nate or cut down on simple sugars, alcohol, and so on, which feed 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 the health of the digestive tract, the organs of detoxiﬁcation and elimination, the 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 per- meability, 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 can suppress immune function. And ﬁnally, 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.
In a small percentage of cases, antifungal medications may be required. They, of course, should be used sparingly and with close supervision. They are not a magic bullet, and the root causes described in this chapter must still be addressed for long- term success.
SYMPTOMS OF THRUSH
• White patches on the inside of the mouth
• Inﬂamed, red patches on the skin
• Bad breath
• Heavily coated tongue
• Dry mouth
SYMPTOMS OF YEAST INFECTION
• Vaginal itching, pain, and burning
• Thick yellow discharge
• Burning during urination
SYMPTOMS OF SYSTEMATIC CANDIDIASIS
The list of symptoms that systematic candidiasis can cause is too long to print here, but following are some of the most common:
• Persistent fatigue
• Abdominal pain
• Rectal itching
• Kidney and bladder infections
• Muscle pain
• Canker sores
• Numbness or tingling in the limbs
• Poor memory and concentration
• Mood problems (depression,anxiety)
• Chronic skin rashes
• Genital or toenail fungus
• Prolonged or frequent use of antibiotics or corticosteroids, lead- ing to a depletion of good bacteria
• Poor digestion and elimination
• A depressed immune system
• A high-sugar diet
• Hormonal changes and birthcontrol pills
The following tests help assess possible metabolic reasons for candidiasis: Candida levels—stool, blood (antibodies), or urine (yeast metabolites) Intestinal permeability—urine test
For high-density nutrition and immune support, base your meals around fresh vegetables, whole grains, and quality sources of lean protein, such as beans, lentils, ﬁsh, and organic poultry.
To replace friendly bacteria, eat unsweetened yogurt daily. Make sure the brand you’re using has live yogurt cultures. Sauerkraut and miso are other examples of foods that contain friendly bacteria.
Despite its name, brewer’s yeast does not encourage Candida albicans; in fact, it enhances your immune system, so add some to your salads and other dishes. Vegetable and green drinks will improve your resistance. Drink 8 glasses of pure water a day to help ﬂush yeast toxins out.
Consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground ﬂaxseeds daily. Flaxseeds have antifungal properties.
Food to Avoid
The fungus that causes candidiasis feeds on sugar and yeast, so you must absolutely avoid all foods (especially alcohol) containing these sub- stances during the initial phase of treatment.
Many people with candidiasis also have undiagnosed allergies. See the Food Allergies entry on pages 251–256 to determine whether you’re one of them.
During the course of your infection, avoid foods with mold (aged cheese, nuts, and nut butters)
Avoid reﬁned foods that are likely to be loaded with sugars.
Avoid or reduce the use of fruits and fruit juices during the initial phase
Many cultured and sour prod- ucts contain the friendly bacte- ria that will prevent candidiasis and many other infections. Yogurt can be an especially good source, but you need to shop carefully—many mass- produced yogurt products just don’t have enough of the bacte- ria you need. When you’re reading labels, look for one or more of these Latin names:
Lactobacillus acidophilus Biﬁdobacterium biﬁdum Lactobacillus bulgaricus Strepococcus thermophilus
When buying yogurt, be sure the label or the container lists yogurt cultures that are “live,” “living,” or “active.” And since sugar encourages the growth of Candida albicans, buy unsweetened yogurt only.
(ﬁrst month) of treatment. It is especially important to avoid these foods between meals.
Consume foods such as garlic, onions, chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, and others that are known to support detoxiﬁcation.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Candidiasis
Super Prescription #1 Oregano (Origanum vulgare) oil
Take a 300 to 500 mg capsule or the liquid form (as directed on the container) three times daily with meals (to avoid digestive upset).
Super Prescription #2 Probiotic
Take a product containing 4 billion active organisms twice daily, thirty minutes after a meal. It supplies friendly bacteria, such as acidophilus and biﬁdus, which ﬁght candida and prevent its overgrowth.
Super Prescription #3 Garlic (Allium sativum)
Take 500 to 1,000 mg of aged garlic twice daily. Garlic ﬁghts fungal infections and also boosts immune strength.
Super Prescription #4 Grapefruit seed extract
Take 200 mg two to three times daily. Practitioners rely on this herb for its anti- candida properties.
study com- pared the anti candida effect of oregano oil to that of caprylic acid. Researchers found that oregano oil is over one hundred times more potent than caprylic acid against candida.
Super Prescription #5 Caprylic acid
Take 1,000 mg three times daily. This type of fatty acid has been shown in stud- ies to have antifungal properties.
Super Prescription #6 Gentian root (Gentiana lutea)
Take 250 mg or 0.5 to 1.0 ml at the beginning of each meal. It improves stomach acid levels and overall digestive function. It’s often used with other bitter herbals.
Super Prescription #7 Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) combination
Take 500 mg or 2 to 4 ml of tincture three times daily. Both herbs enhance immune function. Echinacea has been shown to have antiyeast effects.
Pau d’arco (Tabebuia avellanedae) has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. No matter what kind of candida infection you have, drink several cups of this tea every day.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) oil relieves intestinal cramping often associated with candida. Studies also show that it has antifungal properties. Take 1 to 2 enteric-coated capsules or 0.2 ml of peppermint oil two to three times daily.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), and rosemary (Rosmarinus ofﬁcinalis) all have antifungal properties. Take as part of a can- dida formula.
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is mainly used topically for skin-related yeast infections. The tincture form can also be mixed in water (5 to 15 drops) and swished in the mouth for treating thrush.
A high-potency multivitamin provides the many nutrients used to support detoxiﬁcation.
Vitamin C is used to enhance immune function. Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), and dandelion (Taraxacum ofﬁcinale) are herbs used individually or in formulas to support liver and kidney detoxiﬁcation while you undergo an anticandida program. Generally, you take
1 to 2 capsules with each meal or as directed on the container.
Betaine HCL, taken with meals, improves stomach acid levels and absorption. Take
1 to 2 capsules with meals.
Enzymes also support digestion when taken with meals. Protease enzymes, taken between meals, may have antifungal effects and reduce inﬂammation.
See a qualiﬁed homeopathic practitioner for an individually prescribed remedy. For speciﬁc problems related to candida, see the corresponding sections in this book, such as AIDS, Constipation, Diarrhea, Fatigue, Headache, Indigestion, and so on. Other- wise, try the following recommendation:
Candida Albicans 6x, 12x, or 30x. This is a homeopathic preparation of candida that can be used to stimulate the immune system to target candida organisms. Take
2 pellets three times daily.
• Spleen 6 and 10 detoxify the blood.
• If candidiasis is accompanied by nervousness and stress, massage Large Intestine 4 and Liver 3.
Any massage, especially with one of the following relaxing oils, is wonderful for reducing stress. If you have a yeast infection and prefer to remain clothed, try a shoul- der, a head, or a foot rub. Lymphatic massage is particularly good to support detox- iﬁcation for people undergoing treatment for chronic candida.
See pages 686–687 for information about reﬂexology areas and how to work them.
Work the areas that correspond to the location of your symptoms. For thrush, mas- sage the head region. For a yeast infection, concentrate on the pelvic area. If you have systematic candidiasis, work the entire foot or the hand.
• To relax and reduce stress, try any of the following in a bath, in steam inhala- tion, or in a diffuser: chamomile, jasmine, lavender, or rose.
• Tea tree oil, peppermint, and myrrh all have a natural antifungal action. Use any one of them in a massage, a bath, or a compress. Tea tree oil can some- times be irritating, so if you’re adding it to a bath or a compress, use just a few drops.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
High levels of stress have been implicated in candida infections. If you’re prone to candidiasis, any stress-reduction technique is likely to help. Exercise, yoga, and prayer are very good.
Bach Flower Remedies
Consult the Bach Flower Remedy chart on pages 648–650 to ﬁnd the best remedy for your personal situation. Following are some suggestions to get you started. Once you’ve selected the right remedy, place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
If you are nervous or tense, and if you have a hard time sitting still, take Impatiens. If a lack of self-conﬁdence causes you anxiety in work or social situations, try
Rock Water is helpful if a perfectionist nature makes you hard on yourself and those around you.
• Whether you have thrush, a yeast infection, or systemic candidiasis, change your toothbrush monthly to avoid reinfecting yourself.
• For a yeast infection, wear cotton underwear and loose clothes to keep the area dry.
• If you have a yeast infection, you can apply live yogurt locally to replace pro- biotic bacteria. Spoon the yogurt onto a towel or a sanitary pad, or douche with yogurt and distilled water.
• Be aware that sexual intercourse can spread candida. Partners should both be treated if vaginitis is a chronic problem.