There are many strains of Candida in the environment. The two which affect humans to the greatest extent are Candida Albicans and Candida Tropicalis. In this article we are referring to Candida Albicans.
Candida Albicans is a body yeast which is present in all humans. Normally its presence is limited to the skin, vagina, and the mucous membranes of the gastro-intestinal tract and the upper respiratory tracts. This yeast is controlled by the normal bacterial flora and the immune system, however, Candida is an opportunistic organism. If something destroys the normal flora and the immune system becomes depressed, inefficient, or overwhelmed, the yeast multiplies and an overgrowth (chronic infection) results.
These yeast colonies release metabolic products and toxins which may be absorbed into the blood stream causing widely varying symptoms, including lethargy, chronic diarrhoea, constipation, asthma, headaches, and/or severe depression. The symptoms can be so severe that they are totally incapacitating or as mild as indigestion and heartburn.
Candida is normally diagnosed by medical history and current symptoms. There are many symptoms that can accompany Candida but these are also typical of other illnesses including M.E. and food allergies, so be wary of jumping to conclusions.
Mood swings, depression or loss of sexual feelings.
- Feeling tired or drowsiness, particularly on damp, muggy days or in mouldy places.
- Feeling anxious, irritable and cannot sleep.
- Crave sugary foods, breads or alcohol.
- Various food sensitivities, or digestive problems – bloating heartburn, constipation, bad breath.
- Allergic reactions including asthma, migraines, hay fever.
- Frequent infections, constant skin problems.
- Feeling “spacy” and have trouble concentrating or feel worse near perfume.
- Poor co-ordination, muscle weakness or painful or swollen joints.
- Dry mouth or throat, catarrh, pressure above or behind the eyes or ears, frequent headaches.
- Pains in the chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, easy bruising.
Vaginal burning or itching, discharge, infections urinary problems.
Difficulty in getting pregnant, have been pregnant two or more times, ot have taken the contraceptive pill.
Premenstrual symptoms or irregular cycles or other menstrual or sexual problems.
Frequent infections, particularly of the ears, tonsils, bronchitis, history of frequent nappy rash.
Continuous stuffy or runny nose
Dark circles under the eyes.
Hyperactivity or poor attention span.
The causes of Candida
Prolonged use of antibiotics.
The long-term use of steroids, cortisone medication, anti-inflammatory drugs or hormones (such as HRT or the contraceptive pill) in foods or medication.
An underlying inherited or acquired deficiency of the immune system.
Diabetes, chemotherapy and/or irradiation treatment
Steroids, including those used in the contraceptive pill compromise the immune system, as does prolonged stress, chemotherapy and irradiation treatment. Anti-biotics can wipe out both “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut. Yeast or mould growths such as Candida can then grow out of control in the gut. The toxins they produce can inhibit T-lymphocytes – the main search and destroy cells in the immune system which, in turn, weakens the body still further. Because of a compromised immune system membranes swell; micro-organisms multiply; and nasal, throat, sinus, ear, bronchial, bladder, vaginal and other infections develop. When such infections develop, antibiotics are prescribed which promote additional yeast growth. Health problems will continue until the cycle is interrupted by appropriate treatment.
The most common place for growth of the Candida is in the alimentary canal, therefore diet contributes to continuing yeast growth. Diets with excess refined or simple carbohydrates and junk food contribute heavily to Candida overgrowth. Foods high in mould or yeast content such as bread, brewers yeast, beer, cheese and mushrooms also contribute to the problem of Candida overgrowth.
Candida causes further problems and damage by interfering with the receptor sites for hormones in the body. The result is a slowing down of the production of some of the hormones such as thyroid, adrenal, oestrogen or progesterone, pituitary or testosterone. The entire endocrine system then functions poorly.
Candida is capable of producing acetaldehyde and ethanol. Human metabolism cannot convert these materials into useful compounds and must detoxify them. When the load of these materials is too great, poor memory, light headedness, and lack of concentration result. The acetaldehyde disrupts cell membrane function and alters protein synthesis. It is also a breakdown product of alcohol and is thought to cause the symptoms of a hangover.
Candida Albicans is a very complex organism. It releases seventy nine toxins (known to date) which adversely affect the human body. If left untreated, a chronic Candida infection and overgrowth can severely debilitate the body, leaving it susceptible to more serious diseases.
Candida normally has a rounded, yeast like shape. However, it can produce an invasive form in which it develops branching threads called mycelia. These mycelial branches can penetrate the mucous membrane of intestinal tract looking for food. This mycelial form is more difficult to eradicate.
Men, women and children can have Candida. Since women have a more complex hormone system, Candida occurs in them more frequently, and with more severe effects. The children that it strikes are those who have received large quantities of antibiotics and /or are consuming excessive sugar and junk food.
The Candida Saliva Test.
First thing in the morning before having anything to eat or drink, get a clear glass and fill with water. Work up some saliva and drop a spittle on top of the water and observe. If in 10 minutes time the spittle is still sitting on top of the water then you most probably do not have a candida problem. If however the spittle spreads and breaks up or you see streamers going down into the water then you may well have an imbalance.
Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)
|Supplement/Herb||What it does||Dosage|
|Lactobacillus Acidophilus & Bifidobacteria||Corrects the ph balance in the gut, making it inhospitable to candida. Deprives candida of food and inhibits it from implanting on the wall of the intestines.||5-20 billion organisms per day|
|Caprylic Acid||Anti fungal effect, kills off candida. Dosage should be built up slowly to avoid a die off reaction.||300-3000mg daily|
|Psyllium Seed Husks||Helps eliminate candida and absorb toxins produced in die off, thereby reducing die off reactions.||1-3gm daily|
|Oregano oil||A potent anti-fungal agent, it works best alongside caprylic acid.||14-45mg daily|
|Goldenseal||A potent anti-fungal it also stimulates the immune system and assists the liver in detoxifying. Build up slowly to avoid die off reaction.||150-450mg daily|
|Pau D’arco||Anti fungal effect, kills off candida. Dosage should be built up slowly to avoid a die off reaction.||250-500mg daily|
|Milk Thistle||Supports the liver and helps cleanse the system.||150-600mg daily|
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
The treatment for Candida is to reduce the yeast in the tissues and to build up the body’s ability to keep it out. There are several ways yeast overgrowth may be treated. A combination is usually most effective, all areas, on and in the body must be treated simultaneously.
Since most Candida infections are long standing and well established, treatment must be persistent. It must be continued for as long as necessary to prevent symptoms from returning. All sites of Candida infection in the body, such as athletes foot must be treated. There is no “quick fix”, treatment length will vary from person to person. Treatment must be continued until there is no relapse when the treatment is withdrawn.
Destroying the Candida organism does not immediately undo its damage to the immune and hormone systems. It has been found that it takes about one to three years for the body to build back its immuno-competence against Candida infections. Faithfully following the treatment programmes will be a big factor in determining the recovery period.
The aims of the diet are to eliminate foods which are derived from or contain yeasts or fungi; to reduce as far as possible sugar rich foods which feed Candida.
Foods to be avoided:-
- Foods containing yeast i.e. bread, cakes, biscuits, crackers, rolls, pastries, buns, anything fried in breadcrumbs.
- Marmite, brewers yeast, mushrooms, truffles, soya sauce, black tea.
- Milk, buttermilk, sour cream, all cheeses including cottage cheese.
- Citric acid, citrus drinks if canned or frozen, all dried fruits, tinned fruits.
- Beer, spirits, wine, cider, ginger ale.
- All malted products, (cereals, sweets or dairy products which have been malted.)
- All foods containing monosodium glutamate, all vinegars including grape, malt and cider vinegar (watch for added vinegars in sauces, relishes, etc.).
- Sugars ~ white, brown, syrup, honey, maltose, fructose, glucose. sweeteners.
- Any carbohydrate which has been refined beyond the simple grinding range.
- Smoked or pickled meats and fish, sausages, corned beef, hot dogs, hamburgers, nuts.
- Pickles, chutneys, ketchups. Tomato sauce, tomato puree.
- Fizzy drinks.
- Sweets, chocolate, ice cream.
- Peanuts and pistachio nuts.
- Avoid fresh fruit for the first 3 to 4 weeks of the programme.
Foods you can eat:-
- Cereals Wholegrain or Wholemeal, Sugar Free:
- Oats, whole wheat flakes, whole rice flakes, barley, corn, millet, buckwheat. Whole wheat pasta. Brown rice.
- It is important to realise that most commercially produced meat and poultry now contains residues of anti-biotics and hormonal substances which are fed to the animals. If possible, buy products which are guaranteed free of such contamination. The safest products are
- All fish, poultry, lamb, rabbit and game.
- Seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, linseed.
- Natural live yoghurt.
- Nuts: Almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, macadamia, pecan.
- Lentils and pulses.
- All fresh vegetables (except mushrooms), vegetable juice, all salad vegetables.
- Herbal teas, vegetable juice, mineral water (at least 3 pints daily.)
Avoid the use of antibiotics, steroids, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Avoid use of birth control pills and hormones, especially progesterone.
Avoid environmental moulds at home and at work.
Treat any other suspected illnesses.
Avoid chemicals in the environment as much as possible in order to lower the total load on the immune system.
Homoeopathic Remedies which may help. (Refer to the individual remedy for guidance on the one that is most appropriate for you.)
- Calcarea carbonica
- Kali bichromicum
- Natrum muriaticum
Suggested further reading:
- Candida explained
- Tips to fight candida