This article is not medical advice. If you believe you have a medical problem, please speak to your MD. If you’re interested in combining holism with your MD’s methods, please make an appointment with our practitioners so we may best serve your individual needs. Speak to your MD before trying any of the tips below.
Candida albicans is a naturally occurring fungi that lives in a healthy person’s body. Generally, a person doesn’t experience negative side effects of this because they have helpful bacteria and immune cells that help keep it from getting overgrown. However, a compromised immune system, chemotherapy, overwhelm of toxic waste in the body, long term antibiotic use and other things can lead to an overgrowth of this fungus. We call this candidiasis, but it’s more commonly known as thrush if experienced in the mouth or on the skin or a yeast infection if experienced in the vagina. Systemic candidiasis is when the overgrowth spreads throughout the entire body, leading to things like migraines and mini pinprick brain bleeds, depression, sinus congestion, digestive problems, immunity problems, constipation, diarrhea, colitis, arthritis, canker sores, anxiety, numbness in the limbs, memory problems, dry mouth, breakouts of white patches over the body, chronic fatigue and literally a book’s worth list of other things. You might know this is your problem already, but if you’re uncertain there are ways to test the stool, blood and urine for candida levels to confirm this problem. If you’re sure this is the problem, what can you do about it?
- Change Your Diet: Removing things from the diet that feed candida can keep its growth in check and give your immune system the chance it needs to put the dragon back in its cage. Foods that feed candida are sugar of all kinds including that found in fruit, milk and dairy, grains and foods that contain mold (cheese, nuts, nut butters, dried fruits, etc.). Do this for a month along with a good pro-biotic to encourage the healthy biome inside you, and it might be all you need to do if your case is mild. When your symptoms are gone and tests are normal, you need to continue the diet for at least two weeks and take a probiotic. You don’t want to use fermented foods for this problem as a probiotic because the fermentation process is a side effect of mold and fungal content in the food- the exact thing you’re trying to keep out of your system. When you’ve been asymptomatic for two weeks, you can slowly come off the diet and see what happens. If the candida problem doesn’t return, you know the diet has worked. If you like living on the diet, that’s a fine lifestyle choice, but you should not be bound to the diet because every time you come off of it the problem comes back. If that happens, progress to step two.
- Antifungals: Let’s say the diet didn’t Now what? This means that your problem is more severe than you are able to fix using diet alone. If this is the case, you need to go back on the diet and take an antifungal. There are medications your MD can give you, but they carry risks, specifically they’re very hard on the liver. Most responsible MDs will want you to check in regularly on these drugs because the risk is high. If you don’t want to take the risk, there are other antifungals you can try. The best one is oregano oil. Now, oregano oil will chemically burn mucous membranes weaker than the stomach, so you’ll want to take the oil in a capsule to get it past the mouth and throat. It may cause heartburn, but remember that this is temporary. If you can’t do oregano, grapefruit seed extract is the next best one I’ve come across in my practice. I don’t personally feel it’s as effective, but my last herbal teacher disagreed with me, so it may be personal body chemistry and preference. Here’s the thing you need to know about these oils. They are VERY strong (one study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition showed oregano oil is over one hundred times more potent than caprylic acid against candida!). Correct dosage is important, because if you have even one drop of oil too much, the oil can pass through the body without proper metabolism and chemically burn weaker lining in the body. This is why it’s vital that you seek a practitioner who can formulate the correct dose (amount over time) of oils for your body type, metabolic function, medical history and other factors. They also don’t discriminate. They will upset your digestive tract and kill the other ‘healthy’ bacteria and fungus in your system. Thus, it’s important that after you’re on the oil, you go on a probiotic while staying on the diet again for about 14 days to get your body back in shape. No matter which of these suggestions you take, you must spend a minimum of 14 days on the diet with a probiotic after all your symptoms are gone for the effects to stay.
- Herbal and Dietary Tips: There are things you can do to make your diet and cleanse more potent whether you’re on the diet proper or you’re making changes to make sure this problem doesn’t return. First, now that you know what foods feed candida, pair them with foods that keep it in check (such as sprinkling a layer of oregano over that cheesy meal). Second, herbs that help keep candida in check include echinacea, goldenseal, rosemary and Oregon grape root are the best herbal anti-candida allies I know of. These are all safe to use on or off the diet. They also boost the immune system and can be used when you notice other people getting sick (or when you’re sick yourself) to help prevent getting ill and possibly needing medical care that might trigger candida overgrowth. Garlic is also a powerful antifungal and immune system booster. Seriously, put that crap on everything!
- Helping Symptoms: Peppermint oil (or peppermint herbal tea) has been shown to ease abdominal pain and cramping caused by candida. It is safe for both during and when not on the diet. Tea tree oil is often used topically or as part of a mouth rinse for thrush or breakouts on the skin. Other oils diffused can be excellent for helping you sleep, fight anxiety and be more joyful while doing this program.
- Support During the Diet and Cleanse: It’s not uncommon if you’re doing more than just the diet to experience stress on the kidneys and/or liver. There are herbs that can support those organs while you do this (or pretty much any other) program. The best plants are the nettles and thistles for this usage. Milk thistle, reishi and dandelion are all good ones to work with individually or combined to support these organs as well as a detox process during the cleanse, oil usage and diet.
- Talk to Your Sexual Partner: Candida can be spread by sexual contact. If there’s a chronic, reoccurring problem with no known trigger, you may want to ask your partner to also do the above regiment even if they are asymptomatic.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. I struggled with systemic candidiasis and damaged kidneys and liver tissue as a side effect of medical care for 25 years before the above work actually turned my situation around. Things I didn’t realize were connected to the candida, such as severe sinus and food allergies, chronic fatigue and severe depression, turned around for me. I write this now in hopes that if you’re struggling with such problems you can finally get some relief and really thrive in your life. Love to you!