This post uses affiliate links, they don’t cost you a thing. Read more in blog disclaimers.
What is Candida?
Candida albicans is a yeast that normally lives harmlessly in small numbers in the body, controlled by beneficial bacteria in the body and the immune system. When functioning as it is meant to, candida assists the body with the absorption of nutrients. However, under certain conditions, candida albicans goes from being an assistant to being an unwanted invader. If the beneficial bacteria are killed by antibiotics, or if a person’s immune system becomes weakened, Candida can grow unchecked and cause symptoms.
- Persistent Constipation, Bloating, or Gas
- Mental Fog
- Chronic Fatigue
- Sugar Cravings
- Chronic Sinus Infections
- Excess Mucous
- Recurring Vaginal Yeast Infections
- Food or Environmental Allergies
- Depression and Anxiety
- White Coating on the Tongue
- Hypothyroidism (Candida inhibits thyroid conversion)
- Fungal Infections
- Painful Intercourse
- Low Sex Drive/Impotence
- Increased Irritability
- Ear Pain/Itching
- Muscle Weakness
- Night Sweats
Candida can happen when the body becomes too acidic or is under stress. It can also happen when the diet is too high in carbs and sugars or when taking antibiotic drugs, and when the immune system weakens.
Cancer patients have chronic candida overgrowth, sometimes in the lead-up to their cancer diagnosis, and sometimes as a result of the treatments they receive. Chemotherapy and radiation kill off the healthy bacteria that would normally help to keep candida levels in check.
How to test for Candida.
One simple way to test is the Spit Test.
When you awake in the morning, before you put anything into your mouth, work up some saliva and spit it into a clear glass of water. Within 1-3 minutes, look in the glass. If there are strings coming down from your saliva, or if the water turned cloudy, or if your saliva sank to the bottom, you may have candida! Healthy saliva will simply float on the top! (You may want to put out a glass of water in the bathroom or on the nightstand the night before you wish to do the home Candida Saliva test, just to remind yourself not to brush your teeth prior to spitting into the glass.)
How does the spit test work? Candida begins in the intestinal tract, where it sets up its ongoing production. As time goes by the yeast migrates along the mucous membranes of the digestive tract into the stomach, then up the esophagus and finally into the mouth. Often, depending on how thick the yeast becomes, it can be seen in the mouth and on the tongue as a white film called oral thrush. The fungal yeast mixes into the saliva and has certain properties (heavier than water) when put into water.
You can also have a Dr. order a Stool Test.
The lab will check for candida in your colon or lower intestines, and can usually determine the species of yeast — as well as which treatment will be most effective.
Just make sure that your doctor orders a comprehensive stool test, rather than the standard.
Foods to Avoid:
- Processed meats and pork
- Starchy vegetables including potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, beets, and beans
- Condiments and sauces such as ketchup, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, and vinegar (apple cider vinegar is the exception)
- Sugar and sugar alternatives including white and brown sugar, honey, molasses, corn syrup, and agave
- Fruit and fruit juice
- All alcohol
- Nuts including peanuts, pistachios, and cashews
- Dairy including cheese, milk, cream, and whey products
- Grains like barley, spelt, rye, and wheat
- Refined and processed vegetable oils and margarine
- Black coffee and black tea
Foods to Include:
- Non-starchy fresh vegetables (as many as you want)
- Lemons and limes
- Unpickled olives
- Organic or free-range, pastured chicken
- Wild caught salmon and sardines
- Organic butter and yogurt (only natural yogurt that is probiotic)
- Nuts and seeds including almonds, ground flaxseed, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds
- Herbs including basil, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, dill, garlic, ginger, oregano, paprika, rosemary, salt, thyme, and turmeric
- Cold pressed oils like coconut, flaxseed, hemp, olive, and sesame oil
- Alternative sweeteners including stevia, erythritol, and xylitol
- Herbal teas
- And of course, lots of filtered water
Eliminate all fermented foods. That’s because, while it’s common knowledge that these help to feed the good bacteria, most people don’t realize that bad bacteria feed off of these as well.
Using diet alone could take three to six months before it is back under control.
#2. Helpful Supplements
Probiotics are extremely beneficial to help repopulate the gut with good bacteria.
Digestive enzymes are useful because the candida patient is usually enzyme deficient. Supplementing with digestive enzymes can also help to rid the body of candida because the enzymes help to break down candida cell walls.
If you are self-treating, you can also take a supplement of caprylic acid. Caprylic acid, which comes from coconut oil, basically “pokes holes” in the yeast cell wall, causing it to die.
Support digestion by drinking lemon juice and/or raw apple cider vinegar a few times a day (juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon, or 1 tsp ACV in a glass of water)
A compound in Oil of Oregano called carvacrol has been found to inhibit candida yeast. To apply topically, mix three drops of oregano oil with a tablespoon of olive oil and apply it to the affected area. Continue until you see improvement. Orally, take three drops of oregano oil mixed into a glass of water. Drink this solution twice daily for up to a week. Otherwise, take one or two capsules of oregano oil twice daily after meals. Continue for two to three months.
Garlic has known antifungal properties. Include garlic in your food preparation whenever possible. Heating garlic destroys its active ingredient – allicin. Allicin is one of the sulfur-containing compounds found in garlic that are collectively known as thiosulfinates. Allicin gets activated when raw garlic is chewed, chopped or crushed. But, it gets deactivated by heat, so that is why cooking garlic lowers its healing potential and should be avoided. To preserve its maximum healing benefits crush garlic, then wait 10 minutes before cooking to maximize health benefits. Allowing the crushed garlic to stand for 10 minutes before cooking further enhances formation of allicin, ensures the maximum synthesis of allicin, and also makes it more stable and resistant to the heat of cooking. Then cook it on low or medium heat for a short period of time (add it towards the end of the cooking time). You can also take garlic supplements. Follow the dosage provided by the manufacturer. You can also apply crushed garlic to the affected area.
When large numbers of yeast and fungal cells are rapidly killed, a die-off (or Herxheimer reaction) occurs and metabolic by-products are released into the body. The amount of Candida cells being killed makes this very different from the regular cell elimination that forms part of the Candida albicans lifecycle. When these cells die, they release all the noxious substances that they contain, including at least 79 different toxins. This long list of toxic substances includes ethanol, uric acid, and acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde, as a known neurotoxin, has a host of detrimental effects on your health. It can impair your brain function and even kill brain cells. Your endocrine, immune and respiratory systems can all be affected, and it also damages the membranes of your red blood cells, reducing their ability to carry oxygen around the body. You can see how excess acetaldehyde can quickly contribute to non-specific symptoms like brain fog and fatigue. These noxious by-products also cause allergic reactions and inflammation that lead to an array of undesirable symptoms.
Die-Off symptoms will vary from person to person. Essentially, your immune system kicks up an inflammatory storm as toxins move through and out of your body.There are a couple things you can do to help. Slow down your treatment and reduce your dosage of probiotics and antifungals. Also, support your liver by adding Milk Thistle. The liver is your main pathway for eliminating toxins, and the Die-Off symptoms mean that it is being overwhelmed. Drink plenty of water. Dehydration traps toxins in the body and closes down elimination channels. Staying hydrated is key to support detoxification.Get Some Rest – This might seem obvious but the more good quality rest you get, the better you will feel.
Some people take longer to heal from yeast overgrowth, and some take a much shorter period of time. Lots of factors determine how long it takes: the strength of the immune system, the degree of stress in one’s life (both environmental and emotional), the health of the individual organs being treated and, of course, a patient’s attitude towards his or her healing goes a long way toward hurting or helping the healing process. Take your time and recruit others for support. If you find that you are having a hard time battling Candida it is also a great idea to find a good Functional Dr.
Could you be struggling with Candida?
What steps have you taken to treat it?