Natural Remedies for Candida

Natural remedies for candida (Note: This is a complementary practitioner and holistic view)

What is Candida?

The yeast 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. If the beneficial bacteria are killed by antibiotics, or if a person's immune system becomes weakened, Candida can grow unchecked and cause symptoms. Localized infections, such as oral thrush, skin infections, and vaginal yeast infections in women can result.

Widespread infection can occur in immunocompromised people. Candida overgrowth in the intestines is thought to, in some cases, penetrate the intestinal wall, causing the yeast and other unwanted particles from being absorbed into the body. This is thought to activate the immune system, resulting in fatigue, headache, mood swings, poor memory and concentration, cravings for sweets, and has been linked to conditions such as fibromyalgia.

This condition, popularized by William Crook, MD in his 1983 book, The Yeast Connection, is considered controversial. Many conventional doctors think this systemic condition is overdiagnosed and many question the diagnosis.

Contributing Factors

  • Use of oral contraceptives, steroids, antacids, anti-ulcer medications, or frequent or long-term use of antibiotics.
  • High-sugar diets
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Poor memory
  • Feeling drained, depleted or exhausted
  • Numbness, burning, tingling
  • Stomach pain
  • Joint pain or swelling
  • Muscle aches or weakness
  • Constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, gas, or belching
  • Bothersome or persistent vaginal itching, burning, or discharge
  • Prostatitis
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Loss of sexual desire 
  • Endometriosis or infertility
  • Menstrual irregularity or cramping
  • Anxiety attacks, low mood or crying
  • Cold hands and feet, feel chilly, Irritable or shaking when hungry

Natural Remedies

Alternative practitioners recommend individualized programs that usually combine diet and supplements.

Supplements are introduced gradually to avoid a temporary worsening of symptoms called a "die-off" or Herxheimer reaction. This is because when candida are killed, they release protein fragments and toxins that can trigger an antibody response from the immune system. Improvement in symptoms is usually noticed after two to four weeks.

1) Acidophillus

The beneficial bacteria acidophillus is thought to control candida by making the intestinal tract more acidic, discouraging the growth of candida, and by producing hydrogen peroxide, which directly kills candida. Reasearch has shown that supplementing with a hydrogen peroxide-producing strain of acidophillus, DDS-1 greatly reduced the incidence of antibiotic-induced yeast infections. These beneficial bacteria also help to restore the microbial balance within the digestive tract.

2) Fibre

One teaspoon to one tablespoon of soluble fiber containing guar gum, psyllium husks, flaxseeds or pectin can be mixed in an 8 oz glass of water two times per day on an empty stomach.

3) Enteric-coated essential oils

Enteric-coated capsules containing oregano oil, peppermint oil, and other volatile oils are thought to prevent the overgrowth of candida. It is usually recommended for at least several months. A standard dosage is two capsules two times a day with water, in between meals. Pure volatile oils can be quite toxic in this amount so the liquid form of these oils should never be ingested, and the capsules should not be broken open before ingesting.

4) Enteric-coated garlic

Garlic capsules that have been enteric-coated to open when they reach the intestines are often be used in combination with the volatile oils. Once capsule two times per day taken with the enteric-coated volatile oil is a typical recommendation. Other valuable supplements are caprylic acid from coconuts, oleic acid from olive oil, oregano oil, and pau d'arco. There are many combination products formulated for candida that contain these herbs and supplements.

5) Diet

Diet is an important part of the Candida cleanse. The length of time on the Candida cleanse depends on the length of time one has had symptoms, symptom severity, and overall health. People may notice improvement after strict adherence to the diet for two to four weeks. For others it takes months.

Once symptoms are gone and lab tests show significant improvement, foods from the restricted list can be slowly incorporated back into the diet.

The Candida Diet

Some alternative practitioners use diet to address Candida overgrowth. For example, Dr. Crook recommends people with Candida overgrowth follow certain diet guidelines:

Avoid sugar. According to Dr. Crook, sugar promotes the growth of yeast. The total carbohydrate intake per day is often limited. For example, during the initial two to three weeks on the diet, the carbohydrate intake may be restricted to less than 60 grams per day, depending on age, health, activity level, and the extent of food sensitivities. Low-carbohydrate foods such as meat, chicken, turkey, shellfish, non-starchy vegetables, and certain nuts are emphasized instead. As symptoms subside, the carbohydrate total of the diet is often gradually increased.

Avoid foods containing any type of yeast. This includes fermented foods such as bread made with yeast, cheese, tomato paste, mushrooms, and beer. Although Dr. Crook believed that people with Candida overgrowth would also be allergic to other fungi, not all practitioners believe this restriction is necessary.

The length of time on a Candida diet depends on the length of time one has had symptoms and the severity of the symptoms. The general level of health is another important factor to alternative practitioners when recommending a treatment plan. People who do respond to the diet often report that it takes a minimum of four weeks before any improvement is noticeable. For many, it may take months.

Once there is sufficient improvement in symptoms, practitioners suggest slowly reintroducing foods from the restricted list back into the diet.

List of Foods to Avoid Entirely

Here is a sample list of foods to temporarily avoid while on a candida diet.

Sugar

Refined sugar is thought to encourage the growth of Candida yeast. Foods containing refined sugar include: white sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, maple sugar, molasses, date sugar, turbinado, raw sugar, demerrara, amasake, rice syrup, sorghum. Read labels carefully because there may be hidden forms of sugar. When reading the label, words to watch out for include: sucrose, fructose, maltose, lactose, glycogen, glucose, mannitol, sorbitol, galactose, monosaccharides, polysaccharides.

Fruit

Fruit contain natural sugars that are thought to support the growth of yeast. Fruit that are typically eliminated include fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruit and juice.

Yeast

Foods that contain yeast are typically eliminated. Yeast-containing foods include: Baker's yeast, Brewer's yeast, Engevita, Torula, and any other types of nutritional yeast. Baked goods raised with yeast such as breads, rolls, crackers, bagels, pastries, and muffins are not permitted.

Foods Containing Gluten

Gluten-containing foods include wheat, barley, and rye. This includes products made with these ingredients such as bread and pasta.

Vinegar

Includes all types of vinegar, such as white vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, and balsamic vinegar, and any food made with vinegar, such as mayonnaise, commercial salad dressing, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, BBQ sauce, shrimp sauce, soy sauce, mustard, pickles, pickled vegetables, green olives, relishes, horseradish, mincemeat, and chili sauce.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are typically not allowed on Candida diets.

Peanuts, Peanut Butter, and Pistachios

Peanuts, peanut butter, and pistachios are thought to have mold contamination, which is why they typically aren't allowed on candida diets.

Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages are believed to encourage the growth of yeast. All forms of alcohol are typically eliminated, such as red wine, white wine, beer, whiskey, brandy, gin, scotch, any fermented liquor, vodka, rum, and all liqueurs.

Coffee, Black Tea, Cider, Root beer

Includes regular coffee, instant coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and all types of black tea (including "fruit flavored" black tea). Cider, root beer, and other fermented beverages are also typically eliminated.

Aged, Moldy and Processed Cheeses

Roquefort and other aged, moldy or blue cheeses are not allowed on a typical Candida diet. Also eliminated are processed cheese such as cheese slices, Velveeta, Cheese Whiz, cream cheese, cheese snacks, and Kraft dinner.

Processed, Dried, Smoked, and Pickled Meats

These foods include smoked salmon, pickled herring, sausages, bacon, hot dogs, pastrami, bologna, sandwich meats, salami, corned beef, pickled tongue, and kolbassa.

Packaged, Processed, and Refined Foods

Canned, bottled, packaged, boxed, and other processed foods containing yeast, refined sugar, refined flour, chemicals, preservatives, or food coloring.

List of Foods to Limit 

Dairy Products

Candida is thought to impair the body's ability to digest fat, so dairy products may have to be restricted. How much dairy one consumes may also depend on individual reactions to cow's milk and cow's milk products such as cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, and butter.

People often temporarily eliminate the following dairy foods from the diet: Cow's milk, including whole, skim, 2%, dry powdered milk

Most cheeses. Cheeses lower in lactose may be tolerated, such as Monterey Jack, sharp white cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, Colby, provolone, and dry curd cottage cheese.

6) Environmental/Lifestyle

Consider talking with your physician about substitute methods of birth control if you are using oral contraceptives. Practitioners usually suggest avoiding alcohol and smoking. Both can impair the immune function.