Candida albicans is a naturally occurring yeast present in every individual. In a healthy person it lives in balance with hundreds of other yeasts and friendly bacteria as a non-invasive sugar fermenting yeast.
If an overgrowth is provoked, for example, by the intake of too much sugar or by the use of antibiotics, candida albicans converts to its invasive fungal form which can invade the tissues and incite inflammatory responses.
Because candidiasis can affect various parts of the body, it can have many symptoms attributed to it. Most commonly it affects the mouth, ears, nose, gastrointestinal tract and the vagina and is often referred to as ‘thrush’.
In the mouth it can appear as white spots on the tongue, inside the cheeks and on the gums.
In the vagina it can cause a white, cheesy discharge and extremely intense itching and burning.
In the gastrointestinal tract it can cause bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation and/or diarrhoea.
It can be the cause of skin infections such as tinea between the toes, ‘jock itch’ when affecting the groin and often it is the cause of ‘nappy rash’ on babies.
In the urinary system it can be the cause of reoccurring kidney and bladder infection, cystitis, urethitis and urinary frequency and burning.
Often a person may simply feel ‘unwell’, tired or have unexplained reactions to perfumes and/or chemicals.
Some people can become sensitive to even minute amounts of candidiasis and correcting the bowel flora balance is utmost importance if health is to be regained.
To treat candidiasis, firstly make sure your diet is free of excess sugars i.e. all added sugar including dried fruits, cakes, biscuits, honey, wine, beers, etc and also all refined carbohydrates. Sugars in raw fruit and veges are usually OK.
See page on ‘Blood Sugars’.
Then be sure to add as much garlic, ginger, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary and lemon verbena to your diet as you can. All these herbs contain substances that kill candida. Or you can take as enterically coated garlic tablet which slow releases in the intestine.
Also psyllium fibre taken daily helps eliminate any candida toxins from the intestine and a good acidophilus supplement used regularly will also help keep the gut healthy and the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ intestinal flora correct.
See page on Probiotics.
Other herbs that have an anti-fungal activity and therefore can be very effective against a candidiasis overgrowth are Pau D’arco (taheebo) and the New Zealand herb Pseudowintera Colorata or Horopito (Pepper tree).
Both of these herbs have very strong anti-fungal activity and a course of either of these herbs can prevent further problems. Horopito is now available as capsules for internal use and also as an anti-fungal cream.
This is marketed under the brand ‘Kolorex’ and is available from the On-line shop.
Another useful plant may be the Fijian herb Mathaké, which has long been used in Fiji to treat thrush. It has been found in some cases to be effective where people are no longer responding to Pau D’arco. It may be a good idea in this case to alternate the use of these two herbs. All these herbs can be made as teas and used several times a day.
Also, Caprylic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid, reported to be a good antifungal agent, has been useful is combating candidiasis. Caprylic acid is best taken as a slow release tablet; otherwise it is too readily absorbed in the intestine.
As well as all the above treatments one of the simplest forms of prevention is to avoid wearing tight clothing especially garments made of nylon or other fabrics that do not ‘breathe’.