What is Candida?
Candida, short for Candida albicans, is a type of yeast, that naturally occurs in the body. All healthy human beings have traces of Candida in their mouths and intestines. This fungus is known to aid in nutrient absorption and digestion. However, when the yeast grows out of control it can attack the intestinal wall and penetrate the bloodstream and can lead to a condition called Candidiasis.
What are the symptoms of Candidiasis?
- Painful White Mouth-Sores (Lasting Approximately 10 Days)
- Frequently Craving Carbohydrates, Sugar, Dairy, Alcohol, Kombucha, and Vinegar
- Sugar Tolerance Issues
- Oral Thrush (White Coating on Tongue)
- Chronic Fatigue
- Muscle Weakness
- Sinus Inflammation, Swelling, and Infections
- Sleeping Disorders
- Night Sweats
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Cold Hands and Feet
- Fluid in Ears
- Acid Reflux
- Lack of Concentration
- Weight Gain
- Sense of Floating
- Odorous Genitalia with Itch and Discharge
- Lack of Appetite
- Bad Breath
- Ear Wax Buildup
- Swollen Glands
- Hair Loss
- Rectal Itching
- Night Sweats
- Intolerances of Certain Smells (like Fragrances or Tobacco Smoke)
- Itching Nose
- Seeing Spots in Front of Your Eyes (Floating)
Do I have Candidiasis?
Because many of the symptoms above are commonplace, almost everyone, even those without Candidiasis can attest to multiple signs of Candida at one point in their lives. Before presuming with any certainty that you suffer from this condition based on a few random symptoms, read the causes of Candida overgrowth below and check whether you are particularly susceptible to Candidiasis. If you believe that you suffer from Candidiasis, schedule an appointment with your general physician to discuss a treatment options.
An informal test developed by holistic healing practitioners, that you can do at home, is spit into a cup of water when you wake up in the morning. Make sure the cup of water is room temperature and clear of contaminants. You should spit into the glass immediately upon rising (before drinking water or brushing your teeth). Check back anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour later, if you see a tripartite breakdown in the glass, where there is a cloudy bunch of gunk at the bottom of the glass, specks floating around the center, and fibers on the top traveling downwards, then you likely have high traces of Candida in your system. However, this test is not conclusive and should be followed up with a more conclusive diagnosis (with a blood, stool, or urine test) conducted by your physician.
What causes Candida overgrowth?
Antibiotic Use - Those who have recently and/or frequently taken an antibiotic are susceptible to Candida overgrowth. Antibiotics can wipe out many of the healthy micro-organisms in one's digestive tract, while the Candida remains resistant. As a result, the Candida disproportionately grows out of control.
Poor Dietary Choices - Yeast feeds on sugar and carbohydrates. A diet rich in these foods will make one's body a breeding ground friendly for yeast colonies. Furthermore, sugars compromise immunity. A healthy immune system is able to keep Candida levels in check, but when weakened, the Candida normally present in the human body can exponentially grow.
Stress - When you experience stress, your body's response is to release a hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol compromises your immunity, destroying your body's natural ability to keep Candida levels under control. In addition, Cortisol raises blood sugar levels, and the Candida feeds on sugar.
Oral Contraceptives - Most pills contain Estrogen, which promotes the growth of yeast.
A combination of these factors creates the perfect storm for a Candida breeding ground.
How do you treat Candidiasis?
While Candidiasis can feel debilitating, it is manageable and to some extent curable. Keep in mind that you always need some Candida in your system, treatment is about getting it under control. The following are the most popular methods:
1) Pharmaceutical Medicines - The most popular prescription drugs are Diflucan, Eraxis, and Nyastatin. Physicians will prescribe the appropriate drug based on your particular body and symptoms. The pharmaceutical route is great for those who want to quickly and effectively rid their body of excess yeast and who are unable to adhere to a strict diet.
2) Dietary Changes - A dietary regimen can be done on its own to treat candida or in conjunction with any of the other methods. While there are an array of diets suggested to rid the body of excess Candida, fundamentally they suggest no sugar, carbs, or starch. One should follow a limited cleansing diet that is almost exclusively comprised of vegetables (mostly raw) for anywhere from ten days to three months. This will cause the Candida to die, since its food supply to be cut-off, while simultaneously boosting your immunity and liver function. As the yeast dies off, you will experience more severe bouts of the symptoms you were experiencing, and your liver will help your body rid itself of the dead Candida. One of the most popular cleanses is the Ultimate Candida Diet. The developer, Lisa Richards, advocates a three-step system, slowly integrating a variety of foods into one's diet. Ms. Richards also provides a plethora of interesting Candida-diet friendly recipes.
3) Anti-Fungal Supplements - Anti-fungals destroy Candida at a cellular level. Caprylic acid, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, and oil of oregano penetrate Candida cell walls causing them to die off. When the walls of the Candida are punctured, their death will cause an immediate and strong release of toxins into your body. The release of these toxins create flu-like symptoms. While unpleasant, such symptoms are temporary and a sign that your efforts to eradicate the Candida are working. It is important that your immunity is strong when taking anti-fungals so that the body is able to rid itself with the sudden influx of toxins. Most often anti-fungals are combined with dietary changes, but not pharmaceuticals.
Keep in mind that this article is not intended for you to attempt to self-diagnose and treat your condition(s). You should always consult with a trained medical professional as to how to proceed if you believe that you may be suffering from systemic Candida overgrowth.