Candida albicans is an incredibly misunderstood organism. Candida lives within all of us, but it's usually held in check by the good bacteria in our intestines. Illness and a wide variety of other factors (including antibiotics and birth control) can allow good bacteria levels to drop. When this happens, the Candida organism can grow, thrive, and take over. For some people, this means a little bit of irritation – a vaginal yeast infection, oral thrush, or even a fungal skin infection. For others, it means the slow development of other symptoms – symptoms often confused with IBS, chronic fatigue, and a myriad of other disorders.
So what happens if you walk into an appointment one day, look down at your chart, and see that a client has listed “Candida” as a current medical condition. Can you still do the massage? Is there a point to doing the massage?
Candida and the Skin
First, you'll need to ask if the client is experiencing skin irritations – athlete's foot, rashes, and related irritations. If this is the case, massage may not be contraindicated, but you should consider wearing gloves to avoid contact. You'll also want to avoid massaging directly over the areas that are irritated, taking special care to avoid smothering them with oils that may cause extra irritation.
Candida and the Immune System
Candida overgrowths can have a huge impact on the immune system, so you'll want to make sure you are paying special attention to the symptoms your clients are exhibiting. If someone is having an acute fibromyalgia flareup, an acute bout of chronic fatigue, digestive distress, or is showing symptoms of a cold or flu, you should probably avoid massage until symptoms subside. The immune system in Candida sufferers is generally depleted, so you don't want to make things worse.
If a person isn't experiencing acute symptoms, gentle massage may be perfect. You'll promote circulation and help the body move some of the dying Candida through the system and out of the body. Still, you'll need to work gently to avoid overtaxing the body.
The stress levels of those with Candida are often high, as they're worried about their conditions and the strict nature of treatment. The less stressed a person is, the easier it is to heal. Focus most of your efforts on promoting relaxation.
Aiding Your Clients
You're not a doctor, so you can't recommend treatments or supplements. You can however, encourage your patients to do some research. I've read several books about Candida, ranging from the Candida Recipes book by Kelly Stahl, found on thecandidarecipe.com, to the Candida Crusher Guide by Dr. Eric Bakker. It doesn't matter if you're dealing with carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, or those following a paleo diet. Talk to your patients about the importance of a balanced, clean diet plan and encourage them to seek the aid of a nutritionist or naturopath if they're not sure where to start. Overall health and wellness can be traced right back to a healthy and balanced diet – all of which goes hand in hand with relaxation and massage.
I've seen a lot of people with a lot of different disorders, including Candida. In many cases, they just need someone to listen, hear them work through their thoughts on their issues, and offer some nonjudgmental support. You don't have to be an expert on every disorder you encounter, but having a little bit of knowledge will aid you in offering a helping hand.