What is candida overgrowth?
Candida overgrowth is caused by an imbalance of the Candida albicans fungus, a naturally occurring yeast found in the human body. Under normal circumstances, Candida is harmless. However, when the delicate balance of microorganisms in the body is disrupted, Candida can overgrow and cause a range of health issues. In this blog, I will explore the causes, symptoms, and natural treatment options for intestinal candida overgrowth.
Understanding Candida Overgrowth:
Candida overgrowth, also known as candidiasis, can affect various parts of the body, including the mouth, gut, skin, and genital areas. Factors such as a weakened immune system, excessive sugar intake, antibiotics, hormonal changes, and stress can contribute to the overgrowth of Candida. There are other yeasts besides candida that can overgrow and cause symptoms. However, candida albicans is the most common and well-known.
Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth:
Identifying Candida overgrowth can be challenging as its symptoms often resemble those of other health conditions such as SIBO, carbohydrate malabsorption, parasite and viral infections. Common signs of Candida overgrowth include:
- Persistent fatigue
- Recurring yeast infections
- Digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation
- Joint pain
- Oral thrush (white patches in the mouth)
- Brain fog and difficulty concentrating
- Skin problems like acne, rashes, eczema, or itching
- Food cravings, especially for sugary or carb-rich foods
How to test for intestinal candida overgrowth?
There are several tests available to assess Candida overgrowth.
Here are some common tests that healthcare professionals may use:
Stool Analysis: A comprehensive stool analysis can provide valuable information about the levels of Candida and other microorganisms in the digestive tract. It can help identify imbalances and assess the overall health of the gut.
Urine Organic Acids Test: This test examines the metabolic byproducts (organic acids) in your urine, which can indicate the presence of Candida overgrowth. Elevated levels of specific organic acids, such as D-arabinitol and tartaric acid, may suggest an overgrowth.
Candida Antigen Test: In some cases, a Candida antigen test may be performed. It involves collecting a sample from affected areas, such as the mouth or skin, and testing it for the presence of Candida antigens.
Treating Candida Overgrowth Naturally:
Effectively managing Candida overgrowth requires a holistic strategy that tackles the underlying cause, emphasizes the restoration of balance within the body and gut, and provides support to the immune system.
Here are some natural treatment options for candida overgrowth:
- Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates: Candida feeds on sugar, so it’s crucial to eliminate or minimize your intake of sugary foods and beverages, including processed foods, sweets, biscuits, cakes, ice cream, and drinks such as soda and alcohol. Low-sugar fruits such as berries, apples and pears are usually tolerated on an anti-candida diet.
- Consume anti-fungal foods: Include garlic, coconut oil, ginger, olive oil, and raw apple cider vinegar in your diet as they possess anti-fungal properties.
- Eat probiotic-rich foods: Probiotics help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Include yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and other fermented foods in your diet.
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet consisting of vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, protein-rich foods and healthy fats. Limit or eliminate all processed foods.
- Oregano oil: Oregano oil is a potent natural antifungal agent. Seek guidance from a healthcare practitioner, as there are special formulations of oregano that are better tolerated and specifically designed to reach the small and large intestines.
- Caprylic acid: Derived from coconut oil, caprylic acid has shown anti-fungal properties and may help control Candida overgrowth.
- Garlic: Allicin, a compound found in garlic holds strong broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties, including against fungus such as candida. Allicin has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the gut.
- Grapeseed extract: The anti-fungal activity of grapeseed extract is primarily attributed to its high content of proanthocyanidins, which are powerful antioxidants found in various plant sources.
- Biofilm disruptor: not an herbal supplement as such but these supplements play an important role in treating candida overgrowth. Candida is capable of forming biofilm to protect itself from the immune system and antifungals. Biofilm disruptors can breakdown this protective film. Examples of biofilm disruptors include proteolytic enzymes and n-acetyl cysteine. Oregano and grapeseed extract are also capable of combatting biofilm.
- Probiotic Supplements: Supplementing with high-quality probiotics can help replenish beneficial gut bacteria and create an environment less favorable for Candida overgrowth.
- Manage stress: High-stress levels can compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to Candida overgrowth. Incorporate stress-management techniques like meditation, exercise, nature, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
- Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
Candida Cleanses: Given that candida releases toxins that place additional strain on the liver, which is the primary organ responsible for detoxification, it can be highly beneficial to implement a detox protocol. These protocols generally involve a combination of dietary adjustments, herbal supplements, and nutrients that support liver detoxification. Common supplements used during a detoxification protocol include:
- Milk Thistle: Known for its liver protective properties.
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC): Supports the production of antioxidants such an glutathione.
- Dandelion Root: Encourages bile flow to aid in carrying toxins out of the body.
- Bentonite Clay: Absorbs toxins which are produce by candida.
- Probiotics: Restores balance to the gut microbiota during a candida cleanse.
Conclusion: Candida overgrowth can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition, but with the right approach, it can be effectively controlled. By adopting a holistic strategy that combines dietary adjustments, herbal supplements, lifestyle changes, and gut restoring support, you can effectively resolve candida overgrowth.