Written by Dr. Daniela Steyn
As a Family Physician, I often treat people with Candida Albicans. Over 90% of the time it can easily be treated in my clinic with diet and lifestyle changes, over the counter anti-fungal treatments and treating the root cause of candida overgrowth. However, I sometimes need to treat patients in hospital on intravenous anti-fungal medication, where candida caused systemic sepsis in a patient with a compromised immune system.
Candida is a type of yeast that naturally occurs in the body. Everyone has it. It's generally harmless and only causes symptoms when it overgrows. Candida can cause a wide range of different symptoms. In babies it causes diaper rash and thrush in their mouths (easily treated with over the counter clotrimazole cream or nystatin gel for thrush.)
In women it often causes vaginal thrush during a phase in her menstrual cycle when her estrogen levels are high. Typically women on estrogen containing birth control experiences it more severely. It might also flair up the day after you had wine or a lot of sugar (or both). Most women treat this with over the counter clotrimazole vaginal cream and fluconazole oral tablets.
In men it can cause jock-itch, typically experienced after sexual intercourse. This can be treated with over the counter miconazole cream. It is important that both sexual partners should be treated, even if the other one doesn't have symptoms.
You might experience candida symptoms after you have been on a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics kills harmful bacteria which causes infection and illness, but along with the bad bacteria, it also kills of your good bacteria. I generally advice to avoid antibiotics when possible. At times when you have to take antibiotics, make sure you take great probiotics at the same time and up to a month afterwards to restore your microbiome.
Sometimes my patients present with more subtle symptoms, such as fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, and skin problems. These are often caused by candida overgrowth syndrome (COS) or candida-related complex (CRC).
When candida overgrows, it can break down the walls of the intestines and enter the bloodstream. This can lead to various serious health conditions like nutrient deficiencies, chronic candida symptoms, vision changes, headaches and memory problems. Very rarely, it can cause sepsis.
While candida is usually kept in check by good bacteria in the body, certain factors can lead to an overgrowth of candida. Candida can be challenging to treat because it often results from a combination of factors, including poor diet, antibiotic use, a weakened immune system, and chronic stress. The good news is that there are treatments available that can help reduce or eliminate symptoms and restore the natural balance of good bacteria and candida in your body.
To prevent candida overgrowth, it's essential to address any underlying factors contributing to candida growth in the body. This may include making dietary and lifestyle changes, taking probiotics or antifungals and addressing stress or hormonal imbalances. With the right treatment plan, most people can successfully manage and resolve their candida symptoms for good.
Here are five ways to treat candida naturally:
1. Change your diet: cut out sugar and alcohol
Specific dietary changes can help you heal naturally if you suffer from candida. Sugar is one of the primary food sources for candida yeast. When you eat sugar, it is broken down into glucose and fructose, which are then used by candida to grow and multiply. Refined carbohydrates like white flour and white rice also break down into sugar, which worsens candida overgrowth. I see candida where often in my diabetic patients.
Yeast loves sugar because it gives them the energy they need to grow and multiply. Candida yeast can quickly turn sugar into alcohol, leading to an overgrowth of yeast in the body.
To prevent candida overgrowth, it's essential to limit your sugar intake. This includes sugar in all forms, including honey, molasses, and fruit juice. You should also avoid refined carbohydrates like white flour and white rice, as they will break down into sugar in your body.
Alcohol is a big driver of candida. Try to eliminate all alcohol for a month, and see how you feel.
Focus on eating a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats. This type of diet will help to starve the candida and allow your body to heal.
2. Consume probiotics daily
All of us have candida albicans on our bodies. It typically doesn't cause a problem. It only becomes a problem when it overgrows due to a lack of other healthy bacteria in and on your body. Candida is the cause of diaper rash, oral thrush and 'yeast infection' in babies, diabetic and people with a weakened immune system. Probiotics are bacteria that can help promote good digestive health and restore balance in your gut and on your skin.
There are many different probiotic strains available, each with unique health benefits. Some common probiotic strains effective against candida include Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium Lactis, and Saccharomyces Boulardii. These probiotics work by crowding out the candida organisms in your gut and restoring healthy levels of good bacteria.
In addition to probiotic supplements, follow a diet rich in healthy probiotic foods. Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso. These foods contain live probiotic cultures that can help to repopulate the gut with good bacteria and fight off the candida organisms. I typically advice my patients to drink kefir several times a day while they are on antibiotics. You can find this next to the yogurts in your grocery store. There are dairy free Kefir options.
3. Reduce stress levels
Stress is one of the main contributors to candida overgrowth. This is because stress triggers heightened stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can disrupt the gut microbiome and weaken the immune system. As a result, an overgrowth of candida can occur.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that people dealing with stress-induced candida overgrowth can use to help regulate their stress response and manage their symptoms. These include practicing stress management techniques like mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises and seeking professional support from a healthcare provider to address stress-related health issues holistically.
With time and dedication, individuals dealing with stress-induced candida overgrowth can regain their physical and mental well-being, allowing them to live healthier lives free of the unpleasant symptoms caused by this condition.
4. Add supplements to your diet
While conventional treatments for candida may involve probiotics or antifungal supplements, there are also several natural supplements that you can use to help manage and treat this condition. Some popular supplements for addressing candida include probiotics, coconut oil, garlic, oregano oil, caprylic acid supplements, and antifungal herbs like thyme or goldenseal. Working with your healthcare provider to find the right supplements for your individual needs and symptoms can effectively manage your candida overgrowth and improve your overall health.
5. Be patient
In my experience it takes anywhere from two weeks and up to six months for symptoms to resolve. The duration of treatment will depend on the root cause of the overgrowth and treatment used. In hospital I treat my patients with a two week course of intravenous antifungals. For patients who choose anti-fungal pills, the treatment is typically less than a week. For people who change their diet and lifestyle, it typically takes three to six months for all symptoms to resolve completely.
Always see your Healthcare provider.
If you're looking for more tips on treating candida effectively, consider talking to your Functional medicine doctor or another healthcare professional specializing in this condition. They can help you create a personalized treatment plan that will address your specific needs and help you get rid of candida for good! If you need help and live in Ontario Canada, you can email my team at firstname.lastname@example.org