Candida

Candida

Candida albicans is a strain of yeast that naturally inhabits the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, respiratory tract and vagina, where it exists in a delicate balance with a number of other organisms. If that balance is disturbed, an overgrowth of candida may occur, resulting in thrush and a wide range of other symptoms.

Symptoms

  • Vaginal candida, commonly referred to as thrush, tends to be characterised by itchiness, burning pain, inflammation, and a creamy-yellow discharge with a yeasty odour. Penile symptoms with similar characteristics may occur in men
  • Systemic (generalised) candida can cause symptoms of Fatigue, Headaches, abdominal pain, Diarrhoea, Constipation, Bloating and Flatulence, Anxiety, Depression, poor concentration and rashes
  • Small white patches may be present on the tongue, gums, lips or inside of the cheeks. They may or may not be painful, and cannot be scraped off. This is a common symptom of candida in infants and children, along with rashes and itchy skin in the affected areas (especially the nappy region)
  • Cravings for yeasts, sugars and alcohol sometimes occur, and consumption of these foods may aggravate the symptoms
  • Exposure to mouldy environments may exacerbate the symptoms

Causes

  • Candida sometimes occurs as a side effect of certain medications, including antibiotics, corticosteroids, anti-ulcer medications and the oral contraceptive pill
  • Consuming large quantities of yeast, alcohol, sugars or high glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates (e.g. bread and other flour products) may also increase the prevalence of the candida organism
  • Candida is more common in people with compromised resistance to infection, including people with diabetes and HIV/AIDS. In these circumstances, urgent medical attention is required

Nutritional & Herbal Support

  • Taking probiotic supplements such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium longum helps restore the balance of intestinal and vaginal bacteria. Oligofructose (sometimes called fructo-oligosaccharides) can be taken at the same time as probiotics to encourage and support re-colonisation by the friendly bacteria
  • Garlic may have potent antimicrobial properties, and has traditionally been used to support the symptoms of candida. Look for a product containing the equivalent of 3 g of fresh garlic bulb. Parsley is sometimes taken at the same time to reduce the odour of garlic
  • Echinacea has been scientifically shown to support Immunity, and may help reduce the severity and duration of infections. It is specifically indicated for individuals suffering from repeated bouts of colds, flu, Bronchitis, Sinusitis and other respiratory infections
  • Chromium reduces sugar and carbohydrate cravings, and is often taken with zinc, which is involved in both Immunity and Blood sugar regulation

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Severe, persistent, or recurrent episodes of candida may be indicative of underlying disease, and require medical investigation
  • Don't eat foods containing yeasts, moulds, refined carbohydrates or sugars. Foods to avoid include bread, alcohol, mushrooms, yeast spreads, cheeses, dried fruit, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, fruit juices, honey and maple syrup
  • Also avoid any foods that you are allergic to or intolerant of
  • Base your diet on whole grains, high quality sources of protein (legumes, fish, poultry and meat) and plenty of vegetables (especially onions and garlic, which have antimicrobial properties)
  • Some cases of vaginal thrush can be treated topically with a tea tree-based cream; ask your healthcare professional for advice
  • Candida thrives in a damp environment, so wear cotton underwear, and make sure to change your baby's nappy regularly
  • Recurrent candida is difficult to resolve if your sexual partner is also infected; both partners may require treatment

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

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