Candida albicans is a type of fungus living in harmony with millions of other microorganisms that are part of our body's normal gut flora. However, it can get out of control, resulting in a condition known as candidiasis, or Candida overgrowth. When that happens, it can trigger a number of seemingly unrelated health issues, from athlete's foot to vaginal yeast infections.
Many people believe Candida lives only in the intestines or in the vaginal area. In actuality, Candida can live in every tissue in the body. Overgrowth often starts in the intestines, disrupting the healthy balance of gut-friendly bacteria and fungi, and then can spread to other areas of the body. The extent of infection by this opportunistic fungus - and what systems it infects - is affected including age, lifestyle, diet, and pre-existing conditions.
Typically, a combination of factors trigger an overgrowth of Candida; sometimes, however, it only takes a single element to incite an overgrowth. Some of these factors include:
A weakened immune system, either from a health condition or from taking immunosuppressive medications like steroids or chemotherapy
Taking hormonal contraceptives, especially birth control pills containing estrogen
Eating a diet high in refined carbs or sugar
Excessive alcohol consumption
High levels of stress
Depending on the extent of the overpopulation of the fungus and the systems affected, Candidiasis can bring on a variety of symptoms, including:
A white, cottage cheese-like coating on your tongue, inner cheeks, throat, or the roof of mouth
Cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge accompanied by itching and/or discomfort
Diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, nausea, stomach pain, anal itching
Frequent urinary tract infections
Red, itchy rash in skin folds like armpits and groin
White, flaky rash on feet and between toes
Distorted, thick, and/or yellow toenails
A holistic practitioner can assess your Candida status with simple tests, like stool samples, vaginal swabs, and skin cultures. Since yeast is a morphogenic organism, meaning it changes shape throughout its life cycle, the treatment will typically require a few supplements and/or medications to address each of these phases. This treatment usually takes at least a couple of months to fully address the overgrowth. Very often stomach acid support will be needed along with diet and lifestyle changes to help prevent recurrence. These may include a lower sugar diet, reduction or elimination of alcohol, stress management, and more.
Are you concerned that you may have a Candida overgrowth? Schedule a complimentary telephone consultation to learn more about my naturopathic approach to addressing this condition.
NUNM.com "Healing Candida Overgrowth Naturally." Accessed 9 May 2020: https://nunm.edu/2019/06/healing-candida/
Hudson T. Women's Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2008.
Miles MR, Olsen L., Rogers A. Recurrent vaginal candidiasis. Importance of an intestinal reservoir. JAMA. 1977; 238 (17): 1836-37. https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.nunm.idm.oclc.org/pubmed/?
Vaginal Yeast Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Care, Treatments. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/understanding-vaginal-yeast-infection-basics#1
Pizzorna, J. & Murray, M. (2012) Textbook of Natural Medicine. https://books.google.com/books/about/Textbook_of_Natural_Medicine.html?id=6cjgo1IixvEC