Candida is one of those conditions still not always recognised by orthodox doctors, but long spoken of in the more alternative medical fields. It has such a wide range of symptoms, some more tangible than others, which can make it difficult to diagnose. However, bearing in mind the conditions necessary for candida to thrive, it would be easy to guess that many people living in the Western world may well be dealing with a candida issue.
If you are trying to rid your system of a candida imbalance, the journey ahead of you may seem quite overwhelming. It’s really in your hands – there’s no one-stop pill you can take and no quick easy fix, but take heart! It’s entirely possible to rebalance your system, and in so doing gain numerous health benefits along the way, as the candida diet is a super healthy one. You can also enjoy taking charge of your life!
We hope the following article, written by our resident experts, helps to support and guide you through your own candida experience.
The Truth about Candida
How to Maintain Digestive Balance and Avoid the Candida Story
The gut has a very delicate balance of micro-organisms within it, including helpful bacteria and yeasts. Candida is one such yeast, and in a healthy digestive system it naturally lives in the large intestine and has positive benefits for the body.
However, problems arise when we upset the balance. The healthy bacteria must be in balance with the yeast, else the yeast takes over and spreads throughout the body. It can have a huge variety of manifestations and causes which we will outline below.
Many of the manifestations are not well defined because the fungus spreads and affects several systems in the body. Some of the most common symptoms of Candida excess are:
- Vaginal Candida Overgrowth with itching or milky secretions that may smell
- “Jock Itch”
- Athlete’s Foot and Fungal Infections of the toes
- Nappy Rash, which can also occur in adults as a painful rash in the anal crack.
- Itchy Scalp, dandruff and skin complaints
- Digestive Problems from gas and bloating to diarrhoea and constipation
- Exhaustion and Tiredness, especially straight after eating
- Sugar-cravings and excessive desire for sweet foods and fruits
- Recurrent outbreaks of fungal “infections” (they can be seen as an overgrowth of the norm, rather than infection from outside)
Sufferers often feel worse in damp or humid weather, as fungus LOVE these conditions (think of mushrooms!)
The Primary Causes of how we get Candida imbalance in the first place
Although there are a multitude of minor causative factors that contribute to imbalanced digestive flora, they all come back to two main challenges inside your body, namely poor digestive function and poor immune function. The most important point to understand is that most bacteria and fungus are not vicious invading organisms; rather they are opportunistic organisms that thrive because of an environment that is suited to them. With this understanding we can see that Candida imbalance is merely a symptom of a more systemic imbalance that is allowing Candia to thrive. This new awareness places more importance on the causes that imbalance the digestive and immune system, empowering you towards lifelong balance and vitality.
Below I have listed the main causes of digestive and immune system imbalance. Although there are many individual causes, no single one is guaranteed to cause imbalance; it may be combinations, or a single factor:
- Causes of Digestive Imbalance: Emotional states and excitement while digesting food, poor food combinations, overeating at each meal, no fasting time between meals, processed sugars and excess carbohydrates that are not fully digested in the mouth (you need to chew and mix saliva with all carbohydrate foods including juices!), excess alcoholic drinks (if you can feel even slightly tipsy then its excessive to what your system is easily handling), taking antibiotics, taking steroids, invasive parasites, eating cold and frozen foods and drinks, a junk food diet with a lack of leafy greens and digestive spices, living in an excessively damp environment, excessive use of bleach (often hidden in cleaning products), chlorine and other anti-bacterial agents, eating foods with antibiotics in them (e.g. non-organic dairy or non-organic meat), lack of exercise or exercising straight after a meal.
- Causes of Immune Imbalance: Emotional states and stress, not sleeping during the night cycle, high or low spikes in blood sugar levels, excess alcoholic drinks (if you can feel even slightly tipsy then its excessive to what your system is easily handling), antibiotics and eating foods with antibiotics in them, pesticides and preservatives, most pharmaceutical medications and especially anaesthetics, living in an excessively damp environment, invasive parasites, excessive use of bleach, chlorine and other anti-bacterial agents, excess or imbalanced reaction to vaccines, deficient or excessive exercise, deficiency of nutrients especially zinc and vitamin C.
*If a certain cause is listed in both categories then it becomes an extremely important contributor.
Full Blown Manifestation with Leaky Gut
If Candida yeasts become strong enough because of the above causative factors, they can transform into their branching form called mycelia sterilia with protrusions called hyphae. These protrusions bury into the gut wall, making a strong hold. It can create “holes” in the gut through which substances leak through that normally would not cross the gut wall. This condition is known as “leaky gut syndrome” and leads to the manifestation of food intolerances, allergies, and more serious health concerns.
The Healing Program
To heal Candida overgrowth we have to take several steps:
- We must do our best to remove or reduce all of the above causes from our life.
- We must eat a diet that encourages a return to balance in the gut.
- We must kill off excessive Candida organisms.
- We must increase the healthy bacteria that maintain long term balance.
- We need to protect the liver, as it becomes affected by the toxins that are abundant during the Candida die off.
- We must repair the gut wall from the damage created by Candida excess.
- We must take note of the key causative factors that lead to the imbalance in the first place and create a life plan that reduces these factors.
Let us examine each step, one by one….
1) We must do our best to remove or reduce all of the above causes from our life.
Treating Candida without treating the causes of why it came about will only have short term success. It is like killing off bacteria at a sewage pipe and then wondering why the bacteria came back again so quickly. We need to look up stream to find the true cause of the bacteria, and in the body we need to look at these causative factors, to find the reason we have created a fertile environment for Candida overgrowth.
2) We must eat a diet that encourages a return to balance in the gut.
Sugar and Fruit: Candida feeds off all sugars, whether natural or not. Therefore, this must be reduced or eliminated from the diet in the early kill off stages of a Candida program. These include:
- Sugar, Fructose and Glucose
- Honey (small amounts of the strong antifungal honeys can be used after the first two week kill off stage e.g. manuka and yellow bush)
- Fruit (fresh, juiced or dried). Exceptions are non sweet fruits like grapefruit and lemons.
- Processed flour products and especially all white flour products
Sugars that are required by the body for metabolism should be taken from slow-releasing foods, such as sweet potato, pumpkin, yam, whole grain brown rice chewed well, etc.
The two strong sweet flavours that do not cause growth of yeast are Stevia and Xylitol. Stevia, a sweet flavoured leaf, can be bought as a liquid or powder, but tiny doses should be used as it leaves a strong after-taste. Xylitol, an extract from tree sap, comes in a powder, but must be limited (see the packet for advice) as it can act as a laxative at high doses. If you cannot get used to these immediately, then mix a good-quality sugar (such as medicinal honeys or unrefined sugar) with Stevia or Xylitol. This will at least allow you to reduce the amount of sweetness in your diet, without making life too bitter .
Molasses is an in-between sugar with a slower blood sugar release, making it more suitable than most sweeteners. Although it should not be used during the first few weeks of the kill off phase, in the long term plan it can be used in reasonable amounts. It can be bought as a syrup (for toast etc) or as a solid sugar (for sweetening tea or coffee, and for baking).
Using sweet digestive spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom, can help in curbing the sweet tooth while also empowering the digestive secretions. Try mashed sweet potato with mixed spice, or molasses and cinnamon mixed into some cooked whole grain (ideally millet or brown rice if still experiencing Candida over growth).
Other Dietary Guidelines
Bitter foods: can be used by those with “Excess” (overweight, hot, much mucus). Bitter foods reduce mucus in the body and draw away excess toxins, both of which Candida thrives in. Bitter foods include bitter gourd, endive lettuce, and bitter herbs (see step 2: killing the yeasts). Bitter foods should only be used in very small amounts by those that are underweight because of their strong reducing and detoxifying qualities.
Low Dairy: dairy that is not organic must be avoided at all costs. Even organic dairy must be limited because of its tendency to create mucus. If there is a lot of mucus-discharge, such as runny nose or vaginal discharge, then cut out all dairy until this has passed.
Organic Meat and Fish: any meat or fish must be 100% organic because otherwise it contains antibiotics and hormones. Eating these chemicals will further destroy the friendly bacteria in your gut and imbalance the immune system.
Bread: All flour products including breads are high culprits for digestive imbalance. Most bread contains yeast, which of course exacerbates a yeast overgrowth! The worst ones are the mass-produced soft and fluffy loaves. If you really need breads then there are a lot of yeast-free breads becoming available even in supermarkets, or even better, try alternatives such as rice cakes and oat cakes. The absolute ideal is that we only eat freshly cooked whole grain without milling it to flour, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, oats, etc.
Alcohol: all alcohol is a yeast feeder…beers and wines are made with yeast. A dry white wine is preferable to sweet wines or beers (beer is the worst choice for yeast). Clear spirits are the best of the bunch, but must be taken with a sugar-free mixer or on ice.
In severe cases:
If digestion is very weak indeed, only easily-digestible cooked food may be taken because they will help to restore proper digestive function. The easiest is congee or kitchari; rice based soups cooked for a long time in broth (vegetable or meat broth) and digestive spices. Steamed vegetables and soups with well-cooked grains are also suitable. Millet is advised as it is alkaline forming and low in carbohydrate content. White basmati rice may be preferable even over brown in cases of extremely poor digestive ability.
3) We must kill off excessive Candida organisms
There are several natural antifungal agents that can be used. These should be used in combination to improve efficacy of the program and decrease chances of side effects:
- Andrographis: “The King of Bitters” is a perfect herb for Candida as it has strong antifungal properties, protects the liver, while also being great for boosting the immune system. This herb is used in the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Detox designed by me, or is also available online here.
- Goldenseal: A renowned bitter herb with potent anti-fungal properties is perfect for the treatment of Candida excess. It protects the liver, restores proper function of the mucous membranes in digestive tract and stabilises the gut so that good bacteria are happy again. This herb is used in the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Detox, or is also available online here.
- Pau D’arco: Is another very specific herb for Candida because like andrographis, it has strong antifungal properties while also being great for boosting the immune system. Pau D’arco is ideally taken as a decoction and is used as such in the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Detox, or is also available as part of Candida Support and can be found online here.
- Caprylic acid: is found in many sources but is most easily found in coconuts or supplements. This fatty acid is an excellent anti-fungal and its presence in fresh coconuts means that even though they can often be quite sweet, they can be drunk even during the kill off stage. Just remember to swish and chew the liquid so that saliva touches every part and carbohydrate digestion starts in the mouth. Fresh coconuts are part of the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Program.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract: used in the kill off stage due to its antifungal and anti-parasitic properties. High quality Grapefruit Seed Extract is used in the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Detox or is also available online here.
- Thyme: Can be used in cooking due to its natural anti-biotic properties and also helps to promote good digestive function.
- Garlic: a potent natural antibiotic that easily spreads into the minutest corners of the body. Is most specific for Candida conditions that have spread beyond the digestive tract. Cooking it kills off the antibiotic properties so should be eaten raw with food or take a capsule. Many people react to garlic, if there are any burning sensations during its digestion and in these cases it is not suitable. If in these cases garlic is still thought to be needed then crushing it and holding it against the body with cling wrap will allow it to penetrate into the blood and lymph directly without the digestive system reacting. Garlic is recommended to be used in food as part of the pre and post period during the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Detox. If preferring to use garlic capsules then the brand that I recommend can be purchased online here.
- Oregano Oil: Can be taken as a capsule so that it opens in the gut. Oregano Oil is used in the Candida Support blend listed below.
- For some people, Candida makes a home in the hair and under the nails. For these conditions it is important to kill it off using antifungals such as lavender and/or tea tree oil. You can do this by adding some of these essential oils to your shampoo and scrubbing the area daily for 7 days in a row. For those living in damp or mouldy environments these should also be added to your cleaning products and/or vaporised in oil burners to freshen the air and remove moulds from your environment.
There are many Candida blends on the market. I highly recommend the complete program used at the Sanctuary which combines some of the above herbs and much more. During this program you are also supported by a large array of healers that can help you to balance all areas of life and ensure re-occurrence is prevented. If you are unable to attend the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Detox in person, then using a combination of these two formulas can still be effective:
- Candida Support by Now Foods: A blend of oils, caprylic acid and anti-fungals that have a high success rate when taken over three months. This product can be found online here.
- Candida Digest by Planetary Herbals: This formula is not designed as a strong kill off formula and is more so used to enhance proper digestive function and treat the cause of the imbalance. Can be used long term and can be bought online here.
4) Increase the healthy bacteria that maintain long term balance.
Taking a good probiotic formula is extremely beneficial and should be used for at least 2 months after the kill off stage. These contain a wide range of friendly bacteria that will help restore balance. If antibiotic use is a suspected cause then this step becomes even more important and should always be taken any time antibiotics may be needed in the future. During the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Detox program we use a high quality multi strain probiotic. If you need to order probiotics at home then the brand I recommend can be found here.
5) We need to protect the liver, as it becomes affected by the toxins that are abundant during the Candida die off.
If we do not protect the liver during a yeast-healing process, there may be a die-off reaction, in which the person feels a little under the weather. This is because the liver must process the excess toxins released by the dying Candida, causing the liver to be overloaded and the blood to become toxic. Taking herbs that support liver function can eliminate this effect and decrease the chance of side effects during the die off stage.
Milkthistle: Is a fabulous liver herb with abundant modern research. A good source that combines milkthistle and other liver herbs can be found online here.
Dandelion: can take as tincture or buy it dried and take as a drink (a coffee replacement). Dandelion is used as part of the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Detox and can also be found in Candida Digest by Planetary herbals.
PhyllanthusAmaraus: Is a strong liver detoxifier and also helps to rid the body of parasites. It is best taken as a tea and is available as such during the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Detox.
The above liver support herbs have been chosen because they are easily available in many parts of the world, the Sanctuary Candida and Parasite Detox uses some of these and many more with the addition of locally sourced Ayurvedic herbs that are specific for liver support during Candida and Parasite Detoxification.
6) We must repair the gut wall from the damage created by Candida excess.
This step is very important in people who have suffered with yeast infections long-term, or those who have suffered with other inflammatory conditions inside the digest tract. If repair of the gut wall is not done, then when you return to a normal diet, all forms of digestive bi-products continue to leak into the blood stream. Not only does this cause havoc for many bodily systems, it greatly increases the chances of reoccurrence and allows easy channels for the Candida to quickly spread throughout the body. These foods and herbs are great for repairing the gut wall:
- Bilva: One of the best herbs for repairing the gut wall and has been successfully used as such for thousands of years. It also has added benefits for Candida as it helps to balance intestinal flora in the digestive tract. At the Sanctuary I make a product that contains high amounts of Bilva and is specifically designed to repair and heal an inflamed digestive system. It is available at the Tea Temple in the Sanctuary or you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for international orders.
- Butyric acid: Has abundant modern research on its ability to heal the gut wall and can be found in both butter and ghee. I would always choose ghee over butter as the ghee has no milk solids left, making it much easier to digest, and giving a higher ratio of butyric acid. Ghee is available at the Tea Temple in the Sanctuary or Organic ghee can be found online here.
- L-glutamine: Is the amino acid used as the building block of the gut wall. Good quality L-glutmine can be purchased online here.
If your Candida or digestive inflammation was intense or long term, then these should be taken both during the full program and for some time after returning to a normal diet.
7) We must take note of the causative factors that lead to the imbalance in the first place and create a life plan that reduces these factors.
Without a doubt this is the most important step for long term health and vitality because it deals with the reasons the imbalance was created in the first place and treats you holistically. At the Sanctuary we have a wide variety of healers that can help with every aspect of your long term balance, from mental and emotional, to diet and exercise, our team can put you on the right track. If you are doing this at home then take a good look at the causative factors listed in step one and create a long term plan that decreases these as much as possible. I guarantee that you will not just eradicate Candida but also transform your health and vitality.
The Healing Path
It takes time and patience to heal a fungal overgrowth, from 3 – 6 months, depending on the severity of the imbalance. Although the program is intense, try not to get too “serious” about it either….this can create problems of its own. Focus only lightly on the aspect of killing off the yeasts, and look more towards the positive aspects of inviting in light and life into your body. Follow the steps with the inspiration of clearing away the debris (excess yeasts) and making way for fresh life-force to enter.
If you would like to be rid of the Candida story and bring back that vitality but can’t make it to Thailand then I can still help you wherever you are. To book an online consultation with me and discuss how we can create a home Candida program designed specifically for your situation then you can make a booking here.
This article was written by Kimmana Nichols and Shashi Solluna. You can find more information about both of us, the courses we offer and the ways in which we can help you at our individual websites.