CANDIDA / YEAST INFECTION / THRUSH (Candida albicans)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHAT'S CAUSING IT? WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Are you prone to a problem with 'Candida / Yeast Infection / Thrush'?
Frequent yeast infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), fatigue & general malaise could indicate you have a persistent imbalance of candida in your digestive tract. Candida is a fungus present in everyone's body. Usually the presence of candida is beneficial. They are a part of your normal flora and assist you in digesting glucose, sucrose and maltose. Candida also aids in nutrient digestion and absorption in the body. However, certain conditions can lead to harmful overgrowth of candida. And, once candida has lodged in your tissues, this overgrowth can be hard to get rid of.
Signs & Symptoms of CandidaCandida is especially common in the gut, mouth, genitourinary tract and on the skin. Some of the most common signs of candida include itching, soreness, pain or burning in the infected area. Give your entire abdomen a massage. Do you notice pain or soreness anywhere below the belly button? You may have candida in your colon. Candida may be imbalanced without the presence of these symptoms as well.
Other symptoms of candida include indigestion, gas, bloating, frequent yeast infections, and frequent UTIs. Anything from anxiety to joint pain to inflammation to weight gain could be caused by candida overgrowth. The symptoms of candida overgrowth are often common to many disorders, making a diagnosis based on symptoms difficult. In Ayurveda, the symptoms of candida are very similar to the symptoms of 'ama' or toxins. That's because candida, like all of the microflora in your body, produce toxins. Under normal conditions, the toxic load is manageable by the liver and kidneys. Under conditions of overgrowth, these organs become stressed and overwhelmed, and symptoms start to appear. To protect these organs, it is essential to keep your levels of candida balanced. In addition, chronic inflammation due to candida can lead to cancer of the infected area.
The general signs and symptoms of toxicity (ama) by dosha include the following:
Home Test for Candida
You can do a home spittle test which requires that you spit into room temp glass of water upon waking. Check the glass every 20 minutes for next hour.
Look for the following:
Causes of Candida Overgrowth in the Gut
While there are over 20 species that can cause infection, Candida albicans is the most common culprit in cases of candida overgrowth. This species has adapted for growth in the GI tract and is commonly found there. The chemistry of your gut, competition from other gut bacteria, blood sugar levels, and the strength of your immune system all play key roles that keep candida in check, or lead to their proliferation. Whenever there is an imbalance in any of these areas, candida have the potential to multiply.
Candida is very adaptive. That's partly what makes it so pesky and virulent. It can exist in a low oxygen (hypoxic), oxygen free (anaerobic) or oxygen rich environments.
Antibiotics & Candida
Candida have an opportunity to grow prolifically after you take broad spectrum antibiotics which kill all bacteria in the body. In this scenario, candida escalate due to lack of competition. The bacteria that usually keep them in check are decimated, leaving tons of under occupied space in the gut and vagina. Most people probably know someone who had a vaginal yeast infection flare up after taking a round of antibiotics. While taking antibiotics, add fermented foods to your diet and use a good probiotic during and after your course of treatment.
Sometimes, eating meat and dairy that is not organic can lead to yeast infections. These meats often contain antibiotics in them. Over half of the antibiotics used in the US are used by the livestock industry. These medicines are then passed to you in the meat and dairy harvested from animals who have been treated.
A poor diet results in a smorgasbord for candida, especially one high in sugar. Anyone who bakes homemade bread knows how excited candida gets in a high sugar environment. These bakers put candida in a bowl of warm water and sugar to activate them before kneading them into the dough as a leavening agent. Within minutes the candida starts bubbling furiously. To see this effect at home, simply mix together 1 tbsp of honey, a cup of lukewarm water, and a packet of baker's yeast from the grocery store.
In your body, candida also thrives on an abundance of sugar to reproduce and become pathogenic. Diets rich in sugars themselves, foods that contain sugar (it's used as a preservative in almost everything!) as well as foods that convert to sugars (refined grains, fruits, etc) all feed candida. As the sugary food makes its way down your GI tract, or as your blood sugar levels rise, the candida in your body become activated just like it does in the dough of a baker. You may even notice your symptoms worsen 2-3 hours after eating sugar.
Kapha individuals, and those with diabetes are particularly susceptible to an overgrowth because of the presence of chronic high blood sugar levels. One of the early warnings of Kapha imbalance is excess saliva (do you wake up in a puddle of drool?). Kapha types take heed and follow a Kapha pacifying diet avoiding sugar, wheat and dairy.
All three body types can help to prevent candida by eating a diet low in sugar. Favor root vegetables and whole grains as your carbohydrate sources instead of refined flours, sugars and corn syrup. Read the ingredients of everything you buy. Sugar creeps into the sneakiest places. Beyond low sugar, eat foods you know that you can easily digest since fermentation in the gut creates an environment where candida can thrive. In other words, if foods cause gas and bloating, they are likely to aggravate candida. Therefore favor easy to digest foods and avoid difficult ones.
Normally, a healthy immune system can keep candida in check.
Weak immunity can also lead to Candida outbreaks. When the immune system is severely compromised candida can even cross protective barriers and colonize almost any organ in the body, become systemic, and lead to a life threatening condition called candidiasis.
The immune system is weakened by poor diet as well as other conditions such as allergies, autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation, lack of sleep, toxic exposure and stress. Steroids or other immunosuppressant drugs given to people with conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome can also result in candida overgrowth. Parasites such as blastocystis can release chemicals that directly suppress the immune system. Cancer, chemotherapy, AIDS can all cause an imbalance of candida. Stress releases cortisol which both suppresses the immune system and raises your blood sugar level, which feeds the candida. Long term stress weakens the adrenals which can also lead to a weakened immune system. A sugar rich diet, in addition to feeding bacteria, actually depresses your immune system also, increasing your vulnerability to a candida overgrowth.
To ensure robust immunity, eat a diet that suits your dosha. Address chronic inflammation immediately. Avoid exposure to toxins. Keep a strong routine and aim to get to bed by 10pm. Talk to your practitioner about which adaptogen herbs and stress relieving practices might be helpful for you.
Inflammation and Candida
Inflammation in particular has a special relationship with candida. The presence of candida slows the healing of inflammation and inflammation promotes candida growth. This dynamic can create a vicious cycle making it challenging to remedy the overgrowth. Many GI disorders and parasites can lead to inflammation that causes candida overgrowth. Foods that aggravate inflammation will also increase candida. Therefore it is best to avoid Pitta aggravating foods.
Hormones & Candida
Estrogen is a major ingredient in the pill and promotes the growth of yeast. Elevated estrogen levels due to being pregnant or on birth control increases your chances of a vaginal candida overgrowth - especially when coupled with a sugar rich diet and/or antibiotic use. If you have a candida overgrowth, consider other forms of birth control.
While not always sufficient, a good place to begin in resolving a candida overgrowth is to improve digestion. Dosha specific herbs will also be useful in building digestive strength (agni). Then, address candida overgrowth by avoiding excess sugars and carbs. Next you'll want to clear toxins (ama) from the body with a mild laxative to encourage good elimination, a diuretic to flush fluids, and a vasodilator to improve circulation. Finally, an antimicrobial will help kill candida in weakened spaces and tissues, such as in a patch of scar tissue.
Therefore, an herb formula should contain digestives, hypoglycemics, laxatives, diuretics, vasodilators, and antimicrobials. Joyful Belly has used this strategy in creating Candida Cleanse Tea, designed to remedy candida imbalance in your gut.
Treatment by Dosha
Since your diet, herbs and approach may need to be more specific to your constitution, it is best to see a practitioner. Here are some general guidelines by dosha:
Vatas be warned against standard anti-candida diets as they will likely make your problems worse. These diets are too depleting for Vatas since they focus on lowering blood sugar. Instead Vata needs to focus on eating easy to digest foods, following a Vata pacifying diet and cleansing the colon with a medicated enema. Vatas should still avoid refined sugars and refined flours.
Pittas will need to reduce inflammation with a Pitta pacifying diet. Cleanse the liver, cool and detoxify the blood with herbs like bhumyamalaki and guduchi. Removal of candida may be necessary for the inflammation to heal. Candida in inflamed, defective or scar tissue is more difficult to eliminate without a strong antifungal.
Kaphas will benefit from the more traditional anti-candida diets which aim to lower blood sugar. For kapha, foods rich in insoluble fiber help scrape the intestine clean.
Use of Antimicrobials
Natural antimicrobials such as garlic, coconut oil, milk thistle, vitamin C and vidanga can help resolve an overgrowth. Candida albicans has been shown to be even more sensitive to certain essential oils than to the typical drugs prescribed to treat overgrowth when combined with an anti-candida diet. The most useful oils include lemongrass, myrrh, clove, lavender and oregano. Lavender and/or lemongrass is ideal for Vata types. Lemongrass, clove and/or lavender is recommended for Pitta. Kaphas can use myrrh, clove and/or oregano. Choose an oil appropriate for your dosha.
You can help to kill off the candida outbreak by adding a 1-3 drops of the essential oil to 1 teaspoon coconut oil (mix well) while eating a candida cleansing diet. To combat oral thrush, add three drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish around your mouth for about 20 minutes. Essential oils are powerful and therefore should only be taken internally for 10 days or less. Be sure the oils you use are pure, certified organic oils.
After clearing the infection, it is important to repopulate the gut with good bacteria via a healthy diet for your dosha including inulin rich foods such as garlic, onion or jerusalem artichoke. Depending on your unique body type, fermented foods and probiotics may also be beneficial. Only a fraction of the microbiome is known, so even with a probiotic your gut may need some time to rebuild the full diversity you need for optimal digestive health.
Disclaimer: 'Candida / Yeast Infection / Thrush' could be serious and should be checked by a medical doctor.
STAGE OF DISEASE 3 - ATTACKING TISSUEIf you have symptoms in this category it means that your imbalances are becoming stronger and weakening your body's resistance. Most people have a weakness in one or more organs. These areas of weakness are the 'weak link in the chain.' They are first to succumb when an imbalance reaches a tipping point. Repairing imbalances in this category often represent your last opportunity to prevent disease. At any moment, these imbalances could overwhelm weakened tissue and develop into a disease. You may feel pain or discomfort in the weakened area. At this stage you will need to support the weakened tissue with specialized foods and herbs for the weakened tissue.
ARE YOU NEW TO AYURVEDA?Are you wondering what Ayurveda is and how to use it for 'Candida / Yeast Infection / Thrush' and health in general? LEARN MORE
FAVOR HERBS WITH THESE MEDICINAL PROPERTIESIngredient and herbs each have unique effects on the various organs of your body. Herbalists study these effects and categorize them, so it is easy to identify which foods and herbs are most helpful for your unique body type. Click on the medicinal properties below to learn more about them, and to figure out which recipes, ingredients and products will be a good match for you. Individual results will vary depending upon the root cause of your imbalance. The following medicinal properties are useful for a general case of 'Candida / Yeast Infection / Thrush'. You must independently verify whether these medicinal properties address the root causes of your case of Candida / Yeast Infection / Thrush.
DIGESTIVEHerbs that encourage healthy digestive.
Cleanse and Detox:
ANTIFUNGALHerbs that destroy fungus.
ANTIMICROBIALAn agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Antimicrobial is an umbrella term that can be broken down into specific categories of target microorganism, such as anti-bacterials, fungals, and virals.
ANTISEPTICCapable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. Helpful in infections and for those with weak immune systems.
IMMUNE-STIMULANTStimulates and strengthens the immune system. Helpful when fighting off a cold or flu.
Lowers Blood Sugar
LOWERS-BLOOD-SUGARAn herb that lowers blood sugar.
DIET REMEDIES FOR 'CANDIDA / YEAST INFECTION / THRUSH'
PRODUCTS REMEDIES FOR 'CANDIDA / YEAST INFECTION / THRUSH'
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REMOVE THE CAUSES OF YOUR IMBALANCE
CANDIDA / YEAST INFECTION / THRUSH USUALLY MEANS THESE
|GUNA||DO YOU HAVE THIS IMBALANCE?|
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you have an imbalance of 'Toxic' guna
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you have an imbalance of 'Oily' guna
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you have an imbalance of 'Heavy' guna
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you have an imbalance of 'Gooey' guna
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you need to decrease Difficult to digest foods
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you have an imbalance of 'Sweet' taste
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you have an imbalance of 'Sour' taste
To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.
On Joyful Belly, we've created an extensive categorization of food so you can easily match food to your imbalances (gunas). By eating an optimal diet that balances your gunas, your whole body is strengthened and the conditions that created the disorder are removed. Once the root causes of the disease are removed, the disease lessens in strength or disappears altogether. Additional remedies - such as herbs and lifestyle practices - focused on the specific disorder, can greatly enhance your healing.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
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