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.
WHAT HAS HELPED YOU HEAL?
DIET REMEDIES FOR 'CANDIDA / YEAST INFECTION / THRUSH'
HERBS & PRODUCTS FOR 'CANDIDA / YEAST INFECTION / THRUSH'
DISCLAIMER: The pathogenesis of each person's condition is unique, and so the diet must be fit to the individual and the unique root causes of the condition in your body. The information on this page is for educational purposes only and should not be used to treat a medical condition. It is not a substitute for medical care. Please check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA HEAL 'CANDIDA / YEAST INFECTION / THRUSH'?
AVOID DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS THAT AGGRAVATE THESE EFFECTSAccording to Ayurveda, one or more of the following doshas and qualities may aggravate 'Candida / Yeast Infection / Thrush'. If you have an excess of one of these doshas or qualities below, Ayurveda recommends reducing foods and lifestyle habits that aggravate them. Click on the quality to learn what foods and lifestyle habits should be reduced.
Symptoms Tell A StoryThe first step to healing is learning patterns from your symptoms. Symptoms are clues that reveal underlying imbalances. Symptoms show you where your body is weakened. Ultimately, all disease has a root in tissues too weak to defend itself. Ayurveda describes these patterns of weakness using doshas & qualities. If you notice a quality or dosha appears next to many of your symptoms, it helps you establish a pattern that may be systemic.
To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.
DIGESTIVEHerbs that encourage healthy digestion.
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.
ADDRESS ISSUES IN STAGE OF DISEASE 3CANDIDA / YEAST INFECTION / THRUSH IS IN STAGE OF DISEASE 3 - ATTACKING TISSUE
If 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.
REDUCE THESE RELATED SYMPTOMS & HABITSThe following symptoms & habits may be related to 'Candida / Yeast Infection / Thrush'. See your quiz results for a computerized assessment of your body type. Please click on the symptoms below to learn more about them.
DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR UNIQUE BODY?
What aggravates it? What heals it? Then get your Personal Ayurvedic Body Book! This book, written by founder and director of Joyful Belly, John Immel, is individually formatted for your unique body and will help you confidently choose food that restores your healthy glow to get you feeling like your best self. Just $19.99!
HOW AYURVEDA WORKSARE YOU WONDERING HOW AYURVEDA CAN HELP YOU?
WHY IS AYURVEDA THE RIGHT SOLUTION?Ayurveda strengthens the body, in addition to addressing the disorder. It take a holistic, systemic approach, instead of myopically focusing on the disorder in question. Ayurveda shows a person how to interpret signs and symptoms of imbalance, and how to address them using materials from home, so they can optimize their health on a continual basis. You can't take the doctor home with you, but you can take Ayurveda home with you. Ayurveda is the most advanced and easy to use home system for self healing with an exceptional focus on digestion.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA WORK?Ayurveda starts by identifying your body type, which identifies certain tendencies in your body to get sick (as well as identifying your strengths). It uses body type to determine the likely root causes of your disorders. Next, Ayurveda analyzes the nature of your disorder. It fits all your signs and symptoms into a pattern, expressed as a combination of gunas / qualities. For example, you may have a heat disorder, a cold disorder, or an oily disorder, etc. This simple categorical approach shows you how to correct systemic imbalances and strengthen your body as a whole.
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.
Want to learn more about Ayurveda and its step-by-step approach to healing? Click below.LEARN MORE
GET STARTEDTo get started on your Ayurvedic journey, we first recommend that your find your body type by taking our free quiz. In Ayurveda, every solution is based on your unique body type, so by taking this quiz, you’ll get the best results.
5 WAYS TO HEAL YOUR BODY