Getting to the Bottom of Chronic Candida: Safe and Natural Treatment
Chronic candida, or yeast overgrowth, has become an increasingly recognized serious condition, especially for women, who are eight times more likely to experience its multitude of health disturbances. Though chronic candida has been clinically defined for a long time, the average woman’s dependence on oral contraceptives and prescription antibiotics, as well as dietary factors, nutrient deficiency, and impaired immunity, has caused an explosion of this debilitating chronic ailment.
Typically, women between the ages of 15-50 are much more likely to experience yeast overgrowth, and some of the symptoms are as follows:
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of energy
- Decreased libido
- General feelings of uneasiness and/or discomfort
- Intestinal cramps
- Rectal itching
- Altered bowel function
- Vaginal yeast infection/chronic infections
- Frequent bladder infections
- Menstrual cramps
- Inability to concentrate
- Chemical sensitivities
- Low immune function
- Chronic antibiotic use for infections or acne
- Oral contraceptives
- Oral steroid use
- Endocrine malfunctioning
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Cravings for carbohydrates, yeast, and/or sugar
A Multifactorial Condition
Chronic candida is a classic example of a condition that is caused by a multitude of factors. Therefore, it’s important to address and correct the predisposing factors, listed below, rather than simply killing the yeast with antifungal drugs.
- Decreased digestive secretions, which lead to constipation, irregular bowel movements, etc.
- Dietary factors
- Impaired immunity
- Nutrient deficiency
- Prolonged antibiotic use
- Impaired liver function
Prolonged antibiotic use is believed to be the largest contributing factor in the development of chronic candida.
When we take antibiotics, both abnormal and normal intestinal flora is destroyed, which inevitably leads to a suppression of our immune system. This combination strongly promotes the overgrowth of candida.
Nutritional Therapy Considerations
While chronic candida is a condition that requires long-term dietary and lifestyle changes, the following plan serves as a starting point to address acute symptoms. The plan should be followed for a minimum of two weeks, depending on severity of symptoms.
- Eat whole, unrefined, and unprocessed foods such as fresh, organic vegetables, leafy greens, low-glycemic fruits, whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts.
- Eliminate sugar, dairy products, refined foods, fried foods, packaged/junk foods, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and carbonated drinks.
- Raw aloe vera gel, blended into 12-16 oz. green juice - wheatgrass, cilantro, parsley, dandelion, kale/spinach chard (any combination), celery, cucumber: made fresh daily and consumed on empty stomach. The juice can be sweetened with low-glycemic fruit, such as green apple, pear, and lemon.
- Take grapefruit seed extract in one 250mg capsule in AM and one 250mg capsule in PM at least one hour before a meal or at least two hours after a meal.
- High-quality probiotic supplement, 5-10 billion viable lactobacillus and bifidobacteria cells per day, consumed at least one hour before a meal or at least two hours after a meal.
Rationale/Indications for Treatment
- Whole/unrefined foods: Used to alkalize the body. Eating whole, unrefined foods can shift the body’s pH to a more alkaline state and bring it back into balance. A balanced body leads to reduced internal abnormalities.
- Elimination of sugar, dairy, refined foods, caffeine, and alcohol: These types of foods must be eliminated from the diet as they create an acidic internal pH; an environment in which yeast feasts and thrives.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract: Used to fight bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
- Green juice: Wheatgrass cleanses the lymph system, blood, liver, and kidneys; restores balance of the body; and removes toxic metals from cells. Parsley and cilantro are incredibly cleansing and accelerate the excretion of toxic metals from the body; dandelion promotes liver cleansing, creates bile for elimination, and removes excess water from the body; and leafy greens/celery/cucumber are natural diuretics, which aid in cleansing and purifying the body.
- Raw aloe vera gel: Improves digestion, which inevitably increases the presence of friendly flora (probiotics) in our digestive tract. This means reduced yeast and better pH levels. Also acts as a prebiotic, which enhances the effectiveness of probiotics in our gut.
- Probiotic supplement: Supports overall gut health, increases healthy flora, and enhances immune functioning.
Track Your Progress
While practicing these dietary and lifestyle changes, it’s important to track your progress. Through a challenge and elimination diet, you will be able to find what is exacerbating your symptoms, as well as the right combination of foods to relieve them. Most importantly, remember that this program is designed to confront the underlying factors of this chronic and debilitating condition, and because of that, it will take time. Be patient, don’t give up, and remind yourself that you are on the road to optimal health.
Murray, M.T., & Pizzorno, J. (2012). The encyclopedia of natural medicine. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.