By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Over 500 symbiotic species of bacteria and yeast live in our gastrointestinal tract. These intestinal flora play a key role in digestion and the absorption of essential nutrients. They’re also responsible for producing essential fatty acids from ingested foods, producing valuable nutrients (including B vitamins and vitamin K), facilitating the metabolism of drugs, protecting us from infection by pathogenic bacteria, maintaining a healthy intestinal acid-base balance, and enhancing immune functions. One of the most common intestinal flora is the yeast Candida albicans.
If the balance of the intestinal flora is disturbed through prolonged use of antibiotics, birth control pills, or immune-suppressant drugs, hormonal imbalance, improper diet, excessive stress, or alcohol abuse, candida can flourish, to the detriment of the human host. At first the outgrowth is limited to the intestines, where it produces alcohol and other toxic by-products, putting stress on the body. If left untreated, the condition can expand beyond the intestines and invade other parts of the body, including the abdomen, lungs, and other cavities.
The resulting infection overburdens the immune system, causing symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, muscle and joint pains, and gastrointestinal disturbances, including diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and bloating after eating. Severe infections can also cause depression, memory problems, infertility, and allergies. Recent research suggests that gluten allergies may be linked to chronic candida infestation. Other common manifestations linked to candida overgrowth include oral thrush, skin infections, and vaginal yeast infections.
Chinese medicine classifies candida as an accumulation of excessive dampness and heat in the body. Because the functions of the spleen-pancreas-stomach network are weakened, normal digestion is impaired, causing buildup of dampness, which is heavy in property and tends to occupy the lower parts of the body. Dampness is the ancient way of describing mold or fungal infestation. The sticky, congealing nature of dampness combined with emotional stress blocks the free flow of energy, producing pathogenic heat. This dampness and heat together cause the symptoms of candida infection.
I have seen many patients suffer from fatigue, muscle weakness, digestive disturbances, and even infertility as the result of a candida infestation. Often these patients have a history of abusing sugar and wheat products, of being exposed to mold, or of being emotionally and physically rundown. By identifying the causes, and by using herbal and dietary therapy and acupuncture, I have been able to help my patients return their bodies to a healthy state.
Related conditions: yeast infections
Here are some recommendations.
DIET FOR CANDIDA
The most important line of defense against candida is a proper diet. The diet should be low in refined carbohydrates and high in protein and essential fatty acids.
HOME REMEDIES FOR CANDIDA
DAILY SUPPLEMENTS FOR CANDIDA
HERBAL THERAPY FOR CANDIDA
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be t1sed according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation. To learn more about the herbs listed here, go to www.askdrmao.com.
EXERCISE FOR CANDIDA
In addition to a regular physical exercise regimen, I recommend qi gong exercises to strengthen the stomach, spleen, and digestive system and promote the flow of energy in the abdomen. Perform the following exercise twice a day on an empty stomach.
ACUPRESSURE FOR CANDIDA
Both of these points have traditionally been used to strengthen digestive function and enhance immunity.
CANDIDA: WHAT TO AVOID
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