Candida: Natural Treatments
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
- Home Remedies for Candida
- Daily Vitamin Supplements for Candida
- Herbal Therapy for Candida
- Qi Gong Movements for Candida
- Self-Acupressure for Candida
- Candida: Advice on what to avoid
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.
- Include more citrus fruits, cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, dandelions, beet tops, carrot tops, barley, garlic, cayenne pepper, mung beans, kohlrabi, turmeric, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, dill, sage, fennel, cardamom, and anise in your diet.
- Foods should be rotated in your diet. The easiest way to acquire a food allergy is to consume the same foods repeatedly.
- Whole grains are fine, but limit the quantity.
- Leftovers should be frozen, not refrigerated, since mold or fungus has a great opportunity to grow overnight.
- Avoid Cold and raw foods, in which microbes are naturally present and can cause digestive dampness.
- Avoid Most fruits and juices, as well as starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and squash.
- Eliminate all breads, including refined wheat and rye breads.
- Eliminate dairy products, cheeses of all kinds.
- Eliminate alcohol, sugar, pastries, pickled foods, and vinegar.
HOME REMEDIES FOR CANDIDA
- Boil a handful of fresh dandelion greens in 3 cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain, and drink 3 cups a day.
- Eat 2 to 3 fresh garlic cloves a day, with or without food.
- Make a tea by boiling 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/ 4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon ginger in 3 cups water for 10 minutes. Strain, and drink 2 to 3 cups a day.
DAILY SUPPLEMENTS FOR CANDIDA
- Taking probiotics such as acidophilus (3 to 10 million cultures daily) can help control candida overgrowth.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of soluble fiber-guar gum, psyllium husks, flaxseeds, or pectin-in 1 cup of water. Drink 2 times a day on an empty stomach. This is essential for healthy bowels.
- Enteric-coated garlic pills (900 milligrams) can inhibit growth of candida.
- Caprylic acid (300 milligrams) is used as a mild antifungal.
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.
- Taheebo bark tea taken 3 times a day can have an inhibitory effect 011 yeast overgrowth.
- Taking tea tree, peppermint, oregano, and lavender oils in enteric-coated capsules can be helpful for controlling yeast overgrowth.
- Chinese herbs with specific and general antifungal abilities include pagoda tree fruit, chaulmoogra seeds, erythrina bark, aloe vera, and genkwa flower.
- A traditional herbal formula for clearing up damp heat consists of the herbs gentian root, skullcap, gardenia, akebia, plantain, alisma, bupleurum, rehmannia, dong quai, and licorice. This formula is often combined with or followed by formulations that support the spleen, stomach, and digestive functions and that contain herbs such as astragalus, codonopsis, atractylodes, tangerine, cardamom, and dioscorea.
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.
- Lie down on your back comfortably, with your hands at your sides. Focus on your navel. Visualize a golden disk the size of a Frisbee spinning around your entire abdomen with its center at your navel.
- With every inhalation the disk spins half of a full circle. With every exhalation the disk completes the other half of the circle.
- Breathe deeply so that the disk spins slowly, corresponding to your respiration, for a total of 21 times in the clockwise direction.
- Reverse the direction of the disk’s rotation and repeat the breathing-spinning sequence.
ACUPRESSURE FOR CANDIDA
- Locate the acupoint Foot Three Miles (ST-36), four fingerwidths below and to the outside of the right kneecap. Apply moderate pressure with your right thumb. Hold for 5 minutes. Repeat on the left leg.
- Locate the acupoint Winding Gulch (LI-11), in the depression at the outer part of the left elbow crease, between the elbow tendon and the bone. The point is best located when the arm is bent at 90 degrees with the palm facing the abdomen. Apply steady pressure with your right thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 3 minutes. Repeat on the right arm.
Both of these points have traditionally been used to strengthen digestive function and enhance immunity.
CANDIDA: WHAT TO AVOID
- Excessive activity, straining the body, and overeating. Get plenty of sleep.
- Alcohol, smoking, and caffeine, as they weaken the q1.
- Eating foods you’re allergic to, which can aggravate candida. Rotate foods and eliminate gluten.
- Stress, anxiety, and emotional turmoil, which cause the qi to stagnate and complicate the condition.
- Excessive use of antibiotics and hormones, which can cause candida.