By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
The candida yeast organism is a normal part of the intestinal flora - the microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. The balance of the intestinal flora can be disturbed by the use of antibiotics, birth control pills, immunosuppressant drugs, hormones, poor diet, excess stress, alcohol consumption, and other factors. In cases of extreme imbalance, candida flourishes. Initially its overgrowth is limited to the intestines, but it can invade other parts of the body, the most common of which is the vaginal tract.
When left untreated, yeast overgrowth produces alcohol and other toxic by-products that put stress on the body. Over 75 percent of women suffer a vaginal yeast infection at least once. The humid, moist, and warm environment of the vagina is very hospitable to yeast. The most common symptom of a yeast infection is a creamy, curdlike discharge accompanied by vaginal itching and burning, painful urination, and pain during intercourse. The condition often gets worse after receiving antibiotic treatments. Conventional medicine typically treats yeast infections with topical or oral antifungal medications.
Chinese medicine classifies candida as an accumulation of dampness and heat toxin in the body. Often a result of a weakened spleen-pancreas-stomach network, digestion is impaired, leading to a buildup of dampness, which tends to permeate the lower parts of the body. The sticky, congealing nature of dampness combined with emotional stress blocks the free flow of energy, generating heat and toxins. The dampness and heat toxin discharge through the vaginal opening, giving rise to the symptoms of candida infection.
The relationship between the digestive system and yeast is the key to long-term relief from recurrent yeast infections; this is the case for most of the patients I see for yeast infections. Yeast infections can also result from a weakened immune system, as in chronic fatigue syndrome.
My approach to treatment starts with a diet free of ingredients that fuel the growth of yeast, such as refined carbohydrates. I use acupuncture and herbal therapies to support healthy immune function and to inhibit fungal activity and expel dampness and heat toxins.
Related conditions: candida
Below are recommendations I give to my patients.
The most important line of defense against candida imbalance, which is almost always the cause of vaginal yeast infections, is proper diet.
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used 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.
In addition to a regular exercise regimen, I recommend the General Cleansing Qi Gong, which helps with circulation, cleanses the body of toxins, and enhances immune function.
• Say the word “calm” in your mind with every exhalation.
• You’ll be visualizing the relaxation of a body part and releasing tension with every exhalation. Trace the following 3 pathways outlined below.
1. First pathway – down the front of the body: start at the top of your head. Inhale, and then exhale and visualize your scalp muscles relaxing. Say “calm” in your mind. Repeat this, saying the word with each body part as you move down through your face, throat, chest, abdomen, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, and feet. When you’ve relaxed your feet, visualize all the tension in your body leaving through your toes in the form of dark smoke.
2. Second pathway – down the sides of the body: start at the temple region of your head. This pathway focuses on the sides and upper extremities. Inhale, then exhale and visualize your temple muscles relaxing. Say the word “calm” in your mind. Repeat this, saying the word with each body part as you move down through your jaw, the sides of your neck, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, and hands. Once you’ve relaxed your hands, visualize all the tension leaving your body through your fingertips in the form of dark smoke.
3. Third pathway – down the back of the body: the final pathway begins at the back of your head. This path relaxes the back of your body. Repeat the breathing visualization- word routine, as above, as you go from the back of your neck to your upper back, middle back, lower back, back of thighs, calves, and heels. Then focus on the acupoint Bubbling Spring , on the soles of your feet, for 1 minute.
• Practice this meditation for at least 15 minutes twice daily, and once before bedtime.
Engaging these points can strengthen digestive function and enhance immunity to prevent candida buildup.
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni