What is Candida?
Candida is the usually invisible, mischief maker that may well be behind many health issues, both physical and mental. It is a tenacious type of yeast that lives in your small intestine and colon. It feeds on sugar and, if it’s numbers get out of control, can cause symptoms that can be both painful and confusing. Tired all the time? Recurrent urinary tract infections? Not so on the ball as you used to be? Think candida - as a possibility at least.
Its medical name is ‘candidiasis’, which basically means out of control candida. Candida albicans is its official name though it is more often known in its shortened form by those whose lives it makes a misery. It is estimated that around 70% of us have it in elevated levels, so it may be time to check what’s going on in your own insides.
Many doctors will tell you that thrush (which is what candida is) is usually found in your gut, in your small and large intestines, as well as in your mouth and vagina. What you may not know, however, is that candida can spread from these areas throughout your whole body, moving its threadlike roots to burrow its way right up to your brain. Your brain fog and mental confusion may well be the result of an invisible invasion. Rubbish memory and can’t remember why you walked from one room to another? Your doctor may tell you it’s all just in your mind. But consider that statement carefully. What exactly might be in your mind? An occupying force perhaps? The candida yeast?
Why do you get Candida?
We all have a certain degree of candida in our bodies - it’s a perfectly normal inhabitant of our microbiome, that vast colony of yeasts, bacteria and viruses that perennially occupy your gut (read more on this in my introduction to gut health series). It’s supposed to be there. And we all have anti-bodies to candida in our blood, which implies that the immune system fends off any low level attack much of the time. Any problem arises only when your immune system gets weak and the candida can break free, spreading like lightning through the tissues of your organs, triggering various problems along the way. This usually happens after an illness or after a hefty dose of antibiotics, which flatten the majority of the ‘good’ gut bacteria that keep the others in balance. Stress can do it too; so can overdosing on sugar in your diet. And remember that sugar is not just an excess of puddings and chocolate. Alcohol, pasta, cakes and potatoes all turn to sugar in your stomach.
What does Candida do?
Not only do excessive levels of candida damage the lining of your gut, letting toxic substances and undigested pieces of food through what was once an impenetrable wall, setting you up for ‘leaky gut’, but they are also thought to be behind symptoms of arthritis, psoriasis, eczema and joint pain. Candida can trigger food allergies and some think it could even be implicated in the development of autism.
For your brain, it can be lethal. It produces toxins that can interfere with the brain, particularly the powerful neurotoxin arabitol, an alcohol that is produced from the reaction of sugars from the food and the yeast in your gut. Depression, confusion, mood swings, anxiety? Think candida.
If you have had repeated bouts of sinusitis, and have to frequently blow your nose, those could both be signs that it may have moved to the upper regions of your body. A study by the Mayo Clinic looked at a group of 210 individuals with chronic sinus infections and found that 96% of them had fungi in their mucus (Mayo Clinic Study Implicates Fungus As Cause Of Chronic Sinusitis; September 10, 1999. Mayo Clinic. Reported in Science Daily)
Symptoms of Candida
Four or more of the following and your odds are high:
· Addiction to sugar and sweet foods
· Low tolerance to alcohol
· Chemical sensitivity
· Sensitivity to smells
· Fungal skin problems eg fungal toe nails, athletes foot or ringworm
· Digestive problems
· Frequent vaginal yeast infections
How can you get rid of Candida?
For a start, starve its food sources. Cut out both the foods you are allergic to and the foods candida loves. Usually they are one and the same - anything with sugar in it, along with alcohol, mushrooms, cheese, bread, fruit and fruit juice.
8 natural solutions to eliminate candida
1 Caprylic acid: Found in coconut and palm oil, this fatty acid is an essential in the fight against the fungi. It is absorbed by your intestinal walls and kills both the yeast form of candida and the more invasive mycelial threads, without harming your good gut bacteria.
2 Goldenseal: This is a powerful anti-fungal that kills bacteria, viruses and parasites. It stops the virulent die-off that you can experience when candida dies, releasing large quantities of toxins in the process.
3 Tea tree oil: In a candida study reported in Phytotherapie, (1985; vol 15) 28 women inserted a suppository of tea tree oil every night for a week. At the end of the period every one of them was clear of the yeast.
4 Wheatgrass: An enema implant of freshly squeezed wheatgrass is another option. Candida seems to love the taste and rushes to feast upon it. Unfortunately for them, wheatgrass contains natural chemicals that rapidly kill the yeast.
5 Probiotics: Make sure you up your dose of probiotics in order to repopulate your gut and get the candida back in its box. Lactobacillus acidophilus dds1 and Bifidobacteria bifidum come highly recommended. Whatever your choice make sure the number on the bottle is a high one (4 billion plus is my dose of choice) and that it can survive the perilous trip through your stomach acid.
6 Oregano oil: My favourite cure all for sore joints and pains also works wonders with Candida. It virtually wipes out any yeast in its vicinity (Journal Appl Nutr 1995;47:96-102). Take 4 drops daily in a glass of water.
7 Powdered Psyllium husks: Add water and swallow it quickly. It forms a solid gel inside your gut that, as it passes through, spring cleans the matter stuck to the walls of your large intestine where most of your bacteria and parasites live. Clear up your colon and clean it out.
8 Book a colonic: Wash the candida out with the water! Or an enema that you can do in the comfort of your own bathroom.
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Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, founder of one of the UK's leading breast cancer charities, Breast Cancer Haven. With over twenty years' experience in holistic health, Sara's digital dose of wellness teaches you to listen to your body, tweak your lifestyle and improve your health.
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