Candidiasis

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Candidiasis, or Candida albicans is the most prominent fungal infection and it is commonly associated with both acute and chronic diseases. All fungal infections grow better when the immune system is weaker. Aging individuals tend to have weaker immune systems, accounting for the higher rate of fungal infections with increased age. Candida is a yeast infestation that begins in the digestive system. It is a strong, invasive fungus that attaches to the intestinal wall and can spread to other areas of the body (sinuses, ears, reproductive tract). Candida overgrowth has been shown to cause symptoms in nearly every body system with the most noted symptoms arising from the gastrointestinal, genitourinary, endocrine, nervous, and immune systems.[1]

Candidiasis
Causes Dietary Factors, Antibiotics, Heavy Metals, Stress
See Also Infections / Allergies / Sensitivities, Women's Health, Insulin Resistance
Books Books on Infections, Allergies, Intolerances
Articles Articles on Infections / Allergies / Sensitivities

Naturopathic Assessment

Check out this book Conquer Candida and Restore Your Immune System: A Guide to the Naturopathic Science of Healing


Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. Candida is found in virtually all normal, healthy individuals but causes problems when overgrowth occurs. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to the fungal overgrowth and Candida infection.

Lifestyle

  • Douching increases the risk of vulvovaginal candidiasis.[3]

Social

  • Increased amounts of stress can depress the immune system in trigger candidiasis.[1]
  • Decreased satisfaction with life and poor self-esteem are risk factors for chronic candidiasis.[3]
  • Sexual Practices
  • Receiving orogenital sex more than twice a week increases the risk of vulvovaginal candidiasis.[3]
  • High number of lifetime sex partners, intercourse during menstruation, and anal intercourse all increase the risk of vulvovaginal candidiasis.[3]

Environmental

  • Environmental toxins can increase the likelihood of candida and can impede the healing from Candida infections.
  • Heavy metal exposure to mercury and an intestinal C. albicans overgrowth, leads to a much higher chance of developing symptoms of mercury toxicity. This is because C albicans converts elemental mercury into methyl mercury in the intestines, and while only approximately 5% of elemental mercury is retained in the body (the rest is evacuated in the feces), approximately 95% of methyl mercury is retained in the body. Thus, when a person has both an intestinal overgrowth of C albicans, and mercury amalgam fillings they are much more likely to develop mercury toxicity.[4]

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Antibiotic medications attack both good and bad bacteria, therefore changing the normal balance of flora and predisposing tissues to candida overgrowth.[1]
Article The Pathogenesis of Candida albicans in Andropausal Hormonal balance , NDNR [1], 2011 November
  • The use of oral contraceptives (typically those with higher estrogen content) increases the risk of vulvovaginal candidiasis.[3]
  • Medical Treatments
  • Therapies that suppress the immune system can predispose individuals to candida overgrowth.[5]

Physiology

  • Problems with digestion, including chronic constipation, and decreased digestive secretions are predisposing factors for candida overgrowth.[1]

Diagnostic Testing

A case taking and physical examination by a knowledgeable health care practitioner is the best tool for evaluating the likelihood of identifying a candida related condition. Specific diagnostic tests that may be helpful include:[1]

Article Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, NDNR; 2013 January
  • Comprehensive Stool and Digestive analysis (CDSA) to differentiate between leaky gut syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and candida overgrowth.
  • Antibody and Antigen levels can help to confirm candida levels.

In the case of a classic vaginal yeast infection presentation, the following testing is indicated:

  • Pelvic examination
  • Wet mount microscopic KOH test

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Candida infection is associated with a number of conditions such as:

Article Candidiasis and dysbiosis in children with autistic spectrum disorders: Assessment and treatment strategies, IHP, Dec/Jan 2009

Characteristics

  • Yeast Infection (Vulvovaginal Candidiasis)
Popular use of the term yeast infection typically refers to a vulvovaginal candidiasis. This condition involves yeast overgrowth in the vulvovaginal area, typically presenting with a cottage cheese-like discharge, vaginal soreness, vulvar swelling, dysuria, and itching. Despite the local nature of the symptoms in vulvovaginal candidiasis, there is evidence that candida colonization of the large intestine is associated with recurrent infection and needs to be addressed in order to prevent chronic flare ups. Symptoms may be the direct result of overgrowth, or may be attributed to hypersensitivity to candida.[6]
  • General Candida Overgrowth
After tissues are infected by candida, they commonly respond by becoming overactive, resulting in an increased production of tissue products and local inflammation. For example, when the liver is infected, it creates more cholesterol; the pancrease produces more insulin, leading to obesity; the adrenal gland, which is two glands in one, may produce a variety of hormones, such as adrenalin and norepinephrine which can result in insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, high blood pressure etc. After a period of overactivity, the affected tissues become exhausted, resulting in chronic under-functioning.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of candida overgrowth include:[1]

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Candida is considered both an acute and chronic disease, depending on the individual.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include:

  • Focus on Prevention
  • Eliminate the use of antibiotics, steroids, immune-suppressing drugs, and birth control pills (unless there is absolute medical necessity).[5]
  • Avoid tight fitting clothing and pantyhose.[2]
  • Use condoms to maintain normal vaginal pH and prevent all types of vaginitis.[2]
  • Determine if you have allergies to any of the following: food, pollen, clothing detergent, semen. This is especially important in recurrent cases.[2]
  • In the case of vaginal candidiasis, individuals should avoid tight fitting pantyhouse or underwear, and wear only natural fibre undergarments.[2]
  • Avoid douching.[3]

Lifestyle

Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Do not eat foods high in sugar or simple carbohydrates.
  • Do not eat foods with a high content of yeast or mold, including alcoholic beverages, cheeses, dried fruits, melons, peanuts and fermented foods.[5]
  • Reduce or avoid milk and milk products because of their high content of lactose (milk sugar) and trace levels of antibiotics,[5] however 8 oz of unsweetened acidophilus yogurt daily can be beneficial.[2]
  • Avoid all known or suspected food allergies and food intolerances.
  • Increase dietary intake of garlic.[2]
  • increase raw vegetables, whole grains and the following fruits: apples, blueberries, cherries, pears and berries.
  • Ensure you drink adequate water.
  • Candidiasis is yet one more reason to stop smoking.[3]
  • An exercise regimen aimed at achieving a healthy BMI can help to prevent recurrence of candida infection.[3]
  • Relaxation and stress reduction techniques, including yoga, guided imagery, and self hypnosis may improve immune status in patients under high levels of stress.[3]

Naturopathic Therapies

Naturopathic Therapies for Candidiasis include:

  • According to TCM theory, Candidiasis can be caused by the following: Blood deficiency, Damp heat in the lower burner and liver channel, Lung and kidney qi deficiency, Liver qi stagnation, or Damp and phlegm in the middle burner.[10]

References

Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [2]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Murray MT, Bongiorno PB (2006) Pizzorno Textbook of Natural Medicine 3rd ed Chap 52 Chronic Candidiasis Elsevier.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Hudson T (2007) Women's Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine: Alternative Therapies and Integrative Medicine for Total Health. McGraw-Hill.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Hirekatur RS (2012) Rakel: Integrative Medicine Chap 21 Recurrent Yeast Infections Elsevier
  4. Crinnion Walter (2004) Heavy Metal Day Audio recording from Tree Farm Communications.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Murray Michael 1996 Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements, The Essential Guide for Improving Your Health Naturally Prima Publishing
  6. 6.0 6.1 Birdsall T (1997) Gastrointestinal Candidiasis: Fact or Fiction? Alt Med Rev 2(5):346-354
  7. Lu Henry (1986) Chinese System of Food Cures, prevention and remedies Sterling Publishing Co. New York.
  8. Hoffman D (2003) Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press
  9. Lockie A, Geddes N (2000) The Complete Guide to Homeopathy: The Principles and Practice of Treatment With a Comprehensive Range of Self-Help Remedies for Common Ailments. Houghton Mifflin Company.
  10. Kuoch DJ (2011) Acupuncture Desk Reference Volume 2 2ND EDITION Acumedwest