The Truth about Candida Overgrowth and how To Treat It

Guest Post by Mary Vance, NC

candida albicansIs this you?

If you have candida overgrowth, you will experience one (or more) of these signs and symptoms.

  • Powerful sugar cravings
  • Frequent bloating & gas
  • Nail fungus
  • Brain fog, difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Tired & irritable
  • Ance, skin issues, rashes
  • Taking, or have taken, oral contraception
  • Frequent antibiotic use
  • Poor immune health
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Joint pain

Scientists estimate 70% of our population – both men and women – suffer from candida albicans overgrowth. Candida is a form of yeast/fungus that is present in everyone, in the mouth and intestinal tract. Ideally it exists in harmony in your gut along with the trillions of other bacteria that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, but when candida begins to multiply out of control and overtake your good bacteria, trouble arises.

I call it “a good neighborhood gone bad” in the gut. Too much candida not only causes unpleasant symptoms, but as it multiplies, it emits toxins that overwhelm your detox system, and it can penetrate your intestinal wall, causing leaky gut and releasing toxic byproducts into the bloodstream. This can feel pretty rotten. That’s when the headaches, skin rashes, fungus, fatigue, bloating and brain fog kick in. You may be feeling “toxic.”

Candida sabotages your weight loss efforts because of the toxicity and inflammation it causes. And the sugar cravings don’t help either. Candida overgrowth can cause powerful sugar cravings; after all, sugar feeds yeast, so an overgrowth of this bad bacteria can drive you to crave sugar or refined foods. Yeast demands to be fed. And what happens when you indulge? Uncomfortable bloating or gas as the sugar feeds the yeast and a reaction occurs. And it multiplies.

How Do You Get Candida Overgrowth?
• Too much refined sugar, white flour, junk food, cookies/cake/pastries/pasta/candy
• Too much beer and wine
• Antibiotics, which kill off good bacteria and create a ripe environment for yeast to proliferate
• Using birth control pills
• Other parasite infections that damage the gut and allow candida to grow
• Stress: burning the candle at both ends, poor sleep

How Do You Know if You Have Candida Overgrowth?

candida overgrowthThe symptoms listed above are a good indication that you have candida overgrowth. Though you can test for candida via blood, stool, or urine, you can do a candida assessment at home: an easy, free spit test every morning for a few consecutive days.

I recommend anyone experiencing symptoms consider a candida cleanse.

How to Get Rid of Candida for Good

Notice I say “for good.” That’s because candida is hard to kill off. It is excellent at morphing forms and resisting antibiotic herbs. You have to be committed! You’ll feel so much better that it will be worth it. I use a 3-part process to kill candida overgrowth. Starve it, kill, and suffocate it, then heal and reinoculate the gut with good bacteria. Note that you may need to complete this cleanse more than once to completely get rid of it. Plan on 8 weeks.

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Step 1: Starve it.

Eliminate gluten, refined white sugar, soy, processed foods, corn, and ideally grains (gluten free grains can be excepted, but I recommend removing all grains because they break down into sugars and contribute to intestinal inflammation.) You’ll also need to avoid alcohol and sugary beverages; anything fermented (candida feeds on fermentation) such as vinegar, kombucha, and condiments; mushrooms; peanuts; coffee (thins the gut lining); and high sugar fruits (berries and green apple are OK). Focus on organic eggs and animal protein + vegetables and good fats.

  • Consume high quality, hormone-free protein at each meal from sustainable, antibiotic-free sources: Wild, cold water fish; free-range chicken & turkey; properly prepared legumes (soaked); free-range eggs; beef/bison; lamb.
  • Eat plenty of fresh vegetables: lightly cooked, sauteed, steamed, and raw. Focus on leafy greens and cooked cruciferous vegetables.
  • Use good quality fats for cooking: olive oil, coconut oil, ghee. Avoid vegetable oils!
  • Drink filtered water (6 – 8 glasses/day to help flush toxins).
  • Drink 2-3 cups of Pau d’arco herbal tea daily, and bone broth. Bone broth heals the gut and Pau d’Arco helps kill yeast. If you’re bumming about no booze, try a mocktail instead or stick to sparkling mineral water.
  • Take 1 tbsp of coconut oil daily. It’s a powerful yeast killer and boosts metabolism.
  • Take 1 tsp apple cider vinegar in a little water if needed to help digestion and detox. Avoid all other vinegars! Candida feeds on the sugars produced from this type of fermentation.

Step 2: Kill it.candida overgrowth

Along with the diet, you’ll need to take herbs to kill off excess candida. You can start the diet and the herbs at the same time. The supplement should contain all or most of the following: caprylic acid, pau d’arco, berberine, grapefruit seed extract, zinc, biotin, olive leaf extract. I like GI Microbe X. In addition, take oregano oil in capsule form– it’s a natural antibacterial and is relatively sparing of your good bacteria. I recommend using allicillin too. Take the herbs three times daily for at least 6 weeks. If you’ve tried to get rid of candida before unsuccessfully, you may need to rotate between different anti-candida products. Candida builds up a fast resistance to herbs. You can rotate between GI Microbe X, Olive leaf extract, oregano oil, and undecylenic acid. Do this rotation plan if you’ve tried unsuccessfully in the past to kill it off.

Try some stress relief during this phase: meditation, yoga classes, walking, gardening, whatever relaxes and rejuvenates you. You may also use aloe to soothe the gut lining if there is inflammation. A digestive enzyme will help you break down food and excess toxins as the candida dies off. Drinking aloe juice is soothing to the gut and helps kill candida.

NOTE: I also include a biofilm buster in my protocols, for difficult cases and always for the initial month. Biofilms act as a protective shield around yeast and other microorganisms, making it even more challenging to eradicate the yeast, because the anti-fungals/antibiotic herbs cannot get through biofilm matrix. This is how yeast protects itself from being destroyed. I use this Biofilm Buster alongside my herbal protocols.

A word of warning: some people will feel worse before they feel better. If you fee achy, flu-like, or nauseous, you could be reacting to the yeast dying off, which overwhelms your body and your liver detox pathways. This is called a herxheimer reaction. Try a liver support tincture or cut the supplements in half or stop them and gradually start back up again. I also recommend activated charcoal and diatomaceous earth to help rid the body of toxins. Stay motivated and imagine – you could be a different person in 8 weeks! Free from cravings, more energy, and on your way to losing all the weight you want.

Step 3: Suffocate it.

Once you’re finished with the killing phase, it’s time to reinoculate the gut with good bacteria and starve out any remaining yeast. Use a very good quality probiotic, preferably with Saccharomyces boulardii, for 4-8 weeks. You can also use Saccharomyces boulardii during the killing phase, but take it away from the herbs.

Stay as strict as you can with no sugar and booze during the reinoculation period, and don’t return to the gluten and processed foods. You can re-introduce other foods like vinegar, mushrooms, chocolate and small amounts of fruit. I know the candida diet is restrictive, but trust me, it’s worth it to be symptom-free. And once you rebuild your gut with good bacteria, you’ll begin absorbing and producing nutrients properly (that’s right–some vitamins are manufactured in the gut!), which means fewer cravings and deficiencies. If weight loss is your goal, you’ll notice the scale start to shift, too. You can also focus on leaky gut repair during this phase.

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Bonus Step: Detox

Once you’re feeling better and the overgrowth is gone, consider a liver detox. One of the reasons yeast overgrowth can result in acne, rashes, and feeling poorly overall is that the aldehydes, the toxic by-products produced by the yeast, overwhelm your detox system. Once you’ve killed it off, which is another stress on the liver, consider a 21 day detox program to help clean up after the unwanted visitors leave.

For more information read here about the 6 biggest mistakes in treating candida overgrowth.

About the Author

Mary Vance is a certified holistic nutrition consultant. She specializes in women’s health, thyroid health, and digestive wellness. Find her at the one of San Francisco’s amazing farmers’ markets, playing on the beach with her dogs, or creating gluten and dairy free deliciousness in the kitchen. Check out her website at www.maryvancenc.com  for recipes and informative articles on holistic nutrition and wellness, or join the party on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/maryvancenutrition.