Candida overgrowth is a health concern that affects many people with persistent symptoms like fatigue, sugar cravings, digestive issues, and recurrent yeast infections. While these symptoms may be common, they’re definitely not normal. This article delves into the contributing causes and potential solutions for Candida overgrowth. While mainstream medicine offers anti-fungal medications, The Wellness Way goes deeper and considers dietary changes, herbal remedies, and lifestyle changes that can bring Candida back into balance.
What is Candida Overgrowth?
Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeast species belonging to the Candida genus. There are about 20 candida species, but Candida albicans is the most common cause of Candidiasis.  However, other types of yeasts can also cause similar infections. Candida yeast is usually present in small amounts in various parts of the body, including the skin, mouth, throat, digestive, and genital tracts.  Candida can overgrow when there’s a disruption in the balance of microorganisms in the body, leading to an infection or imbalance.
An overgrowth of candida can occur in different forms and affect various areas of the body. Mainstream medicine acknowledges the following as the main types of Candidiasis: 
- Oral Thrush: This form of candidiasis affects the mouth and throat, leading to white, creamy, or yellowish patches on the tongue, inner cheeks, and the back of the throat. It’s more common in infants, older people, and those with weakened immune systems.
- Genital Yeast Infection: Candidiasis can affect the genital area in both men and women. It’s commonly called a vaginal yeast infection in women and causes itching, burning, and a white, cottage cheese-like discharge. In men, it can lead to redness and itching on the penis.
- Cutaneous (Skin) Candidiasis: This infection affects the skin and can occur in warm, moist body areas, such as the armpits and groin. It can result in a red, itchy, and sometimes pimple-like rash.
- Invasive Candidiasis: Invasive candidiasis is a severe and potentially life-threatening infection that occurs when yeast enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body. It affects individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing cancer treatment, organ transplantation, or intensive care patients. It’s rare but has a mortality rate of 40 to 55%. 
However, candida overgrowth is common in stool test results. Intestinal candida overgrowth that tends to accompany dysbiosis may or may not appear in these other specific locations.
Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth
The symptoms of candida overgrowth can vary widely, depending on the type and severity. Some of the general symptoms of candida overgrowth include:
- Brain fog
- Sugar cravings
- Hormone imbalance
- Intestinal problems: constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, etc.
- Mood disorders, including anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings.
- Recurrent infections like UTIs (urinary tract infections), sinus infections, or vaginal yeast infections.
- Skin or nail fungus like athlete’s foot
Here are some symptoms specific to the type of candida overgrowth:
- White, creamy, or yellowish patches on the tongue, inner cheeks, and the back of the throat
- Soreness and redness in the affected areas
- Difficulty swallowing, primarily if the infection extends to the throat
Genital Yeast Infection (Vaginal Yeast Infection in Women):
Vaginal infections or “vulvovaginal candidiasis” may cause the following symptoms:
- Vaginal itching or burning (may also occur around the vulva)
- A white, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
- Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Pain or burning during urination
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
Genital Yeast Infection (in Men):
- Redness and itching on the penis, often on the glans or under the foreskin
- Discomfort and irritation
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
Cutaneous (Skin) Candidiasis:
- A red, itchy rash that may have pimple-like bumps
- The rash typically develops in warm, moist areas, such as the armpits, groin, under the breasts, or between the toes
Again, invasive candidiasis can be life-threatening. Because the infection is in the bloodstream, invasive candidiasis typically involves systemic symptoms rather than noticeable rashes or localized pain:
- Low blood pressure
It’s important to note that the symptoms of general candidiasis can overlap with other health conditions. If you have symptoms that line up with candidiasis or dysbiosis, be sure to consult with a healthcare provider to figure out the type of infection and how best to address it.
How is Candida Overgrowth Diagnosed?
Diagnosing Candida overgrowth can be challenging because its symptoms are non-specific and can mimic other medical conditions. Diagnosis typically involves clinical assessment, medical history, and specific tests. Here are some standard methods used to diagnose Candida overgrowth: 
- Clinical Assessment and Medical History: A healthcare provider will take a detailed medical history, including information about your symptoms, previous health conditions, and any recent use of antibiotics or other medications.
- Physical Examination: They will also perform a physical examination to check for signs of Candida overgrowth, such as oral thrush or vaginal yeast infections.
- Candida Questionnaires: Some healthcare providers use questionnaires to assess the likelihood of Candida overgrowth based on the reported symptoms. Examples include the Candida Questionnaire or the Comprehensive Yeast Overgrowth (Candidiasis) Questionnaire.
- Laboratory Tests: Lab tests can provide more evidence of Candida overgrowth. Common tests include:
- Stool Test: This test can detect the presence of Candida in the stool, which may indicate an overgrowth in the digestive system.
- Blood Tests: Anti-Candida antibodies can be measured in the blood to determine if the immune system is reacting to Candida.
Candida overgrowth is controversial in the medical field. Some providers don’t consider it a potential cause of various symptoms and emphasize the need for evidence-based medicine. Part of that is due to the difference between the fireman and carpenter thinking in their approach to healthcare.
The Fireman vs. The Carpenter in Healthcare
At The Wellness Way, we talk about the mainstream perspective on healthcare versus our perspective, referring to these methods as the “fireman approach” versus the “carpenter approach.”
Mainstream “fireman” doctors have two tools (treatment options) to take care of people: an axe and a hose. The axe represents cutting things out during a surgical procedure. The hose represents using medications to extinguish the “flames”: inflammation, pain, and other symptoms.
Wellness Way doctors are more like carpenters: They assess the current state of the body with testing and then create a personalized plan to rebuild using nutrients from foods and supplements. Sunshine, rest, and positive relationships are other natural therapies that help with healing.
While these things are considered “complementary medicine” or even “alternative medicine,” scientific research backs up their effectiveness in healing.
Mainstream Medicine’s Approach to Candida Overgrowth
Mainstream medicine rarely acknowledges candida overgrowth in the intestinal tract. They really only diagnose and treat obvious forms, like thrush, skin infections, genital infections, throat infections, or the dangerous invasive candidiasis that spreads through the bloodstream.
Medications for Candida Overgrowth
Treatment for candida overgrowth (candidiasis) typically involves antifungal drugs, which may be administered orally, topically, or intravenously, depending on the severity and location of the infection. Here are some of the most common meds for a candida infection: 
- Antifungal Ointments or Creams: These are often used for mild to moderate cases of Candidiasis, such as vaginal yeast infections (vaginal candidiasis) or skin yeast infections. Common over-the-counter options include clotrimazole (FungiCURE and others), miconazole (Azolen and many others), and terbinafine (LamISIL AT and others). Prescription-strength antifungal creams like nystatin (Nyamyc, Nystop) are available for more severe or stubborn infections.
- Oral Antifungal Medications: Fluconazole (Diflucan) is one of the most widely used anti-fungal drugs. It’s prescribed for several types of Candidiasis, including vaginal, oral, and systemic infections. Itraconazole (Sporanox, Tolsura, and others) may be used when fluconazole isn’t working or if the infection is resistant to fluconazole.
- Vaginal suppositories: In addition to over-the-counter creams, healthcare providers may prescribe pharmaceutical-strength suppositories or creams for more severe or recurrent vaginal yeast infections. An example is a miconazole suppository.
- Intravenous (IV) Antifungal Medications: For severe systemic Candidiasis, especially in cases where the infection has spread to the bloodstream or vital organs, doctors may prescribe antifungal drugs like amphotericin B (Fungizone) or caspofungin (Cancidas) in a hospital setting.
In addition to medications, lifestyle and hygiene measures may be recommended to help prevent recurrence. It’s important to note that overuse or misuse of antifungal medications can lead to drug resistance. These pharmaceuticals may help by eliminating the infection, but they don’t address why the overgrowth happened in the first place. After conventional treatments fail, many people seek out home remedies or other holistic ways to address Candida overgrowth.
What Causes Candida Overgrowth? Traumas, Toxins, and Thoughts
At The Wellness Way, we think differently! The most significant contributor to candida overgrowth is eating too much sugar! However, other physical, biochemical, and emotional stressors also play a part. Estrogen dominance is very much connected with intestinal candida overgrowth and vaginal yeast infections.
Traumas (Physical Stressors)
Traumas or physical stressors can be acute (like a car accident) or chronic (like being in a physically abusive relationship). Examples of traumas that could contribute to candidiasis include the following:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual assault/rape
- Car accidents
- Severe illness or infection
- Having a baby (Pregnancy hormone changes increase the risk of candida overgrowth)
These physical traumas may set off a state of chronic stress within the body. The result may be a blood sugar imbalance and an increased risk of candidiasis.
Toxins (Biochemical Stressors)
Toxins are biochemical stressors in the body. Toxicity promotes inflammation and damage to cells in the body, affecting the immune response. Examples of toxins that could contribute to candida overgrowth include:
- Sugar – Excessive sugar consumption can lead to candida overgrowth by directly feeding the infection. 
- Medications – Antibiotics are a classic contributor to candidiasis as they can wipe out good bacteria strains and allow candida to overgrow.  Oral contraceptives and estrogen replacement therapy can also contribute to candida overgrowth by increasing estrogen levels.  Oral candidiasis is associated with inhaled steroids, such as those used by asthmatics. 
- Food allergies – Healthy foods can act like toxins if you’re allergic to them. Continuing to eat foods you’re allergic to can lead to chronic inflammation, poor digestion, and blood sugar imbalance, creating the perfect environment for candida to flourish. 
- Gut dysbiosis – Intestinal dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria) may also contribute to candida overgrowth. 
Traumas and toxins are made worse by negative thought patterns and emotional stress.
Thoughts (Emotional Stressors)
Don’t underestimate the power of your thoughts. Emotional stress is just as powerful (or more powerful) than physical and biochemical stressors in triggering inflammation and imbalance. Emotional stress can come from the following:
- Relationship issues – Relationships can turn toxic, leading to chronic stress. Prolonged stress can lead to dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which can, in turn, affect blood sugar levels and the immune response, opening the door to opportunistic infections like candida albicans. 
- Financial stress – Financial struggles can lead to dysbiosis and chronic infections due to the long-term effects of stress and cortisol.
- Watching the news – The mainstream media rarely focuses on the positive. Regularly exposing yourself to bad news increases fear, worry, and overall stress.
- Feeling overwhelmed – Stress from significant life changes, like a recent marriage, a new baby, graduation, a divorce, or even moving to a new city, can lead to gut dysbiosis and chronic infections.
- Holding a grudge/pent-up anger – Holding a grudge creates stress in the body.
- A death in the family or a close friend – Grief is another form of stress that may create imbalances in the body.
- Military combat – PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) or PTSD from other causes can create a chronic sense of dis-ease in the body.
- Witnessing violence or a natural disaster – Being a witness to a mass shooting, murder, accident, or natural disaster is another potential cause of PTSD that may cause lasting imbalances.
The cumulative effect of these traumas, toxins, and thoughts can create inflammation and increase the risk of dis-ease anywhere in the body.
The Wellness Way Approach to Candida Overgrowth
At The Wellness Way, we dig deeper to solve the health challenges others can’t. We don’t just address symptoms; we run tests to find out what’s going on behind the scenes.
Essential Tests for Assessing Gut Health and Infections
Your Wellness Way practitioner will order more tests based on what he or she considers most relevant based on your health history.
Dietary Changes for Those with Candida Overgrowth
First, focus on lowering sugar intake and improving digestion. That means avoiding food allergies and following a personalized nutrition program, as the Wellness Way practitioner recommends. Here are some general dietary guidelines for those with candida overgrowth.
- No sugar or processed foods – Both increase inflammation and contribute to gut dysbiosis. Diabetics are also at a greater risk of developing candidiasis. 
- Gluten-free, mostly grain-free – Gluten is known to aggravate the gut lining, contributing to chronic inflammation throughout the body. Gluten combined with candida overgrowth may set the stage for Celiac disease in genetically susceptible individuals. 
- Consume an overall low carbohydrate, non-inflammatory diet of organic whole foods, which supply nutrients, antioxidants, and food for a healthy gut microbiome. 
- A ketogenic diet – Your practitioner may recommend a ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that can favorably change the gut microbiome. In one case report it helped a woman overcome candida vulvovaginitis. 
- No cow’s milk dairy products – Goat and sheep’s milk products may be better tolerated. In fact, they may even be beneficial in lowering inflammation in the gut, which makes up a large part of the inflammatory response.  The lactose in dairy may also contribute to candida overgrowth. 
- Avoid high omega-6 vegetable oils, like corn, canola, soybean, cottonseed oil, sunflower, grapeseed, and others, which can alter the omega-6 to omega-3 balance to be more inflammatory.  Instead, use fruit oils like olive, coconut, avocado, and palm oil or animal fats like beef tallow, bacon grease, and duck fat. Coconut oil may help fight candida infections due to its caprylic acid content. 
- Eat omega-3-rich foods – Wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, walnuts, and ground flaxseeds provide omega-3s and help lower inflammation. 
- Follow a Personalized Nutrition Program based on your food allergy test results.
- Add specific nutrient-dense foods: Add Liver/organ meats, sauerkraut, and microgreens for enhanced nutrition. Liver is nature’s multivitamin, according to Dr. Patrick Flynn.
- Focus on antioxidants – Including things like turmeric, green tea, berries, dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables, and other foods rich in phytochemicals helps keep inflammation under control. They also support a healthy microbiome. 
- Sweeten with xylitol – Xylitol is a non-caloric sweetener that was found to have anti-fungal activity against candida albicans. 
A healthy diet can reduce inflammation and support gut health, but supplements can go further to support the immune response.
Supplements to Help Those Fighting Candida Overgrowth
Herbal supplements and other nutritional supplements can support the body in overcoming infections like Candidiasis. While everyone is different, some supplements The Wellness Way may use to support those dealing with candida overgrowth may include one or more of the following:
- Megabiotic Formula – Probiotic supplements like this blend of highly researched strains can help keep infections and inflammation under control in the gut and throughout the body. Lactobacillus acidophilus and other lactobacillus species can help re-establish balance in the GI and the other mucus membranes. 
- Japanese Knotweed or Resveratrol – Japanese Knotweed is the best source of the antioxidant compound resveratrol. Resveratrol is known for its anti-inflammatory properties but has potent anti-fungal activity against candida albicans. 
- Oregon Grape – Oregon grape is an excellent source of berberine, a compound known for its positive effects on the cardiovascular system, metabolism, and infections. It specifically has activity against candida albicans. 
- Goldenseal – Berberine is also a key ingredient in goldenseal, another plant with strong antibacterial and antifungal activity. 
- Wormwood – A 2014 study concluded that wormwood A. absinthium essential oil inhibits the growth of Candida albicans. 
- Gymnema – Gymnema is known for its positive effects on blood sugar balance and sugar cravings. A 2013 study showed gymnemic acids in Gymnema sylvestre could limit the spread of Candida. 
- Green Tea Extract – Green tea is a rich source of a polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has antifungal activity against candida albicans.  Our Green Tea Extract capsules have EGCG and other green tea polyphenols.
- Betaine HCl –Hydrochloric acid in the stomach helps to break down foods into their most basic components. Low stomach acid opens the doors to dysbiosis, nutritional deficiencies, and many infections. The supplement Betaine Hydrochloride (Betaine HCl) contains betaine and hydrochloric acid. It supports normal stomach acid production, guarding against candida and other infections. 
- Aloe Vera – Aloe vera extract also has antifungal activity against Candida.  Drinking aloe vera juice may fight candida while promoting gut health.
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV) – A high-quality apple cider vinegar may also be helpful. ACV was shown to have antimicrobial effects against candida in a 2018 study. 
Every person is different – herbal remedies that work for one person may not work for another. Part of that is due to body chemistry, including genetics and allergenic responses, and part is due to differences in the contributing causes of each case of candida overgrowth.
Lifestyle Changes & Complementary Therapies for Candida Overgrowth
Other natural treatments for supporting the body in overcoming candida overgrowth include:
- Essential oils – Certain essential oils, like tea tree oil, mint, basil, lavender, and oregano oil have antimicrobial and antifungal properties that may help fight candida overgrowth. They may even work better than the drugs typically used. 
- Boric acid – Boric acid comes in an over-the-counter suppository that many women use as an at-home remedy for vaginal yeast infections. A commonly referenced study from the 1980s found boric acid was 92% effective at 7 to 10 days (about 1 and a half weeks) after treatment. 
- Reduce stress – Stress can suppress the immune response, allowing infections to spread and recur.  Find what lowers stress for you, whether it’s music therapy, artistic endeavors, ecotherapy (time spent outside), or even playing with children.
- Increase physical activity – Regular exercise helps the body in many ways, including oxygenation and improving the immune response.
- Get adequate sleep – Women need more sleep than men! Make sure you go to bed by 10 p.m. to reduce blue light exposure at night. Sleep is vital for a healthy immune response.
Be a well-informed patient! Here are some resources for learning more about blood sugar imbalance, candida overgrowth, and supporting the immune response.
Educational Resources for Learning About Candida Overgrowth
Videos & Webinars Related to Candida Overgrowth
Articles to Support Those Addressing Candida Overgrowth
CONNECT WITH US
We invite you to connect with us! Find an event at a clinic near you! Follow us on social media. Tune in to A Different Perspective each Saturday morning LIVE to get cutting-edge training directly from Dr. Patrick Flynn. Set up a no-obligation health consult with one of our doctors today. The best is yet to come! Think differently – and THRIVE. Reach out to a Wellness Way clinic today to get thorough testing and start on your health journey. We are here to help!
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