Intestinal candida has been a hot topic in the past couple of years. There have been many claims about intestinal candida including suggestions that everyone should be on an anti-candida diet. Candida overgrowth can be responsible for many of the symptoms that are lingering after other treatments have failed. It’s important to understand the possible effects of an overgrowth of candida in the intestines, so that you can be educated on the questions you should be asking your physician about whether or not candida is a problem for you.
Candida in general is a fungal infection. It is normal to have small amounts of candida on our skin or in our GI tract, but when it gets out of balance it can wreak havoc on our health. Candida is a difficult diagnosis to make, because it can cause many symptoms throughout the entire body, many of them mimicking other types of diseases.
Local symptoms that occur with candida will usually present in the area the candida is directly located. For example, candida on the skin will produce a skin rash, often itchy and red. Candida in the intestines can aggravate or cause symptoms like acid reflux, gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or stomach pain and indigestion.
There can also be systemic symptoms with candida. This is usually not from candida in the blood (as some will say), but rather from a reaction of absorbed metabolites from breakdown of yeast in the intestines. These by-products of the breakdown are absorbed in the intestines and create immune responses that can trigger symptoms elsewhere in the body. These symptoms commonly include an inability to focus, difficulty with memory, brain fog, headaches, cravings for sweets and simple carbohydrates, general itchiness in the skin or eyes or persistent sinus congestion.
It is important to note though that all of these symptoms can be indicative of other diseases going on in the body, and it is important to have them evaluated by a knowledgeable physician. Once candida is suspected though, there are many things that can be done to help reduce the load on your body.
When treating candida, there are usually 3 important rules to follow. The first is to reduce things that feed the yeast, which will decrease its ability to grow and multiply. Things that feed yeast are often sugary products or yeast containing foods. During this time, it is important to reduce foods that contain sugar, simple carbohydrates, or yeast. This includes a majority of sweets, grains and yeasted products such as breads and alcohol.
The second important thing to do when treating yeast is to supplement with an herb or medication that kills the yeast. Sometimes it is not enough to just starve it to death, you have to provide a mechanism to kill off the yeast that is there. This can be done with oral anti-fungal medications prescribed by your doctor, or it can from herbs such as berberine, grapefruit seed extract and olive leaf extract, that are known for their anti-fungal properties. It is always important to have these medications or supplements regulated by a physician that can monitor your symptoms and make sure you are taking the right doses.
The final thing that needs to be incorporated into any yeast treatment are things that heal the inflammation in the intestines. When yeast dies off, it often creates an inflammatory response in the body. This can cause damage to the intestines and needs to be soothed or healed. There are a wide variety of herbs and supplements that are anti-inflammatory in the GI tract.
While many of these things are helpful for treating a yeast infection, it is important to note that often people will feel a worsening of symptoms after beginning a yeast treatment. This is mostly due to the by-products that are created when the yeast die off. This creates inflammation which aggravates the symptoms already present. This aggravation of symptoms shouldn’t last more than 1-2 weeks, and should be under the careful eye of a physician to make sure that serious symptoms aren’t severely aggravated.
If you think that you might have an intestinal candida overgrowth, or have GI symptoms that haven’t been improved with other treatments, our knowledgeable physicians on staff are happy to speak with you. Call our office today for a free 10 minute consultation!