Candida is a naturally occurring yeast. Small amounts of it live in your mouth, intestines and for women, the vagina. It can form into colonies and become a fungus, which attaches to mucous membrane linings.
This image is an example of Candida yeast infection on the tongue. Generally the white coating is lighter than this example.
When your immunity is low, Candida can overgrow and colonise the digestive tract, very often undiagnosed because you cannot see it.
This hidden infection can be identified through a simple urine test that measures the wastes of the Candida. Like all other yeast, Candida produces wastes that are more telltale signs of an infection. More information about this urine test can be found in a later section.
The common symptoms include:
- Bloating, belching or intestinal gas—bloating especially after beer or bread
- Feeling of being “drained” or tired all the time
- Feeling “spacey” or “”foggy headed”
- Vaginal burning, itching or white discharge
- Rectal or Anal itching
- Muscle aches, Muscle weakness, and or joint pains
- Chronic nasal congestion or post nasal drip
- Nasal itching
- Scalp itching
- Athlete’s foot, ringworm, “jock itch” (itching groun area) or other chronic fungus infections of the skin, hair or nails?
- Mouth Ulcers or apthae
- Depression with the above symptoms
- Symptoms worse our damp summer months or in moldy places
- Sweet food cravings, sugar cravings
- Poor memory, or concentration, drowsiness
- Inability to make decisions
- Rashes, or recurrent hives or itching that seems like allergy, often develops as adult
- Abdominal pain
- Irritable bowel, with gas and loose bowel motions
- Loss of sexual desire or feeling
- Premenstrual tension or mood swings
- Shaking or irritable when hungry
- Psoriasis and similar disorders of the skin
- Wheat, sugar, yeast or alcohol sensitivity or intolerance
- Chemical intolerance: exposure to perfumes, insecticides, fabric shop odors, or other chemicals provoke symptoms
Few people have all these symptoms, and many are general. However, Candida is a very common issue.
Factors contributing to the growth of Candida include:
- Use of antibiotics
- Chronic stress, insomnia, or lack of sleep that causes lowered immunity
- Oral contraceptives
- Excessive mercury from fish or mercury dental fillings
- Poor immune function
- Poor digestion
- Overeating (Excess sugars, beer or bread, buns and cookies all feed yeast)
Because the use of antibiotics often trigger Candida overgrowth, the problem is widespread, with many researchers suggesting about one third of our populations treated with antibiotics have this excess of Candida as a chronic problem.
The Problem with Candida (Leaky Gut and Food Intolerances)
Once Candida forms a colony in the digestive tract, it may attach to the mucus membrane lining there. It releases chemicals to dissolve some of the intestinal mucosal lining in order to help it roots into the gut wall. This rooting process causes the gut to become inflamed and the intestinal lining become permeable. This is commonly called “leaky gut”.
Leaky gut is not about diarrhea. It is about the damaged intestinal barrier becoming more permeable and allowing bigger particles to be able to enter the blood. It’s a breach in our defenses, adding load to the immune system and liver.
The damaged intestinal lining allows many poorly digested proteins—from gluten in wheat or casein in dairy products—to get into the blood stream and create a reaction called “food intolerances”.
Food intolerances involve the immune system creating antibodies to these common foods. It’s a further weakening to the immunity, and creates many other symptoms, commonly including sinus congestion, skin rashes, muscle or joint pains.
The IMI Approach
Other bacteria in the small intestine and amoeba parasites can also create havoc to health by causing the same type of damage to the gut lining. One of the principles of naturopathic medicine is to address the underlying cause of a problem in order to get the best result long term. Thus it is important to first identify the type of infections, and not make assumptions based on some symptoms, which is not adequate in terms of making a diagnosis because the symptoms of fungal overgrowth are extremely nonspecific. Testing for the bacteria, archaobacteria, parasites and yeasts are all needed to fully work out which type of infection is in the gut.
Great Plains Laboratory’s IgG Test (a blood test) can identify intolerances to 93 food types. It helps determine if food reactions are contributing to physical or mental symptoms.
The Organic Acids Test (or OAT, a urine test) can look for yeast and fungal toxins, and also many other waste products of metabolism. These byproducts the body discards through the urine can indicate disorders of metabolism including energy production, the presence of Candida or bacterial overgrowth and many other issues. Here's a case study.
Our naturopaths and homeopaths will look for its cause. In the case of Candida or a fungal/yeast infection, our practitioners will use a combination of dietary modification and nutritional supplements and regularly monitor on your overall wellness for the anti-fungal program.