Overcoming Candida

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Everyone has candida (Candida albicans), a type of yeast normally kept under control by good health. candida overgrowth causes numerous unpleasant symptoms and can destroy your health if left untreated. This condition, otherwise known as candidiasis, is most often caused by using antibiotics, which suppresses normal intestinal bacteria, promotes yeast overgrowth and suppresses the immune system. Other pharmaceuticals and a poor diet can also contribute to candidiasis.

To get rid of candida, avoid simple carbohydrates, sugars, yeast, foods with mold, gluten, peanuts, alcohol and milk products. Limit your intake of high carbohydrate foods like potatoes and corn.

You can eat all other vegetables, legumes, raw seeds and nuts in the shell, berries, two to three servings of apples and pears and whole non-glutinous grains. Avoid all common food allergens since they can weaken the immune system, allowing candida to overgrow. Herbalist Terry Willard recommends avoiding all soy products for one month and after that eating them freely. Controlling Candida

Supplementing with acidophilus is crucial to getting rid of candida. This probiotic replaces the friendly flora in the gut, killing off the yeast and improving digestion and absorption of nutrients, correcting a weakened immune system and any nutritional deficiencies.

Also look for bifidus, another important probiotic that most people with candida do not have in sufficient amounts. Other helpful strains include: S Thermophilus, L Acidophilus, Bifido Longum, Bifido Infantis, Bifido Breve, L Bulgaricus, L Casei and Plantarum.

Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) feed friendly flora, enabling more of it to reach the gut. Studies show that FOS increase good bacteria, while simultaneously reducing bad bacteria. Look for cultures that are dairy-free.

An excellent choice in fighting candida is grapefruit seed extract. It is wonderful for getting rid of systemic candida that has spread throughout the body. Caprylic acid is another natural weapon against candida. It has been proven to have strong antifungal properties. The hulls of the black walnut are also known to have strong antifungal and antiparasitic activity. Like caprylic acid, they have been traditionally used for this purpose.

Garlic is an extremely powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal agent that has been shown to be effective in treating candida. Garlic juice has broad antifungal and anti-yeast properties.

You may also wish to try pau d'arco, traditionally derived from the South American lapacho tree. Several studies have revealed its strong anti-candida properties. The inner bark of pau d'arco contains natural antibacterial and antifungal agents that can be especially valuable to those with candida.

Improve Your Immunity

To strengthen your immune system, add echinacea to your health program, one of the most extensively researched herbs for stimulating the body's natural defences. Echinacea has also been shown to significantly reduce recurrence of vulvovaginal candida. The herb suma is another option for enhancing immune function and increasing energy and resistance to stress.

Also be sure to consume plenty of fibre to ensure clean bowels. Undigested material that is left to sit in the colon can ferment, leading to yeast overgrowth. Fibre also positively affects the balance of good and bad bacteria.

It is also an important idea to supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals. These help correct any nutritional deficiencies that weakened your immune system and allow candida to grow. Of particular use are antioxidants like beta-carotene and selenium, which restore normal immune function and combat free radicals. Beta-carotene also protects the body's mucous membranes, one of the very areas where candida occurs.

A good candida program should also support the liver: the body's main organ of detoxification. Consider herbs like milk thistle and dandelion root.

And, lastly, be sure to support digestion with enzymes or bitters. It is important to rebuild the gut and intestinal walls to heal the damage caused by candida and to prevent a recurrence. Many candida suffers overlook this step in their treatment and find themselves succumbing once again to candida overgrowth. Some of the key nutrients for rebuilding a healthy gut include the B vitamins, vitamin C (as calcium ascorbate), minerals, flax seed oil, glutamine, zinc, deglycyrrhized licorice and MSM.

Linda Woolyen is a chartered herbalist and creator of the newsletter The Natural Path.

For more in-depth information about this subject, read Nature's Own Candida Cure, by Dr William Crook, published by alive books (800) 661-0303. Available in health food stores.

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By Linda Woolven