Candidiasis is an infection that is caused by a yeast-like fungus called
candida. Its growth is promoted by a warm, moist environment. Candidiasis may
affect the mouth, skin, stomach, vagina, and urinary tract and commonly shows up
as conditions such as diaper rash, vaginitis, and dermatitis. While candida is
normally found in the mouth, skin, intestinal tract, and vagina and does not
cause infections, a buildup of candida will lead to an infection. This buildup
may result from taking certain drugs (antibiotics are a known culprit),
pregnancy, being overweight, or certain health conditions, like immune disorders
and diabetes. Candidiasis is fairly common, especially among women: 75 percent
will get vaginal candidiasis at some point in their lifetime. The good news is
that there are complementary therapies that promote healing and are safe to try
alongside conventional antifungal medications.
Nutrition is at the top of the list. The "candida diet" consists of a
dramatic reduction or complete elimination of alcohol, simple sugars, and
refined foods. Other nutritional therapies include the
Take vitamin C (500 to 1,000 mg per day), vitamin E (200 to 400 IU per
day), and selenium (200 mcg per day) to reduce inflammation.
Incorporate essential fatty acids into your diet to reduce
inflammation. Try a mix of omega-3 (found in evening primrose) and omega-6
(found in flaxseed) fatty acids—2 tablespoons of oil a
day or 1,000 to 1,500 mg in capsule form twice a day. You can also increase your
intake of essential fatty acids by reducing your consumption of animal fats and
increasing your intake of fish and nuts.
Avoid simple carbohydrates, including fruit juice, yeast, and
fermented foods; limit your fruit intake to one serving per day.
Increase your consumption of antifungal spices such as garlic,
oregano, cinnamon, sage, and cloves.
Take calcium (1,000 to 1,500 mg a day). Studies have shown that people
with yeast infections often also have a calcium deficiency. You may want to add
magnesium (750 to 1,000 mg per day) as well to balance your calcium intake.
Herbal remedies may also be effective against candidiasis. Herbs can be taken
as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), or tinctures (alcohol extracts), or
applied topically. Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1
teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or
flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. Tinctures
are preparations made from alcohol (or water and alcohol), containing an herb
strength of 1 part herb to 5 parts solvent or 1 part herb to 10 parts solvent.
Pau d'arco bark is an antifungal. Take as a tea (use 2 tablespoons
herb boiled in one quart of water; drink 3 to 6 cups per day).
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Oregon grape root
(Mahonia nervosa), and barberry (Berberis vulgaris) aid digestion
and improve immune system functioning. Chamomile (Matricaria recicuta)
and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) are anti-inflammatory. Combine all into
a tea or tincture (1 cup of tea three times a day or 30 to 60 drops of tincture
three times daily) and take for six weeks. Note: do not take licorice if you
have high blood pressure.
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) or lavender essential oil
(Lavendula species) can be applied topically two to three times a
Fireweek (Epilobium parviflorum) can be taken as a tea to treat
oral, vaginal, and intestinal candidiasis.
Marigold (Calendula officinalis) can be mixed into a salve
(such as petroleum jelly) and applied three to five times a day for skin rashes.
Most occurrences of candidiasis will respond to treatment within a few days.
Be sure to talk with your physician or pharmacist to best determine which herbal
or nutritional supplements are for you. Some supplements should not be taken if
you have certain medical conditions or are taking particular prescription
Integrative Medicine Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs
& Supplements. Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications;
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