12 Signs That You Have Candida & How to Treat it

December 28, 2017

Candida is a microörganism classified as a fungus and is the most common cause of fungal infections worldwide. (Manolakaki, 2010)  Candida overgrowth might lead to infection, also referred to as Candidiasis.

There are over 20 species of Candida yeasts that can cause infection in humans, the most common of which is Candida albicans. Candida can affect and grow in several areas in our body. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, candida yeasts normally found in small amounts in the intestinal tract and can be found on mucous membranes and/or the skin without causing infection. (CDC, 2017) However, overgrowth of candida, due to several factors, can cause an infection that can affect the skin, nails, digestion, and brain function. It can also cause chronic inflammation

 

How common is candida overgrowth?

Candida overgrowth is more common than you think. From our experience, as well as several studies, a large portion of the population have candida in their gut, skin, and nails of their feet. Even if you’re someone who is relatively healthy and does not get sick easily, studies show that you may still have a chronic, low-grade Candida infection and you won’t even know it. A study published at 2016 tested female students without symptoms of candida. The researchers found that 45.0% of the students between the age of 23 to 25 had candida overgrowth. (Dan, Poch, & Levin, 2002) Overgrowth of candida might lead to many symptoms and is underdiagnosed by many doctors.

 

There are over 20 species of Candida yeasts that can cause infection in humans, the most common of which is Candida albicans. Candida can affect and grow in several areas in our body. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, candida yeasts normally found in small amounts in the intestinal tract and can be found on mucous membranes and/or the skin without causing infection. (CDC, 2017) However, overgrowth of candida, due to several factors, can cause an infection that can affect the skin, nails, digestion, and brain function. It can also cause chronic inflammation

 

Signs that you have candida:

 

  1. Chronic inflammation - Studies found that overgrowth of candida is associated with elevated levels of Interleukin 17A, a cytokine that increases inflammation. (Kumamoto, 2011) We estimate that many patients that are suffering from chronic inflammation, such as arthritis and pain, have candida. Majority of your immune cells are in your gut and this fungi can trigger an immune reaction that might lead to chronic inflammation.

  2. Chronic fatigue. Candida is suspected to be a cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. (Cater, 1995) From our experience, we estimate that the candida’s toxic byproduct of its metabolism are causing us to feel tired, physically and perhaps even emotionally.

  3. Brain fog, decline memory, poor concentration, and cognitive decline - The fungi candida is estimated to affect your brain function through the ‘gut-brain connection.’ By damaging your gut, the candida might affect your brain. Also, candida secretes toxins as a byproduct of its metabolism that creates different symptoms. A study that that evaluated 947 patients found an association between candida and cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. (Serverance, 2016)

  4. Digestion problems - could be caused by candida. Over the years we have been in practice, we have found candida overgrowth in patients with bloating, gas, constipation, and abdominal discomfort or pain. When we cleared the candida, using our anti-candida protocol, the symptoms cleared. Although studies show that irritable bowel syndrome was not associated with candida overgrowth, however patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis were found to have candida overgrowth. (Middleton et al., 1992, Standaert-Vitse et al., 2009, Ksiadzyna et al., 2009)

  5. Low immune function - Studies show that candida albicans infection might suppress the function of T cell and natural killer (NK) cell. These cells regulate the immune system and prevent chronic inflammation or an attack of the immune cells against the body. It is estimated that dysfunction or deficiency of these cells might lead to the development of autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, or atherosclerosis, as well as several types of cancer. (Cater, 1995)

  6. Vaginal itching or soreness, pain during sexual intercourse, pain or discomfort when urinating, or abnormal vaginal discharge might indicate vaginal candida infection. (Goncalves, 2016)

  7. Skin and nail fungal infection, also called cutaneus candidiasis, can cause red or purplish rounds patches, which could be scaling or itchy like a rash. It can also infect the nails causing toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, or ringworm.

  8. Skin diseases, such as psoriasis. Studies in psoriasis patients found that amount of candida correlated with the severity of symptoms (Picciani et al., 2013)

  9. Intertriginous between finger, submammary, mainly in obese women, in the groin region (Martins et al., 2014)

  10. Strong sugar cravings - From our clinical experience, we have noticed that patients who have candida overgrowth have sugar craving as if the candida is trying to feed itself. We also estimate that the candida is consuming the sugar from their food and is causing a deficiency of nutrients that might trigger a craving for carbs.

  11. Allergies - Our experience shows that candida overgrowth produces toxic byproducts that can irritate the immune system, leading to allergy-like symptoms. These symptoms range from headaches, sinus congestion, runny nose, and irritation.

  12. Oral candida can cause a small white spots or whitish papules in the mouth (Martins et al., 2014)

 

The problem with candida medication

Candida medication, also called prescription antifungal, can cause a variety of symptoms as a side effect. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nystatin, one of the most prescribed medication might cause the following symptoms:

 

  • Allergic reaction

  • Itching or hives

  • Swelling of your face or hands

  • Swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat

  • Chest tightness

  • Trouble breathing

  • Digestion problems, such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, or stomach pain

 

What causes candida overgrowth?

There are several factors that can lead to overgrowth of candida in your body. Candida can be viewed as a parasite that lives inside our body and is feeding on our food. As long as you do not overfeed it and as long as your immune system and gut are healthy, you can keep it at bay and it would not overgrow. If Here are a few factors that can lead to candida overgrowth:

  • High consumption of sugar - found in soda drinks, candy, cakes, salad dressing, bread, processed food, and fruits. As much as we love recommending fruits, some fruits have more sugar than others.

  • Carbs - turn into sugar in our body.  After you eat pasta, rice, or potatoes your body breaks them down into molecules of sugar, which nourishes the fungi.  

  • Use of systemic drugs that alter and damage the healthy gut flora and bacteria, such antibiotics, can create a favorable place for the candida to spread and grow. (Martins et al., 2014)

  • Deficiency of nutrients can cause dysfunction of certain enzymes that have anti-candida properties. These nutrients are iron, essential fatty acids, folic acid, vitamins A, vitamin B6, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. (Paillaud et al.,2004 & Martins et al., 2014).

  • High estrogen levels from pregnancy, birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, and obesity. Animal studies show that estrogen might support the spread and growth of candida cells. (Larsen & Galask, 1984)

 

  • Weakened immune system, for example, due to medicines that weaken the immune system, such as steroids and chemotherapy.

  • Diabetes type 2 was found to be associated with yeast growth of several species of candida. (Gunther et al., 2014)

  • Oral candidiasis was found in patients with psoriasis and was correlated to disease severity (Picciani et al., 2013)

 

Two most important steps to treat candida

When treating candida, it is important to follow these two steps. The first is to starve the candida and the second is use herbs and supplements that kill candida cells. Using just supplements, while keep on nourishing the candida will not enough and in most cases, will be a waste of time and money.

 

Stage #1 Eliminate foods that feed your candida

As we wrote above, to kill the candida fungi in an effective and safe way, you must starve it from nutrients. So, what does the candida loves? Sugar. It is said to be very challenging for all of us to avoid sugar. If you look at the list of ingredients of most products we buy in the food stores, you’ll see that majority of these products have sugar. That includes morning cereals (that everybody thinks that is healthy), salad dressings, processed meats and chicken, bread, soda drinks, and instant or processed ready-for-you meals.  Furthermore, any type of carbs that you eat, such as potatoes, carrots, fruits, honey, maple syrup, and rice turns into sugar in our body. Sugar, as it seems, is in everything and it is very addicted.

 

If you find the thought of giving up sugar as impossible, I want to give you some hope. It is not easy, but we found a three steps process that really helped our patients to make this move. The first step is the hardest since you have to cut sugar off. Eating sugar, even in small amounts, causes you to want more sugar later on. It is addicting. So, finding a healthcare professional that will guide you through the process can be very useful. Our three steps are built to slowly introduce certain foods into your diet as time goes by, so you won’t feel deprived for long. Remember to take the supplements in stage #2 together while you follow these steps.

 

 

Stage #2 Destroy the candida

There are several supplements that you must use to get rid of candida. Usually, it takes about 3 to 6 months to get rid of it entirely. When using the anti-candida protocol, use the complete protocol with all the supplements for maximum results.

 

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) - is a commercial extract derived from the seeds and pulp of grapefruit. It has been shown to help inhibit the growth of Candida. (Cvetni, 2004) Studies show that GSE products with 33% water-glycerol solutions have antifungal activity against candida. (Krajewska-Kulak, 2003) Since GSE has a very strong flavor and you might need high amounts, we recommend using GSE 250mg capsules from Nutribiotics.

Note: GSE has antibiotic properties and should be taken under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Also, GSE might destroy the ‘bad’ pathogens (e.g. bacteria and fungi) in your gut, but it might also destroy the healthy and beneficial bacteria (what we call probiotics). We recommend to use probiotic while taking this supplement.

 

Caprylic Acid - is also called octanoic acid. It is a particular type of fatty acid that can be found in breast milk, palm oil, and coconut. A study published in the Journal of Medical Food in 2017 found that caprylic acid may be effective interventions for treating candida albicans yeast infections. (Jadhav, 2017) Take 500mg twice a day for 2 weeks, followed by 1000mg twice a day for 5 weeks.

 

Garlic - provides the active ingredient allicin, which gives you the ‘garlic breath.’ It disturbs the normal metabolism and function of Candida and has an antifungal activity. (Ankri & Mirelman, 1999) Eat at least 2 to 4 cloves of fresh garlic every day, in hummus or crushed and chopped in salads. Garlic should not be overcooked, usually more than a few minutes since the active ingredient allicin and other powerful antioxidants are lost in the heating process. We usually provide our patients with the supplement ‘Garlic Forte’ by Standard Process, which has a patent to capture’ and preserve the active ingredient allicin in a capsule.

 

Probiotics - are essential in creating a healthy gut flora and to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. When it comes to probiotics, not all strains are the same. A few specific strains of probiotics were found to have a powerful anti-candida effect.

 

Saccharomyces cerevisiae variety boulardii (Biocodex strain) was found to be effective in reducing fungal colonization and invasive fungal infection as nystatin, an antifungal medication. Saccharomyces Cerevisiae was also found to be more effective in reducing the incidence of clinical infection from fungi (sepsis) in infants. (Demirel, 2013) Use the product Biocodex extra strength - twice a day with food for at least 3 months.

 

Lactobacillus acidophilus

  • A scientific study conducted for 6 months found that 8 ounces of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus reduced vaginal colonization and infection of candida (Hilton et al., 1992).

  • Not all yogurt is created equal and not all yogurts contain Lactobacillus acidophilus. We recommend Stonyfield yogurt because it is organic and has pure ingredients. We specifically recommend the plain version that is unsweetened, so you don’t have to worry about all the added sugars that fill most yogurts. You can add organic vanilla extract and stevia to sweeten!

 

References:

Ankri S, Mirelman D. Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic. Microbes Infect. 1999 Feb; 1(2):125-9.

Carol A Kumamoto, Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization, Current Opinion in Microbiology, Volume 14, Issue 4, 2011, Pages 386-391, ISSN 1369-5274,

(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369527411000993)

 

Cater, R. (1995). Chronic intestinal candidiasis as a possible etiological factor in the chronic fatigue syndrome. Medical Hypotheses, 44(6), 507-515. doi:10.1016/0306-9877(95)90515-4

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Candidiasis. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaginal Candidiasis. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/genital/index.html#one

Cvetni, Zdenka & Sanda, Sanda. (2004). Antimicrobial activity of grapefruit seed and pulp ethanolic extract. Acta Pharm. 54. 243-250.

Dan, M., Poch, F., & Levin, D. (2002). High rate of vaginal infections caused by non-C. albicans Candida species among asymptomatic women. Medical Mycology, 40(4), 383-386. doi:10.1080/714031124

Demirel, G., Celik, I. H., Erdeve, O., Saygan, S., Dilmen, U., & Canpolat, F. E. (2013). Prophylactic Saccharomyces boulardii versus nystatin for the prevention of fungal colonization and invasive fungal infection in premature infants. European Journal of Pediatrics, 172(10), 1321-1326. doi:10.1007/s00431-013-2041-4

Goncalves B, Ferreira C, Alves CT, Henriques M, Azeredo J, Silva S. Vulvovaginal candidiasis: Epidemiology, microbiology and risk factors. Critical reviews in microbiology 2016;42:905-27.

Gunther, L. S., Martins, H. P., Gimenes, F., Abreu, A. L., Consolaro, M. E., & Svidzinski, T. I. (2014). Prevalence of Candida albicans and non-albicans isolates from vaginal secretions: comparative evaluation of colonization, vaginal candidiasis and recurrent vaginal candidiasis in diabetic and non-diabetic women. Retrieved December 20, 2017, from http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1516-31802014000200116

Jadhav, A., Mortale, S., Halbandge, S., Jangid, P., Patil, R., Gade, W., . . . Karuppayil, S. M. (2017). The Dietary Food Components Capric Acid and Caprylic Acid Inhibit Virulence Factors in Candida albicans Through Multitargeting. Journal of Medicinal Food, 20(11), 1083-1090. doi:10.1089/jmf.2017.3971

Krajewska-Kulak E, Lukaszuk C, and Niczyporuk W.  Antifungal activity of 33% grapefruit water

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Picciani, B. S., Michalski-Santos, B., Carneiro, S., Sampaio, A. L., Avelleira, J. R., Azulay, D. R., & ... Dias, E. P. (2013). Original article: Oral candidiasis in patients with psoriasis: Correlation of oral examination and cytopathological evaluation with psoriasis disease severity and treatment. Journal Of The American Academy Of Dermatology, 68986-991. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2012.11.033

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