top of page

Holistic treatment for Candida overgrowth

Updated: Oct 21, 2023

Candida is a fungus that can live in the body without causing problems. Candida can be a normal part of a healthy microbiome. For most people it doesn't cause any concerns.


Unfortunately for some women, Candida overgrowth can become a devastating, recurring problem. Candida can overgrow in the mouth, digestive system and vagina. Because I work with womens health I commonly see this overgrowth and the distress it can cause.


In Australia we refer to vaginal Candida as thrush and in the US Candida is most often called yeast.


If you're reading this, it might be that Candida (thrush or yeast) has become a recurring problem for you. In my experience a multi-system, holistic approach will be of benefit to overcome it.


It's a mistake to treat Candida with anti-fungals (prescription or herbal medicines) and expect that it won't grow back. When working with Candida it's important to approach it from many angles, to ensure that you are healthy enough to resist another attempt to grow.



So how do you know if you have Candida? Here are some common symptoms:


Common symptoms of Candida overgrowth in the gut:

  • Digestive symptoms - constipation is common, diarrhoea and abdominal pain

  • Sugar cravings and difficulty losing weight

  • Joint pain

  • Fatigue or tiredness

  • Brain fog, difficulty concentrating

  • Skin and nail infections

  • Irritability, mood swings, depression, anxiety


Common symptoms of Candida overgrowth in the vagina:

(also known as thrush or yeast overgrowth)

  • itchy vulva

  • abnormal, cottage cheese-like discharge

  • redness, swelling and pain in the vagina and vulva



Holistic treatment for Candida overgrowth


1. Test to make sure you actually have Candida !!

Don't assume you have Candida!! There are other gut bacteria and vaginal infections that can cause similar symptoms. It might sound obvious, however a lot of damage can be done to your healthy microbiome if you continue to take anti-fungals when you don't need to.


Stool tests and vaginal microbiome tests are easy to do and will tell you if there are other fungi or bacteria that could be contributing to your problems. A test can tell you what type of Candida overgrowth you have, the common types are C. albicans and C. glabrata. The treatment for different strains of Candida can vary.


My favourite stool testing for digestive Candida is called the GI map. In Australia I recommend a Nutripath vaginal microbiome test and in the US I prefer Juno Bio. These tests will show Candida if you have it, unless you have recently taken oral fungal medications.


2. Address lifestyle factors that encourage Candida overgrowth

Lifestyle factors that allow Candida to flourish include diet choices, alcohol and stress.


A low sugar/ low yeast/low alcohol diet is generally recommended for reducing the ability of Candida to reproduce. While you're reducing the sugary and processed foods, remember to increase your healthy foods. Foods such as garlic, herbs and vegetables contribute to a healthy microbiome, which will resist any overgrowth.


Additionally, vaginal Candida can be passed back and forth between sexual partners, so vaginal and orally hygiene is important, as well as making sure your partner is treated too!


It's common for women to tell me that the Candida overgrowth coincided with a major period of stress in her life. Stress can drive up blood glucose levels and lower your immune response. Whatever you can do to support your stress levels can be beneficial when your aims is to get rid of Candida for good.


3. Support your immune system

When Candida becomes overgrown, it could be a sign of a low immune response. It's important to explore this and determine if you need to support your immune system during your treatment.


4. Support your hormones

One of the most common mistakes I see in women with recurrent Candida is that they have high estrogen levels that haven't been addressed. Candida flourishes in a high estrogen environment (this is why Candida is not common after menopause).


It's very helpful to look at your hormonal signs and symptoms. If you have heavy bleeding; fibroids; endometriosis; bloating or migraines before a period, it could be a red flag to let us know that your hormone imbalance could be driving the Candida. Are your Candida symptoms worse around ovulation or before a period?


If hormones are not addressed, then the Candida has a high chance of growing back.


5. Investigate digestion

Candida overgrowth in the digestive system can be due to low stomach acid allowing fungus and yeast to flourish. Bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori can create an environment in which Candida can thrive. So investigating which bugs are in your digestive system can be one of the keys to eradicating it.


Constipation may also contribute to Candida problems if your body is not allowing Candida to be eliminated.


If you have a lot of digestive problems such as bloating, nausea, reflux, fullness after eating and constipation, your naturopath might investigate SIFO (small intestine fungal overgrowth). SIFO is similar to SIBO however with a Candida overgrowth in the small intestine as well as bacteria.


Candida overgrowth is also a known cause of leaky gut. If your digestive system is more permeable than it should be, it's possible for the Candida (and bacteria) to travel into the blood stream and into circulation. Once in circulation, Candida can cause immune activation, widespread inflammation and symptoms such as diarrhoea.


6. Investigate triggers for Candida overgrowth

A common trigger for recurrent Candida overgrowth is the use of antibiotics for acute conditions such as urinary tract infections or sinus infections.


If this sounds like you, please seek help from your naturopath to address these infections without resorting on antibiotics. Antibiotics destroy healthy gut bacteria and allow Candida to overgrow.


7. Treat the Candida until it's gone

Many women are so relieved when they first start to experience a few days without Candida symptoms that they get excited and assume that it's gone for good.


Candida is a stubborn fungal overgrowth and in my experience can take around 12 weeks for it to shift. All the other factors described above need to have been addressed before you can feel confident that it's gone.


It's important to retest for Candida after 3 months of treatment and then enter into a period of 3 months of maintenance.


8. Restore healthy gut bacteria and vaginal microbiome after treatment


Have you been on a super strict Candida diet and thought you'd got rid of it at last? Only to have your Candida grow back as soon as you get stressed or have sex with a new partner?


I can't stress enough how important this last step is! Failing to restore healthy microbiota is the number one reason why Candida can regrow after your treatment.


If you go to all the effort and expense to rid yourself of Candida and you don't restore your healthy bacteria, then you are leaving the door open for Candida to come storming back.


This final step involves eating plenty of fresh vegetables, taking appropriate probiotics and then testing to see if you have a good balance of healthy gut bacteria, or vaginal bacteria.


I would love to help you heal from digestive or vaginal Candida. Please read more about how to work with me.


Simone :)

 

Hi! I'm Simone Jeffries. I am a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and certified wellness coach. I am also a foodie and an advocate for a whole food diet.


I love to support you with hormonal conditions, histamine intolerance and vaginal imbalances.


I welcome clients to consult with me at my clinic in Manly on Sydney's Northern Beaches, and online from anywhere in Australia.

The information in this blog is from my Bachelor of Health Science degree, experience from working with women in my clinic, and continuing research.

This blog is for information only and not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please seek assistance for any medical concerns.


Comments


bottom of page