Candida – A Naturopathic Perspective.
Candida refers to Candida albicans, the organism responsible for candidiasis.
Candidiasis is a fungal infection that occurs with overgrowth of Candida albicans, a
normal inhabitant of the digestive system, oral cavity, and vaginal area. The
location of infection varies, however this fungus tends towards moist body areas
such as skin folds, mouth, and vagina.
Overgrowth can be associated with antibiotic use, use of steroidal
medications, autoimmune conditions, and immunosuppressed states (AIDs,
chemotherapy). Symptoms vary with the location, but common to all sites are
redness, itching, and discharge.
Conventional testing usually involves swabbing and culturing the affected
area. Blood cultures, urine analysis, stool and sputum cultures may also be run.
Conventional treatment is based on the anatomical location of the infection. Topical
antifungal agents, such as miconazole (monistat) or clotrimazole (canesten), are
often used. Systemic treatments may also be implemented or occasionally vaginal
The naturopathic approach differs in several ways from the conventional.
Naturopathic doctors will typical take a systemic approach to treatment as opposed
to focusing on local, overt symptoms. A wide range of conditions are often attributed
to a Candida infection and naturopathic doctors may treat subclinical presentations
with less potent protocols. As opposed to limiting the predisposing factors to severe
immunodeficiency, prior antibiotic use, steroid or hormone treatments, the
naturopathic perspective includes a wider range. Predisposing factors include
altered tissue pH, chronic intestinal dysbiosis, environmental toxins, low enzymes
levels, diet, and stress.
Because naturopathic doctors attempt to treat the root cause of conditions,
they will often assess for candida overgrowth in patients with allergies,
fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, gastritis, bloating, autoimmune disease, skin
problems, and hormonal imbalances. Heavy metal accumulation can also play a role
in Candida overgrowth. The location of stored heavy metals can provide a haven for
fungi. Mercury, for example, can destroy the enzymes involved in red blood cell
oxygenation. Candida thrives in a low oxygen environment. Other metals include
lead, cadmium, aluminum.
Testing for Candida can include antibody tests, urine tests, functional stool
testing, and gut fermentation testing.
When it comes to naturopathic treatment, the approach is far broader than
the conventional protocols. Because of the potential role of heavy metal
accumulation, chelation therapy may be used. Dietary changes are a very common
route for naturopathic doctors to take with Candida patients. In short, changes
include avoidance of sugary, fermented food. Doctors will also include foods that
support the immune system and support healthy gut bacteria. Foods to avoid
include simple sugars, grains, alcohol, fruit, high glycemic vegetables (potatoes,
carrots), meats, dairy products, coffee, and food additives. Commonly, probiotic
(yogurt, kifir) and prebiotic (chicory root, sunchokes) are added in balance.
There are several neutraceutical treatment protocols. Yeast Busters, from
InnoviteHealth, is such a program. It includes psyllium, caprylic acid, activated
charcoal, and acidophilus. This protocol aims was developed to cleanse the
intestinal tract, reduce yeast, and restore healthy flora. Psyllium acts as a “scrub
brush” and is considered dietary fibre. It will also absorb any toxins pulled out by
the charcoal. The caprylic acid acts as a “detergent” to the intestinal tract to destroy
the yeast. The activated charcoal is the sponge as it soaks up any dead yeast and
flushes out toxins and heavy metals. The final product, acidophilus, is a “good”
bacteria and is used to restore normal gut flora.
If you suspect you may be suffering from a subclinical candida manifestation,
or are curious about treatments for a diagnosed infection, contact Dr. Van Gaver!
For additional information check out the following website.