Could it be candida?

According to nutritionist, Ann Rowland, ‘One hundred and fifty years ago the average amount of sugar we ate was seven pounds a year – now it’s 120lbs. As some people don’t eat it at all others are overdosing on it.’

Take a look at these symptoms and see if they seem familiar:
  • Thrush
  • Stomach bloating, wind, pain
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Tiredness, fatigue and lethargy
  • Depression
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Muscle aches
  • Food intolerances
  • Frequent colds, coughs and sinusitis
  • Intolerance of alcohol
  • Frequent urinary infections
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual problems
  • Skin rashes
  • Loss of libido
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Bad breath
  • Intolerance to strong odours like cigarette smoke and perfume
  • Symptoms worse on damp days
You could have candida – a yeast infection which is most commonly known to cause thrush, just one of its many symptoms.  See also: Thrush – how to cope

Sometimes a visit to the doctor’s doesn’t yield any results – you could be told there’s nothing wrong with you but surely you know your own body!

Friendly bacteria

Most TV watchers might have heard of these by now! Our gut is full of both ‘friendly’ and ‘hostile’ bacteria battling it out to take a hold on the territory.

Unfortunately if we are stressed, run down, drink too much alcohol, and particularly if we have taken too many antibiotics or steroids the hostile bacteria seem to win. And because animals are regularly fed with antibiotics it’s possible to get them in meat as well (see Nutrition, You Are What You Eat).

We all have Candida albicans yeast in the colon but if it gets out of control it takes over, leading to leaky gut and the yeast seeps into the bloodstream where it affects our immune system.

  • Candida in the gut feeds on sugars producing ethanol and carbon dioxide;
  • The production of gases causes bloating, flatulence and pain;
  • It is often diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome with no particular conventional treatment available.
  • Sugar encourages the fermentation process which causes stomach bloating and pain.

Who to consult

The symptoms are difficult to diagnose and may be confused with PMS or the menopause – there are many similarities. Medical tests may not prove anything conclusive so who do you talk to?

You can try to see a nutritionist: British Association of Nutritional Therapists, or The Institute of Optimum Nutrition: 

Or a naturopath: The General Council and Register of Naturopaths is on 01458 840072

For more information contact: The Candida Society which has helped 4,000 people so far!

How to detect candida

Some practitioners, like Rosalind Blackwell, take a live blood sample and examine it with an ultra-high resolution microscope to see if candida is present. ‘Candida in the blood smear indicates that there is overgrowth in the colon, but if it isn’t present there may still be overgrowth.

‘Colonic irrigation is a definite way of detecting candida as its appearance is unmistakeable. It also takes the candida out of the gut immediately and is a good start to any treatment programme.’

Why do some people get candida?

There are several contributory factors to a build up of yeast including:

  • Use of inhalers;
  • Taking the contraceptive pill or HRT;
  • Repeated antibiotics
  • Diet high in sugar, alcohol and bread;
  • Too much stress!
  • A mouth full of amalgam fillings (see How Teeth Affect Our Health, Amalgam Fillings)

Women are three times more likely to get candida as men because drugs like the contraceptive pill alter the acid/alkaline balance in the body allowing yeast to take hold.

Quashing candida

A one-off attack of thrush may get better with antifungal pessaries which are now available over the counter, but if candida has taken a hold in the gut, more drastic measures are needed!

Nutritional therapists start off by removing yeast-feeding foods from the diet:

  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Fruit
  • Bread containing yeast
  • Mushrooms (because they are a fungus like yeast)
  • Processed foods for their sugar or yeast content

What they suggest instead:

  • Plenty of vegetables, pulses, wholegrains, brown rice;
  • Eat organic where possible;
  • Lots of water and herbal teas.

The aim is to create an environment hostile to yeast.

Nutritional therapists may prescribe specialist supplements to help to heal a leaky gut and further create a healthy intestinal environment, followed by supplements and herbs which kill off the candida. During these processes the toxins produced by killing the candida can make people feel worse than ever this can be remedied by using supplements which support the liver. 

There are some effective supplements for helping to rid the body of candida (see below) including Pau d’Arco (Lapacho) a good herbal antifungal and Candigest. But it should be stressed that ridding the body of candida can be quite a difficult thing and once taking these antifungals there may be a detoxification reaction – headaches, feeling shivery or  upset stomach.

The good news is that most people who change their diets and lifestyle end up sticking with them, enjoying themselves more and become healthier and more confident!

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Sue Reeves, 52, suffered from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) for 15 years but  the symptoms were tolerable. She came back from holiday in Spain one summer with a bad stomach but it didn’t go away and the pain and diarrhoea got worse. ‘I had abdominal pain, excess wind and a tight bloated tummy, and I felt tired all the time.

‘My symptoms meant I couldn’t do what I wanted to do and so I became depressed, withdrawn and very low. I had some food allergy testing and found I was allergic to eggs, milk, nuts and melons. Despite cutting these out I didn’t get any better.

‘When I went to see a nutritionist I was told I had candida and took a number of vitamins and other supplements to try to combat the yeast infection. Unfortunately they didn’t make me much better.’ If Sue ate a meal she could pretty much guarantee she would become bloated, uncomfortable and suffer from wind. And going out for meals at restaurants or with friends was more of a torture than a pleasure.

Just over a year ago, Sue joined the National Candida Society and this proved to be her turning point – she was recommended to take Candigest Plus, an enzyme based supplement that rids the body of candida. She also took a pure and powerful probiotic called CP1 that replenished the good, live bacteria in her gut.

Within weeks Sue’s symptoms had all but gone. ‘I regained energy and no longer had a ‘dragging feeling’. At first I wasn’t eating anything with yeast or sugar in but as my system got stronger I started to reintroduce the food on her ‘banned’ list and now eats mostly organic food and only has to avoid eggs and chicken. ’I feel really well for the first time in 15 years. I enjoy a glass of red now and again and am happy to join my family and friends for meals at Chinese and Indian restaurants.

Ann Rowland, Dip ION, practises in 01730 821725  and at the Natural Health Centre, Chichester, 01243 786946

Rosalind Blackwell is a naturopath and medical herbalist who practises in Crickham, Somerset,  01934 733040,,


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