Coping with Candida

The Intestinal type of Candida is a form of yeast naturally present in our mouth and intestines to expedite both digestion and nutrient absorption. It can, however, be overproduced from time to time. If so there are several Garden soured treatments; Berberine – found in extracts of barberry, goldenseal and Oregon grape root – has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine to stimulate the immune system to fight and protect against yeast and fungal infections. It exhibits substantial antifungal activity but it leaves the beneficial microflora in the gut intact. It also prevents candida yeasts from producing lipase – the enzyme that enables their gastrointestinal colonisation.

Other garden-grown antifungal herbs include thyme, oregano, calendula, chamomile, fennel, basil, sage, peppermint and rosemary. All make pleasant herbal teas but can also be used in culinary applications – in flavoured vinegars, in infused oils for salad dressings and in soups, stews, casseroles and even sandwiches. A boost in raw foods and salads can help invigorate your good intestinal flora.

Another good place to start is by eliminating sugar and, for a few days to two weeks, lowering your carbohydrate intake to help your system naturally reboot. Eating raw garlic is highly toxic to candida and deeply beneficial to overall human health. This may seem daunting, but it is easy to add to dips, couscous or even rubbed on toast and it brings with it not just antifungal sulphur compounds but also phytoconstituents that promote beneficial gastrointestinal microbes. Garlic supplements or capsules are also good and may even get to your gut more intact. Natural yoghurt will help bolster those beneficial gastrointestinal microbes and lessen the spread of infection while, at the other end of the spectrum, apple cider vinegar can attack candida directly. Similarly coconut oil – rich in caprylic acid – directly attacks the cellular structure of yeast. The oleuropein in olive oil and olive leaf extract boosts our systems’ ability to fight fungal infections and actively tackles candida overgrowth.

The Vaginal type of Candida is naturally present on human skin and inside the vagina. The normal pH for the vagina is between 3.5 and 4.5, which is acidic, creating an environment where most bacteria can’t survive long. So for the most part candida is naturally checked by the vagina’s own regulating pH. But when that acid level drops – triggered by menstruation, antibiotic use or other factors – then the yeast population can rise to infection levels. Burning sensations or itches are symptomatic. Discharge and swelling can be present.

There are of course Garden treatments. So while douching (rinsing or flushing with water or other solutions) is not recommended as a regular practice for a healthy vagina, in this circumstance douches and sipped teas of rosemary, thyme, echinacea and Oregon grape root are traditional treatments to diminish yeast expansion and boost the immune system. Because a douche may spread rather than flush the infection, the stronger the antibacterial herb the better. Goldenseal, with an ethnobotanical history of being used internally as an antifungal agent, can be used as a topical skin rinse or douche application – it has an amazing ability to disrupt fungus from adhering to or entering new host cells. Other potent antifungal herbs include tea tree, burdock, bee balm, calendula, lavender, thyme and uva ursi. Do not substitute any of these herbs with
essential oil versions.

Cat’s claw, available in your local health store, has been utilised in Peruvian ethno-pharmacology for thousands of years to boost the immune system. One of its active principles is oxindole alkaloids, which enhance phagocytosis (from the Ancient Greek meaning ‘to devour’), boosting the way antibodies engulf and destroy pathogens. Other immune-boosting herbs, including astragalus, gingko, hyssop, sage and St John’s wort, can get your own healing capacity into gear.

The aim is to get back to the right pH, so drinking acidic cranberry juice helps. Consider too to avoid sugary foods and eat more probiotic foods. Eating natural yoghurt and garlic can diminish any candida expansion in the stomach and so give the body a chance to fight off the infection. I would not recommend garlic paste or clove inserts for this ailment – although in theory they would kill off bacteria and yeast, in reality there might be more sting than zing. Bathing externally with a dilution of apple cider vinegar or adding a cup to your bath introduces antibacterial and antifungal action, can also help address pH and is less likely to sting.

About The Holistic Gardener

author of wellness books, columnist, keynote speaker.
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