A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
A fungus called Candida albicans is normally found inhabiting the intestinal tract, it is however thinly distributed in the intestinal tract and population levels are low, it is a type of “yeast” fungus. When a person's immunity goes down for example in cases where a person is ill, the fungus responds to this by multiplying at great speed and the population levels of the fungus within the intestine spikes up, because of this, a form of illness called candidiasis affects the host. When the immune function of a person is low, systemic candida infections are often and easily observed. Especially in persons suffering from immune disorders like AIDS in such cases candidiasis can be unstoppable and can be lethal. The symptoms of this disease are diverse and can be manifested in many forms. Candidiasis affects and shows itself primarily in five areas of the body of the human host.
The first area where candidiasis can manifest itself is the digestive system and the symptoms that result are a bloating of the stomach, symptoms of gas and discomfort due to gastric cramps. Inconvenience can result from diarrhea which might alternate with uncomfortable constipation. The victim may develop the signs of food allergies to multiple food items, ending in a stage where he will have an allergy to all foods! The second area where candidiasis can affect its human host is in the nervous system. The many symptoms are the sudden onset of fatigue, the occurrence of a feeling of anxiety, unexplainable and sudden mood swings, the person may experience symptoms of memory loss, he may feel drowsy all the time, depression may set in and the person may be unable to sleep at night and may end up suffering from insomnia and he may not be able to concentrate. Over the long term the person may end up having hallucinations and displaying violent and threatening behavior towards others. The many manifestations of the disease candidiasis in children are autism, hyperactivity and many learning disabilities. The third area of the body where candidiasis shows its symptoms is the skin, the symptoms are varied and many may include the appearance of hives, the onset of psoriasis, eczema may come on suddenly, the person may suffer from excessive sweating, acne may develop and nails may get infected and brittle. In women candidiasis may manifest itself in the genital area, that is in the genito-urinary tract, the symptoms may include PMS like symptoms including the onset of depression, sudden mood swings, bloating of the stomach, fluid retention and difficulty in passing urine, cramps all over the body, headaches may set in, on women who are pre-menstrual and some women may have a craving for sweets and sweet food items. Other symptoms maybe vaginal infections, the person may lose interest in sex and may often feel the urge to pass urine. In men the common symptoms may include a persistent itchy feeling in the anal region or anal itching, the symptoms of prostatitis that may be recurrent, the inability to bear children or impotence, rashes may develop in the genital regions and there may be jock itch among other symptoms.
There is a connection between the functions and interdependence between the endocrine system, the immune system, and the nervous system and they are mutually affected when one of them is affected. In cases of candidiasis the thyroid glands and the adrenal glands may be one of the first to be affected. And candidiasis and fungal growth often result in people suffering from hypo and the more common hyperthyroidism.
The toxins produced when candidiasis occurs in the body travel far and wide and the disease has been connected to all major illnesses such as cancer, the occurrence of heart disease, cases of multiple sclerosis, in the symptoms of AIDS, in cases of asthma and other respiratory disease, in cases of arthritis, where chronic sinusitis is present, in recurrent flues, and ear infections of the middle ear. Candidiasis is also found where immune function is impaired by alcoholism, substance addictions, the weakness caused by diabetes, in cases of eating disorders, and hypoglycemia, and other rare conditions and diseases. The fungi that cause candidiasis are secondary infections and are opportunistic in most of the diseases mentioned. Bolstering the immune system and maintaining a healthy body remains the best defense against the disease.
Similar to all other fungi, the fungus thrives in warm and moist areas, which includes the human intestines, and in all humans the yeast thrives normally, in the intestinal tract, it spread and over population being checked by the immune system. When the immune system is impaired the fungus grows and multiplies out of bounds and hence candidiasis results, one of the reasons immune system function is impaired is by the improper use of antibiotic drugs. The bacteria in the bowel are normal in a human body and help maintain health, when there is an overuse or misuse of antibiotics the bacteria are eliminated and an imbalance results this is exploited by the yeast and the organism now multiplies at an astronomical rate taking up the space previously filled by the bacteria, therefore even short term anti-biotic use can easily lead to the development of fungal infections. There may be other drugs and treatment methods whose misuse may increase the risk of candidiasis drugs such as the contraceptive pill, the hormone cortisone, chemotherapy medications and treatments using ionizing radiations as a tool.
The chances of the fungus multiplying are increased in cases where immune function is poor, or general health has declined. Therefore candida albicans is more likely to affect those already suffering from illnesses such as diabetics and other conditions that lead to poor immune function. Other illnesses that increase the chances of infection are a poorly functioning digestive system, which may lack some necessary enzymes and may be poor in some vital acid. A poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle and the effects of stress can all contribute to decreasing the body's resistance to infection. Especially diets that are poor in raw fruits and in whole grains may contribute to poor health. Food's that may increase the chances of infection are all simple sugars, foods like refined white flour and rice and pasta.
An environment supporting the growth of candida albicans can be created by hormonal imbalances. During the menstrual period and during pregnancy there are increased chances of yeast infections setting in.
The question to ask is that are fungal reasons caused by an impaired immune response or are fungal infections the reason immune system are impaired and things such as chronic fatigue syndrome result? Both the reasons are correct. This question is similar to an earlier question (half of the 20th century) regarding the disease tuberculosis. Whatever the answer to the question is, it remains that the microorganism has to be removed from the system and as in the treatment of tuberculosis, health has to be restored to the person by eliminating those habits and things that impair it, like smoking, the consumption of alcohol and the reduction of stress through aerobic exercise, as well as other methods like spiritual and psychological therapy and even by changing the environment in which one lives in. Candida and other fungal syndromes are not reversed by a change in the diet alone. There is a need to have a persistent antifungal treatment and therapy over a period of time.
Supplements and herbs
A diet that is rich in nutrients and elements that promote the immune system are important in the diet to deal effectively with candida. Some supplements supply the essential nutrients to speed the healing of the body. Candida can be dissolved and eliminated in the stomach itself by using substances such as betaine and pepsin hydrochloride and other stomach acidifiers like glutamic acid including stomach bitters. By removing the hydrochloric acid component of the stomach antacids and acid suppressing medications like cimetidine and ranitidine increase the chances of fungal infections, hydrochloric acid has a fungal acid fighting property. Conversely heartburn and other gastritis or peptic ulcer disease can also be caused by an excess of acid in the stomach. Tests ordered by a natural health care practitioner can inform the patient about the necessity of acid supplementation in the diet. One of the B complex vitamins, and one which is important particularly for the health of the hair, the skin and nails is the vitamin H (biotin). The change of candida from its benign yeast form to its invasive mycelia form is inhibited by it. 1 mg or more a day is the effective therapeutic dose in adults. An antifungal fatty acid found naturally in coconut oil is caprylic acid and this fatty acid works at the level of the gastrointestinal tract. As an antifungal compound it is similar in function to nystatin, which is a prescription medicine. However its systemic antifungal properties though are rather weak. The seed extracts of citrus are comparable to nystatin and caprylic acid in cases of fungal infection in the gut. Other parasites like giardia and blastocystis hominis are also susceptible to citrus fruit extracts. An antioxidant normally found in the body and one, which optimizes the effects of oxygen in the body, is coenzyme Q10. Chronic fatigue syndrome and angina pectoris and the symptoms of high blood pressure are some of the things that can be treated by coQ10 and this has been well documented. Toxicity and side affects are unknown in its usage. Another broad spectrum antifungal product which is gaining more widespread among alternative health practitioners is the use of colloidal silver and is believed to have anti viral and anti bacterial effects. Colloidal silver disables enzyme systems found in bacteria, in some viruses and in fungi, in this form it is non-toxic to human cells. Other types of fatty acids including fish oils have strong antifungal properties. The flesh of fish and fish oils are very rich in omega- 3 and fatty acids are known to have reduced death rate in severe forms of arthrosclerosis. Another good source of omega 3 essential fatty acids is flax seed oil. Other oils like evening primrose oil, borage oil and black currant seed oil are antifungal and at the same time all contain and are rich in omega-6 EPA fatty acids. A widely found and naturally occurring sugar in many vegetables, grains and fruits is a natural sugar which has sucrose molecules linked in sequence with fructose and is called fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) promotes the maintenance and growth of the beneficial bacteria in the gut including those like lactobacillus acidophilus and species of bifidus. FOS may help in the reduction of the effects of bowel toxins other benefits may include its ability in preventing diarrhea and reducing the effects of constipation, it can also help in the reduction of the cholesterol levels in the serum, it may aid hepatic or liver function, it may alleviate inflammatory bowel disease symptoms and may have an anti cancer property. Bacteria like the lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus bacteria are the body's natural defense against the fungus and normal inhabitants of the gastrointestinal tract precluding fungal growth and disease and are therefore considered helpful bacteria. Other substances such as the vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid or niacin) has strong antifungal properties when used in high doses, this property is exploited by medical doctors who sometimes use it to lower cholesterol levels in the body, high cholesterol levels in the blood are often due to the release of fungal mycotoxins in the bloodstream, niacin may be effective here because one of niacin's active actions is to inhibit fungi and destroy their toxins. Complaints such as flushing, severe itching, nausea and other gastrointestinal complaints are caused by niacin usage and constitute common complaints. Another avenue of protection afforded by the body is pancreatic digestive enzymes. When used as supplements these enzymes, which include amylase, lipase, and protease among others are active in controlling fungal growth in the gastrointestinal tract. Pau d'arco is available in a loose tea form or in a tincture form and is a potent anti fungal agent. Selenium, which is a common ingredient in fungicidal shampoos and lotions, is a very effective antifungal substance in high doses. Some practitioners prefer Tanalbit which is a broad spectrum intestinal antiseptic made up of natural tannins and zinc over nystatin and caprylic acid. In high doses vitamin C is antifungal, and since it is a weak acid, in high doses of vitamin C or ascorbic acid fungi like Candida, some bacteria, other fungi and many parasites are often killed. There may be side effects to this like excessive gas, sudden headache, nausea and lightheadedness, these are all signs of the detoxification process as the body rids itself of toxins from dead microbes in the blood. Herbal juices should be taken in volumes of around 1 tbsp. daily. In the preparation of herbal teas, pour a cup of boiling water over 1 tsp. of herbs, let it steep in the water for ten minutes and drink thrice daily. Herbal remedies are effective and bactericidal, increasing the body's ability to burn carbohydrates, and in killing pathogenic bacteria, and control their growth inside the body.
A good remedy for gastrointestinal complaints cause by bacteria and fungi like candida albicans is wormwood juice in combination with ramsons. A powerful antifungal and antibacterial agent is calendula tea and it is very effective against fungal overgrowth. The herb horsetail has a high silica content which can quickly normalize bowel function and is active in clearing the intestinal tract naturally, the mineral silica is necessary in the reconstruction of damaged and inflamed intestinal walls. Horsetail can be taken as tea or an aqueous extract as capsules. The juice of the aloe vera herb and fig syrup are effective in normalizing the bowels and in bowel function. One of the things that aloe vera juice is famous for is its anti-microbial property and is effective against all bacteria. Aloe vera is rich in substances like antioxidants, natural enzymes and a host of plant-based enzymes or phytochemicals, which are all anti fungal and can bolster the immune system. Tea made from the common ginger can soothe the inflammation caused by candida in the gastrointestinal tract and can help repair inflamed tissues due to fungal infections. Another remedy against fungal infections is the herb goldenseal which prevents fungal infection by encouraging the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria which are natural predators of the fungi. Supplements including both the herb goldenseal and the bacteria lactobacillus acidophilus can prevent fungal overgrowth if the patient has been under treatment using antibiotics. The herb goldenseal in a combination with Echinacea should be avoided by pregnant women because uterine contractions have been known to be caused by it. The chlorophyll content of green food supplements are effective against candida and fungi, because the high chlorophyll content prevents the spread of any fungal or bacterial infection and keeps their growth in check. In addition the growth of friendly or helpful intestinal bacteria is encouraged by green food supplements.
Kelp, and other seaweeds like dulse are great foods because of their great anti fungal property. They contain both iodine and selenium in high levels, these two minerals are very effective against fungi. In fact iodine was the main medicine before the discovery of other antifungal medications and treatments especially against candida. There are other options such as peppermint oil which is used to cure irritable bowel syndrome because of its anti spasmodic properties; this oil is also effective against candida and other fungi. The powder made from the husk of psyllium is very high in fiber and it is also a water soluble substance, and is used to detoxify and cleanse the debris and the toxins that have collected in the region of the large intestine, as a detoxificant it is very potent and can act against the fungi and mycotoxins present in the gastrointestinal tract while at the same time effectively flushing them out of there. In order to prevent the onset of constipation and to make it effective, it has to be mixed with at least 16 ounces of water before it can safely be consumed. Another broad spectrum antiseptic which is effective against all manners of fungi, bacterium and other intestinal parasites is tea tree oil, this oil also has been used traditionally in the immediate and effective treatment of physical afflictions like acne on the face, blisters from burns and other causes, to remedy athlete's foot, to cure acute bronchitis, as a topical application in cold sores, all kinds of wounds, very effectively against boils, in first and second degree burns, to cure the pain due insect bites, to minimize the pain due to sore throats and is especially effective against infection by candida. The best use of tea tree oil is topically and as a local anesthetic, it has great effect in relieving the aches and cramps of (muscle pain); it does not cause a burning sensation in the skin even though it penetrates below the skin surface as all other water-soluble antiseptics. The oral use of tea tree oil in ratios of about 15 drops of the oil to a cup of water has been suggested by some medical practitioners as it is a very effective fungicide, at this dosage and in these proportions with water tea tree oil appears to be safe and does not cause side effects.
Additional things you may do
Do not stress yourself out and spend sometime each day exercising your body and keeping fit. Relaxing in the sauna and affusion baths may be beneficial. Rest and relaxation are important to maintain an active immune system and follow a regulated lifestyle. Since all fungi do not thrive in a well-aerated environment, all aerobic exercises are useful due to this reason alone, in fact aerobic exercise creates a higher oxygen balance in the body and helps maintain health. Unfortunately most victims of the fungal disease may not be in the physical state to be able to go out and take exercises and this if the only drawback, as a diseased person might only increase his afflictions by hard exercise. However, there is no substitute as a careful regimen of aerobic exercise for the maintenance of a healthy body and preventing impaired immunity. Fungal infections in the vaginal region can be solved by physical methods like the choice of loose underwear that also allows the free and unrestricted flow of air. Machine-washing underwear removes and easily eliminates all fungi that are present in clothes. Micro waving the underwear after moistening them for a few minutes will remove all traces of fungi and spores from underwear, especially in people who have persistent and recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Inflammation can be taken removed and soothed down using sitz-baths with Epsom salts or with magnesium sulfate and are useful and very soothing for cases of candida vaginitis, which may appear not only with inflammation but with a severe and persistent itchy feeling.
Other beneficial herbs
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