Chronic candidiasis can be hard to spot,as its symptoms are the same as those of a number of other health issues. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may help get candidiasis under control:
These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading the full chronic candidiasis article for more in-depth, fully-referenced information on medicines, vitamins, herbs, and dietary and lifestyle changes that may be helpful.
An overgrowth in the gastrointestinal tract of the usually benign yeast (or fungus) Candida albicans has been suggested as the origin of a complex medical syndrome called chronic candidiasis, or yeast syndrome.1 2
Purported symptoms of chronic candidiasis are fatigue, allergies, immune system malfunction, depression, chemical sensitivities, and digestive disturbances.3 4 Conventional medical authorities do acknowledge the existence of a chronic Candida infection that affects the whole body and is sometimes called “chronic disseminated candidiasis.“5 However, this universally accepted disease is both uncommon, and decidedly more narrow in scope, than the so-called Yeast Syndrome—a condition believed by some to be quite common, particularly in people with a history of long-term antibiotic use. The term “chronic candidiasis” as used in this article refers to the as yet unproven Yeast Syndrome.
Product ratings for chronic candidiasis
|Science Ratings||Nutritional Supplements||Herbs|
Tea tree oil
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.
Symptoms attributed to chronic candidiasis include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, belching, indigestion, heartburn, recurrent vaginal yeast infections, nasal congestion, sinus problems, bad breath skin rashes, allergies, chemical sensitivities, rectal itching, muscle aches, cold hands and feet, fatigue, depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and dizziness.
Based on their clinical experience and on very preliminary research, several doctors have suggested that certain dietary factors may promote the overgrowth of Candida albicans. The most important of these factors are high intakes of sugar, milk, and other dairy products; foods with a high content of yeast or mold (e.g., alcoholic beverages, cheeses, dried fruits, and peanuts); and foods to which individual patients are allergic. However, few clinical trials have investigated whether these dietary factors affect people with conditions for which Candida is the causative agent.
One study compared levels of various sugars in urine of healthy women with levels found in women with chronic vaginal Candida infections.6 Urine sugar levels correlated with dietary intakes of sugar, dairy, and artificial sweeteners. Among women who reduced their intake of sugar, 90% reported no vaginal yeast infections during the following year. These researchers reported a “dramatic reduction” in the incidence and severity of vaginitis caused by Candida as a result of reducing intake of dairy, sugar, and artificial sweeteners.
Many apparently healthy people have some Candida in their gastrointestinal tract. In one trial, high-sugar diets given to healthy people had mixed effects on the concentration of Candida found in their stool, though some subjects did show an increase in Candida after eating more sugar.7 These preliminary reports suggest, but do not prove, that diet might affect the ability of Candida to infect the body.
Lactobacillus acidophilus products are often used by people with candidiasis in an attempt to re-establish proper intestinal flora. Acidophilus produces natural factors that prevent the overgrowth of the yeast.8 9 Although there are no human trials, supplementation of acidophilus to immune-deficient mice infected with C. albicans produced positive effects on immune function and reduced the number of Candida colonies.10 The typical amount of acidophilus taken as a supplement is 1–10 billion live bacteria daily. Amounts exceeding this may induce mild gastrointestinal disturbances, while smaller amounts may not be able to sufficiently colonize the gastrointestinal tract.
Preliminary research from the 1940s and 1950s indicated that caprylic acid (a naturally occurring fatty acid) was an effective antifungal compound against Candida infections of the intestines.11 12 Doctors sometimes recommend amounts of 500 to 1,000 mg three times a day.
It is unknown if taking pancreatic enzymes or betaine HCl (hydrochloric acid) tablets is beneficial for chronic candidiasis. Nonetheless, some doctors recommend improving digestive secretions with these agents. Hydrochloric-acid secretion from the stomach, pancreatic enzymes, and bile all inhibit the overgrowth of Candida and prevent its penetration into the absorptive surfaces of the small intestine.13 14 15 Decreased secretion of any of these important digestive components can lead to overgrowth of Candida in the gastrointestinal tract. Consult a physician for more information.
In theory, the use of any effective anti-yeast therapy could result in what is referred to as the Herxheimer or “die-off” reaction.16 The effective killing of the yeast organism can result in absorption of large quantities of yeast toxins, cell particles, and antigens. The Herxheimer reaction refers to a worsening of symptoms as a result of this die-off. Although this reaction has not been reported following use of any of the nutritional or herbal anti-Candida agents, the likelihood of experiencing this reaction can be minimized by starting any anti-yeast medications or nutritional supplements slowly, in lower amounts, and gradually increasing the amounts over one month to achieve full therapeutic intake.
Garlic has demonstrated significant antifungal activity against C. albicans in both animal and test tube studies.17 18 19 Greater anti-Candida activity has resulted from exposing Candida to garlic, than to nystatin—the most common prescription drug used to fight Candida.20 No clinical studies of garlic in the treatment of candidiasis have yet been conducted. However, some doctors suggest an intake equal to approximately one clove (4 grams) of fresh garlic per day; this would equal consumption of a garlic tablet that provides a total allicin potential of 4,000 to 5,000 mcg.
Volatile oils from oregano, thyme, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary have all demonstrated antifungal action in test tube studies.21 A recent study compared the anti-Candida effect of oregano oil to that of caprylic acid.22 The results indicated that oregano oil is over 100 times more potent than caprylic acid, against Candida. Since the volatile oils are quickly absorbed and associated with inducing heartburn, they must be taken in coated capsules, so they do not break down in the stomach but instead are delivered to the small and large intestine. This process is known as “enteric coating.” Some doctors recommend using 0.2 to 0.4 ml of enteric-coated peppermint and/or oregano oil supplements three times per day 20 minutes before meals. However, none of these volatile oils has been studied for their anti-Candida effect in humans.
Berberine is an alkaloid found in various plants, including goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape, and goldthread. Berberine exhibits a broad spectrum of antibiotic activity in test-tube, animal, and human studies.23 24 Berberine has shown effective antidiarrheal activity in a number of diarrheal diseases,25 26 27 and it may offer the same type of relief for the diarrhea seen in patients with chronic candidiasis. Doctors familiar with the use of berberine-containing herbs sometimes recommend taking 2 to 4 grams of the dried root (or bark) or 250 to 500 mg of an herbal extract three times a day. While isolated berberine has been studied, none of these herbs has been studied in humans with chronic candidiasis.
The fresh-pressed juice of Echinacea purpurea has been shown to be helpful in preventing recurrence of vaginal yeast infections in a double-blind trial; it may have similar benefit in Yeast Syndrome.28 The typical recommendation for this effect is 2 to 4 ml of fluid extract daily.
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5. Bennett JE. Candidiasis. In: Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Isselbacher KJ, et al (eds). Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
6. Horowitz BJ, Edelstein S, Lippman L. Sugar chromatography studies in recurrent Candida vulvovaginitis. J Reprod Med 1984;29:441–3.
7. Weig M, Werner E, Frosch M, Kasper H. Limited effect of refined carbohydrate dietary supplementation on colonization of the gastrointestinal tract of healthy subjects by Candida albicans. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:1170–3.
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10. Wagner RD, Pierson C, Warner T, et al. Biotherapeutic effects of probiotic bacteria on candidiasis in immunodeficient mice. Infect Immun 1997;65(10):4165–72.
11. Keeney EL. Sodium caprylate: a new and effective treatment of moniliasis of the skin and mucous membrane. Bull Johns Hopkins Hosp 1946;78:333–9.
12. Neuhauser I, Gustus EL. Successful treatment of intestinal moniliasis with fatty acid resin complex. Arch Intern Med 1954;93:53–60.
13. Boero M, Pera A, Andriulli A, et al. Candida overgrowth in gastric juice of peptic ulcer subjects on short- and long-term treatment with H2-receptor antagonists. Digestion 1983;28:158–63.
14. Rubinstein E. Antibacterial activity of the pancreatic fluid. Gastroenterology 1985;88:927–32 [review].
15. Sarker SA, Gyr R. Non-immunological defense mechanisms of the gut. Gut 1990;33:1331–7 [review].
16. Truss CO. The role of Candida albicans in human illness. J Orthomol Psychiatry 1981,10:228–38 [review].
17. Moore GS, Atkins RD. The fungicidal and fungistatic effects of an aqueous garlic extract on medically important yeast-like fungi. Mycologia 1977;69:341–8.
18. Sandhu DK, Warraich MK, Singh S. Sensitivity of yeasts isolated from cases of vaginitis to aqueous extracts of garlic. Mykosen 1980;23:691–8.
19. Prasad G, Sharma VD. Efficacy of garlic (Allium sativum) treatment against experimental candidiasis in chicks. Br Vet J 1980;136:448–51.
20. Arora DS, Kaur J. Anti-microbial activity of spices. Int J Antimicrob Agents 1999;12:257–62.
21. Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. In-vitro activity of essential oils, in particular Melaleuca alternafolia (tea tree) oil and tea tree oil products, against Candida albicans. J Antimicrobial Chemother 1998;42:591–5.
22. Stiles JC. The inhibition of Candida albicans by oregano. J Applied Nutr 1995;47:96–102.
23. Hahn FE, Ciak J. Berberine. Antibiotics 1976;3:577–88 [review].
24. Majahan VM, Sharma A, Rattan A. Antimycotic activity of berberine sulphate: an alkaloid from an Indian medicinal herb. Sabouraudia 1982;20:79–81.
25. Bhakat MP. Therapeutic trial of Berberine sulphate in non-specific gastroenteritis. Indian Med J 1974;68:19–23.
26. Kamat SA. Clinical trial with berberine hydrochloride for the control of diarrhoea in acute gastroenteritis. J Assoc Physicians India 1967;15:525–9.
27. Desai AB, Shah KM, Shah DM. Berberine in the treatment of diarrhoea. Indian Pediatr 1971;8:462–5.
28. Coeugniet EG, Kuhnast R. Recurrent candidiasis: adjuvant immunotherapy with different formulations of Echinacin®. Therapiewoche 1986;36:3352–8.
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The information presented in Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires September 2008.