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Yeast Infections
Traditional & Alternative Treatment Options

Yeast infections and Candida overgrowth are more common than many people think and are sometimes going on without people knowing that they have these conditions. They are caused by an overabundance of yeast and can cause skin rashes (typically seen under folds of skin such as under breasts, in-between legs, etc.), In addition, there are yeast infections of the mouth (thrush), yeast infections of the esophagus, digestive tract and the sex organs including both the vagina and penis (especially in uncircumcised men).

The most common yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans and other Candida yeasts such as Malassezia, Torulopsis, Trichosporon and Cryptococcus.

Lisa Lawless
By Lisa S. Lawless, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist & Sexuality Expert

CEO & Founder of
Holistic Wisdom, Inc. & NAASAS

Copyright: Holistic Wisdom- Do NOT Copy Warning

Copyright © Holistic Wisdom, Inc.


Candida Overgrowth

Everyone has Candida in their body (particularly in such places as the gastrointestinal tract, mouth, vagina, etc.) but sometimes it can get out of control. Even when treated properly, yeast infections typically take around 5 months to completely go away and proper yeast balances to be restored.

Candida is an aggressive form of yeast and it can shoot threads through soft tissue within the body making it quite easy for it to get excessive. When the yeast levels go past a healthy level in the gastrointestinal tract it can cause what is called a leaky gut; meaning that the lining of the tissue is exposed to things such as harmful bacteria, chemicals, parasites and foods that can irritate the body.

Candida growth that has gone past healthy levels can produce toxins in the body; these toxins are acetaldehyde and gliotoxin. They can contribute to other health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disease and alcohol related cancers. Most people will see Candida overgrowth through their skin, genitals, mouth and throat. In highly severe cases, systemic candidiasis can occur and can be life threatening. This is when Candida spreads throughout the body and can impact the heart, eyes, liver, kidneys, brain, joints and genital tract. This disseminated candidiasis typically occurs in people with low white blood cell counts (neutropenia) and is not a typical Candida infection for most people.

If you have persistent yeast infections (more than 3-4 within a year) you may have a Candida overgrowth issue or other health problem such as diabetes so it will be important for you to be tested. Symptoms of Candida overgrowth are many and you may be surprised at just how many symptoms it can produce.

Examples of Candida Overgrowth Symptoms:

  • Vaginal infections and itching
  • Digestion problems such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, spastic colon
  • Chronic vaginal yeast infections
  • Headaches including migraines
  • Rashes on the skin such as eczema, psoriasis, hives as well as acne
  • Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, ADD, ADHD, lack of focus and brain fog
  • Stiff joints
  • Fungal infections of the skin and nails (i.e.: athlete’s foot, toenail fungus)
  • Fatigue and fibromyalgia
  • Autoimmune diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Multiple sclerosis, etc.)
  • Mood swings, irritability, anxiety and depression
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Rectal irritation and itching
  • Strong seasonal allergies
  • Itchy ears
  • Chronic nasal congestion or sinusitis
  • Strong cravings for food made with sugar and refined carbohydrates


Contributors to high Candida Overgrowth & Yeast Infections:

  • Taking antibiotics (they can kill off good bacteria)
  • High stress
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Using hormone altering contraceptives (birth control pills, shots, rings, skin patches, etc.)
  • Eating sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates
  • Hormonal changes- high estrogen levels can affect the acidity of the vagina and lead to yeast overgrowth (often seen during pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy and during a woman's menstrual cycle)
  • Diabetes
  • HIV infection
  • Wearing clothes that do not let your skin breathe
  • Wearing wet clothing such as a swimsuit
  • Wearing menstrual pads or tampons too long
  • Douching
  • Heredity factors
  • Living in a hot or humid environment
  • Having sex with someone who has a yeast infection (this happens very rarely)

Tests for Candida Overgrowth

There are three types of tests that can detect your Candida levels: blood, stool and urine tests. These tests check for IgG, IgA and IgM Candida antibodies. If you are tested, make sure that you ask for a comprehensive test as standard tests may not pick up on things like D-Arabinitol (a waste product of Candida yeast overgrowth).


Vaginal Yeast Infections

Yeast infections that are focused in the vaginal area can be a part of Candida overgrowth or simply specific to the vagina and vulva. They are very common and over 75% of women have at least one during their lifetime. Symptoms of a yeast infection are typically itching, soreness, pain and even burning during urination or sexual activity. There is also white discharge that comes out that is typically thick and possibly clumpy. Women who get them often see these symptoms the week prior to their menstrual period starting. Diagnosis of a yeast infection is done through a basic vaginal exam.


Can Men Get Yeast Infections on their Penis?

Men can get yeast infections in the tip of their penis, which is called balanitis. Men are more prone to get yeast infections when they are uncircumcised or have diabetes. Symptoms of balanitis are itching or burning at the tip of the penis or around the foreskin and/or a rash. To prevent yeast infections of the penis, men are encouraged to clean under the foreskin and treatment typically involves antifungal cream or oil. Men who have chronic balanitis who are uncircumcised should look into treating themselves for Candida overgrowth and may wish to also consider circumcision.


Treatment for Yeast Infections

Conventional Treatments for Yeast Infections

Treating a one time yeast infection versus treating Candida overgrowth takes on two different strategies. The best way to treat them is topically and through proper nutrition simultaneously. If it is just a one time issue then using traditional antifungal treatments is typically effective. Examples of these are-

  • Oral yeast infections are often treated with oral medication and lozenges (i.e.: clotrimazole and nystatin).

  • Skin, nail infections, jock itch and athletes foot are typically treated with creams and ointments (i.e.: amphotericin B, clotrimazole, miconazole, clotrimazole, nystatin plus a steroid,, ketoconazole and econazole).

  • Vaginal yeast infections are typically treated with suppositories (i.e.: clotrimazole, miconazole). However, there are also oral medications such as fluconazole. Often women find that using them for 14 days is helpful to ensure that the yeast is under control if it is a strong infection.

    Important:
    If you use a cream or suppository to treat your vaginal yeast infection you may need to abstain from sex or find alternative birth control methods if you use a latex condom or diaphragm as the oil in some of these medicines can weaken latex.

  • Mouth yeast infections are treated with oral medications as well as mouth rinses (i.e.: nystatin).

Antifungal Resistance

Most doctors recommend that you take medications such as Diflucan for 6-12 weeks. This can contribute to an antifungal resistance later. Candidiasis that does not respond to treatment may be due to Candida overgrowth as well as antifungal resistance from the long-term use of antifungal drugs. New drugs are always being developed, however, for those who have Candida overgrowth using preventative measures through alternative treatments focusing on nutrition (shown below) may be desirable.

As an alternative there are also herbal remedies for candidia control which often contain garlic, pau d'arco, grapefruit seed extract, black walnut hull, oregano oil, biotin, aloe vera, anise seed, wormwood and caprylic acid.

Antifungal Drugs Not as Effective for Candida Overgrowth Issues

Conventional doctors will typically prescribe antifungal drugs in the form of creams and pills. However, if the issue is more wide spread and chronic, these may not address an underlying Candida overgrowth problem completely or at all.


Alternative Treatments for Yeast Infections

Conventional medicine typically focuses on reducing symptoms rather than treating the disease of Candida overgrowth and that is why it is a good idea to explore nutritional support by changing your diet to help combat Candida long-term.

Below are examples of treatments that have been effective in working for them to address yeast infections. Be careful in using these as some rememdies can burn the skin-

  • Coconut Oil - Coconut oil contains caprylic acid which is effective in treating yeast problems. It has been proven through scientific study to be quite effective in combating Candida strains. Make sure to use the purest form of it through organic, virgin coconut oil. Take 1 Tbs. of coconut oil three times a day for at least a week. You can also buy supplements in capsule form. In addition, you can also apply it topically and put inside the vagina.

  • Olive Leaf Oil (Oleuropein) - Studies have shown promising results in taking this as an antifungal supplement by using 250 mg to 500 mg of the extract three times a day. It is considered an antibacterial, antiprotozoal and antiviral supplement. It has no serious side effects and can also be used to help treat HIV, hepatitis B and C as well as herpes.

  • Bentonite Clay - This is effective in killing bacteria and can be used in a variety of ways. Bentonite clay removes oil and toxins from the skin while providing an antimicrobal effect. They are quite effective in treating acne, boils, seborrhoea and ulcers in addition to fungus. For internal use mix 1 teaspoon of clay powder in 2 oz. of water and drink. For topical use mix 1 part clay powder with 3 parts purified water.
  • Tea Tree Oil & Oregano Oil - Make sure you check what the proper concentration should be for the type of topical yeast infection that you have and never consume tea tree oil. Neither of these oils should be used for internal yeast infections such a vaginal yeast infection as it can kill good bacteria.

  • Boric Acid - When used in a 600 mg vaginal suppository twice per day for 2 weeks it has been show to be effective in women who are particularly resistant to yeast infection treatments. The boric acid may cause local irritation so it should be used under the supervision of a physician.

  • Additional Folk Remedies- Oregon grape root extract, baking soda, plain, unsweetened yogurt with probiotics, lemon grass, urine, aspirin dissolved in rubbing alcohol, colloidal silver, goldenseal, citronella oil, orange oil ,onion extract, patchouli, lemon, myrtle, selenium, zinc supplements, calendula, aloe vera gel, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, epsom salts, cod liver oil.

  • Herbal Candida Support- There are a few herbal remedies on the market that one can take orally to help clear a yeast infection. These are typically only recommended for adults and for women who are not at risk for being pregnant. One such formula is by Now Foods called Candida Support and contains Caprylic Acid (from Magnesium Caprylate), Pau D'Arco, Black Walnut, Oregano Oil Powder, Garlic, Olive Leaf, Cat's Claw Root, Wormwood Herb.
Yeast Infection- Candida Support


Candida Rash Tips

Anyone who has had a rash caused by yeast overgrowth knows they itch and often very badly. This can cause scratching which can then make it worse and cause damage to the skin. To decrease the itching, many find that using topical analgesic creams or sprays that have pain killing properties in them helpful.

Many people also find that taking the over-the-counter allergy medicine and antihistamine Benedryl orally is helpful, especially when trying to sleep. This medication makes most people drowsy so make sure that if you choose to take it that you read the directions carefully and avoid driving or doing anything that would put you at risk when under the influence of it.

One of the biggest tips for beating candida skin rashes is to keep them dry. That can be very difficult considering that most are in the folds of skin. However, making sure to completely dry the skin after taking a shower or bath is important and one can do this by using a very dry towel and then using a fan or hair dryer to blow cool air on the skin surface to make sure it is very dry.

Afterward, some find it helpful to apply an anti-fungal powder such as Zeasorb antifungal treatment powder. Once you have the powder applied, putting a breathable fabric barrier against the skin is helpful. For example, in cases of having it under the breasts, you can put paper towels or a handkerchief underneath each of them to wick away sweat and keep the skin dry. If you have a large belly that hangs down, you can roll up cotton underwear or something like it and place it under the belly. Get creative, but keep the skin dry as it will help kill the fungus causing the rash as it can only thrive in a moist environment.

If the rash is the groin area, you may want to use absorbent sanitary napkins to keep the moisture away from your body. You can also sprinkle antifungal powder on them as well. You can use these in other areas of the body as well.


Alternative Treatment You May Wish to Avoid

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE / GFSE)

There is conflicting research that has shown that the seeds and pulp do not actually contain antimicrobial properties while others say that it does. Part of the reason for this conflict is because GSE is not actually just the seeds and pulp of grapefruit it is made through a process that converts it into a synthetic chemical. The way that it is made entails that the pulp and seed is dried into powder and then dissolved into purified water to remove pectin and fiber. Then it is filtered and the distilled slurry is dried at a low temperature to create a highly concentrated flavonoid powder. It is then dissolved into vegetable glycerine and heated. Later ascorbic acid and food grade ammonium chloride is added and it is heated again, this time under pressure. It then goes through a catalytic conversion using hydrochloric acid and natural enzymes until there is no more residue of the hydrochloric acid. Finally the slurry is filtered and treated with ultraviolet light once it is cool and now it does contain antimicrobial properties.

The biggest controversy regarding it though is about potential preservatives in the GSE. Preservatives such as benzethonium chloride, triclosan, and methylparaben as well as Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, propyl p-hydroxybenzoate are considered to be toxic (particularly when consumed internally) and therefore may cause harm. There are claims that independent tests that were conducted in multiple labs over a 20 year period showed that all commercial GSEs had at least one or more these synthetic microbicides and disinfectants. However, considering that GSE is in and of itself a synthetic microbicide then that would explain why all of them had at least one. What we do know about GSE is that it is irritating to the skin and can increase inflammation in the body and while it is safer than many other chemical preservatives it is a synthetic chemical and is not natural.


Alternative Treatments for Candida Overgrowth

Fermented Vegetables vs Pickled Vegetables

There are those that say fermented vegetables (a.k.a. cultured vegetables) can cause yeast infections and those that say they can effectively treat yeast infections. So which is true?

When people speak of fermented vegetables in negative terms they are often referring to things like canned or jarred pickles, sauerkraut, etc. which when bought in the store are not fermented in a healthy manner, they are pickled. Foods that are pickled are preserved in an acidic base like vinegar and while vinegar is a product of fermentation it does not offer the probiotic and enzymatic value of fermented vegetables. Pickled foods do contribute to yeast infections, while fermented foods do not.

When food is properly fermented it preserves it without heat or pressure (unlike the canned and jarred pickled foods in the supermarket). Proper fermentation allows all of the beneficial lactobacilli to thrive which creates lactic acid thus increasing the vitamin and enzyme content in the food as well as improving the digestibility and bio-availability within it.

In some grocery stores you can purchase properly fermented foods but only in the refrigerated section. If they are canned or in jars and not refrigerated they are pickled and not properly fermented. They too tend to be on the more expensive side and that is why most people choose to ferment vegetables themselves.

When it comes to vegetable fermentation, it is also important that they be fermented properly in order for them to provide the right health benefits. Vegetables that are fermented do not contribute to yeast infections rather they help to combat them. The type of fermented vegetables that are most effective in treating Candida overgrowth are those that are fermented in an anaerobic vessel or when the vegetables that are fermenting are submerged completely under brine. This process starves the vegetables of undesirable bacteria that thrives on oxygen. It better provides those vegetables with the healthiest forms of probiotic strains so that they combat the Candida rather than contribute to it. If you are using wild fermentation, Mason jar fermentation or open crock fermentation make sure that they are submerged under the brine or you may find that the fermented vegetables do not fight the Candida and may even contribute to it.

Candida Fighting Foods

  • Cold-pressed Coconut Oil - As mentioned above, it contains caprylic acid and is quite effective as an antifungal agent. A reminder - make sure to get organic, virgin coconut oil. Another benefit is that it contains Lipase enzymes, however, because it is a processed oil the Lipase enzyme may not be as well absorbed by the body. Also, processed oils are easily converted into fat as they are quickly absorbed by the body in a very short period whereas wholefoods like nuts, etc. take a lot more time to digest and most of the fat is taken out of your system through bowel movements. Much better forms of Lipase enzymes are whole foods such as fish, avocados, nuts and raw coconut.

  • Garlic - Contains the compound allicin which is a powerful antifungal capable of killing Candida albicans. The suggested amount to consume is two raw cloves or you can take them as supplements in capsules.

  • Almonds - Eat almonds raw in order to get the full nutrients that contain probiotic properties. Almonds improve digestive health by increasing beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract and contain a high level of alkaline protein.

  • Cayenne Pepper - This improves circulation, metabolism and positively impacts Candida overgrowth. Cayenne pepper can be taken in capsule form so you do not have to use it on food if you do not desire it.

  • Unsweetened Yogurt & Kiefer - These contain lactobacillus acidophilus which is a type of bacterium that assists in restoring balance to the vagina.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother - Use only Bragg's with the "Mother" in it. When they say the "mother" they are referring to the dark, cloudy substance that floats around in the apple cider vinegar. This is from the naturally occurring pectin and is the molecules of protein in apple residues. Because apple cider vinegar is rich in natural enzymes, it can help to regulate the presence of candida in the body and encourage the growth of healthy bacteria. This in turn helps to minimize the overgrowth of candida. You must mix it with water in order to drink it as it is highly acidic. Also, do not use sugar to sweeten it, rather use a natural sweetener like stevia.

  • Probiotics (orally and also topically via the powder inside the capsules).

    Important- Other apple cider vinegar does not contain this as they over process, filter and overheat them killing off the best part. Vinegar in general is made in a yeast culture and this depletes the stomach of acids that can cause inflammation in your gut.

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs

There have been marked results using Chinese herbs and acupuncture to assist in treating Candida overgrowth and yeast infections. Herbal formulas should be prescribed by an acupuncturist after you have been seen so that they can recommend one that will be specific to your issues.

Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques

The NAET treatment was developed by Dr. Devi S. Nambudripad in 1983. The techniques of this treatment are a noninvasive, drug free and alleviate allergies of all types and intensities. The techniques use energy balancing from the following healing modalities: acupuncture, acupressure, allopathy, chiropractic, nutritional, and kinesiological. To learn more about it you can visit the website- NAET.com.

Candida Cleanses

The Candida cleanse diets serve to starve the offending yeast population in order to help get it under control. Typically they last 3-4 weeks. Candida cleanses involve eliminating sugar, processed food, alcohol, nuts, cheese and caffeine. In addition, other foods such as bread, rice and some fruits should be avoided. Eating foods such as the ones listed above known for their antifungal properties are encouraged in addition to probiotic dietary supplements.

Personal Lubricants for Yeast Infections

There are only a select few personal lubricants that are good for vaginal health. Waterbased, paraben free lubricants are best and there are even brands that make lubricants that are designed to prevent yeast infections such as Intimate Organics Defense Lubricant. In addition, brands like Sliquid Swirl are flavored lubricants that are designed to prevent yeast and urinary tract infections without the ingredients of sugar which can contribute to yeast infections.

While coconut oil is great for treating yeast infections, it is not recommended as a personal lubricant for the following reasons-

  • We recommend using only waterbased lubricants for vaginal sex as oils can clog vaginal ducts and help to harbor bacteria which can lead to a UTI. In addition, oils can break down condoms and some sex toys and therefore, if those are being used it is advised that you specifically find out if the materials in that brand are able to be used with oil lubricants or err on the side of caution and use waterbased lubricants.

  • Silicone lubricants are okay for vaginal use; however, if you are using certain sex toys they too can have a chemical reaction with them so we recommend sticking with waterbased lubricants unless you check first.

  • Finally, we recommend you use only a nontoxic, paraben free waterbased lubricant. Parabens are in many of the lubricants in drug stores and even given out by doctors' offices. Parabens have been linked to serious health problems. Commonly used parabens include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben so check your labels before using.

 



You should consult your physician should you decide to try an alternative treatment for a yeast infection or Candida overgrowth as it may cause further health problems if you are taking it with another medication or have health condition that may become exacerbated by the alternative treatment. Also, take time to research alternative treatments to discern if they make sense for you.



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