Candidiasis Introduction

Candida albicans is a yeastlike fungus that is a natural inhabitant of specific areas of the body. Candida can be found in skin tissues, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, female genital tract, mouth, and throat. However, when certain conditions weaken the immune system, an overgrowth of Candida albicans may occur. This overgrowth often results in an infection known as Candidiasis.

Candidiasis most commonly results from prolonged antibiotics use, which suppresses the immune system and the normal intestinal bacteria which prevent yeast overgrowth. Other risk factors that increase the chances of developing candidiasis include recent surgery, extensive burns, intravenous drugs, long-term urinary catheters or intravenous catheters, corticosteroid drugs, chemotherapy, nutrient deficiencies, and poor diet. Candidiasis can affect nearly every system of the body. Locations of possible infection include:

  • oropharyngeal candidiasis (thrush)
  • GI candidiasis (infection of the gastrointestinal tract)
  • vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection)
  • esophageal candidiasis (throat infection)
  • chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis (infection of the skin, nails, and mucous membranes)
  • disseminated candidiasis (infection throughout the body)

Candidiasis affects women more frequently than men. Candidiasis can also occur in infants. The infected mother passes on the existing infection to her newborn. Also, persons with reduced immunity, cancer, or diabetes mellitus, can spread the fungus through the bloodstream. It may then transport into deeper, more sensitive tissues, and cause possible life-threatening infections.

Candidiasis Symptoms

The general symptoms of candidiasis may include:

If oropharyngeal candidiasis is present, symptoms may include:

  • White spots or patches on tongue or cheeks
  • Redness of the mouth and tongue

If GI candidiasis is present, symptoms may include:

  • Bloating / Gas
  • Intestinal cramps
  • Rectal itching
  • Altered bowel function

If vaginal candidiasis is present, symptoms may include:

  • Itching of the vagina
  • Thick, white vaginal discharge
  • Itching and redness of the vulva

If esophageal candidiasis is present, symptoms may include:

  • Painful swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain

If chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis is present, symptoms may include:

  • Skin rash with itchy red patches and small red bumps (such as infant’s diaper rash)
  • Fingernail or toenail fungus
  • Disseminated candidiasis symptoms can be life-threatening and may include; fever and chills, rapid breathing and hear rate, lowering in systolic blood pressure, and the progression of an underlying disorder, such as AIDS or advanced cancer.

Candidiasis Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Disease (1, 2):

  • An estimated 8 cases per 100,000 persons within the general population will contract some form of candidiasis.
  • Candidiasis represents the fourth most common cause of nosocomial bloodstream infections.
  • There is nearly a 50% mortality rate of those with bloodstream and disseminated Candidasis.
  • About 75% of all women will have at least one genital yeast infection (VVC) in their lifetime.

Candidiasis Conventional Treatment

Candidiasis must be identified through a complete diagnostic workup. This process usually entails laboratory exams, such as stool cultures for candida, and the measurement of antibody levels to candida (candida antigens in the blood). Testing is completed by a qualified health care professional and an appropriate treatment program is often recommended. The course of a treatment program is dependant upon the location of the infection. Delivery methods of medications also change in regards to the severity of infection. Antifungal drugs, such as nystatin, ketoconazole, and amphotericin may be given topically, orally, or intravenously. However, the repeated use of these drugs can lead to a drug-resistant strain of yeast.

Supplements helpful for Candidiasis

Probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria) Probiotics, including lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria, are nutritional supplements which contain the same beneficial bacterium that are found in the digestive tract. The dietary supplementation of probiotics has shown to enhance intestinal tract immunity and may be helpful for post-antibiotic therapy. Probitotics may also provide benefit in the treatment of vaginal, urinary, and intestinal tract infections. [3-7]

Olive leaf extract Olive leaf extract contains a phenolic glucoside known as oleuropein, which has been shown to have powerful antioxidant, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. The supplementation of olive leaf extract can assist in maintaining a healthy intestinal microflora. [8-11]

Grapefruit seed extract Grapefruit seed extract has been shown to exhibit certain antimicrobial and antifungal properties in the gastrointestinal system. Grapefruit seed extract supplementation can help restore and maintain healthy intestinal microflora.[12, 13]

Cat’s Claw Cat's Claw, a traditional South American medicine, has been shown to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. The ingestion of Cat’s Claw extract may help to eliminate intestinal pathogens, provide a soothing for intestinal inflammation, and support healthy intestinal microflora. [14-19]

Oregano Oil Oil of oregano has been traditionally used for inflammation, infections, indigestion, dysentery, and jaundice. Oregano oil is a powerful antiseptic and antifungal agent. It also yield antibacterial properties, and has even been used as an alternative to antibiotics. [20] Oregano oil has been shown to be effective in treating bacterial and fungal gastrointestinal infections, including Candida albicans. [21-24]

Peppermint Oil Enteric-coated peppermint oil supplements have antimicrobial and antifungal effects on the intestines. Because of this, it may be effective treatment against Candida albicans. [25-27]

Berberine Standardized berberine, extracted from berberine-containing plants such as goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape, and goldthread, may be effective in treating bacterial and fungal gastrointestinal infections like Candida albicans. Berberine can be particularly helpful for post-antibiotic therapy. Studies show that diarrhea caused by E. coli, Shigella, Salmonella, Klebsiella, Faecalis aerogenes, the parasite Giardia, or chronic candidiasis, is effectively treated by inclusion of berberine in diet. [28-32]

Garlic Numerous studies have found that garlic reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. [33, 34] The most effective garlic supplements are those standardized for its beneficial components alliin and allicin, which demonstrate antimicrobial and antifungal activities.[35, 36] Studies report that garlic supplementation may be more potent than antifungal drugs against candida. [37]

Caprylic acid Caprylic acid (a naturally occurring fatty acid) has antifungal properties and may be helpful in treating chronic candidiasis.[37]

Tea tree oil Tea tree oil, extracted from the leaves of the native Australian Melaleuca alternifolia tree, has been used for centuries as an antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agent. Studies report that tea tree oil is effective in treating a wide range of bacterial and fungal infections, including those from candida yeast. [38-42]

Psyllium and Pectin fiber A high-fiber diet including the use of natural plant fibers, such as pectin and psyllium, should be used in conjunction with one’s anti-candida therapy. Psyllium and pectin fiber supplementation has been traditionally used as way to “bulk”, or to improve stool consistency. Other used for these fibers include to promote liver function and detoxification, and ensure the elimination of dead candida cells. [43]

Larch arabinogalactan (LA) Larch arabinogalactan (LA) is an effective antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agent It may be helpful in treating immune problems including those resulting from candidiasis. [44]

Lactoferrin Lactoferrin, a natural peptide found throughout the body, has been reported to have antimicrobial, probiotic, and immune-enhancing properties. Studies have found that lactoferrin’s natural antibiotic properties can inhibit a wide range of bacteria, yeast (including Candida albicans), and intestinal parasites. [45-48] Lactoferrin’s probiotic properties are particularly helpful for post-antibiotic therapy, intestinal tract immunity, and insuring healthy intestinal microflora. [48, 49]

Pancreatic Digestive Enzymes Digestive enzymes containing the pancreatic enzymes protease, lipase, and amylase, aid in digestion and help the body to absorb and completely utilize foods. Digestive enzymes also help keep the intestines free from bacteria, parasite, or yeast. [50, 51] Supplementation with digestive enzymes may be helpful in the treatment of chronic GI candidiasis. [52]


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