Candidiasis is a fungal infection due to any types of Candida (a type of yeast). When it affects the mouth, it is commonly called thrush. Signs and symptoms include white patches on the tongue or other areas of the mouth and throat. Other symptoms may include soreness and problems swallowing. When it affects the vagina, it is commonly called a yeast infection. Signs and symptoms include genital itching, burning, and sometimes a white “cottage cheese-like” discharge from the vagina. Less commonly the penis may be affected, resulting in itchiness. Very rarely, the infection may become invasive spreading throughout the body, resulting in fevers along with other symptoms depending on the parts of the body affected.
What causes Candida according to Chinese Medicine?
According to Chinese Medicine, the main culprit for yeast infections and thrush is food, possibly paired with low immunity or a weakened digestive system. Foods that are cold in temperature such as fruits, salads, ice cream and tofu can cause an overgrowth of yeast. The same applies to foods that are high in processed sugars or foods that are excessively salty. Too much raw food can weaken the digestive fire and damage the digestive function – digestion needs warmth (Yang) to be able to optimally transform food into energy. Other yeast inducing products are ferments, or fermented foods, yeasted breads, alcoholic beverages, fried food and most intoxicants and any food in excessive amounts!
Complicated meals of many ingredients promote pathogenic fermentation in the digestive system which will allow candida to overgrow. Hence simple food combining is more effective in controlling yeast overgrowth. Often dietary adjustments might not be enough to overcome an acute ‘infection’. The most common cause for Candida proliferation (besides eating the wrong foods with a weakened digestive system), is repeated amounts of broad spectrum antibiotics. If you are in need of antibiotics, you must assist your gut flora with probiotics or foods rich in chlorophyll such as deep-green vegetables and barley grass concentrates, raw sauerkraut or an acidophilos culture.
Women taking oral contraceptives are found to be at greater than average risk to develop candidiasis – with the precise aetiology unknown – it seems that the continuous, hormonal stimulation imbalances the digestive system and leaves it vulnerable to the overgrowth of candida.
How much does Stress affect Candida?
Anxiety and worry greatly contribute to the condition. This happens because these strong emotions will upset the normal flow and function of the digestive system (Spleen, Stomach, Large Intestine, Lung) and will make it more susceptible to yeast overgrowth. In Chinese medicine, this is considered as dampness invasion. We treat candida according to the individual manifestation of symptoms and pay much attention to the underlying cause. For instance a weak spleen will cause excessive dampness, possibly caused by an over active liver with or without heat.
A customized formula will be prescribed in either Chinese herbal medicine or Acupuncture or both.
Foods that are allowed:
- regularly consume raw sauerkraut (without salt please)
- Green (chlorophyll rich) vegetables
- kelp and seaweed
- a moderate intake of complex carbohydrates
- lightly cooked sprouts of barley, rice, millet, rye, quinoa, adukibean, soybean and mungbeans
- Aduki and mung beans
- moderate amounts of berries, pomegranates, lemons, limes
- Flax seeds and flax seed oils
- small amounts of fish
- small amounts of goat’s milk
- small amounts of nuts, seeds, avocados
Foods that have to be avoided:
- Concentrated sweeteners
- starchy vegetable tubers (potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes)
- most fruit
- deep fried food
- animal proteins (milk, eggs, red meat)
- yeasted bread, brewer’s yeast and ferments such as common vinegar
- alcoholic beverages
Thrush and yeast infections can become chronic. Don’t let it get that far, come early and be prepared to make those dietary adjustments, they are going to be essential.