Eight Ways to Cure Candidiasis

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Eight Ways to Cure Candidiasis: Medications, stress, and improper diet can cause a systemic yeast overgrowth. Here are some holistic treatments for humbling the mighty candida.

Are you plagued by skin rashes, constipation, bloating, asthma, headaches, or vaginitis? Do you often find yourself fatigued, depressed, or anxious? If so, your difficulties may be caused by candidiasis, a systemic imbalance of the yeast candida albicans. This chronic health problem, often misdiagnosed and mistreated by conventional Western medicine, has reached nearly epidemic proportions in recent years, especially among women.

The yeast candida occurs naturally in the intestines, along with other flora such as lactobacillus acidophilus. Candidiasis arises when improper diet, medications such as antibiotics and cortisone, and hormonal supplements such as birth control pills destroy the delicate balance in the intestinal community, killing off many of candida's natural competitors. The candida then multiplies out of control and mutates into a fungus that breaks through the tissues into the bloodstream, where it can create havoc in any part of the body.

This may sound like Fantastic Voyage's version of The Blob -- but fortunately, candidiasis can be cured. According to Dr. Stephen Asquith, a holistic chiropractor in Santa Monica, California, it is important to approach the problem multidimensionally.

"Candidiasis can be treated in several ways -- not only nutritionally, but also physically with chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, or acupressure, and even, in some cases, metaphysically or emotionally," says Asquith. Add to these the systems of ayurveda, homeopathy, and medical astrology, and you have a wide array of therapies to choose from.

Diet and Supplements. To reestablish balance in the body, nutritional therapy is crucial, according to Mary Louise Aries, R.N., health consultant at Turning Point Communications in West Los Angeles, California. Sugars and other simple carbohydrates feed the candida, encouraging them to multiply even faster. Thus Aries advises patients to abstain from sweets and, in some cases, even from fruit and certain grains. Patients should also avoid moldy produce, fungi (such as mushrooms), molds (such as occur in cheese), yeast-containing foods (such as leavened bread), and fermented foods (such as alcohol, soy sauce, and vinegar).

Since candidiasis indicates an immune deficiency, Aries recommends supplements to boost the immune system. However, not everyone has the same deficiency, so Aries urges each patient to take an "immune classification" blood test to determine his or her particular weakness. Based on the laboratory findings, she recommends specific nutritional supplementation, which may include vitamins, minerals, and live cultures such as acidophilus. She may also prescribe pharmaceutical medication.

Using this individualized approach, Aries has found that in many cases the immune system can rehabilitate itself in as little as three months. A strong immune system can keep the candida population in check.

Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the oldest system of natural medicine, according to Dr. Brian Rees of the Maharishi Ayurveda Prevention Center in Pacific Palisades, California. Originating in India, ayurveda treats disease not just by eliminating symptoms, but also by strengthening the patient's overall health.

"Two people with candidiasis could each walk out of our clinic with a different treatment program. We vary the treatment according to the patient's body type, medical history, and particular pulse imbalance," states Rees. However, he does have some general advice for those with candidiasis: "Eat freshly prepared, well-cooked foods, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, rice, and dahl. The food will be more nutritious if it has been cooked by someone who loves you. Avoid eating raw foods that are hard to digest, such as broccoli or cauliflower. Eat your main meal at midday and a light dinner. Don't eat after 7:30 or 8:00 p.m."

According to ayurveda, when excess candida weakens the digestive system, the intestines become clogged with undigested food remnants called ama. By blocking the flow of energy, area can cause a host of problems, including the skin rashes, depression, and anxiety characteristic of candidiasis.

After loosening the ama with massages and herbal brews, the ayurvedic patient flushes it out through the pores and respiratory tract with steam treatments and through the bowels with purgatives. Those with vaginitis (also caused by candida) can use herbal douches. To stimulate digestion, patients can take herbal preparations.

To reduce anxiety and depression, Dr. Rees advises candidiasis patients to get adequate rest: "Human beings are diurnal creatures. If you stay awake at a time when nature would have you asleep, you increase the background noise in your system. This noise shows up the next day as anxiety." Candidiasis patients should also meditate to get extra rest and improve their emotional state.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Dr. Jan Dunn, an acupuncturist and doctor of oriental medicine who practices in Reseda and Los Angeles, California, recommends acupuncture or acupressure to candidiasis patients, as well as herbs and dietary modifications. Chinese medicine works with a life energy called chi, which flows through the body along a network of pathways known as meridians. By activating specific points along a meridian, acupuncture opens the energy channels and improves the circulation of chi.

In Chinese medicine, a candida imbalance most often appears as "dampness" (stagnation and excess mucus due to improper metabolization of food and water) and deficiency of energy in the spleen, the organ considered to be responsible for digestion. (Dampness can also occur in the bladder, the large intestine, or any other organ.) The weak spleen and the toxins produced by the candida can cause liver stagnation.

In order to restore the energy, the acupuncturist stimulates specific points along the appropriate meridians. When the chi circulates freely in the body, all the organs work more efficiently and dampness does not accumulate. Acupuncture also strengthens the immune system so that it will not allow the candida to over-multiply.

Dunn prescribes Chinese herbs that dry up dampness, eliminate toxins, and strengthen the immune system. These include licorice, poria, atractylods, and the spleen-strengthening root ginseng. Depending on the patient's condition, she may add other herbs, such as cnidium fruit and plantago leaf, that inhibit candida growth.

Patients are advised to avoid foods that create dampness, such as sugar, dairy products, alcohol, tofu, and sweet fruits. Instead, they should eat drying foods such as pearl barley, corn, aduki beans, garlic, dried ginger, pumpkin, and scallions. Since cold slows the chi circulation and weakens the spleen, Dunn recommends cutting down on cold and raw foods until the condition is under control.

Chiropractic and Massage Therapy. When the vertebrae (the bones that protect the spinal cord) are out of alignment, they pinch the nerve roots that jut out from the spinal cord, cutting off the nerve supply to vital organs. Chiropractic adjustment realigns the spine and eases the pressure on pinched nerves, allowing immune system organs to receive the nerve supply they need to fight the candida infection.

Because tight muscles can pull our vertebrae out of alignment, massage therapy is another way to increase the nerve supply to these organs.

According to holistic chiropractor Stephen Asquith, those with candidiasis can particularly benefit from chiropractic adjustments of the thoracic spine (mid-back) and massage of the muscles that surround it. (He recommends chiropractic and massage as supportive therapies only, however, agreeing that diet is the primary treatment for candidiasis.) He also recommends exercise and yoga to increase the nerve and blood supply and detoxify the bloodstream.

Homeopathy. Homeopathic pharmacies make their remedies by diluting plant, mineral, and animal substances until not even one molecule remains, in the belief that this dilution releases the substances' subtle healing energies. Homeopaths offer highly individualized treatment, focusing on treating the whole person, not just the disease. Which remedy is prescribed for a disorder such as candidiasis depends on many factors, including the patient's mood, eating habits, and home environment.

There are dozens of potential homeopathic remedies for every candidiasis symptom, but they should only be taken one at a time. A homeopath must determine, through careful interviewing and examination, which single remedy is appropriate for a particular pattern of symptoms. Some remedies boost the immune system and increase the overall energy level. Others can reduce anxiety and depression by balancing the brain chemistry. As the cure progresses and the pattern of symptoms changes, a new remedy may be prescribed.

"If someone came to me with candidiasis, and one of their symptoms was headaches, I would need to ask an array of questions," says Dr. Randy Martin, a classical homeopath who practices in West Los Angeles and Sherman Oaks, California. "For example, I'd ask: `When you get upset, do you hold in your feelings? Do you burst out in anger? Do you burst into tears? Or are you really unaware when you're angry? Before you get the headaches, have you eaten any foods that had a sour taste or were especially spicy? Do your headaches get better or worse when you go out in the open air?'"

Because of the precision that is called for, do-it-yourself homeopathy is usually discouraged. "Generally speaking, most people with candidiasis should only use remedies under the direction of an experienced practitioner," says Dr. Martin.

"However, if you have read a lot about homeopathy and feel comfortable using it, you can take low potencies such as 3x, 6x, or 12x for two or three days," Martin claims. Remedies useful for candidiasis patients include borax, graphites, kreosotum, and mercurius solubis for different types of vaginal infections and nux vomica for indigestion and bloating. Advises Martin, "Each remedy should be taken twice a day. Discontinue if your symptoms worsen or begin to clear up. If they reappear, take the remedy another two or three days. You can follow this on-and-off cycle for a maximum of three times. If your symptoms don't start to clear up after you've taken a remedy for two or three days, try a different potency or change remedies."

Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Work. Every illness has a mental cause, according to Louise L. Hay, founder of the Hay Educational Institute, a center for self-healing in Santa Monica, California. Hay subscribes to the belief that while the universe is essentially good, many deny their own true natures by operating out of negative beliefs. Such people may adopt a "victim" stance ("everything bad always happens to me"), believe they don't deserve to be healthy, or feel they are bound to an illness due to heredity. In Hay's book You Can Heal Your Life, she claims that these mental and emotional patterns create disease and that healing comes when a person is willing to let go of them. According to Hay, people with candidiasis generally exhibit a characteristic emotional pattern: They feel scattered, frustrated, and angry and are demanding and untrusting in relationships.

At the Hay Institute, intensive training programs, lectures, workshops, and support groups teach participants to heal themselves through self-love. The directors of the institute assert that one of the most effective healing tools is the repetition of positive affirmations while looking into a mirror. The affirmations considered most helpful for healing candidiasis are: "I give myself permission to be all that I can be. I deserve the very best in life. I love and appreciate myself and others." By, repeating these statements, people can reprogram their subconscious minds -- old, unwanted patterns fall away and more useful beliefs emerge that encourage good health. As participants progress, they are encouraged to design their own personal affirmations by noticing their negative thoughts and revising them to positive statements.

Medical Astrology. "Even before people get candidiasis, their charts can show that they are prone to afflictions of the immune system. The positions of nodes [magnetic points in the zodiac] and planets such as Sun, Mars, and Saturn may indicate that their health is easily affected by drugs, improper diet, or pollution," says Chakrapani Ullal, a Hindu vedic astrologer who has helped many clients with candidiasis.

An astrologer can also tell whether the candidiasis patient has an inborn tendency to eat certain types of food that will aggravate the disease. "If a person's chart shows that spicy food is bad for her, I advise her to eliminate that food from her diet. Also, once she finds out she has a tendency to overeat spicy foods, she will think twice every time she reaches for the hot peppers. She will be able to change her habits more easily, now that she is more conscious of them," Ullal explains.

An astrological chart also indicates the psychological health of the person with candidiasis. Says Ullal, "I'd look at the planetary positions to see if she needed psychotherapy. If her mind is in a better state, her body will respond to treatment much more easily." An astrologer can also ease a patient's distress by pointing out that the candidiasis will respond more easily to treatment once certain planetary cycles are over. Once the patient accepts a condition as temporary, he or she becomes calmer, speeding up the healing process.

In today's world of antibiotics, birth control pills, junk food diets, and high-pressure living -- all of which tend to encourage yeast growth -- candidiasis is rampant. By taking advantage of these various tools of holistic medicine, though, we can teach the lofty candida albicans a lesson in humility -- and put her back in her proper place.

Yoga Journal L.L.C.

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By Barbara Rosen

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