A Candid Candida Discussion
Candidiasis, the clinical term for Candida infection, can be difficult both to diagnose and to treat. Except for fungal infections of the mouth (thrush), nailbeds, or recurrent vaginal infections, other symptoms such as chronic lack of energy, bloating, and mental fog could easily be attributed to other factors.
Fluconazole, the “go-to” antifungal drug of the last 50 years, works by stopping the growth of fungal species such as Candida albicans. Unfortunately, it’s no longer considered as a front-line antifungal, as drug-resistant non-albicans species including Candida glabrata and Candida aureus have emerged. The more recent group of pharmaceutical antifungals are called echinocandins. These drugs interfere with the enzyme responsible for cell-wall integrity. Unfortunately, they exhibit poor oral bioavailability, are costly, and rely upon intravenous administration; this renders them impractical and reliant upon a hospital setting for use.
Candida albicans and other Candida species are normal inhabitants of the microbiome of healthy persons. Overgrowth and subsequent infections can emerge when these opportunistic microorganisms grow exponentially following antibiotic use, excessive dietary sugar consumption, chronic stress, excessive alcohol intake, or even from oral contraceptives.
However, there are good news! Many natural botanicals exhibit antifungal activity strong enough to help restore the dominance of beneficial bacteria in your body. Caprylic acids, which are plentiful in coconut and palm oils, possess excellent anticandidal (antifungal) activity within the intestinal tract. They work as they dissolve yeast-cell membranes, which leads to their death.
Garlic, anyone? Research published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology demonstrates therapeutic effects on both the morphology of Candida cell walls and on their growth when exposed to garlic. Black walnut hull, in powdered form or extracts with higher concentrations of its antifungal constituents, is another antifungal useful to combat Candida overgrowth. Juglone is the potent organic compound responsible for most of its antifungal action; it inhibits enzymes within yeast which drive metabolic function, halting yeast growth. Good luck finding mushrooms growing under a walnut tree!
Carvacrol-rich oregano and grapefruit seed extract (GSE) rank among the most popular antifungal products for natural eradication of bacteria- and fungus-related infection. They’re available on their own or in Candida-specific formulas.
The inner bark of the pau d’arco tree, native to South America, contains a powerful phenolic compound called lapachol within its matrix of biologically-active constituents. It chokes fungal overgrowth by means of interfering with the respiratory system of yeast cells, particularly Candida species.
The goal is not to eliminate Candida species, nor would it even be possible; rather, it’s to keep their population and other resident pathogenic species in check. This helps create a healthy acidic environment, which favours the dominance of healthy probiotics. Following a Candida-recovery diet low in processed sugars and complex carbohydrates, and taking a multistrain enteric-coated probiotic will accelerate the road to recovery.
Employing a broad range of natural antifungal agents, whether in a formula or “à la carte,” seems like the natural choice when considering the narrow therapeutic range of pharmaceutical antifungals. You can take control of your health, naturally.
Gordon Raza, BSc
As the technical writer for Flourish, Gord shares his
unique perspective on natural health products, nutrition,
and active living.