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Candida (also known as thrush) is a fungal disease which can affect many parts of the body, but is particularly likely to affect warm, damp areas such as the genital region.



Symptoms of Candida are diverse, and may include:

  • Vaginal or penile discharge which may be yellow-white in color and smell unpleasant
  • Itching and burning of the affected areas (particularly the vaginal region and diaper rash areas in babies)
  • Small white patches on the gums, tongue, lips and inside the cheeks which may or may not be painful, and cannot be scraped off (this is a common symptom in infants)
  • Diarrhea or constipation, bloating and flatulence, abdominal pain
  • Adverse reactions or a worsening of symptoms after eating certain foods
  • Depression, anxiety, irritability, inability to concentrate, pre-menstrual syndrome
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Recurrent episodes of cystitis
  • Damaged and painful fingernails and/or toenails (tinea)
  • Cravings for sugar, bread products and alcohol



Candida is caused by the yeast-like fungus Candida albicans which normally lives in healthy balance with other (benign) bacteria and yeasts that inhabit our mouths, bowels, skin and other mucous membranes.

When this natural balance is upset, Candida multiplies dramatically and lodges deep into the tissues, causing an outbreak of thrush. Candida imbalance may be present for long periods without causing symptoms, especially in men, but may become troublesome due to hormonal changes, stress, emotional factors, or an unbalanced diet.

Factors that may trigger Candida overgrowth include:

  • Antibiotic use
  • The oral contraceptive pill
  • The use of cortisone and other steroids
  • Poor dietary habits
  • Stress

Oral thrush occurs most frequently in babies and older people (where it may be due to ill-fitting dentures, cuts or abrasions) and in those with depleted immune systems.


Natural Therapies

The best approach to Candida infection is to improve resistance to infection, while at the same time addressing the overgrowth of the Candida organism.

  • Probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus bacteria are "good" bacteria that normally inhabit the digestive tract and the vagina. Probiotic supplementation may help to address the imbalance caused by an overgrowth of Candida, and may help relieve digestive symptoms such as flatulence and diarrhea.
  • The mineral chromium assists the body with sugar utilization and may help to reduce sugar craving symptoms; (if you are diabetic, discuss this with your healthcare professional before using it)
  • The herb garlic has anti-fungal properties and is recommended to assist with fungal infections such as Candida
  • Echinacea stimulates the body's resistance and may help to reduce susceptibility to infection


Lifestyle Factors

A diet free of yeast and sugar will help your body to fight Candida infection. Avoid bread, alcohol, mushrooms and yeast spreads, as well as sugar in any form. (Hint - when checking ingredient lists, words ending in -ose, such as maltose, lactose and glucose, generally refer to forms of sugar).

Garlic and onions display antimicrobial actions and should be eaten liberally to assist the body to fight the infection. Yogurt containing live probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus is also a valuable addition to the diet.

It is also important to boost your immune system by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

In babies it is essential that treatment is combined with regularly changed diapers and that the skin is kept dry.



Candida is more likely to develop in warm, moist environments. Try to wear cotton rather than nylon underwear, and always ensure a baby's diaper is changed as quickly as possible once soiled.

A healthy diet and lifestyle combined with good hygiene will reduce the likelihood of developing Candida. Avoid excessive amounts of yeast-based foods such as bread and try not to eat too many sugary foods.


Important Notes

Many antibacterial, corticosteroid and immuno-suppressive therapies increase susceptibility to Candida, as do pregnancy, diabetes and some other diseases. Consult with your healthcare professional if you have concerns in this regard.

In certain individuals, such as those with depleted immunity, Candida infection may require immediate medical attention.

Recurrent thrush is sometimes due to an infected sexual partner - both people may need to be treated before the situation is resolved.

Recurrent thrush in babies may indicate that the mother's nipples are infected. Your healthcare professional can recommend a suitable topical preparation.


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