Candida albicans (Thrush)
Candida albicans, commonly known as thrush, is a yeast that lives in all of our bodies all of the time. But sometimes it grows out of control and this can lead to unpleasant symptoms. This are mainly obvious and fall into three distinct areas but the underlying mode of treatment follows similar lines.
- Take herbs that help to control it and soothe irritated skin or membranes
- Decrease substances in your diet that feed Candida
- Take food supplements and probiotics that help to restore the correct balance in your body.
Herbs that help
Calendula - Calendula officinalis: Calendula is naturally antifungal, antibacterial, 'anti-yeast' and most herbalists' first choice for thrush. The tincture can be diluted in water and used as a vaginal douche internally and also to bathe the vulval area. For women whose babies have oral thrush it can be diluted and used as a skin wash on the breasts and also dabbed inside the baby's cheeks with cotton wool. For adults with oral thrush, mouthwashes containing calendula (marigold) are helpful.
Creams containing calendula will help soothe to soothe the skin in intimate areas, especially if you have been scratching and the skin is irritated. Calendula also helps skin cells to repair and renew more quickly.
Calendula salves (ointments) are sometimes used alongside or instead of the cream. Creams are absorbed into the skin, whereas ointments sit on the surface so tend to have a longer effect. Quite often a cream is great during the day, and a salve helpful to last the night though to avoid waking up with the urge ti scratch at 3 am!
Other options for internal use are live yoghurt which found to be helpful by many women. You can fill the hollow end of a Tampax applicator with yoghurt to insert it and use the tampon to keep it in position. Some women also put a drop of tea tree oil on the end of a tampon too (not if you are pregnant though).
Also avoid using perfumed soaps, talcs and toiletries in the vaginal area as these tend to irritate as do synthetic fabrics such a polyester and nylon underwear and tights.
Echinacea - Echinacea angustilfolia or purpurea: Echinacea addresses any underlying immunity problems as when your immune system is run down, thrush will often occur. For example, if you have recently been on a course of antibiotics you may be tired and antibiotics also destroy the beneficial bacteria in your body that normally keep Candida under control. Some women also find that they get recurrent symptoms just after their period.
Napiers supplies a licensed Elixir of Echinacea, that also contains Wild Indigo, that is helpful to support immunity and reduce infection. Clinical trials have proven that taking Echinacea alongside a conventional thrush cream greatly reduces recurrence. Read more about the evidence behind Echinacea in the treatment of thrush and echinocandin antifungal drugs here.
Other herbs can be taken internally to help to manage overgrowth of Candida in the gut but these are best dealt with through a consultation with a herbalist.
Dietary changes help to tackle the problem at source
While herbs can make a big difference, Candida is quite stubborn and is best tackled by also paying attention to diet.
Reduce your intake of sugar and foods with high sugar content. Avoid yeasted or fermented foods, eating bread only in moderation, if at all. Avoid mouldy foods like all those lovely French cheeses for a while! Increase the amount of garlic you eat, at least a fresh, full clove daily (crushed into a salad dressing is very tasty) or take garlic capsules.
Try to eat organic meat or fish that is not grown using antibiotics – battery farmed chicken for example are given very high levels of antibiotics. Thrush often occurs after a course of antibiotics and also the contraceptive pill is sometimes implicated.
Llve yoghurt and probiotic drinks help to increase good gut flora.
Coconut Oil: Take a spoon of virgin raw coconut oil daily. Either in your diet (not cooked) or off the spoon. It contains natural caprylic acid which is particularly active against Candida albicans. The oleic acid in olive oil has a similar but lesser effect.
Probiotics: Also take a probiotic which increases the good bacteria in your body which helps to overcome excessive yeast. Initially go for a probiotic with a very high bacteria count (e.g. 3.5 billion). Ones with lower counts are cheaper and good for longer term 'maintenance' (e.g. 1.5 billion count). Probiotics are 'live' so should be as fresh as possible so check those 'Sell by' dates and whether it should be kept in the fridge.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is also useful as it helps to alkalinise the gut. A spoonful in water with a squeeze of lemon is a great way to start each day.
Aloe vera juice: If you have Candida in the gut, aloe vera juice soothes irritated membranes and encourage the growth of friendly bacteria.
You might want to stagger diet changes and the introduction of supplements as sometimes you can feel worse before you start to get better (this is called a Herxheimer reaction). This sometimes happens especially after a severe infestation because, as Candida cells start to die off they release protein fragments and toxins that can trigger an antibody response from the immune system.