Candidiasis is a yeast, or fungal, infection caused by several species of Candida, the most predominant being Candida albicans. Although approximately 80% of healthy individuals will have normal colonisation in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, vagina, and rectum, most produce bacterial flora to protect against infections. Clinical manifestations vary according to subtype and range from superficial to severe infections. Candidiasis is the fourth leading cause of nosocomial infectious disease. Approximately 75% of women will contract candidiasis of the vagina during their lifetime, and 90% of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS will develop a Candida infection. The primary subtypes are:
- Oral candidiasis (thrush)
- Perlèche (candidal angular cheilitis)
- Cutaneous disease
- Disseminated candidiasis (can affect lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, heart, brain, and eyes)
- Gastrointestinal candidiasis
- Urinary tract candidiasis
- Candidal endocarditis (often due to damaged or prosthetic cardiac valves, or long-term intravenous catheter use)
- Central nervous system candidiasis (extremely rare)
- Chronic candidiasis (occurs predominantly in immunosuppressed patients)
Causes / Risk Factors
- Dermatitis (inflammation of the skin, )
- Prolonged neutropenia (low white blood-cell count)
- Bacterial infection
- Cushing’s disease
- Histiocytosis (immune disorder)
- HIV infection
- Intravenous drug abuse
- Intravascular catheter
- Long-term antibiotic use
Signs and Symptoms
- Fever, malaise
- Creamy white patches overlying erythematous buccal mucosa (thrush)
- Painful, macerated fissures at the corners of the mouth (perlèche)
- Erythematous skin lesion found most commonly in the groin, between fingers and toes, under the female breast, and in the axilla (cutaneous disease)
- Vulvar erythema, oedema, and pruritus; usually including a curd like discharge (vulvovaginitis)
- Large abscesses and diffuse microabscesses (disseminated candidiasis)
- Erosive lesions of the distal oesophagus and stomach (gastrointestinal candidiasis)
- Urinary tract infection (urinary tract candidiasis)
Diet and Lifestyle considerations for Candidiasis
- Diet should be based on fresh, whole foods. Nutrients are essential for adequate immune function.
- Sugar, sweets, soft drinks, fruit juices should be avoided as sugar encourages dysbiosis
- Other high carbohydrate foods such as grains, fruit, and starchy vegetables should be consumed sparingly or avoided initially
- Some people with Candida infections develop an intolerance to yeasts, and find avoiding yeasts and fermented foods helpful. These include:
- Bread, vinegar, pickles, alcohol, vegemite, mushrooms, cheese, processed meats (salami etc), peanuts and peanut butter and left overs.
- Natural yoghurt (unsweetened) with live lactobacillus is likely to be helpful.
- Foods should be cooked and easy to digest to minimise fermentable material in the gut.
- Protein should be consumed at each meal.
- Patients should rest during infection as much as possible to support immune function
- Avoid or minimise stress as much as possible, as this reduces immune activity.
- Avoid synthetic clothing and underwear as this may increase likelihood of vaginal thrush developing.
- If sexually active, treating both partners may be beneficial to avoid reinfection.
- When taking antibiotics, supplement with Lactobacillus acidophilus; avoid broad-spectrum antibiotics unless necessary; practice good hygiene, including oral hygiene and thorough cleansing of genital areas; maintain appropriate weight; wear cotton or silk underwear; women should avoid douches (unless medically indicated), vaginal deodorants, and bubble baths; diabetics should adhere to treatments; wear rubber gloves if occupation requires keeping hands in water; keep skin dry.
Integrative Treatments Overview
In order to obtain optimal results, the patient might consider a holistic approach that integrates several treatments to address biochemical, physiological, energetic, emotional and/or spiritual imbalances. These treatments can include Allopathic Medicine, Complementary Medicine, Biomedicine, Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, Functional Medicine, Orthomolecular Medicine, Energy Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathy, Ayurvedic, muscular-skeletal support, Psychology and more. It’s important that treatments are overseen by experienced and certified practitioners who are able to work in teams (see below for where to find one).
For Treatment options see Treatments menu at mindd.org
Nutritional & Environmental Medicine Overview
Nutritional & Environmental practitioners focus on cellular health by optimising nutrient uptake while minimising toxic exposure. Biomedicine, Functional Medicine and Orthomolecular Medicine are all subsets. The overall goal is to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress which are key drivers in chronic modern disease (e.g. asthma is inflammation of the lungs, arthritis is inflammation of the joints, eczema is inflammation of the skin, IBS involves inflammation of the gut and ADHD and Autism include inflammation of the brain). A combined approach of diet, lifestyle and natural therapies supports the body’s innate ability to heal and prevent disease by maintaining homeostasis (balance).
It is recommended that a patient consult a certified practitioner to assess their symptoms and case history and explore their individual need to:
- Screen for food sensitivities and allergies
- Implement dietary intervention geared to the individual (e.g. GAPS, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, FodMAPS, Evolutionary, low oxalate/salicylate, Ketogenic)
- Supplement with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and probiotics
- Improve gastro-intestinal health to support the vagus nerve and brain and immune function
- Support neurotransmitter function
- Supply fat soluble nutrients for brain structure and function
- Reduce toxicity and heavy metal accumulation
- Minimise infections (e.g. bacteria, yeast, virus, parasites) to reduce immune response and nutritional deficiencies that can impact on mental and physical health
- Regulate blood glucose and establish healthy eating habits
- Use energy healing (acupuncture, homeopathy, kinesiology, Emotional Freedom Technique)
Where can I find a certified practitioner?Finding a well-trained Integrative and/or Functional practitioner requires research but is a vital step in treating complex and chronic illness.
Below are links to lists of practitioners worldwide. We recommend you research the scope, expertise and experience of any practitioners you are considering.
U.S. & GlobalInstitute of Functional Medicine
Integrative Medicine for Mental Health
Medical Academy of Paediatric Special Needs (MAPS)
Australia & New ZealandMindd Foundation
The Australian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine (ACNEM)
UKThe British Society for Ecological Medicine
Disclaimer: Mindd Foundation does not endorse any specific individuals listed and makes no representations, warranties, nor guarantees and assumes no responsibility for any services provided. Mindd Foundation expressly disclaims all liability for damages of any kind as a result of using any products or services provided by those listed.