FAQ - Candida

Fashions come and go in complementary medicine, and the ‘diagnosis’ of candida infection in the gut was all the rage some fifteen to twenty years ago. You still hear it from people who got infected with the idea of candida, as it were, and haven’t re-examined the logic of it. All sorts of symptoms, from bloating to headaches to mood swings, were put down to the evil fungus, and terrible joyless diets that banned all sugar, fruit and yeast-rich foods were prescribed. I’ve seen patients who have persisted with the diet for months, only to become underweight and drained of energy, but with no improvement in their original symptoms. So what is really going on?

Candida albicans is a fungal infection, often called ‘thrush’, and it can become a persistent problem in the mouth and vagina. It’s an opportunist, like nettles in your garden; there all the time, but taking advantage of chinks in your armour – for instance, if you’ve been taking antibiotics for some other condition which have upset the normal balance. It is treatable with various herbs, notably the Artemisias, Thyme and Ti-tree, and antibiotics if needed. An overgrowth of candida in the gut would only happen in a patient who was severely immunocompromised and seriously ill. In any case, it’s not useful to see it as the ‘cause’ of digestive and other problems. These issues arise for a number of reasons, including what you eat and when you eat it, and how you handle stress. Deal with these, and the symptoms will improve. Candida is a red herring, and red herrings are no use to us as food or anything else.

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