Natural Candida Remedies

Why you should be skeptical, and reasons to see your doctor

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There have been many natural remedies suggested for the treatment of "Candida overgrowth." Some include essential oils, probiotics, and other supplements. If you're considering them, it's first important to know that Candida overgrowth—described as the proliferation of Candida albicans, a fungus (yeast) that normally lives on and in the body—is not a recognized medical condition, though some alternative practitioners support its validity.

Candida overgrowth has been proposed as a possible contributor to illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), allergies, and mood problems, but a link has not been proven. Furthermore, there is no confirmatory diagnostic test that can verify Candida overgrowth because the fungus is expected to be present in and on your body without causing any problems.

While the concept of its overgrowth is controversial, Candida infections (e.g., thrush, esophagitis, and others) are official medical conditions that are often serious and need to be carefully evaluated. Furthermore, they should not be treated with alternative approaches. 

Candida Infections

Candida infections are not defined as Candida overgrowth. These infections involve damage to tissues and may result in an inflammatory immune response as the body fights the fungus.

Candida infections include issues such as:

  • Thrush (candidiasis in the mouth or throat)
  • Vaginal yeast infections (candidiasis in the vagina)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vaginitis
  • Esophagitis
  • Candida mastitis (breast infection)
  • Disseminated candidiasis, that which infects the bloodstream and affects internal organs, such as the heart (a.k.a. invasive candidiasis, Candida septicemia)

These infections often develop due to diminished immunity or antibiotic use and cause symptoms such as pain, discharge, and swelling. Candida infections can and need to be effectively treated with anti-fungal medications.

Candida infections cannot be treated with natural therapies, and they require over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication, as recommended by your doctor.

Candida Overgrowth Products

The term Candida overgrowth does not have an official definition, and it is sometimes used by alternative practitioners to explain a host of unrelated (and often vague) symptoms.

The below products may be suggested as treatments. While there is some research behind their benefits in general, none of these options have been tested in rigorous clinical trials for this particular purpose. In addition, natural products marketed for Candida overgrowth are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Using natural remedies for Candida while avoiding or delaying standard care could be harmful to your health. It is always wise to discuss alternative and natural treatments with your doctor before starting them.

Probiotics

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a type of bacteria that is naturally present in the body, most often in the mouth, intestines, and female productive system. It is considered to benefit your health in several ways, one of which is the potential prevention of yeast overgrowth.

Eating yogurt and other fermented foods or taking probiotic supplements are popular ways of maintaining Lactobacillus acidophilus in your digestive system. In fact, probiotics usually contain several types of bacteria believed to be beneficial for gut health.

Using probiotic supplements or consuming foods enriched with probiotics is often considered a useful strategy for balancing the bacteria and yeast in your digestive system. These microorganisms play a role in maintaining your immune system and in helping you digest your food.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are foods that contain fiber, and they have been promoted as a method of reducing the amount of yeast in the body. For example, asparagus, a prebiotic food, has a combination of fiber and antioxidants. Research suggests that asparagus may diminish substances in the body that promote infection, including yeast.

Research also suggests that the prebiotic fiber in bananas may promote healthy gut bacteria and balance the amount of yeast present.

Other Supplements

Examples of supplements that have been promoted for slowing down yeast growth include caprylic acid from coconuts, oleic acid from olive oil, and pau d'arco. In general, natural health practitioners suggest using these supplements on an everyday basis or until your symptoms resolve. Some suggest using supplements to prevent Candida overgrowth.

Enteric-Coated Essential Oils

Enteric-coated capsules containing oregano oil, peppermint oil, and other oils have also been proposed as strategies for preventing the overgrowth of Candida.

According to a 2017 study , essential oils, including those containing oregano and thyme, may diminish the growth of Candida albicans.

Pure volatile oils can be toxic in high amounts. The liquid form of these oils should never be ingested, and capsules should not be broken open before use.

Enteric-Coated Garlic

There has been some research suggesting that garlic may prevent the growth of yeast and bacteria. Some alternative medicine practitioners suggest using it, either alone or in combination with enteric-coated peppermint or oregano oil, for preventing yeast growth.

Lifestyle Changes for Candida Overgrowth

Certain lifestyle habits have also been suggested as possible ways to manage or prevent Candida overgrowth. The same word of caution applies here: None of these are proven effective, and opting for them may delay the treatment you need to feel better.

Diet

Some alternative medicine practitioners consider diet to be an important part of managing the growth of Candida. Naturopathic practitioners generally caution that you'll need to stick with a diet for at least two weeks to see the benefit, though the length of time depends on your symptoms and overall health.

When you start to see an improvement, foods from a restricted list can slowly be incorporated back into your diet. Sugar is an example of a food that is recommended in moderation with a Candida diet.

Interestingly, researchers have suggested that non-nutritive sweeteners like saccharin have may suppress the growth  of Candida.

Alcohol

Alcohol consumption may be linked with the growth of Candida yeast. A research study found that intestinal fungi was associated with alcoholic liver disease. It is not clear whether the yeast was caused by alcohol consumption or whether it could have played a role in the development of the alcoholic liver disease.

Tobacco Products

A study from researchers in Spain found that, in addition to alcohol consumption, smoking tobacco may encourage Candida growth. Tobacco users had elevated levels of the yeast in their body, especially in their mouths.

A Word From Verywell

There is a place for natural remedies when it comes to many conditions, either as alternatives or complementary treatments. This is not one of them. If you're experiencing any of the symptoms said to be associated with Candida overgrowth, consult your doctor. While you may want to self-treat, remember that this condition has not been verified. What you are experiencing could be due to a condition that requires proper—and prompt—treatment.

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