White coating on your tongue, mysterious skin rashes, bloating, constipation, and you’re always ready to eat something sweet? You could be suffering from Candida overgrowth.
What is Candida albicans?
Candida albicans is the most common kind of yeast that co-exists with humans. Under optimal conditions, Candida plays a valuable role in digestion, since we need small amounts of Candida in our mouths and throughout our digestive system in order to fully digest our food.
However, as anyone who’s ever baked bread knows, yeast likes to grow. (It is a fungus, after all.) When circumstances are ideal, there is a balanced state of Agni, or digestive ability. Our GI bacteria keeps intestinal yeast growth in check, creating a harmonious balance between bacteria and yeast.
The delicate balance between GI bacteria and yeast
This delicate balance is, however, easily disturbed. According to Ayurvedic medicine, there are both external and internal factors that affect this balance.
External factors include: taking a round of antibiotics, overconsumption of foods containing refined sugar or alcohol, synthetic preservatives or food colouring, estrogen dominance, use of birth control pills, or consuming noncompatible foods. These factors cause a buildup of toxins (or Ama) that eventually becomes “food” for yeast.
Internal factors such as stress and unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits disturb the digestive strength (or Agni) and further add to the toxins from undigested food. This can all multiply the amount of yeast in your system. The result? Candida overgrowth.
What are the symptoms of Candida overgrowth in the gut?
1. Despite your best intentions, you have strong cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. (Candida wants to keep multiplying, so a taste of sugar will leave you wanting more!)
2. You feel itchy all over, especially, and sometimes embarrassingly, in the anal or vaginal area.
3. Speaking of embarrassment, you suffer from toenail fungal infections or unexplained itchy foot rashes.
4. Your digestion feels out of whack, with a lot of gassiness and bloating.
5. You experience mood swings and frustration for no obvious reason – or you frequently feel anxious or depressed, even though you are doing your best to look after your emotional well-being.
6. Unexplained joint pain makes it hard to keep up with your exercise routine, and that lack of exercise only worsens your other symptoms. You want to work out, but it’s not easy!
An Ayurvedic approach to managing Candida
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, as an Ayurvedic approach involves taking an in-depth look at various aspects of your lifestyle. In general, the first step of treatment consists of dietary changes. (You knew that was coming, right?)
Rules of thumb are:
- Consistency in mealtime
- Eating mild- to well-cooked foods only
- Consuming food in a relaxed state
- Eating more seasonal and local foods
- Adding/sprinkling fresh and dry ginger or black pepper on your food
Herbs and spices that kill Candida
Research has found that many traditional Ayurvedic herbs and spices aid in killing off stubborn Candida overgrowth. Studies have found turmeric to be effective, as well as coconut oil, sesame seed oil, cumin, black pepper, and long pepper.
When you work with an Ayurvedic counselor or practitioner, a specialized dosha diet with related lifestyle changes and medicinal herbs such as harde, chitrak, vidanga, or guduchi might be recommended. Indeed, late spring/early summer is the best time of year to work with a qualified Ayurvedic care provider to plan a Candida cleanse and rebuild digestive strength.