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Are you overrun by Candida?

Crossed-legs lady

Candida can make you wanna be cross-legged

Yes, we’re going there.

If you get back-to-back yeast infections, some practitioners and books on the topic may have you believe you’re as full of yeast as a loaf of bread, preaching that Candida albicans—which naturally exists in our bodies—can seep into your intestinal walls and suffuse your entire body.

But according to Deborah Coady, MD, an OB/GYN at Soho Obstetrics and Gynecology and clinical assistant professor at New York University Langone Medical Center, this theory is completely false. “The only time a total body infection really happens is if somebody is immunocomprised, in which case it’s a very serious, life-threatening condition,” says Coady. Phew!

Still, Candida overgrowth is a very real condition, usually caused when the body’s healthy bacteria is wiped out by antibiotics or other medications (including steroids, antacids, and even birth control pills). And it can often crop up in the gut, bringing with it such unexpected symptoms as gas, bloating, fatigue, and—why not torture us completely?—skin problems.

How to get rid of a yeast infection

Truly ridding yourself of the problem can require more than just an over-the-counter treatment, says Sarah Cimperman, ND, a naturopath practicing in Manhattan. You do have to increase the immune system, she says, and look at how the person is coping with stress. “But also key is ensuring the digestive system is functioning properly—is your pancreas making enough food-digesting enzymes, for example. And maybe even more important, making sure you have healthy levels of other bacteria.”

To knock out candida, Cimperman often prescribes an average of three months on a yeast-free diet—avoiding sugar, grains, dairy, and alcohol—while reintroducing healthy bacteria with probiotics, in order to rebalance your system. (Cimperman likes HMF from Seroyal, but any that contain at least 1 billion bacteria or CFU per serving should do the trick.)

Natural remedies that work

If a yeast-free diet sounds too difficult, there are other natural treatments that help: Caprylic acid, Pau d’Arco, olive leaf extract, and even fresh garlic cloves (thread them and wear them like a tampon), which all have anti-fungal properties. (We know a woman who’d nuke her panties in the microwave on the off chance that machine-washing them wasn’t enough.) One of us here at Well+Good swears by tea tree suppositories (available at health-food stores) and a glass or two of aloe water for flare-ups.

But before you start on a regimen you might want to consult a physician. As Dr. Coady says, “Everything that itches is not necessarily a yeast infection.” —Nina Pearlman

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  1. April 26th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    [...] – We’ve all been on a trip to candida land, but now you know how to treat a yeast infection. (Well + Good NYC) [...]

  2. April 26th, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Good for you for tackling this subject. It’s an important topic not just because it’s an annoying problem, but because if not addressed early on, it can ignite into a much bigger problem(s).

    The difference between Dr. Coady’s standpoint and those with a holistic approach believe that a person who experiences consecutive yeast infections is immunocompromised. If the immune system is healthy yeast doesn’t overgrow. If the immune system is compromised (unhealthy) yeast can overgrow and cause a variety of other health issues. Total body infections are not only possibly, they occur more often than most realize. And you can have yeast overgrowth in your body without having vaginal yeast infections. You may have other symptoms. If you suspect you have a yeast problem you can have bloodwork done to verify if you have Candida overgrowth.

    I began investigating this subject 14 years ago when it became necessary for me to take control of my health and heal myself. I don’t believe you can truly heal without changing your diet, whether or not you consume healthy supplements or OTC meds.

    These two sources really helped me understand the issues, provided effective natural remedies and helped greatly in my recovery: http://www.wholeapproach.com and http://www.annlouise.com.

  3. April 28th, 2011 at 5:15 pm

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  4. May 2nd, 2011 at 12:12 am

    I had great success with oil of oregano supplements in getting rid of a Candida infection. With a strict diet, I was able to kick a very serious infection within two weeks or so. Highly recommended.

  5. May 18th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Isn’t it true that hormonal changes can also be responsible for episodic yeast infections?

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  7. August 8th, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Great article, interesting information on candida and what can help…thanks for sharing.

    Lisa

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