Candida is a type of fungus (or, more specifically – yeast) that can cause fungal infections like candidiasis, candidemia, and oral thrush.Dozens of species of candida are known to affect humans and Candida albicans is the most common. When the immune system functions normally, Candida is kept in check and exists harmlessly in the skin or mucous membranes like those of the gut and vaginal area. It’s even among the organisms that newborns acquire during natural birth, nursing, or from food. However, a compromised immune system, and other factors such as poor diet, can lead to an imbalance where Candida overwhelms the body, known as Candida-overgrowth.
What Causes Candida Overgrowth ?
Predisposing factors for infection include:
Characteristically candida causes red and white patches on mucosal surfaces. In skin folds it results in moist fissuring with satellite superficial papulopustules.
Types of Candida infection :
Candida infection is named according to the area of the body in which it occurs. The following are some of the body sites where candida may be present:
1. Vaginal yeast infection or candida vaginitis Yeast infection of the vaginal area is common. If the infection is also present at the vulva (the area around the entrance to the vagina), the condition is known as vulvovaginal candidiasis. The infection commonly occurs as a result of self contamination with yeast organisms from the rectal passage. Sexual transmission is possible but unusual. Vaginal candida infections are not usually transmitted sexually. They are often included among the sexually transmitted diseases because they may occur with other types of reproductive system infections.
2. Oral thrush This is a superficial, sometimes recurrent infection that affects moist surfaces around the lips, inside the cheeks and on the tongue and palate. Oral thrush is generally not contagious.
3. Oesophageal thrush (Oesophagitis) Oral thrush can spread to the oesophagus which is the connecting passage between the mouth and the stomach.
4. Cutaneous (skin) candidiasis Candida can cause infections in areas of skin that are moist and receive insufficient ventilation. Some common sites include the nappy/diaper area ("nappy rash" or candidal dermatitis) in babies; the webs of fingers and toes; the groin and the crease of the buttocks; the skin under large breasts; and the fingernail beds.
5. Balanitis: A less common but equally irritating infection on the glans of the penis and beneath the foreskin.
6. Systemic candidiasis: A condition which only affects people with compromised immune systems, for example, those who are HIV-positive, have cancer or are on immune suppressive drugs after organ transplantation. Candida fungi contaminate the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing severe infection. Typical organs that can be affected include the brain, eyes, liver and heart.
Ayurvedic View and Treatment options :
From an Ayurvedic perspective, the premier etiology of candida is agnimandya, or deficient digestive efficiency. Improper functioning of Samana vayu, (a subdivision of Vata dosha) along with deficient Pachakagni (digestive fire) cause a systemic malfunctioning of the digestive process. The result of this deficient digestion is the production of ama, undigested and partially digested food materials that becomes enlodged in the alimentary canal and ultimately migrates throughout the body. Accumulations of intestinal ama result in the defective processing of food into utilizable nutrients needed for the proper nourishment of the tissues. Ama is absorbed into the subtle channels of the body known as srotas, creating toxicity and are the basis for the initiation of the disease process. As ama accumulates in the small and large intestines, it will putrefy and ferment, thus inhibiting the normal flora to proliferate and finally resulting in the change of proportionate populations of normal intestinal flora. It is because of this variation from the normal flora balance that a Candidiasis occurs.
The Ayurvedic treatment is similar to that of parasites, and includes components as ---> Balance the Agni (digestive enzyme functioning) ---> Increase Ojas (immunity) ---> Eradicate the pathogen (in this case, the Candida) by opting following steps :-
Step 1. - Reduce concentration of toxins in the system by using purification procedures like Virechana or medicated purgation. done. In Vata-predominant conditions medicated castor oil containing Asafetida or Garlic may be used, while in treating Pitta types the classic Ayurvedic formula ‘Avipattikara churna’ is used for balancing. Kapha types can use the classic Kapha-alleviating preparation known as Trivicchurna.
Step 2. - After completing purification procedures, the agni or digestive fire should be regulated. For digestion, formulations containing trikatu and hing are found to be effective.
Step 3. - Start herbs like bala, ashwaganda, brahmi, and gudduchi to build strength and immunity.
Step 4. - After controlling underlying imbalance, herbs like vidanga, neem, pomegranate, and tulsi are used to destroy the yeast.
Step 5. - Start pippali rasayana, which enables regulation of the digestive fire, and triphala rasayana, a powerful anti-oxidant used to purify the srotas or energizes all tissue components of the body.
Step 6. - Follow an Ayurvedic diet containing turmeric, ginger, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon, and with special care taken to avoid cold foods or drinks, heavy foods at the evening meal, as well as oily and fried food. Also to be eliminated are caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and carbonated beverages, yeasted breads and pastas, aged cheeses, mushrooms and peanuts and fermented foods such as vinegar and products that contain fermented foods as ingredients.
One needs to understand the cause of candidiasis as it could be due to the aggravation of vata, pitta, or kapha.
Vata is vitiated due to the excessive intake of too pungent, bitter, and astringent foods, too much cold food and excessive travel,suppression of natural and normal urges like urination, excessive intercourse, irregular eating and sleeping habits.
Treatment involves involves avoiding of dairy, sugar, breads, and mucous producing foods.
Cold and raw foods should also be avoided. Sip hot water every 20 minutes and drink eight to ten eight ounce glasses of warm lemon water per day.
Avoid concentrated fruit juice and take fresh fruit in moderation. Use hing, ginger, basil ajwan, and garlic to spice your food.
Use triphala churnam by boiling it in water and drinking the filtered warm liquid before sleep.
By consuming pungent, uncooked, burning, sour and alkaline foods, pitta gets aggravated.
Treatment involves intake of fresh leafy green vegetables, avoiding sugar and concentrated fruit juices.
Have more pomegranates, bitter herbs, veggies, and spices.
Prepare Neem Tea and have 4 cups per day.
Kapha is aggravated by the intake of food that is too heavy, too oily, and cold. Overeating and sleeping immediately after breakfast or lunch generates Ama.
Treatment involves avoiding all mucus-forming, oily, and greasy foods, salt, sugar.
Take 1/2 spoon of Trikatu (long pepper, black pepper, and ginger) powder along with warm water before meal.
For expert advise and a personalised treatment plan, please book a consultation with qualified doctors at Life Line Ayurvedic Herbal Clinic.