What is Candida?
Candida is a genus of yeasts, many species of which can be found living in most humans and animals. In most cases, Candida (usually Candida albicans in mammals) is commensal, meaning it lives with the other flora in the gut without causing any particular harm. Certain changes in environment, like a sudden lack of balance between yeast and bacteria in the body will sometimes trigger the harmless single-celled Candida to become a multicellular invader. This can manifest in several different ways, including diaper and skin rashes, thrush, nail bed infections, and yeast infections. Overgrowth of the yeast is referred to as candidiasis.
There are multiple home remedies for treating the various manifestations of candidiasis. For yeast infections, there are several over-the-counter drugs such as Butoconazole (Femstat), Miconazole (Monistat), Tioconazole (Vagistat), and Clotrimazole (Femizole-7, Gyne-Lotrimin). Treatment with these products should clear up symptoms in about a week.
Nystatin is an antifungal agent for mouth thrush and is typically the only medication used when children are diagnosed. Adults also have pills like fluconazole (Diflucan) and anti fungal throat lozenges called troches. Using this medication, the thrush should clear up in about 1 to 2 weeks.
Skin and diaper rashes are treated with Clotrimazole lotions and creams and also clear up in 1 to 2 weeks with treatment. More serious infections that have spread throughout the body require prescription strength amphotericin B. This medication includes antifungals that attach to the cell wall building material of the yeasts, creating holes that allow the yeast to drain and die. This strong IV treatment is known to have many side effects, and as a result, the medication is administered slowly and it may take longer than two weeks to eradicate the candidiasis.
There is a large contingency of alternative medical practitioners that believes many diseases are caused by excess Candida in the system. Many of these claims are unproven and have few studies but many articles on the subject and products for sale on alternative health product websites. They cite the symptoms of "systemic candidiasis" as: chronic fatigue, extreme mood swings, chronic infections, diarrhea, short-term memory loss, lymphatic swelling, night sweats, insomnia, and increased food allergies, to name a few. To fully deal with this full-system problem, they say that treatment requires 6 to 12 months to use natural therapy to restore balance to the body. They recommend products that restore the body's bacteria such as acidophilus and bifido bacteria to prevent the growth of candida. Additional recommendations include oil of oregano capsules, glutamine capsules, grapefruit seed extract and wormwood. They also believe that a diet low in sugars of all forms will help to deprive the candida of its food source. When the candida begin to respond to treatment, they will start to die off, which will cause multiple symptoms in the body for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. These symptoms are headaches, nausea, gas, severe energy loss, blurred vision and sugar cravings.