Written by Patricia Skinner
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Candida is an organism that normally lives quite happily in our digestive tracts as part of a colony of microorganisms that live there in harmony, harmlessly and symbiotically. Under ideal circumstances that's how they stay. Occasionally, however, something happens to tip the balance in the body's internal environment and candida albicans, to give it its full name, becomes a problem, and it is then often referred to as candidiasis.

Internal Disharmony

Many factors can cause internal disharmony leading to an overgrowth of organisms such as candida. Taking antibiotics is the chief culprit, however, and is nearly always implicated. Some people who have to take antibiotics on a regular basis may develop a really serious candida infestation that may involve many different areas of the body.

Other causes of candida can be exposure to chemicals that have an estrogenic effect in the body, known as xenoestrogens or environmental estrogens. Petroleum products and many chemicals used in manufacturing are culprits. They are all endocrine disruptors and can wreak havoc on our internal biochemical balance, opening the way for candida to take hold. Many modern processes produce these substances, and an overgrowth of candida is just one problem associated with them.

Even an unbalanced diet can cause candidiasis in susceptible people. Whenever the immune system is compromised for any reason, such as with cancer or AIDS, candida is likely to become a problem, even if antibiotics are not used. Even a common infection such as the flu may lower your immunity allowing candida to get a foothold.

Candida Symptoms

The symptoms of candida overgrowth can be many and varied. The most common are "jock itch" or vaginal irritation, together with a copious white discharge. Candidiasis can also cause headaches, sinus problems, digestion problems, and more. Sometimes the only symptoms sufferers notice is extreme exhaustion, which can be confused with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Although many sufferers know for sure that they have candidiasis from the symptoms, it is probably wise to have a firm diagnosis so that you can formulate a definite strategy. Blood and stool tests are the regular ways of diagnosing candida overgrowth, but a good kinesiologist can also tell you whether you have a problem. Kinesiologists can even tell you if it's just candida or if there are other problems, or pathogens as they are referred to.

Medication for Candida

If you go to an allopathic (regular medicine) medical practitioner and are diagnosed with candidiasis, he will prescribe a systemic antifungal such as Nidazole. These work satisfactorily in the short term, but are associated with side effects, and they do nothing to correct the basic balance of your body's chemistry so that your resistance to candida is raised. Clearly, there has to be a better approach.

From a natural medicine point of view, there are several things you can do as part of your own personal anti-candida strategy. You will find that each of these separate strategies will support your health in a general way and raise your level of energy and well being. Diet is the first and most important strategy you should consider.

The Natural Solutions

It's important to keep sugar out of your diet completely during a candida flare up, because the candida organism feeds exclusively on sugars and starches. The most stringent candida diets exclude all sugars, including fruits, and all carbohydrates from the diet. Sometimes this diet has to be followed for three months or more to be effective, but living on protein and vegetables is not easy. Often, just cutting out sugars and cutting down on carbohydrates will at least give your system a rest.

Anointing your body with oregano essential oil is also supposed to be very helpful for candidiasis. Oregano has powerful antifungal properties, and it also supports the immune system in a big way, so it's a good supplement to any anti-candida regimen. Since it is a harmless substance when used properly, it's worth trying oregano.

There is another strategy to deal with candida though, and it has been found to be the most effective by far. Probiotics are supplements of beneficial organisms that are normally found in our gut. When administered, they can quickly overpower opportune organisms such as candida, bringing the system back into balance. However, not just any probiotics will do the job. They have to be manufactured and preserved correctly so that the organisms are "live" when you take them, otherwise they will be useless to you.

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