Digestion and Candida Overgrowth
Tags: bloating (3), digestion (3), candida diet (2), Candida Overgrowth (2), Constipation (1)
I’ve been experiencing significant bloating after and in-between meals. Could candida overgrowth be the cause? What natural remedies can help my discomfort?
Bloating and several other digestive complaints could be due to an overgrowth of candida in the digestive tract. Candida albicans is a yeast that is naturally present in the human digestive tract. In a healthy individual, the presence of this yeast is benign and poses no threat to one’s health. However, when candida overgrows and is present in large amounts, several health issues can develop. Digestive complaints and skin rashes are some of the most common and obvious symptoms but the imbalance of yeast in the digestive tract can affect other systems of the body including the respiratory, nervous and reproductive systems.
How do I know if I have an overgrowth of candida?
Determining if candida overgrowth is a cause of your health complaints ideally involves an individualized work up by a practitioner. This would include a history, physical exam, and a blood or stool analysis. At home, you can start with the Candida Questionnaire. This is a great tool to help determine if candida is a problem for you. Click here for the Candida Questionnaire. The best way to know if you have an underlying overgrowth of candida is to do the Anti-candida diet for 2-3 weeks and see if you feel better. If your symptoms improve then you know part of your issue is candida.
Do take into consideration that there may be more than one underlying factor causing your symptoms. Candida overgrowth is not a problem for everyone. If you suspect it is the problem for you, keep in mind that it may only be one piece of the puzzle. For instance, food intolerances can also cause many similar symptoms and can be present at the same time as candida.
How do I do the Anti-Candida diet?
In a nutshell, the Anti-candida diet limits all the foods that feed yeast – sugar, alcohol, bread, refined foods, bread, pastries, yeast, many fruits and most grains. There are different versions of the diet and different intensities. I think the dietary recommendations from The Fungus Link by Doug Kaufmann are very thorough and accurate. The book and the website are great resources for the diet and for learning about Candida overgrowth. Click here to learn about The Fungus Link diet.
Please note, digestive disturbances including bloating have many possible underlying factors. If your symptoms do not improve with a 2-week candida diet, consider working with a practitioner to help you develop an individualized plan.
Natural Remedies for Bloating and Indigestion:
- Digestive enzymes or digestive bitters before meals. The herb goldenseal is a great bitter that stimulates the release of digestive enzymes. It also helps heal the mucous membrane of the digestive tract and has anti-microbial action. Take small doses of digestive bitters (about 10 -15 drops) before meals. The bitters can be combined with calming and soothing herbs such as fennel, chamomile, or peppermint.
- Activated charcoal – up to 2 capsules every 2-4 hours. Helps absorb gas “bubbles.” For short term use only (3-4 days).
- Enteric coated peppermint oil to decrease intestinal spasm and pain and ease digestion. Peppermint also exerts some anti-Candida action!
Herbal support during an anti-candida diet:
When starting an anti-candida diet, food cravings, hunger and “die-off” reactions can leave you feeling temporarily worse. This is to be expected. As you restrict the foods that feed yeast, these organisms become hungry and “angry” and begin to die. This “die-off” can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as cravings, irritability, headache, and mild flu-like symptoms. These symptoms although uncomfortable should be tolerable and will subside over time. But to help you through this transition, doing things to support the body’s elimination of waste through the digestive tract will ease symptoms.
- Activated charcoal – up to 2 capsules every 2-5 hours. Helps elimination of the toxins released from the dying candida organisms. Take for 3-4 days only.
- Fiber to help bind waste in the digestive tract for more effective elimination. Psyllium seed husks are a good fiber choice for this purpose.
- Curcumin (available as a supplement) can help reduce inflammation in the GI tract and supporting it’s healing.
- Herbal Anti-fungal herbs – there are several natural remedies that help reduce the burden of yeast in the body. These include oregano oil, garlic, caprylic acid, pau d’arco and black walnut. These can be taken when doing an anti-candida diet. I recommend working with a practitioner when using these herbs however. I also recommend starting the diet first and then introducing the herbal anti-fungals only after several weeks on the diet. When they are introduced start slowly and with lower doses.
Dr. Joanne Aponte is a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor & Holistic Wellness Expert. She is available in the store every Tuesday & Thursday from 12-7 to help answer your questions regarding natural wellness.