Feeling tired all the time? Always getting thrush, or bloating? You could have candida, but there are some effective natural ways to ease this common condition.
Candida is a type of yeast that lives harmlessly in the mouth, gut, vagina, and on your skin. But if something happens to upset the natural balance of your body, it can lead to fungal infections – 75% of women will get thrush at some point in their lives.1
If you’d prefer to take the complementary route, studies show that natural solutions may be a viable way to tackle candida.
What is candida?
Candida doesn’t normally cause any problems, but sometimes it can multiply too quickly, leading to an infection known as candidiasis. Candidiasis is called thrush when it develops in the mouth or vagina.
It can also affect the skin and nails, causing infections like athlete’s foot, and may contribute to inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease. Some practitioners also believe candida can enter the bloodstream, affecting the joints, heart and brain.
Symptoms of candida include:
- feeling fatigued
- recurring bouts of thrush
- bloating and other digestive complaints
- repeated urinary tract infections
Handpicked content: What is candida?
What causes candida?
Stress can affect our immune system, triggering candida to grow, while using antibiotics for long periods of time can upset the balance of bacteria in our gut, reducing our defences. Eating lots of processed sugary foods or drinking too much alcohol can also feed the yeast, causing an overgrowth of candida.
Handpicked content: What is my immune system and why is it so important?
How digestive enzymes could help
Candida cells are protected by sturdy, hemicellulose walls and a tough ‘biofilm’. In a laboratory trial in 2007, American researchers discovered that digestive enzymes that help break down the hemicellulose cell walls of fruits, vegetables and grains, may also help break down candida cell walls, and even prevent biofilms from forming.2 These digestive enzymes are made by ‘good’ gut bacteria but can also be found in supplements.
The role of beneficial bacteria
Some types of good gut bacteria, such as lactobacillus, can stop candida from multiplying. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology in 2016 concluded that ‘beneficial bacteria, especially lactobacilli, could be regarded as a good alternative for the prevention and treatment of candida infections’.3
Up your garlic intake
Garlic is a potent natural anti-fungal, thanks to powerful active compounds called allicin and ajoene. In 1987, Japanese researchers discovered that ajoene could inhibit the growth of candida,4 while a laboratory study carried out by Universiti Putra Malaysia found that allicin was effective at tackling candida.5
Add some oregano
Trials by Italian scientists carried out on essential oils including mint, basil, lavender, tea tree and oregano, revealed that oregano oil could inhibit the growth and activity of candida cells.6 However, larger studies are needed to work out how the oil can be used as an alternative remedy for candida.
Handpicked content: Discover the health benefits of oregano
The coconut connection
Caprylic acid, found in coconut oil, is a known natural anti-fungal agent. Joint research by the Kannur Dental College and Kannur Medical College in India confirmed that coconut oil had ‘significant antifungal activity’ on samples of oral candida.7
Shop our Food & Drink range.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
1. Achkar J, Fries B. Candida Infections of the Genitourinary Tract. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2863365/
2. Nett J, et al. Putative role of beta-1,3 glucans in Candida albicans biofilm resistance. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17130296
3. Deidda F, et al. The In Vitro Effectiveness of Lactobacillus fermentum Against Different Candida Species Compared With Broadly Used Azoles. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27741168
4. S Yoshida, et al. Antifungal activity of ajoene derived from garlic. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC203719/
5. Khodavandi A, et al. Comparison between efficacy of allicin and fluconazole against Candida albicans in vitro and in a systemic candidiasis mouse model. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21204918/
6. Bona E, et al. Sensitivity of Candida albicans to essential oils: are they an alternative to antifungal agents? Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27568869
7. Shino B, et al. Comparison of Antimicrobial Activity of Chlorhexidine, Coconut Oil, Probiotics, and Ketoconazole on Candida albicans Isolated in Children with Early Childhood Caries: An In Vitro Study. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27051559