What causes candida overgrowth
and how to get rid of it
Do you seem to suffer from a malady of symptoms, yet no one can tell you what the problem is? Have you ever been told it’s all in your head? Has anyone ever told you that you might have candida?
Yep. Been there – done that.
When Travis and I were told we had candida, we had no idea what our naturopath was talking about. But if you’ve read our health journey, you’ll recall that we eventually discovered how it played a much bigger role in our health than we realized.
What is candida?
Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast, that everyone has. It’s a normal part of our gut flora that’s harmless if kept in check. It usually lives on the skin and mucosal surfaces, like your digestive tract, mouth, urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, etc. [1, 2, 3, 6, 24]
There are several species of candida yeasts, and currently 20 are known to cause infections in humans. 
Candida is seriously under-rated. While some wave it aside as a fad, or aren’t convinced it exists, other doctors, naturopaths, and herbalists believe it is the root of many hard-to-diagnose chronic illnesses as well as a pre-cursor to auto-immune diseases.
What are the symptoms of candida?
Conditions that can be caused directly or indirectly by candida overgrowth are many and varied:
altered bowel function
irritable bowel syndrome
ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)
chronic fatigue syndrome
frequent colds and flus
oral thrush (white tongue)
upper respiratory infection
lack of coordination
urinary tract infections
flare ups on damp days
flare ups in moldy places
muscle and joint pain
What contributes to candida?
Many things contribute to candida overgrowth. You’re looking at things like:
- a weak immune system
- antibiotics (antibiotics are only good for bacterial infections, not viruses (cold and flu). When you take it, it kills both good and bad bacteria and is useless against candida)
- birth control pills
- estrogen replacement therapy
- hormonal changes
- processed foods (poor diet, junk food)
- recreational drugs
- toxicity (metals and chemicals)
Candida is what’s called an ‘opportunistic pathogen,’ which means that as soon as your resistance is lowered, it’s ready to make its move and cause disease.  A 2014 article in Trends in Microbiology states, “alterations in host immunity, physiology, and/or microbiota can lead to the inability to control candida albicans colonization on mucosal surfaces and the development of disease.” 
In plain English that means anything that lowers our immunity, disrupts our normal body functions, or causes our gut bacteria to get out of balance can encourage candida growth.
When candida becomes invasive
Candida is unique in that it can change form – from round and harmless to filamentous and invasive. When our bodies develop that ‘perfect storm’ from the issues mentioned above, candida morphs into its hyphae form, where it grows branches or ‘roots’ that invade cells and cause tissue damage. 
As well as forming invasive roots, candida creates closely packed communities of cells called biofilms. The biofilms are safe from antibiotic treatment and can create a source of persistent infection.  They can adhere nearly anywhere, are especially known for forming on implanted medical devices (e.g. dentures, catheters, pacemakers, etc.), and are largely resistant to conventional anti-fungals. 
Once a biofilm forms on an implanted medical device, it can lead to bloodstream infections and invasive infections of tissues and organs. Each year, over 5 million catheters are used. Biofilm infections occur in over 50% of them, and are responsible for an estimated 100,000 deaths. [2, 22]
How do you get rid of candida?
So often people come to me, frustrated because they’re told (by both conventional and alternative doctors) that if you have candida you need to do two things:
1. go on a sugar-free diet
2. take anti-fungals
The problem is that these two answers are only addressing a small percentage of the solution. Candida didn’t start growing out of control just because you ate sugar and didn’t take anti-fungals, so you can’t expect to get it back under control JUST by not eating sugar and taking anti-fungals. Many factors play a part.
Think of a newly planted apple tree. For your new tree to grow it needs more than just water.
Is water essential? Yes. But is water all it needs to establish a firm root foundation, grow straight, resist disease, flower, produce fruit, and thrive?
Not by a long shot.
Your tree needs the right soil. It needs sunshine. In needs the right temperature. It needs to be staked. It needs to be pruned. It needs to be watered the right amount. It needs to be protected from youngsters learning to mow lawn. . .
How long will it take?
This is a common question and the answer varies greatly from one source to another and from one person to another. Most often it depends on how long you’ve had symptoms and their severity. In my experience, it’s not a quick fix and those that attempt to tell you that you can be rid of it in a matter of weeks aren’t addressing the root of the problem and candida will inevitably come back.
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND, author of Textbook of Natural Medicine, states that “chronic candidiasis is a classic example of a ‘multifactoral’ condition” and “effective treatment involves much more than killing the yeast with anti-fungal agents, whether synthetic or natural.” [Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th edition, page 462]
The first step to addressing candida overgrowth is finding out whether you truly have it or not. You can test for candida in a number of ways: the spit test, the tongue test, the symptoms test, the questionnaire, the blood test, and the stool test – each explained in this article.
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