What is Candida or Candidiasis and how do I know if I have it? Candida 102

This month we're looking at candida. Candida seems to be the latest buzz word in the alternative health community. Everything from a spot of tiredness, to full-blown cancer, gets laid at the door of this commonly discussed but little understood bacteria.

On the other side of the spectrum, conventional healthcare practitioners tend to decry the ubiquitous referral to candida as the cause of all our problems. Some of them deny the very existence of candida infections, or candidiasis. Certainly, they see no link between the candida bacteria and the health challenges facing so many of their patients.

As with most things, we find moderation is the most realistic route. In other words, there is truth on both sides.

What is candida?

Let's start at the beginning. Last week we introduced the subject of candidiasis and gave you a broad view of what it really is. Candida is a fungus which starts as a microscopic organism that can - and usually does - live harmlessly in the human body.

However, when your immune system is low, or if your lifestyle and diet include certain danger factors, candida can develop into a full blown fungal infection, known as candidiasis.

How do you get candida?

Everyone has candida. Candida is the name of a specific kind of fungal bacteria that lives naturally in the human gut. It has a role to play in digestion and immunity. Unfortunately, when the body's ecosystem is out of balance, candida has a chance to flourish - and this is not great for the body’s health.

The kinds of things that can disrupt your internal ecosystem include:

  • Antibiotics, which kill the probiotics, or good bugs that live in the gut;
  • The pill. Both scientific studies and anecdotal evidence have linked the pill to a higher risk of candidiasis.
  • Gluten intolerance or other food intolerances. Of the possible food intolerances, gluten resistance or allergies are more likely to lead to candida than other allergies, simply because of the way that wheat can interact with the gut. When the lectins in gluten start poking their undigested, spiky tentacles through the inflamed wall of a dysfunctional digestive system, it becomes possible for traces of candida to make their way to the other side of the gut wall The body identifies these as harmful, and sends its troops to fight the perceived infection. In other words, candida becomes the enemy. The action of trying to fight off this perceived infection leads to inflammation in the gut, which reduces the body's immune system, which, ironically, give the candidiasis an opportunity to flourish.
  • Stress. Stress affects the body in many different ways. We will look at this in more detail in future articles. In light of our discussion around Candida, it's useful to know the basics. When your body is facing stress, it releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has been shown to deplete our immune systems, and this is one of the ways in which stress gives candida its opportunity to proliferate.
  • Genetics - in other words, it may well run in your family.
  • Diet. What we eat and drink in our modern diets mostly does not support good health. In addition, a lot of the food is processed so that they healthy probiotics are removed from it before we get to consume it. Finally, things like chlorine and antibiotics in our water also damage our gut linings and give candida the opportunity to grow.
  • Lifestyle. A stressful lifestyle, or exposure to the candidiasis infection, will put it if you at risk for contracting the infection yourself. Activity such as unprotected sex with a candida sufferer will make you far more likely to contract candida yourself.
  • Who gets candida?

    Everyone has candida. But approximately only one in four to one in ten people will develop candidiasis come, depending on where you take your statistics. (Eg: candida infections are far more rife on the African continent, with its high incidence of AIDS and related immune complications, than in a more affluent country like the USA.) While this remains a fairly high percentage, the real question is why the other three quarters or more of the world’s population don't contract candida infection. Many of these individuals have been blessed with strong immunity through their genes. They may have chosen routes other than antibiotics for treating illness growing up.

    Not engaging in potentially harmful activity will reduce your risk of contracting candida. But your best defence is a strong immunity, effective stress management systems, and plenty of rest and water.

    Do I have Candida?

    This is a question I'm often asked. Because gut health is being so closely linked to virtually every health condition we face these days, and because candida is often at the core of gut health dysfunction, it's a great question. And the fact is, by the time you’re sitting in your homeopath’s office, asking this question, chances of fair that candidiasis is at least one of the challenges your body is trying to defeat.

    The most commonly recognised symptom of candida infection is what we euphemistically referred to as “Jock Itch”. This pervasive burning, itching, and discomfort can seem to take over your life: keeping you up at night, making it hard to pee, and even makeing walking uncomfortable.

    Other symptoms include an unpleasant smell, thick white discharge which may or may not smell bad too, white coating on your tongue or the roof of your mouth, and fungal growth in the nail beds or between your fingers or toes.

    What many people don't know, however, is that these symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg. Full-blown candidiasis has been identified as a potential cause of headaches, migraines, blurred vision, brain fog, fatigue, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, backache, asthma, lung problems, ADD and concentration difficulties, low immunity, hormonal disruptions, and yes, even cancer.

    Unexpected symptoms that people don't normally relate to a disorder of any kind include sugar cravings, starch cravings, and even certain addictions. Candidiasis has also been linked in some individuals to mood swings. (You are what you eat, and maybe your increasing waistline has less to do with willpower than with taming your gut - or at least, the tiny bugs that live there!)

    There are a number of tests available for candida infection, the most straightforward of which is the spit test. This somewhat distasteful test is relatively easy to perform, and costs nothing more than a strong stomach. As soon as you wake up in the morning, before you have cleaned your teeth or consumed anything, spit into a glass of clean, fresh tap. Make sure you work up a lot of spit for the test to work effectively. Now store the glass somewhere where it won't be disturbed by debris from the air or knocked over by unsuspecting pets or family members. Keep an eye on it during the course of the day. If the spit develops long tentacles that sink down into the bottom of the glass, chances are good you have candida. Watch this video to find out more:

    Other options include blood testing, urine testing, and stool testing. Really, getting a diagnosis for candidiasis is not terribly pleasant. But being able to begin treatment, and finally finding solutions for your health challenges, is worth it.

    Dr Sanua believes that human health requires the treatment of the whole body. That is why he will take a detailed look at your entire health, and your and your family's health history, when he evaluates the condition you need help for. Call Dr Sanua today on 011 463 1614 or email him at to get to the bottom of your health challenges.


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