Thrush is a fungal infection caused by candida, a yeast. Typically it affects the skin including scalp and nails, or the mucous membranes in the mouth, intestinal area, and anal and vaginal body tissue. It can be itchy, painful and odious, it can entail distressing discharges or a white coating on the tongue. There are 3 main types of infections:
Skin or nail fungus; Vaginal thrush; and Oral thrush.
Candida Albicans is responsible for these discomforts and, usually, we co-exist peacefully. But, given the right conditions - warmth, moisture and lack of light, compromised immune system, antibiotic treatment protocol, HIV+ etc. - it flourishes.
In babies thrush appears as a white coated tongue, the red flush of nappy rash, and in acute cases, an inflamed mouth with little white-scabbed sores. Many women suffer in silence due to the intimate nature of the affected parts. Nail fungus is often blamed on pedi or manicure treatments but long distance running, visits to the gym and even trying on shoes without an appropriate shoe covering can present symptoms like discoloured and, or deformed nails.
The body is more susceptible when taking antibiotics, or having treatments like chemo and corticosteroids; with high consumption of simple carbohydrates; vaginal douche-ing, de-odourising or wearing synthetic 'lacies', pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives and diabetes.
DID YOU KNOW? It's possible that a male, even if asymptomatic, can cross-infect during sexual intercourse. It is advisable to treat both parties within a sexually active relationship to prevent re-occurrence.
Prevention is better than cure', and it's usually more cost effective. With a little regular attention and self-care, it's entirely preventable. Follow these basic principles for preventative (and curative) support:
' This should exclude carbohydrates that are simple - like sugar, fructose, corn syrup etc., and refined - for example, pasta, bread, sweets, cool drinks etc.
' High water and high fibre diets support intestinal health by sweeping past the villa in the mucosal lining. Bulk from fibre also absorbs toxins, collects debris and flushes out undesirables.
' Keep fruit intake to a minimum as fruit contains fructose. Grapes are especially high in sugars.
' Increase consumption of pre-biotic foods like fermented produce, bananas, buttermilk etc. Pre-biotics are digestible foods that promote beneficial microorganisms in the intestines.
' Garlic inhibits yeast growth and provides anti-oxidant benefits, particularly to the cardiovascular system; and allicin, one of the active ingredients, works wonderfully as a winter flu-fighter. Use with caution if you have low blood pressure.
2. Personal hygiene
' Wear cotton panties.
' Do not use 'personal' cleansers or perfumes as the vagina is a self-cleaning organ with a perfectly balanced biome. Cleanse with water and chemical free, pH neutral soap.
' Avoid very hot and/or soapy baths.
' Always wipe from front to back.
' Avoid wearing wet or damp clothing for extended periods of time.
' Avoid cleaning products with laureate sulphates that disrupt the natural pH balance of body tissue. Soap nuts have limited negative impact and are a good option.
3. Oral hygiene
' Don't share a toothbrush.
' Floss daily.
' Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months Try a bamboo toothbrush, it's sustainable and biodegradable.
' Try 'oil pulling'. That's using coconut oil to swish through the teeth and around the mouth. You can also use it as toothpaste. Reports show coconut oil can whiten teeth, prevent plaque build-up and combat gingivitis.
If you are struggling to keep candida at bay, here are some additional tried and tested protocols:
Evidence suggests that probiotics suppress the growth of candida. Encourage oral and intestinal flora with lactobacillus ' look for probiotics with reuteri to balance vaginal flora.
Caprylic acid or octanoic acid is known for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It's present in milk, coconut oil and palm oil.
Neem, a natural derivative from the Neem tree is used extensively in therapeutic preparations as well as in toothpaste and hair and nail formulas. It has good results with Candida although has some cautions that need to be observed.
This is considered effective against some bacteria, viruses, fungi, intestinal worms, and other parasites. It is popular and readily available as vegicaps from leading brands e.g. Solgar.
Resveratrol is sourced from red wine or red grape extracts. It has potent anti-fungal properties and research shows it stops Candida albicans from converting into its more infectious form. Be aware it has possible interaction with blood thinners like Warfarin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meds like ibuprofen and aspirin.
Berberine is an active ingredient in goldenseal. It has shown strong antifungal effects against candida by stopping the fungus from penetrating and adhering to host cells. Refrain from long term use as current trials are investigating the potential harm to cell metabolism from long term use.
Essential oils should be used externally and diluted with a carrier oil. Tea tree oil shows great results especially with conditions like athlete's foot, nail infections and skin conditions. Moroccan thyme, oregano, lemon verbena, geranium and clove are also useful plant oils.
Fulvic acid is available in many forms. It is a biologically active microbe that energises cell life and is valuable in the healing process of skin, nail and systemic infections.
With a wide range of options to control and alleviate candida albicans, it's not necessary to live with on-going infections. As a preventative measure, use Zinc, Vitamin C and selenium as immune support.
Nicole Bast is a qualified nurse who has been facilitating healing for the past 10 years through the use of therapeutic massage, hot stone massage, aromatherapy, crystal therapy, reiki, and shiatsu. As an afficionado of well-being particularly nutrition, exercise and natural medicine, she is passionate about managing the Welgemoed Wellness Warehouse store.
“Wellness Warehouse strives to help you live life well but because we are retailers and not medical practitioners we cannot offer medical advice. Please always consult your medical practitioner before taking any supplements, complementary medicines or have any health concerns and ensure that you always read labels, warnings and directions carefully, prior to consumption.”