Yeast overgrowth is a health concern that is thought to be a woman’s problem. This is simply not true. Both men and women can have an intestinal flora imbalance that results in yeast overgrowth. Another popular misconception is that yeast overgrowth is a local problem confined to a woman’s body. This is also not true. Yeast overgrowth is a systemic problem that can affect any human regardless of gender. Also, women can have yeast overgrowth and never manifest a localized symptom.
Candida albicans is the yeast that commonly lives in the mouth, throat, intestines, and genitourinary tract of most humans. It is a normal part of our intestinal flora that is kept in balance by a healthy immune system. When the natural balance of flora is altered, colonies of yeast will flourish throughout the body producing many adverse physical and mental symptoms.
Common symptoms of yeast overgrowth include gas and bloating, indigestion or heartburn, chronic fatigue, sugar/carbohydrate cravings, blood sugar swings, food sensitivities, insomnia, prostatitis, PMS, endometriosis, urinary tract infections, headaches, allergies, memory loss, arthritis, eye problems, sinusitis, and fungal infections such as athletes foot and fingernail/toenail infections.
The cause of yeast overgrowth is usually related to a combination of one or more of the following: use of antibiotics, use of steroid hormones and immunosuppressant drugs, use of birth control pills, improper diet, and exposure to environmental chemicals.
Getting rid of yeast overgrowth involves herbal supplements, dietary changes, elimination (if possible) of immunosuppressive drugs and antibiotics, rebalancing and strengthening the immune system, and repopulating the intestines with the appropriate bacterial balance.
Natural products that eliminate yeast are caprylic acid, oregano, garlic, olive leaf, pau d’arco and cellulase. Most of the natural products are taken in stages. The first stage involves killing the yeast. The second stage involves repopulating the body with appropriate beneficial bacteria by using probiotics.
Both stages need to be supported by an appropriate diet that eliminates foods that feed the yeast. Foods that easily convert to sugar or are high in natural sugar such as fruit, fruit juices, refined grains and products made from refined grains, dairy products, alcohol, and sweets should be eliminated. Other foods that should be eliminated are foods with natural molds such as peanuts and peanut butter, vinegar, and mushrooms.
The ease of eliminating yeast overgrowth many times depends on the length of time the body has been out of balance. If yeast overgrowth recurs after such a program, the immune system most likely needs to be supported or an ongoing maintenance program may be necessary.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.