10 Signs You Have Candida Overgrowth and What to Do About It

candidaOK

You might be wondering, “What on earth is Candida?” Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast, a very small amount of which lives in your mouth and intestines. Its job is to aid with digestion and nutrient absorption, but when it is overproduced it breaks down the wall of the intestine and penetrates the bloodstream, releasing toxic byproducts into your body and causing leaky gut. This can lead to many different health problems ranging from digestive issues to depression.

How do you get Candida overgrowth?

The healthy or ‘good’ bacteria in your gut typically keeps your Candida levels in check. However, the Candida population can get out of hand if a round of antibiotics kill too many of those friendly bacteria, you have a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar (which feed the yeast), high alcohol intake, are taking oral contraceptives, or any number of other factors including a high-stress lifestyle. Even a diet high in beneficial fermented foods like Kombucha, sauerkraut, and pickles, can feed Candida causing an overgrowth.

10 Common Candida Symptoms

1. Skin and nail fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and toenail fungus

2. Feeling tired and worn down or suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia

3. Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea

4. Autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma, or Multiple sclerosis

5. Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD, and/or brain fog

6. Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes

7. Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression

8. Vaginal infections , urinary tract infections, rectal itching, or vaginal itching

9. Severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears

10. Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings

How do you test for Candida overgrowth?

Blood Test

IgG, IgA, and IgM Candida Anti-bodies. These can be checked through most any lab. High levels of these antibodies indicate that an overgrowth of Candida is present. I find in my clinic that these can often be negative even when the stool or urine test is positive.

Stool Testing

I personally find this to be the most accurate test available. This will check for Candida in your colon or lower intestines. However, you need to make sure that your doctor orders a comprehensive stool test rather than the standard stool test. With the stool test, your stool is directly analyzed for levels of yeast. The lab can usually determine the species of yeast as well as which treatment will be effective.

Urine Organix Dysbiosis Test

This test detects D-Arabinitol a waste product of Candida yeast overgrowth. An elevated test means an overgrowth of Candida. This test will determine if there is Candida in your upper gut or small intestines.

How do you treat Candida overgrowth?

Effectively treating Candida involves stopping the yeast overgrowth, restoring the friendly bacteria that usually keep them in check, and healing your gut so that Candida can no longer enter your bloodstream.

Getting rid of the Candida overgrowth primarily requires a change in diet to a low carbohydrate diet. Sugar is what feeds yeast, so eliminating sugar in all of its simple forms like candy, desserts, alcohol, and flours. Reducing to only a few cups a day of the more complex carbohydrates such as grains, beans, fruit, bread, pasta, and potatoes will prevent the Candida from growing and eventually cause it to die. I would recommend eliminating all fermented foods as well.

Using diet alone could take three to six months before the Candida is back under control. Because of this, I use an anti-fungal medication such as Diflucan or Nyastatin for a month or longer with my patients. If you are self-treating you can take a supplement of candisol or caprylic acid. These supplements contain plant-based enzymes that basically ‘poke holes’ in the yeast cell wall causing it to die. You may read that some people recommend herbs such as oil of oregano. Oil of oregano can be very effective however it can kill good bacteria as well so I don’t recommend it. The anti-fungal medications, caprylic acid, and candisol are very specific to yeast and will not harm your good bacteria.

It’s a must to restore the healthy bacteria that typically keep your Candida population under control, you should take probiotics on a regular basis. Taking anywhere from 25-100 billion units of probiotics should help to reduce the Candida levels and restore your levels of good bacteria. Finally, healing your gut, by eliminating inflammatory foods that can harm your GI tract and introducing foods that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, will prevent Candida from working its way through your body, and will dramatically improve your overall health.

If you would like to find out for sure if you have Candida overgrowth, consider seeing a Functional Medicine Doctor who is trained in detecting and treating Candida.

 

Want to learn more about Candida overgrowth?

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  • Brittany Stephenson

    Thank you so much for this post! I met you at PaleoFX and asked you about this very subject because I have had such a hard time finding info on candida and what to do about it. I have had yeast infections since early childhood and I also had yeast spots on my skin that my family doctor called “sun spots”, I have also have a candida “overgrowth” in my gut for the last few years (at least, but I suspect longer). about 9 months ago I found a Doc. that figured out what it was and I have been unsuccessfully trying to fight it off since. This helps!!

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  • disqus_sDCtgk2OVt

    Thanks for this, when you say autoimmune diseases, soes that include Crohn’s? I knwo you mentioned colitis.

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com Dr. Amy Myers

      yes

  • icandyart

    I asked an GI doctor to test me for this about 5 years ago. I had most of the symptoms, as well as mouth sores around the lips. She said sure, but then didn’t and later told me that this condition is not real. I was pretty annoyed at this sneaky and dishonest approach in her communication with me. But she did in fact diagnose me with SIBO and prescribed me a high-level anti-biotic. This worked, but it didn’t solved the problem. I use candida cleanses from time to time, and this has helped stop the yeast infections, but not the GI problems nor the chronic fatigue. Do you know how I can find a doctor who will IN FACT do this test? I need to use insurance, as I can not afford to pay for these tests out of pocket, otherwise I would make an appt with you if I could.

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com Dr. Amy Myers

      I don’t know any functional medicine doctors who take insurance.

    • Jen Gonzalez-Naburn

      Hi there! You don’t need to go to a doctor to see if you have Candida. You can do the test at home for free by doing the spit test. First thing in the morning before you brush your teeth or eat or drink anything, spit into a glass of water. If your spit looks like any of the illustrations, you most likely have Candida. Your spit should just sit on top of the water in a”blob.”

      • Linda Alle

        I agree with Dr. McCombs that the spit test is not reliable or scientifically valid – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6iryzPoBow. Spit is always thicker in the morning due to the effects of a dehydrated body by not drinking all night. All kinds of infections could produce a mucus response that would lead to thickened strands.

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  • ‘sissy’ Merka

    I’ve had great success with taking Syntol AMD and coconut oil…of course, cutting the carbs is necessary. Thanks for the info, Dr. Myers.

  • ‘sissy’ Merka

    Syntol AMD, coconut oil, and cutting the carbs has really been helpful for me. Thanks for this great article, Dr. Myers.

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com Dr. Amy Myers

      you’re so welcome!

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  • Saila Karina

    Great info! Just wondering why all fermented foods should be eliminated but probiotics are recommended? Hope you could clarify this Amy :)

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com/ Amy Myers, MD

      fermented foods feed good bacteria but they also feed Candida. So best to avoid while treating. Probioitcs are good bacteria that battle with the Candida. I have a podcast on this – you may want to listen to it

      • Saila Karina

        Thanks for your reply, Amy (I listened to the podcast)!
        But…I’m still wondering this probiotic / prebiotic issue. I thought fermented foods (at least sauerkraut) contain bacteria i.e. act as probiotics. I tried to do some research on this and found this article: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=113

        Could you kindly clarify this a little bit more please :) I’d really want to understand the difference between good bacteria in sauerkraut and good bacteria in probiotics.

  • LevitaG OO

    I’m trying to see if the stool test results are reliable, with the Diagnos-Techs Lab, they do a stool culture for yeast, but how can you know if they give false positives or vice verca?

  • ariel

    Great article. Regarding the Nystatin, do you recommend powder or liquid form and how does it compare to Diflucan in your opinion? Thanks.

  • icandyart

    What happened to all the comments that were already here?

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com/ Amy Myers, MD

      I did recently do some major updates on my webpage. It’s possible some of the comments got lost in the transition. I also have several Candida articles so maybe you’re thinking of a different one?

    • Jeff Thrasher

      Yeah What happened to them?

  • jodi

    Hi I’m not sure but I think I have candida and I’m pretty sure I’ve had it for the last probably 4 years I’ve also lost a lot of weight and I have come to relise I have a really horrible odour down there pls help lol

  • nutritionista

    Do you have a standard dosage for your Diflucan Rx? I just appealed to my MD this past week to get on meds, and she said she was willing, but she was flying a bit blind in terms of how long to put me on it (can cause liver damage with extended use as I understand) — I left with a script of 500mg OD x7d, but I’m not sure if that’s long enough. My MD wasn’t sure about how we’d do a test of cure either, but after 10 years of suffering with digestive issues (including many candida & elimination diets, I’m even a holistic nutritionist myself — you’d think I could kick this!) I figure if I feel any better, that’s something.

  • Beverley Le Cuirot

    I have seen a lot recently about Prebiotics. Would you have a view on Pre vs Probiotics? Thank you.

    • Renaud

      Hi Beverley,

      Probiotics are good bacteria. Prebiotics are actually food for these good bacteria, so essentially they are food for probiotics. They help feed good bacteria already present in the large intestine. Taking probiotics and prebiotics together creates synergies and is very effective in stimulating the immune system, normalizing bowel movements and promoting a healthy and balanced microbiome. This synergistic combination of pre- and probiotics is called synbiotics. If you are looking for synbiotics, here is a great place to buy some: http://microbiomesolutions.com/products/synbiotics

      Have a nice day!

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com/ Amy Myers, MD

      Hi Beverley, I use prebiotics and probiotics in my clinic. Prebiotics are the food for the “good” bacteria (probiotics).

      • heartytruth

        Dr Myers, how i came across your name is beyond me, BUT i love everything you say and think, and will definitely read everything even though it’ll take me a while!! thank you thank you

  • Megan

    Why eliminate fermented foods? I they help heal your gut and kill the bad bacteria.

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com/ Amy Myers, MD

      While treating candida, I recommend avoiding them because they can feed the infection. But after the infection has cleared, I think they can be very useful for maintaining a healthy gut!

      • MS

        How does fermented foods or Kombucha feed Candida? I thought they were full of good flora which I thought was good to fight Candida. I am fighting a skin infection and the fermented foods help to reduce the inflammation but it seems to trigger my Candida issue as well. I am very confused; what’s the missing logic? Thank you

        • http://www.amymyersmd.com/ Amy Myers, MD

          Fermented foods feed good microorganisms as well as bad ones. I recommend them after an infection is cleared, but while it’s going on it’s best avoided.

  • Luke

    Hi Dr Myers,
    Could you please tell me your thoughts on taking raw cows colostrum to help treat candida? I noticed from reading some of your reviews that the no dairy approach is recommended, is raw colostrum an exception? I have read a lot of info about it on the net, but am hoping for your expert opinion. I have read that the antibodies, enzymes and nutrients are great for the immune system and will sort out the candida issues. I would really appreciate your take on this.
    Thanks,
    Luke

  • Beata Hasaj

    Could you please provide the specific names of the laboratories that would run the above tests as well as the names for the tests. Thank you!

  • Paula Brennecke

    Amy, Thank you for all your good info! . . . Regarding candida overgrowth, how do you speak back to this kind of article? http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/12/10/we-all-have-candida-and-its-ok

  • Rosie

    Dr. Myers, I had blood work done and the IgA came back at 686 and my IgM was at 278. Have had antiobiotics these past few years. Also I’m currently have gas, bloating and constipation. My primary care doctor has referred me to a hematologist which has me a bit stressed. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com/ Amy Myers, MD

      Hi Rosie! You should come see me as a patient :)

  • Alina Zoueva

    I have one big toenail fungus I was trying to cure for past 10 years, but only topically, never wanted to take Dyflucan, wanted to combat it naturally. Because the only other symptom in my body would be excessive gas only when I am in US.
    I live in US, in Atlanta, GA, bu I was born and raise in Moscow, Russia, different, much drier climate, and more Natural Food, than US. Every time I go back to Moscow, I don’t have excessive gaz any more.
    And I am mostly on Paleo Diet, so I guess, I still have CANDIDA OVERGROWS, stool test results show TRACE Candida Crusei.
    Dr. Amy Mayers, I would appreciate any recommendations.
    And thank you for wonderful information you share with US, I listen to your Presentation with Sean, and D.Sellman, and during Leaky Gut Sessions
    Alina

  • Stacey

    I had a full GI Effects Stool test and it came back with no Candida issues but I don’t buy it. I had done a 21 day AIP cleanse and had removed Gluten, Soy, Milk and Dairy. I did the stool test right BEFORE my dr. said to try reintroducing foods (except for the gluten). I had done the elimination diet prior to seeing this Dr. In reintroducing foods, I realized that I’m also introducing more non-gluten grains (sugars) and now I’m seeing small things creep back like sugar cravings, ear ringing and feeling of water on the ear, fatigue, dandruff stuff, etc. I’m wondering if my stool test shows I had done a good job getting Candida levels in check but with the slightest introduction of sugars, the candida is creaping back? Wondering if I should maintain an anti-candida diet and if it is a forever thing?

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com/ Amy Myers, MD

      I’ve definitely had patients with recurring candida issues! Sometimes it does take a long time to get it under control so it’s very possible you will have to maintain a low-sugar low-starch diet for a while longer.

  • Joan Craw

    I agree – sticking with the Candida Diet is the best way to go. I wish I had that will power all the time! The Candida Diet def works, but i also keep a bottle of Lady Soma Candida Cleanse handy when I cant follow the diet – take a pill in the morning and at night for a couple days – and it will be gone…..get back on the diet when you can – but keep Lady Soma around when you cant

  • Jeff Thrasher

    Dr. Amy I would like you to address your belief that fermented foods are bad for candida, as I believe the opposite to be true……that All Fermented Foods Are Good and Beneficial to our Digestion and Immune Systems? If you truly believe that they should be avoided when Candida is present…Please Explain yourself as to Why?

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com/ Amy Myers, MD

      I generally recommend that my patients avoid them while they have an infection, as they feed the infection as well as the beneficial microorganisms that live in the GI tract. After the infection is under control, they can be added back in.

  • Mariluzi Rosario

    Hi Dr. Amy! I soffrer with Fybromialgia for about 15 years now. I never did much about, but sense 2012 it got worse. I was treating with a rheumatologist, who prescribed me antidepressants that I took for a while. Then I found a lot information about more natural approach, (I have your book – the auto immune solution) and now i trying to do elimination diet what I think is really hard due I crave carbs and sugar a lot. Also I have fungi in my nails (even my hands) which I,m not sure if it is a sign that I have candida GI infection as well. My questions is: Is the fungi nails enough to determine if I have candida overgrow? If Canida infection and Fybromialgia are related and how strong is this relation? Is it possible to live Fybromialgia symptoms free? Any tip to rid out of craving?

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com/ Amy Myers, MD

      Hi Mariluzi, yes–nail fungal infections could be a sign of candida. Candida and fibromyalgia are related, and many of my fibromyalgia patients have been able to find relief using my four-pillar approach that I outline in my book. Hope that helps!

  • Kathleen Irvine

    Dr. Myers, I have done so many things for candida and finally got a comprehensive stool test. It showed no yeast. But I have had itchiness in my armpits and feminine areas for a good while now. No candida cleanse or anti fungal has helped. I have hashimotos and I am convinced I have some other underlying issue because I am doing everything from lifestyle, exercise, to diet and my top antibodies keep rising. I figured candida could be an issue but my doctor says no since my test was clear. Could it be wrong? I am at a loss of what else to do to put my hashimotos in remission. Thanks!

    • http://www.amymyersmd.com/ Amy Myers, MD

      It’s possible it could be Candida, or something else. I would need to see you as a patient to determine the problem!

  • DHass22

    Saccharomyces Boulardii (probiotic yeast) cleared up my Candida within 10 days.

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