7 Myths About Candida Yeast Infections

By: Dr. Erik Bakker, ND

Candida-MythHave You Fallen Prey to These Common Yeast Infection Myths?

Just the mention of a yeast infection leaves most women cringing. What many don’t realize, however, is that the Candida albicans organism, a yeast organism that lives naturally within the body, exists in men, women, and children. It’s usually quite tame, kept in balance by the good bacteria in your body, but when things become unbalanced, infections occur – and women aren’t the only ones who suffer.

Myth #1: Only Women Get Yeast Infections

It’s surprising how many medical doctors actually still believe this one, because some people believe that the only “true” yeast infections are in fact vaginal yeast infections. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s true that the female vaginal yeast infection is very common, but there are other types of yeast infections that occur regularly as well. Oral thrush, athlete’s foot, ringworm, jock itch, and other fungal skin irritations are all caused by a Candida overgrowth. Just about anyone can develop a yeast infection of some form at some point in his life.

Myth #2: My Doctor Will Diagnose My Candida Yeast Infection.

This isn’t actually true. While many doctors are familiar with the acute conditions I just mentioned, they don’t really understand how chronic Candida can impact the body. If you have frequent exposure to antibiotics, take hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy, eat a high carbohydrate diet, drink alcohol regularly, or have a lot of stress in your life and a compromised adrenal function, you may be fueling the yeast organism in your body. When this happens, you may experience recurring infections (like those above), or you may end up with other symptoms as your body succumbs to the overgrowth.

If your doctor recognizes your acute symptoms, you’ll likely receive a short-term treatment and your infection will probably come back – likely stronger than before. If your doctor misdiagnoses you, you’ll likely receive an antibiotic or other medication that does nothing but make your condition only worse.

What conditions are you likely to be misdiagnosed with? The list is comprehensive but includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, urinary tract infections, many different kinds of skin infections (much more common than you think), psoriasis (which I believe is mainly driven by yeast infection and bad bacteria), heart palpitations, and a laundry list of other symptoms. As you can see, many of these conditions will potentially be treated with antibiotics by your doctor, if they’re actually caused by a bacterial infection, that is. Others may be treated with antidepressants or a host of other drugs. Yet the underlying yeast infection remains, and continues unabated.

Myth #3: Antibiotics Cure Infections

Antibiotics cure bacterial infections. That’s it, a sad but unfortunately true myth. One of the biggest problems with medicine today is the misconception that antibiotics are a cure-all for any condition. Doctors know this, but they’re also unfortunately faced with many patients who believe that antibiotics will “cure” them of any ailment, whether it’s the common cold or some other type of virus, or even a fungal infection. The truth, in the case of yeast, is that antibiotics can actually cause yeast infections. Antibiotics, when attacking the bad bacteria in your body, can’t discriminate between the healthy and beneficial bacteria and the damaging bacteria. This means they attack all of the bacteria, leaving you with very little good digestive flora to stop the overgrowth of Candida. This is why many women get vaginal yeast infections right after taking antibiotics. And it also means that those who take these kinds of drugs regularly need to rely on them increasingly, as their resistance becomes gradually weaker. Yeasts are clever little organisms, and just like bacteria, they become increasingly resistant to the effects of antifungal and antibiotic drugs over time, making them increasingly stronger. Those who take antibiotics frequently never fully recover from Candida and, as time passes, the overgrowth of Candida eventually spreads throughout the body. The digestive system becomes increasingly weaker as the beneficial bacteria become increasingly scarce, and fungi and unfriendly bacteria begin to proliferate in increasing numbers causing gas, bloating and general digestive unwellness.

This mechanism also allows the small intestine to become increasingly permeable, a condition I have written about extensively called “leaky gut syndrome”. This condition will set you up for developing food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, and potentially a host of other conditions which some may even pass off as “gluten intolerance”, a term heard all too often these days. And it all began with the indiscriminate taking of antibiotics. My advice is for you to think twice before taking recurring antibiotics; I would not like you to potentially contemplate years of “undiagnosable” bowel dysfunction, because in most instances antibiotics are not necessary for self-limiting infections.

Myth #4: Candida Infections Don’t Count as STDs

Theoretically, a Candida yeast infection is not a true STD. It’s not categorized that way by mainstream medicine, anyway. The problem is that yeast can be transmitted from partner to partner during intimate contact, oral or otherwise. If one partner has a yeast infection, both should be treated to avoid passing it back and forth. You will also want to observe good hygiene and use precautions when necessary.

Myth #5: Douching Will Wash The Yeast Away

No, it will not! Douching is almost never recommended for any condition, and in the case of a vaginal yeast infection, douching in some instances can actually make things worse. Some women believe that a vinegar douche will kill yeast, but the truth is that Candida can grow in both acidic and alkaline environments. All you’ll do is successfully upset the natural balance of flora in your vaginal area. You may even make your condition worse by washing bacteria into your genital areas and into our urinary tact if you douche the wrong way. I recommend a three-stage approach for acute vaginal yeast infections, and a combination of a three-stage approach and a two-step approach for chronic vaginal yeast infections. Douching can be beneficial, but needs to be carefully considered as part of a treatment program which comprises local as well as systemic treatment.

Myth #6: Antifungal Medications Will Cure My Yeast Infection

This is partially true. If you have an acute vaginal infection, athlete’s foot, or some other variety, then an over the counter medication may likely clear things up within a few days. But will it really “clear things up” or just suppress the symptoms? My concerns with continual symptom suppression is that you may ending up driving the symptoms further into the body, and there is certainly sufficient evidence linking vaginal yeast infections with endometriosis (1).

If you have a chronic infection impacting your entire body (or recurring infections), you may need more than antifungals. Most Candida diet plans recommend a clean diet free of any type of food that will feed the yeast organism in your body. This means cutting out processed foods, carbohydrates, and a list of other items. You’ll eat healthy foods while taking antifungals, probiotics, and some supplements to boost your immune system and restore digestive function. You’ll be interested in specialized foods to help balance the digestive system, foods like garlic and oregano. Curing chronic or systemic Candida takes quite a bit of time, up to three to six months or even longer in some chronic cases, and is something you’ll need to take very seriously. The good news is that once you’re finished, you’ll probably never want to go back to an unhealthy eating lifestyle again. You can read more about proper candida diet here.

Myth #7: Yeast Infections Are Not Life Threatening

Let’s get serious for a moment. At their core, yeast infections like the ones we’ve talked about here are not life threatening. Those acute vaginal infections and cases of athlete’s foot are downright irritating. Chronic Candida, or candidiasis, can make you feel awful. When caught and treated, your life is not threatened. The most dangerous form of Candida is Candidemia, which occurs when the fungal yeast organism enters your bloodstream. This is incredibly rare and most often occurs in those with severely compromised immune systems – like people who have undergone chemotherapy for cancer, those who have HIV/AIDS, or those who have medical ports and serious medical conditions. These cases are few and far between.

The Candida yeast organism can live quietly in your body without notice. Just make sure you take quick action if it rears its ugly head. The faster a yeast infection – of any kind – is diagnosed, the easier it will be to treat.

1. Lamb K, Nichols TR (1986). Endometriosis: A comparison of associated disease histories. Am. J. Prev. Med. 2:324-329


About the Author: Dr. Eric Bakker, ND has spent the past 20+ years of his career studying the Candida yeast organism. Please visit him at yeastinfection.org to learn more about how yeast can impact your health and what to do about it.

Naturally Treat Candida Overgrowth

By: Stephanie Heino

Candida is a systemic fungal infection that as much as 70% of the population might suffer from. Candida is a type of yeast that occurs naturally in the human body. Its main job is to aid with digestion and nutrient absorption, but when overproduced, Candida breaks down the wall of the intestine and penetrates the bloodstream, releasing toxic byproducts into your body and causing leaky gut. Sometimes an imbalance in the amount of natural gut bacteria causes excessive growth of the Candida yeast population. Taking antibiotics or eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods can often times lead to this overgrowth of yeast.  This type of yeast infection, sometimes called Candidiasis, negatively affects several organ systems which can lead to many different health problems, ranging from digestive issues and depression to acne, joint pain, sore throat, constipation, gas, heartburn and kidney infections.

10 common Candida symptoms

  1. Skin and nail fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot or 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 and ADHD
  6. Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, hives, acne, itchy scalp, and rashes
  7. Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
  8. Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching or vaginal itching
  9. Severe seasonal allergies, recurrent sinus infections, or itchy ears
  10. Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings

How Candida overgrowth occurs.

The healthy bacteria in your gut keep your Candida levels in check. However, several factors can cause the Candida population to get out of hand:

  • Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar (which feed the yeast)
  • Consuming large amounts of alcohol
  • Taking oral contraceptives
  • Eating a diet that is too high in beneficial fermented foods like Kombucha, sauerkraut and pickles
  • Living a high-stress lifestyle
  • Taking antibiotics that killed too many of your friendly bacteria

How to test for Candida overgrowth:

Saliva test.  First thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything, work up some saliva in your mouth and spit into a clear glass of filtered water.  After 10-15 minutes, check the glass.  If your saliva has remained floating at the top of the water, chances are candida is not in an overgrown state.  If the saliva forms “legs” or streaks, if it sinks, or if particles are suspended in the water or at the bottom of your glass (see right), candida overgrowth is likely present.  Keep in mind, this test is not infallible.

Blood test. Make sure to check your levels for IgG, IgA, and IgM Candida anti-bodies if you have the symptoms mentioned above. These can be checked through most labs. High levels indicate an overgrowth of Candida and then you should keep on reading what actions to take.

Stool testing. This is one of the most accurate tests available, since it shows positive more often than the blood test. This will check for Candida in your colon or lower intestines and the lab can usually determine the species of yeast as well as which treatment will be affective.

Urine Organix Dysbiosis Test. This test detects a waste product of Candida yeast overgrowth known as D-Arabinitol. An elevated test means an overgrowth of Candida, and the test will determine if there is candida in your upper gut or small intestines.

How to treat Candida overgrowth:

What not eat: 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 diet low in refined carbohydrates. Sugar is what feeds yeast, so eliminating sugar in all of its simple forms like candy, desserts, alcohol and flours is necessary to kill off the yeast. In addition to removing all processed sugar, cut out fruits, alcohol and cheese from your diet from your diet as well, for at least 2-3 weeks. All fermented foods like vinegar, pickles, and kombucha need to be eliminated for a while as well.  This may seem really hard, but there are still plenty of foods that you can eat when following the Candida diet.

What to eat:  Most non-starchy vegetables, including broccoli, leafy greens, carrots, onions, tomatoes, asparagus and avocado are acceptable. Maintain your energy levels by consuming proteins, such as beans, eggs, fish, and small amounts of free-range organic chicken. Whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa, make excellent substitutes for white rice or pasta products, which are big no-no’s on a Candida diet. To stimulate growth of helpful probiotic bacteria, make sure to take your probiotics. Herbal teas also contain compounds that fight against fungus and keep Candida levels low.

Using diet alone could take three to six months before the Candida is back under control. In severe cases, seeing a functional medicine doctor trained in detecting and treating Candida may be necessary, to be prescribed fungal medication such as Diflucan or Nystatin. If you are self-treating you can take a supplement of Caprylic Acid. This comes from coconut oil and basically makes holes in the yeast cell wall, killing it off. Restoring the healthy bacteria that typically keep your Candida population under control is a must, so you should take a good quality, potent dairy-free probiotic every day (read our article on good bacteria vs. bad bacteria). Taking anywhere from 25 to 100 billion units of probiotics should help to reduce the Candida levels and restore your levels of good bacteria. Oregano oil (3-4 drops in water twice a day) and Pau d’Arco (in supplement or tea form) both work great for killing off Candida as well. 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.

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