We ended the discussion of yeast overgrowth with dietary factors that can increase your risk of infection or make it worse. It is imperative that we all strengthen our immune systems as well as pay attention to nutrition. Increasing immune function is accomplished by decreasing stress, eliminating sugar from the diet, using antibiotics ONLY WHEN NECESSARY, maintain adequate nutrition, learn to laugh and get enough sleep. A deficiency of any nutrient will compromise the immune system. Low zinc levels have been found in people with yeast infections. Zinc is one of the most important nutrients that aids the immune system and when levels are low, white blood cell levels fall and T cell function (the cells that are our combat troops against foreign invaders) decreases.
One of the biggest problems today in the pathophysiology of yeast overgrowth is the over prescribing of antibiotics by physicians. Did you know that most upper respiratory infections and bronchitis are viral in origin and do not need an antibiotic? Urinary tract infections as well as acne can be treated very effectively naturally and without antibiotics. The other factor in protecting your body against yeast overgrowth is to maintain normal liver function. The liver is absolutely necessary to detoxify the body and a decrease in its function can lead to inflammation, oxidative stress and a breeding ground for bad bacteria and fungus. There are foods that protect liver function such as garlic, legumes, onion and eggs. Add to the list pears, oat bran, apples cabbage, artichokes, beets and carrots. Herbs and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and licorice are of great benefit.
So if you are diagnosed with yeast overgrowth, you need to follow the dietary recommendations outlined in this and the last post. Liver support is essential. And an antibiotic sensitive to yeast may be imperative. Nystatin, Nizoral and Diflucan are the most common. Herbal treatment of yeast overgrowth includes caprylic acid, found in coconut oil, garlic ( which has been shown to be more effective than prescription anti-fungals), berberine and essential oils such as oregano, thyme, peppermint and rosemary.
Thee are successful Ayurvedic therapies. Candidiasis or yeast infection is caused by internal congestion caused by ineffective food digestion. Grapefruit seed oil and tannic acid help restore friendly bacteria to the gut. Long pepper, ginger, cayenne and tricot can be taken 30 minutes before meals to improve digestion.
Now what about vaginal yeast infections? There are prescription medications in the form of topical anti-fungas which are effective. From a functional medicine perspective however, boric acid capsules used vaginally have been shown to be as effective as the prescription anti-fungals. Other agents that are effective include iodine and lactobacillus.
Remember, yeast is a natural fungus in our gastrointestinal tract. It is when yeast overgrows due to improper nutrition, improper digestion, overgrowth of bad vs good gut bacteria, that we get into trouble. Paying attention to the details outlined above will ameliorate the situation and prevent the overgrowth from occurring. protect your liver function at all costs and limit your exposure to chemicals and drugs such as cleaning solvents, pesticides, antibiotics, diuretics and NSAIDS such as Motrin or Advil.
As the year draws to a close, I would like to wish all of you- my friends, family and colleagues- a very wonderful holiday season and the best of life in the New Year. The Giannotto Clinic Posts will resume in mid-January 2015, and until then, please be blessed and open to the idea of positive change in the New Year!