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A fungal disease affecting the warm, damp regions of the body such as the genital area.

Also called


Affected areas

Genitals, gums, tongue, lips and inside the mouth.


Acute candida most commonly affects the vagina and female genito-urinary region, where symptoms may include:
  • Yeasty, vaginal discharge that is usually whitish in colour and smells unusual
  • The affected areas experience redness, itching and swelling
  • Painful reaction to sexual intercourse and/or urination
  • White lesions such as mucous membranes on the vaginal wall

Thrush can also be experienced by babies and people with suppressed immunity and it commonly presents itself as white, creamy lesions on the gums, tongue, lips and inside the mouth that are unable to be scraped off. Babies can experience nappy rash as well.

Many natural therapists believe that an overgrown candida can also cause more long-term health issues. Symptoms of this condition, referred to as chronic candidiasis, can include:
  • Abdominal pain such as diarrhoea or constipation, bloating and flatulence
  • Fatigue
  • Depression, irritability, lack of concentration and pre-menstrual syndrome
  • Recurring cystitis
  • Increased susceptibility to infections due to depleted immunity
  • Adverse reactions or a worsening of symptoms after eating certain foods or being exposed to certain chemicals.


Candida albicans is a yeast-like fungus that usually lives in balance with the other bacteria and yeasts that inhabit our skin and mucous membranes such as the mouth, bowels and genitals.

If this balance is upset then Candida can multiply rapidly and may result in an outbreak of thrush. Factors that may trigger Candida overgrowth include:
  • Antibiotic use
  • The oral contraceptive pill (especially high-oestrogen varieties)
  • Cortisone and other steroids
  • Drugs designed to suppress digestive acid secretions (e.g. proton pump inhibitors and H2-receptor antagonists)
  • Pregnancy and menstruation
  • Depleted immunity (e.g. HIV/AIDS)
  • Poor dietary habits (such as excessive intakes of sugars, dairy products or yeasts)
When the Candida albicans organism proliferates due to the factors above, or the lining of the digestive tract is damaged, allowing the organism to entrench itself in the gastrointestinal system, chronic candidiasis is believed to take hold.

Diet and lifestyle

There are some lifestyle considerations to take into account if you are experiencing the effects of Candida.
  • It's more likely to develop in warm, moist environments.
  • Avoid tight clothing, and wear cotton rather than nylon underwear
  • Avoid antibiotic use unless absolutely necessary
  • A diet free of yeast-containing foods (e.g. yeasted breads and yeast spreads), alcohol and sugar is recommended by natural therapists

What you eat can also be important too; garlic's antifungal properties have been noted above and raw garlic should be eaten liberally to assist the body in fighting the infection.

Because yoghurt contains live probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis it's also a valuable addition to your diet.

Give your immune system the support it needs by consuming a diet high in fibre that favours fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Important notes

  • Consult your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of thrush so they can rule out other conditions with similar symptoms or discuss what effect (if any) prescribed medicines may be having on your susceptibility to the condition
  • If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional
  • You should also seek medical advice if you're suffering from immuno-suppressive conditions


Candida (also known as thrush) is a fungal disease which can affect many parts of the body, but is particularly likely to affect warm, damp areas such as the genital region.


Symptoms of Candida are diverse, and may include: 

  • Vaginal or penile discharge which may be yellow-white in colour and smell unpleasant 
  • Itching and burning of the affected areas (particularly the vaginal region and nappy rash areas in babies) 
  • Small white patches on the gums, tongue, lips and inside the cheeks which may or may not be painful, and cannot be scraped off (this is a common symptom in infants) 
  • Diarrhoea or constipation, bloating and flatulence, abdominal pain 
  • Adverse reactions or a worsening of symptoms after eating certain foods 
  • Depression, anxiety, irritability, inability to concentrate, pre-menstrual syndrome 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headaches 
  • Recurrent episodes of cystitis 
  • Damaged and painful fingernails and/or toenails (tinea) 
  • Cravings for sugar, bread products and alcohol


Candida is caused by the yeast-like fungus Candida albicans which normally lives in healthy balance with other (benign) bacteria and yeasts that inhabit our mouths, bowels, skin and other mucous membranes.

When this natural balance is upset, Candida multiplies dramatically and lodges deep into the tissues, causing an outbreak of thrush. Candida imbalance may be present for long periods without causing symptoms, especially in men, but may become troublesome due to hormonal changes, stress, emotional factors, or an unbalanced diet.

Factors that may trigger Candida overgrowth include: 

  • Antibiotic use 
  • The oral contraceptive pill 
  • The use of cortisone and other steroids 
  • Poor dietary habits 
  • Stress


Oral thrush occurs most frequently in babies and older people (where it may be due to ill-fitting dentures, cuts or abrasions) and in those with depleted immune systems (for example due to HIV).


The naturopathic approach to Candida infection is to improve resistance to infection, whilst at the same time addressing the overgrowth of the Candida organism. 

  • Probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus bacteria are "good" bacteria that normally inhabit the digestive tract and the vagina. Probiotic supplementation may help to address the imbalance caused by an overgrowth of Candida, and may help relieve digestive symptoms such as flatulence and diarrhoea. 
  • The mineral chromium assists the body with sugar utilisation and may help to reduce sugar craving symptoms; (if you are diabetic, discuss this with your healthcare professional before using it) 
  • The herb garlic has anti-fungal properties and is prescribed to assist with fungal infections such as Candida 
  • Echinacea stimulates the body's resistance and may help to reduce susceptibility to infection


A diet free of yeast and sugar will help your body to fight Candida infection. Avoid bread, alcohol, mushrooms and yeast spreads, as well as sugar in any form. (Hint - when checking ingredient lists, words ending in -ose, such as maltose, lactose and glucose, generally refer to forms of sugar).
Garlic and onions display antimicrobial actions and should be eaten liberally to assist the body to fight the infection. Yoghurt containing live probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus is also a valuable addition to the diet.

It is also important to boost your immune system by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

In babies it is essential that treatment is combined with regularly changed nappies and that the skin is kept dry.