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Thrush (Candidiasis)

About the Illness

Candida (Candidiasis) is another name for the infection we also call thrush.
Thrush is caused by a yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans that normally lives in the body in small quantities. This fungus is kept under control by a strong immune system and by friendly bacteria inhabiting our intestines. But, when conditions are present that allow the yeast to grow uncontrolled, it invades the surrounding tissues and becomes an infection. If our immunity is weakened, or we don’t have enough friendly bacteria in our digestive systems, this can encourage the growth of the fungus. If allowed to, it can spread through the digestive system to cause skin, genital and oral thrush infections. From there it can invade the blood and infect the whole body, so weakening the immune system even further. Signs of thrush in the mouth, skin and genital areas indicate fungal overgrowth in the whole body. When treating the specific areas, it is also important to treat the whole system to kill the Candida albicans from inside the body.

Common Symptoms

Thrush can affect you in the following areas:
Intestinal Thrush: Burning diarrhoea; patches on anus; mucusy discharge from anus; vomiting.
Genital Thrush: Women – irritation of vaginal area; thick, white vaginal discharge; burning when urinating; Men – itchy penis head; red patches & blisters on penis; discharge from penis.
Skin Infection: Ringworm – round, itchy, scaly patches on head and body;
Hands & Feet: itchy patches of flaky skin; rough, thick, black nails;
Hair Loss: thinning hair; losing hair.
Oral Thrush: white patches in mouth; small, painful blisters in mouth; wounds on gums; pain in mouth.

Children’s Issues

Newborns and infants often have thrush during the first few months of life. This is because their immune systems have not yet developed a healthy balance of bacteria and fungus in their bodies. Mothers should wash their breasts before feeding nursing babies so as to prevent infection. Also squeeze out the first milk to clean the milk ducts before starting feeding; thrush is not usually contagious in otherwise healthy toddlers and children. An HIV+ child can develop thrush by sharing toys with an infected child.

Herbal Therapy

It is important to treat the local infections described above, but the best way to fight Candida is to remove it from the system. You can do this by following the diet guidelines described in the next column, as well as by taking one of these tonics:

Hyptis pectinata Infusion good for all

Pound/blend 5 leaves in 1 glass warm water and drink 1 glass 2x daily.
(10-16 yrs: 1/2 glass 2x daily; 5-9 yrs 1/4 glass 2x daily; 2-5 yrs 1/8 glass 2x daily; up to 2 yrs: 2tsp 2x daily and insert pounded leaves in the anus.)

Plectranthus barbatus Tea good for all

Boil a cupped handful of leaves in a pan.
Apply leaves to genital area and drink 1 glass liquid 2x daily (especially good for children).
(6-10 yrs: 1/4 glass 2x daily; 2-6 yrs: 2-3 tbsp 2 x daily; up to 2 yrs: 1 tsp 2x daily.)

Fuerstia africana Infusion good for all

Soak handful of leaves in 1 glass water.
Drink 1/2 glass 2x daily or apply to the genitals.
Also a good blood purifier.
(Bathe child in the liquid or drink; 6-10 yrs: 1/4 glass 2x daily; 2-6 yrs: 2 tbsp 2x daily; up to 2 yrs: 2 tbsp 2x daily.)

If you can’t find any of these plants, try one of these affordable and accessible alternatives:

Fermented Cabbage Drink good for all

Grate a whole cabbage finely and add to 1 1/2 ltr water.
Place the mixture in a glass bowl or jar and cover it with plastic wrap or close the jar very tightly.
Leave the jar to stand at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Sieve it, throw away the cabbage and keep the liquid.
Drink 1 glass 2-3x daily.
To make a second batch, mix cabbage and water as above and add 1/2 cup of the last batch of juice.
Cover the jar and leave for 24 hours when it will be ready.
Keep the drink in the fridge once it is made.
If you do not have a fridge, only make enough to last you for 2-3 days.

Vinegar/Lemon Juice good for all

Dissolve 1-3 tsp vinegar or lemon juice in 1 glass cold water.
Drink 3x daily.

Food and Nutrition Advice

Diet is a crucial part of fighting Candida infection. Through diet, by avoiding certain foods and eating others, you can create an unfriendly environment which discourages the fungus from over-producing.

  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
  • Avoid sugar. (This means refined sugar, yeast, dairy products, wheat products and alcohol.)
  • Eat raw garlic, selenium-rich foods, fresh natural yoghurt (not sweetened or flavoured), yellow vegetables, cooked banana and green vegetables (but not acidic ones like spinach and mchicha).
  • If you take antibiotics then eat unsweetened, natural yoghurt (maziwa mala) to help friendly bacteria grow in your digestive system.

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