If you're frequently getting oral thrush, feeling bloated, feeling exhausted (despite getting plenty of sleep), or experiencing unexpected vaginal itching or discharge, these are a few signs you may have candida overgrowth. To be sure, first consult a primary care physician for a proper evaluation. Once you've received a treatment plan, you may also want to incorporate lifestyle changes to help manage symptoms.
For example, there are plenty of Ayurvedic protocols for managing candida that may be helpful. As with all protocols, figure out what feels good to you. If you have any doubts, questions, or concerns, contact your local Ayurvedic practitioner, physician, or nutritionist.
But first—what exactly is candida?
Candida is a type of yeast that lives in and on everyone's bodies, helping to break down food in the stomach and aid in digestion. When there is an overgrowth of candida, it can break down the lining of the intestinal wall and get into the bloodstream1, leading to chronic fatigue, depression, and digestive issues, among other symptoms.
Ayurveda believes that imbalance starts in the digestion. Signs your agni (or your digestive fire) are low, include feeling heavy after eating, not feeling thirsty, and experiencing constipation.
How to manage candida with Ayurveda.
Managing candida can start by sparking up that digestive fire—herbs and spices can help. Start the day with warm water, lemon, some ginger, and a pinch of cumin. Consider drinking a hot chai tea 30 minutes before a meal, as all of the warming spices (chai, ginger, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves) can be beneficial in warming up your digestion.
I also advise clients with candida to avoid cold, raw food, while easing up on the fruit and fruit sugar—although apples (both raw and cooked with spices) can be beneficial due to their astringent quality. 2
Limiting carbs, sweets, and fruit sugars is important in an anti-candida diet, because the goal is to starve the yeast. Eating easy-to-digest meals like soups, kitchari (an Ayurvedic protocol staple), and oatmeal can be beneficial.
Oil pulling may be helpful in treating candida too, especially when combined with the above dietary tweaks. In Ayurveda, coconut oil is touted for its cooling and antibacterial benefits—using for 10 minutes, twice a day, for up to one month, can soothe the mouth, especially if the candida manifests there. The practice is thought to help by pulling out excess ama (toxic buildup that occurs due to low agni) from the tongue and mouth.
It's important to remember that everyone has candida. If you are experiencing symptoms of candida overgrowth, seek out a physician who can help you treat it. If you follow an Ayurvedic practice, these diet tips can further support that treatment plan.
Nicole Rice is the co-founder of Countertop, a functional food company based in Los Angeles, where she currently lives. She is a highly trained and experienced doula, ayurvedic educator, and cook. During her 20 years as a public relations and marketing executive in the fashion industry in Sydney, New York, and Los Angeles, Rice still managed to explore natural remedies and healing, always making concoctions for her family and friends. After four years in New York City, she moved to Los Angeles in 2004. In 2007, she decided to make her passion for health her purpose. She returned to Australia for six months to complete the Birth and Postpartum Doula Certification at the Australian Doula College. In 2013, Rice received her Ayurvedic Health Educator certification from the California College of Ayurveda in Nevada City and completed a Pancha Karma with Dr. Rishi Korala in Kathmandu, Nepal, as well as studying the health and wellness of postpartum women under his guidance.