Candida is a yeast that grows naturally within the body in low levels. When the amount of candida increases too rapidly, however, a wide variety of health problems–some minor, some serious–can result. Although health professionals are still learning about candida and its effects on the body, many believe that excessive amounts of candida, known as candidiasis, is a widespread cause of ill health.
What Is Candida?
Candida is the general name for a strain of yeast that exists in the digestive systems of both men and women, as well as in the vagina of women. In a healthy individual, the candida causes no problems; however, when circumstances allow the candida to proliferate unchecked, the amount of yeast can increase so much that it begins to enter the blood and other organs of the body. The increased amounts of candida can cause a large number of symptoms, including recurring mouth and genital infections.
What Causes Candida?
Increased candida production in the body is usually linked to one of two things: overuse of antibiotics and a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. While candida is also thought to be linked to the use of hormonal medications such as birth control pills, and is known to be a recurring problem in people with suppressed immune systems, antibiotics and diet remain the biggest culprits.
Digestive Symptoms of Candida
Increased populations of candida in the body can cause a number of unpleasant digestive problems, including oral infections (thrush is an example), indigestion, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies and abdominal gas. In addition, candida has been linked to increased cravings for sweet foods and alcohol.
Neurological Symptoms of Candida
When candida reaches the bloodstream and travels throughout the body, the nervous system can suffer profoundly. Candida is thought to cause the following neurological symptoms: migraines, depression, hyperactivity, excessive mood swings, learning and memory difficulties, as well as difficulty staying mentally focused on a subject.
Candida Reproductive Symptoms
Besides causing vaginal infections, candida is also thought to contribute to vaginal and rectal itching, a decrease in sex drive and an increase in premenstrual syndrome symptoms.