Coal miners had their canary, I have the itchy spot on the base of my hairline.
Ever since I fought candida off and finally had a name for the little itchy spot on my neck that spread over my chest and arms in 2013, I figured it would be an indicator of when I’d pushed my body too far.
I hate when I’m right.
Ever since I kicked the candida back after about 6 months, with a combination of the strategies in this post and a stronger probiotic, I’d always had a bit of an itchy spot right there. But it was static. It didn’t flake or spread. But then…
After a fairly stressful fall, long work hours into the night, and a near-total abandon of self-discipline when it came to chocolate and junk food during the “holiday season” that encompasses all of November and December these days…it flared up again. Although I was still taking the same probiotics, I wasn’t 100% accurate at taking them every day, and I also was probably taking slightly less in each spoonful than when I was really attacking the active candida.
What My Canary was Saying to Me About Candida
Luckily it didn’t strangle me around the neck right away (like it did last time, see photo), and I could react to it.
When I realized that an occasional absent-minded “time to scratch my neck” had become an obsessive digging and that my skin was beginning to flake again, I felt dread in the pit of my stomach. I wondered how long it would take before it started covering my body again. Could I catch it in time?
It was with great interest then that I listened to a talk by Donna Gates on candida and healing your gut during the Heal Your Gut Seminar (link no longer available), which is still available for purchase. She’s the author of The Body Ecology Diet and her website is full of information on gut health and fermented foods in particular.
Although I had spent time understanding and applying the wisdom of starve, kill, rebuild for candida, I picked up quite a few new ideas in the talk, and I thought I’d share some notes with you all.
Heal Your Gut Talk: Healing from Candida and Yeast
Before I get into the healing recommendations, I wanted to share the statement that jumped out at me the most. Donna Gates said near the beginning of her talk that many (most?) babies are born with the candida infection. Pregnancy generally causes a woman’s candida infection to become worse because the fungus feeds on estrogen, which goes up in pregnancy. This is also the reason birth control pills are a major cause of candida and typically exacerbate it..
That’s why I’m so glad Gabe is taking the probiotic from WellFuture regularly, and I hope to see his cradle cap remain under control and disappear.
Now for mine! Here are some new things I could try to kick the candida once and for all:
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- nuts and seeds
- green and black tea
- sweet potato
- black pepper
- especially SOY
Soy is easy, and I didn’t eat chocolate at all for the 40 days of Lent, but nus and seeds are harder. We were grain-free for Lent too and so I ate more sweet potatoes than usual. Sometimes it’s just disheartening how many things I “shouldn’t” eat for some reason or another! And I love fresh cracked black pepper on things!
Supplements to Try
Donna said to try calcium and magnesium citrate with meals, because that can bind the oxalates you’re eating so they can’t get into your bloodstream. (Does that mean I can eat sweet potatoes and chocolate if I take them I wonder!?)
Vitamin B6 and lysine were also recommended supplements, and there was one vitamin to regulate: no more than 2,000 mg of Vitamin C per day, from food only if you can.
Foods to Focus On
There was one caveat:
“If you’ve got SIBO, then you can’t have the fermented foods until you wipe out the pathogens in the small intestine, which again this is where Pau d’arco and oil of oregano and berberine, and so on.” (SIBO is small intestine bacterial overgrowth)
What are those?
Killing the Yeast
The interviewer asked Donna whether people should take herbs or try to kill the yeast in any way, and this was her answer:
“Yeasts are definitely causing a huge amount of inflammation. So berberine, oil of oregano is also good, as is Pau d’arco in killing, helping bring them down. But I didn’t usually recommend that people go to those right away. Berberine, yes.
But killing off, there’s formulas that people have that are very good for killing yeast. And you can buy those in the health food stores.
But the thing is is that you’ve got to do this slowly. You don’t want a huge amount of die-off because our bodies are not designed to handle this enormous rush of toxins that have to be dealt with because we have all these other toxins in our body anyway. So I find that just diet alone. And the key again is fermented foods.”
How interesting! I used Pau d’arco tea topically and as a drink, but I hadn’t heard of beberine and used multiple essential oils, only topically, always diluted. I also can’t say I took caution to go slowly, but I don’t think I had any major die-off reactions that I remember.
Building and Supporting the Body’s Natural Defenses
She recommends a diet high in fiber, like 80% plant foods (including grains like quinoa and millet) and 20% proteins.
Certainly since the talk was about the gut, the microbiome came into play. She wans us to “diversify your microbes.” The specific recommendation is that it’s vital to have a microbe (bacteria) that a lot of others will “follow,” like a great leader in battle. It’s called lactobacillus plantarum, so look for that in your probiotics and make sure it’s in any fermented starters you use.
Lactobacillus plantarum produces folate, a key B vitamin used in methylation, detoxification, and degrading histamine. Plantarum is also resistant to many antibiotics, so it will prevent your gut from being completely wiped out if you have to get a prescription. (I’d love to learn more about this!)
I’m already getting lactobacillus plantarum from my probiotics, so if I want to beat this back, I can choose to omit high-oxalate foods, I guess. I’m just not sure if I want to go that far again. I must say I’m alarmed that my Lenten abstinence from sugar, flour and chocolate didn’t actually yield any positive results. I’ve been enjoying chocolate since Sunday and the spot hasn’t gone nuts yet. I’ll be watching closely to see if I think it’s spreading – and that may be the impetus to do something more.
Eighty percent plants would be a big change in my diet but would be an interesting experiment. I’ve also read that for an anti-candida diet, one needs to omit anything related to mold and fungus, like cheese and mushrooms. Again, because I was grain-free and sweetener-free during Lent, I certainly ate a lot of both!
So…I’ll have to see what I end up doing, or if I just up my probiotics and monitor the situation.
More “C” Words
Possibly the most alarming thing for me about the whole candida issue is that it’s been linked to an increased risk of cancer. My dad, who fought off bladder cancer two years ago, has always had fungal issues on his feet. So is there a connection there, and do I have it too?
I’m looking forward to learning more and building my cancer knowledge when The Truth About Cancer series releases (free for viewing) April 12 – and my results on this quiz about how much I understood about cancer and treatments was fascinating. You will be asked for your email to see all the results, but you also receive an eBook of information and an invite to the entire 9-hour docu-series starting April 12. They’re all about continuing to educate!
After I found out my dad had cancer, I did a lot of research to help him fight cancer with food. I collated all the information I found, the research-based and the slightly off-the-wall, into a few lists of foods to eat often, sometimes, hardly ever and hopefully never.
I printed out a list for my parents, and I’ve created a PDF for you to print, too.