What is Thrush?
Thrush is a yeast infection most commonly caused by a fungus called Candida Albicans. Both men and women can get thrush, though it is more often associated with women as vaginal thrush.
The medical term for thrush is candidiasis. It can also affect the skin and the inside of the mouth.
In the longer term, recurrent thrush may actually be an allergy to the yeast as described by Dr Myhill on his website Dr Myhill.co.uk, he describes the following factors as predisposing thrush:
- The Pill and HRT
- The coil – many IUCDs (coils) contain hormones
- Following a course of antibiotics (can reduce the good bugs in the digestive system)
- High sugar diet (or uncontrolled diabetes)
- Wrong bugs in the gut
The main food source for yeast infections in the body is sugar, in particular simple sugars such as disaccharides. This immediately creates a dietary problem as, in addition to sugary foods, all grains are broken down into sugars, some starchy vegetables (such as potatoes) are a source of sugars as are milk and cream which contain lactose. In addition, a lack of good gut bacteria (for example as happens after a course of antibiotics) can lead to the proliferation of bad bugs like yeast.
Treatment of Thrush
There are various over the counter treatments available to treat thrush involving pessaries and creams. A combination of these may be the most effective, one of the better known in the UK is Canesten:
Even after using these treatments, some people develop recurrent infections. It may be necessary to follow a longer course of treatment which should be discussed with your doctor. It may also be that an allergy to yeast has developed, as mentioned above; if symptoms improve when in another environment (such as being on holiday) then this could be the case. Dr Myhill recommends following a process of 10 steps to treat thrush:
- Take standard recommendations of nutritional supplements. (see list)
- Low sugar diet.
- Low carbohydrate diet.
- Low CHO, yeast free diet.
- High dose DIY probiotics.
- Herbal antifungals eg pau d’arco tea, garlic, oregano complex, grapefruit seed extract and caprylic acid.
- Topical drug perparations eg, nystatin, itraconazole.
- Single systemic drug prepration eg itraconazole, fluconazole.
- Combination of drugs and herbs.
Steps 2, 3 and 4 could be achieved by following the GAPS diet which was developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride as a therapeutic treatment for patients with digestive and immune disorders. I first came across this diet on The Healthy Home Economist website, where the anti-candida diet was discussed and dismissed as ineffective because it fails to address the underlying problem with the gut, which is damage to the enterocytes in the gut wall.
The enterocytes are cells which are present in the villi of the gut wall and produce the enzyme disaccharidase, this breaks down the disaccharide molecule into easily absorbed monosaccharide molecules. The enterocytes can become damaged if they are not nourished and strengthened by good bugs in the gut, this means that sugar molecules go undigested and become the perfect food for yeasts and other pathogens.
The GAPS diet aims to heal the gut wall by eliminating all sugars and supplementing probiotics. This can take a long time and it may be necessary to commit to this diet for several years.
Of course, everyone is different and it may be that following an exclusion diet and taking a probiotic/prebiotic supplement for a shorter period of time may help you in your quest to rid yourself of thrush.
For myself, I always feel better after following my 30 day Detox and it is remarkably similar to the exclusion diet, you may find that this is sufficient to give your body a rest and a chance to heal.