By John Douillard, DC, PhD
Candida albicans yeast is a naturally-occurring intestinal inhabitant which is normally in check by a properly balanced intestinal medium. Candida albicans becomes a concern when the intestinal flora’s “good” bacteria is out-populated by this yeast, which is commonly included under the heading “bad” bacteria. The now-flourishing yeast can enter the bloodstream via the enteric cycle and elicit the classic yeast infection symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, tinnitus, decreased immunity, and digestion.
The Western approach to this disorder is to eradicate the yeast and therefore relieve the associated symptoms. Allopathically, drugs are used, but because of their extreme side effects, they are not the most desirable choice. Herbal remedies aid in rebalancing the body toward the reduction of yeast, however, the most important component of this Ayurvedic protocol is to address the underlying cause of the yeast infection.
In Ayurvedic medicine, illness due to a systemic invasion of Candida albicans is not identified as such. The yeast itself is not recognized in the etiology of the classic candida symptoms. The etiology of this set of symptoms is usually classified under the heading of agnimandya, or deficient digestion. The result of a deficient digestion is the production of ama which is the by-product of undigested food. Ama is then either absorbed into the blood stream or lymphatic system, creating a toxicity and the ground floor for the disease process. Invariably, this ama will accumulate in the seat of vata found in the lower digestive tract. The seat of vata is governed by the apana vata, which regulates the growth of flora in the gastrointestinal tract. As the ama accumulates in the small and large intestines, it will putrefy and ferment, thus inhibiting the normal flora to proliferate. It is because of this variation from the norm that a candidiasis or yeast infestation occurs, and that the ground is set as well for a parasitic infiltration.
The next stage of a candida infestation is a result of the intestinal absorption of ama into the liver and blood via the portal system. This process is classified as Udavarta or the upward movement of vayu. This vayu leaves the seat of vata in the form of apana and aggravates the liver, spleen, and the seat of Agni (digestive fire) in the stomach called grahani. The grahani is the seat of the pachaka pitta and the thirteen agnis.
When the wind of the apana vata blows on the pachaka pitta, the initial digestive force of the powerful jathra agni is aggravated. This aggravation compromises the breakdown of the food and the subsequent effectiveness of the five bhutagnis. These five agnis pertain to the food and the subsequent effectiveness of the five tejas (fire), vayu (air), and akasha (space). The bhutagnis break the food up into these respective food fractions according the five elements.For example, food fragments consisting of predominantly air and space would go to support the nervous system. Food fragments made up of mostly earth would end up supporting the musculoskeletal system. This breakdown is essential for the dhatuagnis which support the seven major bodily tissues to be developed. It is here that the aggravation of grahani and the accumulation of ama does its damage.
If the seven tissues which include rasa (plama), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscle), meda (fat), majja (nervous tissue), asthi (bone), and sukra (sperm and ovum) are damaged or improperly formed, then severity is the result. If any one the dhatus are improperly formed then the production of sukra will be inhibited. Sukra, the final culmination of the digestive process, and dhatu development, both provide the body with immunity, procreation, vitality, luster, long life, and health. It is this gross lack of vitality and immunity that colors the symptoms of candidiasis.Many of the common disorders of our time are due to vitiated digestion and the life force. These include Epstein-Barr virus, chronic fatigue syndrome, Meuniere’s disease, and others.
For the following reasons the classic symptoms of candidiasis will ensue:
1. Decreased vitality due to a weak agni and the resultant poor assimilation of high quality nutrition.
2. Due to the accumulation of intestinal ama and the upward flow of vayu, the apana vata becomes depleted, which will both drain prana and alter the intestinal medium.
3. With the seat of agni aggravated, the processing of food into elements and then tissues is compromised. This will affect all the systems in the body but most importantly, the sukra dhatut, which is the life force itself.
The two most important strategies in the treatment of candidiasis are, first, to insure the integrity of the digestive agni and second, to build bala and immunity back into the body. With both of these in place, the treatment to kill off the pathological yeast can safely and effectively be employed.
For digestion, herbs like trikatu, ginger, black pepper, and hing can build the agni. To build strength and immunity herbs like bala, ashwaganda, brahmi, and gudduchi work well. Once the underlying imbalance is controlled then herbs like vidanga, neem, pomegranate, and tulsi work will in destroying the yeast.
It is well understood in Ayurveda that because of the prakriti (body type) and the behavioral stress that each of us endures, the cause of candidiasis could be due to the aggravation of vata, pitta, or kapha.
Vata is vitiated due to the excessive intake of too pungent, bitter, and astringent foods; too much cold food and excessive travel; the suppression of natural and normal urges; excessive intercourse, and irregular eating and sleeping habits. If these persist, according to Caraka Samhita, the individual will experience blurred vision, tinnitus, frequent pain, emaciation, debility, abdominal bloating, and lassitude, all of which are classic symptoms of candidiasis. Other symptoms can include low back pain, dry skin, nervousness, flatulence, depression, and/or ups and downs in energy.
1. Ama decreasing diet. This involves the avoidance of dairy, sugar, breads, and mucous-producing foods. Cold and raw foods should also be avoided. Sip hot water every 20 minutes and drink eight to ten eight ounce glasses of warm lemon water per day. Eat a large relaxing lunch and soup for dinner. Avoid concentrated fruit juice and take fresh fruit in moderation. Use hing, ginger, basil ajwan, and garlic to spice your food.
2. Boil 1 teaspoon of brahmi and 1 teaspoon of bala down in 1⁄2 cup of water. Add a pinch of black pepper and boil to 1⁄2 cup. Drink this after straining, 3 times per day.
3. Oleation and Purgation.a. Oleation: Take 2 teaspoons liquid ghee on the first morning, with hot water. On the second morning, take 4 teaspoons of ghee, and increase by 2 teaspoons every day until on the sixth day you have reached 6 teaspoons.b. Purgation: On the evening of the fourth day, take 6 teaspoons of castor oil. This could produce a laxative effect. It there is none, repeat the castor dose the next night.
4. Start each meal with equal parts of ginger juice and honey, and a pinch of lemon juice, salt, and cumin powder.
5. Boil 1 teaspoon each of the following herbs in 1 cup of water down to 1⁄2 cup: trifala (Emblica officinalis, Terminalia chebula, Terminalia belerica), bala (Sida cordifolia), brahmi (Centella asiatica), vidanga (Embelia ribes), and vacha (Acorus calamus). Mix this strained herb decoction with 1⁄2 cup sesame oil and administer as an enema for 5 days after oleation and purgation.
By the intake of pungent, uncooked, burning, sour, and alkaline foods, pitta will get aggravated and will put out digestive fire in the same way that a flood of boiling water will put out a flame.
The symptoms of this pitta imbalance is hyperacidity, yellowing complexion, yellowing liquid stool, fever, infections, anorexia, and excessive thirst. Remember that often times the upward flow of vayu can take a vata based candidiasis and mix it with a pitta presentation. Both sets of symptoms indicate a vata and pitta combined cause. Treatment would then have to include both vata and pitta.
1. Eat more fresh leafy green vegetables, avoid sugar and concentrated fruit juice. Favor pomegranates and bitter herbs, veggies, and spices.
2. Mahasudarshan (a churna of triphala (Emblica offcinialis, Terminalia belerica, Terminalia chebula); gudduchi (Tinospora cordifolia); kutki (Picorrhiza kurroa); patrpat; nimb (lime), suddha surastraja, bamshalochan; kairat). Take 1⁄2 teaspoon with hot water after meals.
3. Neem tea (Azadirachta indica), 4 cups per day.
4. 1 teaspoon of the following mixture 3 times per day: ashwaganda (Withania somnifera), gudduchi (Tinosporia cordifolia), amalaki (Emblica officinalis), and brahmi (Centella asiatica).
5. Oleation and purgation as per vata:a. Oleation: Take 2 teaspoons liquid ghee on the first morning, with hot water. On the second morning, take 4 teaspoons of ghee, and increase by 2 teaspoonsful every day until on the sixth day you have reached 6 teaspoonsful.b. Purgation: On the evening of the fourth day, take six teaspoons of castor oil. This could produce a laxative effect. It there is none, repeat the castor dose the next night.
6. Boil 1 teaspoon of the following herbs down from one cup water to cup: mahasurdarshan (see above), neem (Azadirachta indica), vidanga (Embelia ribes), kukti (Picorrhiza kurroa), and tulsi (Ocimum basilicum). Add 1⁄2 cup sesame oil and 2 tablespoon of castor oil and administer as an enema for five days.
Kapha is aggravated by the intake of food that is too heavy, too oily, and cold. Overeating and sleeping after meals produces ama and puts out the digestive fire. In this case digestion becomes slow and difficult with nausea and vomiting. The individual will often have frequent colds, flu, and congestion. Swollen glands, edema, and excessive sleep are also classic for a kapha infestation.
1. Avoid all mucus-forming, oily, and greasy foods. Avoid salt and sugar. Eat primarily grains and vegetables. Dandelion, asparagus, kale, collard greens, and spinach are foods to increase.
2. Eat pungent, spicy herbs and spices like cayenne (Capsicum frutescens), ginger (Zingiber officinalis), black pepper (Piper nigrum), clove (Syzygium aromaticum), and curry.
3. Trikatu (long pepper, black pepper, and ginger). Take 1⁄2 teaspoon with honey before each meal.
4. Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera) and shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) (1⁄2 teaspoon each) with a pinch of ginger powder. Mix into hot water and take three times per day, without food.
5. Take one fresh garlic clove and insert it into the rectum before bed.
6. Take 1⁄2 teaspoon of vidanga (Embelia ribes) and hing (Ferula asafoetida), 3 times daily after meals with hot water and honey.
7. Take 3 cups of neem (Azadirachta indica) tea daily.
General Dietary Guidelines for Candidiasis: One-month ama-reducing program
This traditional Ayurvedic program helps to eliminate the impurities (ama) that result from inefficient digestion and metabolism, and strengthens the digestive and metabolic fires (agni). It also corrects improper dietary habits which can lead to imbalances. Those with severe weakness of agni or excessive ama should follow these guidelines closely for three months, and then continue on a more relaxed basis. Others should simply follow the major guidelines, whenever possible. However, the first rule of Ayurveda is to follow your own inner sense and do what’s right for you.
1. Follow a regular daily routine in waking, eating, and sleeping habits:Wake between 5 and 7 AMTake lunch between 12 and 1 PMTake dinner between 5 and 7 PMGo to bed between 9 and 10 PMLunch should be the main meal of the day. Dinner should be light. Breakfast should be very light and is optional. Favor food that is freshly prepared, avoid leftovers, frozen, canned, or processed food.
2. Perform a sesame oil massage in the morning, followed with a warm bath or shower.
3. Sip hot water frequently throughout the day (every 1 or 2 hours or as often as desired). This keeps the agni alive and flushes ama from the system. Sipping hot water also settles the nervous system if you feel anxious.
4. Get fresh air, regular exercise, and physical activity through such methods as a morning or evening walk, sun salute or other yoga asanas.
In the Morning:
-Take warm water with a few drops of lemon juice and/or teaspoon raw honey after rising.
-Promote regular elimination by sitting on the toilet at the same time each morning, after rising.
-Do your oil massage, bath, or shower, yoga, pranayama, and meditation before eating.
At meal times:
-Eat in a settled environment.
-Eat only when hungry, after the last meal has been digestion.
-Stop eating when you feel satisfied, but not yet full (about 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 full).
-Sit quietly for at least five minutes after eating to promote digestion.
-Take lassi (yoghurt mixed with water, 1:1, 1:2, or 1:4) during lunch and between lunch and dinner, as needed to promote digestion.
-It is best to make lassi with freshly made yoghurt.
-Lassi can be sweet or seasoned, using honey, ginger, cardamom, for example, or salt, ginger, and cumin.
-Avoid cold food or drinks, especially foods and drinks taken directly from the refrigerator.
-Avoid heavy food at the evening meal, including heavy desserts, yoghurt, cheese, oily food, and fried food.
-Season your food to taste with prescribed seasoning (churna), or any of the following:Cumin, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seeds, asafoetida (hing), black pepper, rock salt, crystal or rock sugar, or brown sugar.
-At lunchtime you can include the following salad with your meal, sprouts, grated carrot or beet, parsley, fresh basil fresh grated ginger, lemon juice, and rock salt.
-Add seasoning to taste.
-If you have vata imbalance or weak digestion, take a small amount, chewed well.
Optional Ayurvedic Food Combining:
When there are several course, meals can be eaten from heavier to lighter food, because the digestive fire is strongest at the beginning of the meal. Start with the dessert, then go to the salad, raw vegetables, soup, dal (lentils), pasta, bread, cooked vegetables, rice, lassi.
In the evening:Go to bed early when you are naturally sleepy, between 6 and 10 PM. The following herbs, listed by Scott Gerson, M.D., have been effective in his treatment of systemic candidiasis:Juniperus communis (Hapusa) powdered berries, 2-3 grams b.i.d.Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi) leaf infusion, 2 oz., b.i.d.Carum copticum (Yamani) powdered seed, 2-4 grams with 2 oz. pomegranate juice, b.i.d.Caloptropis gigantea (Alarka) root bark decoction, 1⁄2-1 oz., t.i.d.
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-Devaraj, T.L. The Panchakarma Treatment of Ayurveda. Dwanwantari Orientalia Publication, Bangalore, India. 1986.
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