One of the most common side effects of HIV is a candida overgrowth, otherwise known as candidiasis, yeast infection, or thrush. Candida albicans is a natural part of the intestinal flora, but it can easily turn into an infection when a person has a weakened immune system or when antibiotics eliminate good bacteria. In these situations, the yeast that is typically eaten by probiotics (the good bacteria) goes unchecked and grows out of control, something doctors noticed in the early days of HIV.
Commonly misdiagnosed or mistreated, yeast infections are typically found in the throat, vagina, or digestive tract. Symptoms include white curd-like patches in the mouth or throat; vaginal itching, burning, and discharge; and chronic abdominal bloating or painful gas. In most cases these infections are not serious, but for people with HIV, the fungal growth can become life-threatening.
Anthony Salzarulo, a holistic health practitioner in New York City, says holistic approaches can reduce the chances of a yeast overgrowth, keeping candida in check.
“It’s more about how to balance the ecology of the body so the body is no longer a favorable host for the candida overgrowth,” says Salzarulo. “When it’s looked at in that way, then the chances of successful treatment increase exponentially.”
Natural treatment, he says, is a lifestyle change, not just a quick fix—but it beats prescription medication: “I think nonholistic approaches have very poor results. In my opinion, that’s why so many people come to me for this problem.”
Here are some natural remedies recommended by Salzarulo:
1. Sleep. Maintaining a healthy immune system means getting enough rest on a regular schedule.
2. Eat healthier. Avoiding refined sugars and carbohydrates will promote faster recovery from an infection, as sugars feed candida growth. Ditch alcohol and white flour altogether until the body regains its inner ecology. Add healthy fats such as fish oil, organic raw butter, and extra virgin coconut oil, which reduce bacterial growth. Increase fiber intake with dark leafy green vegetables, which promote digestive function.
3. Get moving. Exercise increases energy levels, mental alertness, and feelings of well-being, and it helps fight fatigue caused by candida. Even better: Aerobic exercise requires extensive amounts of oxygen that starve the yeast cells and kill candida growth. Running, dancing, swimming, and biking are all good forms of exercise that’ll help cleanse your body of candida overgrowth.
4. Get regular. You may want to increase your number of bowel movements. Without excretion, dead microbes remain stagnant in the body, making it impossible for antifungals and probiotics to do their job, halting treatment altogether. Consuming fiber, magnesium, and plenty of water, placing hot castor oil packs on the abdomen, and having colonics are a few things to try.
5. Add probiotics. Adding probiotics—which are in yogurt, kefir, miso, and soy products—to a candida cleanse diet will increase beneficial bacteria and fight off the infection. The good bacteria eat yeast and bring the body back to a healthy pH balance. Probiotic capsules are also available.
6. Add antifungals later. After you have incorporated these other tips into your health routine, it’s time to add natural antifungals, such as pau d’arco, oil of oregano, capric acid (which is found in coconut oil), and enteric-coated garlic.
Visit DrSalzarulo.com for holistic treatment options and forums where others offer their experiences and success stories about battling Candida.