The Native American herb goldenseal can help keep candida growth in check.
by Lisa James
You have tried everything you could think of, from over-the-counter creams to prescription medications, for your recurring vaginal infections. But no matter what you do, the itching and burning keep coming back. What’s more, you’ve been experiencing other puzzling problems: Inability to focus, chronic sinus congestion and worst of all, never-ending fatigue. What’s going on?
You may have a problem with Candida albicans, a yeast found in the body’s normal microbial flora. Candida can grow out of control and cause symptoms that go far beyond the vaginal discomfort generally associated with yeast infections.
The body supports trillions of microbes. Most live in the intestines, while others colonize the mouth, skin, and vaginal and upper respiratory tracts. Many act as healthful probiotics; for example, some help the body absorb nutrients.
Normally, candida helps protect the digestive tract against infection. But under certain conditions, this yeast can itself become harmful. Antibiotics can destroy the probiotic bacteria that help keep it in check. Birth control pills can create candida-promoting hormonal imbalances. Excessive sugar in the diet and the blood—including high blood sugar caused by overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol—can also promote candida overgrowth.
Fungal infections of the vaginal tract and mouth (thrush) are obvious signs of candida imbalance. But the rapidly multiplying organisms not only produce toxins that can affect the entire body but may also promote leaky gut syndrome, in which tiny openings in the bowel wall allow undigested food particles and other irritants out into the bloodstream. This can result in wide-ranging symptoms such as poor memory and cognition, unstable mood, digestive and respiratory difficulties, and skin problems.
Goldenseal to the Rescue
Draining the diet of sugar and other refined carbohydrates is crucial to candida control. However, many people find that a whole-body herbal cleanse helps jump-start an anti-candida regimen, making dietary and other lifestyle changes more effective.
One of the most effective herbs for this purpose is goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). The herb’s bright-yellow root was prized by Native American healers, who used it to fight digestive, eye and skin ailments, and it was adopted for use by Western-style herbalists in America and England.
Goldenseal contains berberine, which inhibits candida growth and helps prevent the blood sugar spikes that help feed the microbe. It also activates immune system components that fight infection and has been found to help clear the intestines of parasites and diarrhea-causing bacteria.
Goldenseal has even shown effectiveness in fighting antibiotic-resistant staph (Planta Medica 9/12).
When used to correct candida overgrowth, goldenseal works best with other antifungal herbs such as cranberry, clove, garlic and oregano—each attacks the problem from a different angle. (Using organic herbs avoids adding more toxins to a body already burdened by the harmful effects of microbial imbalance.) Other helpful supplements include chromium and cinnamon to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Getting candida levels back in balance can be a challenge. Fortunately, goldenseal—when used as part of an overall antifungal cleansing program—can help.