Many people ask me to give advice on so-called natural anti-fungal and anti-yeast substances. I call these ineffective Candida treatments because they don’t work.
What are these ineffective Candida treatment? They are things like caprylic acid, grapefruit seed extract, garlic, pau d’arco tea, oil of oregano and probiotics. In my experience, these are not very effective, particularly if you do not follow an anti-yeast diet such as my Feast Without Yeast Diet. As I explain what these natural anti-fungal agents are, you may find reasons why they are ineffective in killing yeast.
Let me first explain what these substances are.
- Caprylic acid is a fatty acid which has anti-fungal activity. However, this activity is weak and only slows down the yeast but does not kill the yeast. Such chemicals are used in bread dough to slow down fungal mold growth.
- Garlic contains a chemical ajoene that inhibits fungal growth but it also contains allicin which kills bacteria. These chemicals both have to be isolated and purified from the garlic for testing.
- Pau d’arco is a tree from South America. The bark of this tree contains naphthoquinones that kill bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. These chemicals are also anti-inflammatory.
- Grapefruit seed extract contains chemicals called polyphenols which kill bacteria, fungi and viruses.
- Oregano oil, from wild oregano, also kills viruses, bacteria and fungi.
- Probiotics are bacteria which are supposed to crowd out the yeast and prevent it from growing. Probiotics are commonly thought to clear yeast but in reality, they do not kill yeast and do not help much to clear yeast from the gut. I explain this more in detail in another blog post. To see more on probiotics, click here.
You will find many websites telling you to take these substances, particularly from people who make a lot of money out of selling them to you. So, do these things work? Are they as effective as prescription anti-yeast medications like Nystatin?
Let’s look at the problem first. As you already know if you have been searching, Candida in the gut can cause many problems ranging from depression and diarrhea and ulcerative colitis to multiple sclerosis. If you go to our website and click on “Health Conditions,” you will find many conditions that respond to anti-yeast treatment.
Before we even look at supplements and medications, in my more than 25 years of experience as a doctor treating people with yeast-related problems, you need to start with diet. You need to clear out the yeast in your gut by not eating things that cause yeast. No supplement or even prescription anti-fungal agent works well without the best diet. If you try to kill the yeast with an anti-fungal agent, the yeast will always come back if you keep eating things that cause yeast to grow or are like yeast.
What is the best diet? The best anti-yeast diet is my Feast Without Yeast diet. This diet excludes foods which help the yeast grow and also excludes chemicals from foods that kill bacteria. What helps the yeast grow? The worst food is “malt,” which is a food ingredient that is produced to feed yeast. Malt in your food does the same thing. When you eat malt, you feed the yeast in your intestines.
The other worst food is vinegar. Vinegar has chemicals that kill bacteria and make room for the yeast. Eliminating malt and vinegar are critical first steps. I explain all of this in our book Feast Without Yeast.
So after realizing that you need to change your diet as a starting point, what next?
Let’s look at the “natural” anti-fungals, which I describe above. In my clinical experience of more than 25 years of treating people with Candida, my patients report that these natural anti-fungals are not effective in the long run. No one has ever come to me and said that any of these agents did the job for a long enough period of time to clear the yeast and enable people to become healthy.
Why might this be?
The reason is that although these foods may contain chemicals that kill the Candida yeast, several of them (pau d’arco, grapefruit seed extract, oil of oregano and garlic) also contain chemicals which kill bacteria. Anything that kills bacteria makes room for the yeast. If you take any of these types of things, you will most likely derive little benefit, because you are killing yeast and bacteria at the same time and the yeast can grow back in the space left by the dying bacteria.
What about the prescription medications? The main one is Nystatin oral powder. Nystatin oral powder is concentrated, is not absorbed, and is very good at killing the yeast. You can take enough to do the job of killing the yeast. For this reason, I almost always prescribe Nystatin oral powder to my patients if they need it. Nystatin oral powder also has no major side effects. Nystatin oral powder also works better than the other medications because it reaches all the intestinal yeast. By contrast, anti-fungal medications such as fluconazole (Diflucan) are absorbed just past the stomach in the small intestine and do not reach all the yeast in the lower part of intestine. I do not find Diflucan as effective as Nystatin.