Candida overgrowth is a frequent underlying cause behind fatigue, hormonal imbalances, frequent vaginal or urinary infections, skin issues, mood fluctuations, and other symptoms. Candida overgrowth may also lead to thyroid dysfunction or increase symptoms related to thyroid imbalance. The good news is that you can get out of this vicious cycle of candida overgrowth and thyroid issues.
In this article, you will learn what candida and candida overgrowth are. You will learn how candida overgrowth spreads in your body. You will understand the causes and symptoms of candida overgrowth. I will explain the possible links between candida overgrowth and thyroid dysfunctions. I will explain how testing works and offer my top natural solutions for candida overgrowth and thyroid dysfunction.
What Is Candida?
Candida is a form of yeast. It is a fungus that lives in your intestines and mouth. It plays a vital role in your body by helping your digestion and nutrient absorption. However, under normal circumstances, you only have small amounts of candida in your body. That’s all you need.
What Is Candida Overgrowth?
Candida overgrowth is very common. Candida albicans are the most common cause of yeast infections in the mouth, vagina, and GI tract. When candida overproduces, it leads to candida overgrowth, which means it can penetrate your bloodstream by breaking down and slipping through your intestinal wall. This process can lead to leaky gut, toxic byproducts, and an array of symptoms and health problems from fatigue to thyroid dysfunction. Later in this article, you will learn about the symptoms of candida overgrowth and you will understand the potential link between candida overgrowth and thyroid dysfunction (1, 2).
Causes of Candida Overgrowth?
Having a healthy good flora is key to your health. A healthy gut bacteria balance with plenty of ‘good’ bacteria helps to keep your candida levels in check. However, the candida population in your body can get out of control for a variety of reasons (3, 4, 5):
- Out of balance pH: When your pH balance is thrown off, candida has the chance to grow and populate into larger amounts than what’s beneficial. When the body does not have good strong healthy gut bacteria or the pH balance is out of whack, it can make it very difficult to fight off a candida infection.
- Certain Medications: Certain medications, antibiotics, and oral corticosteroids can increase your risk of candida overgrowth. The problem with antibiotics is that they take the good with the bad. While they kill off the harmful bacteria, they also rid the body of the healthy bacteria it needs to help with digestion as well as keeping things like candida in a healthy range. If you are frequently prescribed antibiotics then there is a chance that your intestinal bacteria are out of balance. This can lead to candida overgrowth. With oral corticosteroids, there is a chance that someone can develop a candida infection in the mouth. These medications are used to treat conditions like asthma, and when these corticosteroids are inhaled it is so important to follow the directions and swish your mouth out after each use. Additionally to antibiotics and corticosteroids, taking oral contraceptives can also increase your risk of candida infections.
- A Weak Immune System: Anyone who is immune-compromised is more likely to suffer from an infection like candida. This includes anyone who has an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Eating an inflammatory diet high in sugar and processed foods and low in greens, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and clean protein, poor sleep, high stress levels, smoking, drinking alcohol, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and environmental toxins can all weaken your immune system and increase your risk of candida infection and overgrowth.
How Does Candida Overgrowth Spread?
Candida is a sneaky yeast. It has a unique ability to change shape in order to protect itself from shifts in acidity level o temperature or other environmental changes. It can turn from a rounded yeast cell into elongated hyphal cells that can get through your gut lining and potentially cause leaky gut syndrome. Once candida gets into your bloodstream, it can turn from a gut health issue into a full-body health issue and can colonize in your mouth, skin, thyroid, ears, reproductive organs, and other parts of your body. It’s not surprising that candida overgrowth can produce symptoms in all parts of your body affecting your entire health.
Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth
Candida overgrowth can affect your entire body and can lead to a long list of chronic symptoms. These are the most common symptoms of candida overgrowth you may experience:
- Skin and fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, and ringworm
- Chronic skin issues, such as eczema, hives, rashes, or psoriasis
- Frequent vaginal infections, vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), vaginal itching, or rectal itching
- Exhaustion, feeling tired or worn down, or chronic fatigue
- Brain fog, difficulty concentrating, lack of focus, or poor memory
- Anxiety, depression, irritability, or mood swings
- Digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
- Oral thrush (white tongue)
- Hormonal imbalances
- Fibromyalgia or fibromyalgia-like symptoms
- Autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis, lupus, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or rheumatoid arthritis
- Severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears
- Strong cravings for sugar, refined carbohydrates, and sugary or carby processed or junk food
Candida Overgrowth & Your Thyroid
I frequently see patients who suffer from Hashimoto’s who also have an underlying candida overgrowth. We commonly have to address underlying candida overgrowth to support their thyroid health as well. Candida overgrowth can affect your thyroid for a number of reasons. Let’s take a look at some of the possible links between candida overgrowth and thyroid dysfunction.
Candida Overgrowth May Lead to Leaky Gut
Candida overgrowth can lead to leaky gut by breaking down the walls of the intestines and then getting into the bloodstream if this fungus is found in large amounts in the GI tract. When not addressed, leaky gut can lead to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis as it taxes the body’s immune system and the immune system may begin attacking its own tissue and in certain circumstances, this is the thyroid gland.
Candida Overgrowth May Lead to Food Sensitivities & Intolerances
Your gut and the health of your gut bacteria are directly connected to thyroid health. Candida overgrowth is a very serious condition and can lead to food sensitivities as well as allergies. When you are consuming a food that you are sensitive to for a period of time there is a good chance that leaky gut can develop which can then lead to autoimmunity. Consuming reactive foods time and time again causes your immune system to go haywire and triggers inflammation. Any time your body is in a chronic state of inflammation, you are at a higher risk of developing disease, and when your immune system is in overdrive it can begin attacking your own body tissue. In this state, your body may go after your thyroid leading to autoimmune thyroid conditions, such as Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease.
Unhealthy Gut Microbes Affect the Thyroid
The balance of bacteria in your gut is so important to your health as any type of imbalance can cause pathogenic bacteria from overgrowing and can prevent the healthy bacteria from doing what they need to do to keep you healthy. Unhealthy gut bacteria can affect the thyroid gland.
When there is an imbalance in the bacteria in the gut, T4 to T3 conversion can be disrupted. Amazingly enough, roughly 20 percent of T4 to active T3 conversion takes place in the GI tract. Gut microbes are able to do a large part of the work here by converting inactive T4 into T3 sulfate. When the bacteria in your gut are imbalanced or there is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, this process can become disrupted. Your gut is also essential for nutrient absorption so when there is an imbalance in the gut, nutrient absorption may decrease which could ultimately lead to a vitamin or mineral deficiency. A deficiency can then cause a thyroid imbalance (6, 7, 8).
Candida Overgrowth May Impact Your Adrenals
Candida overgrowth in the gut can put stress on your adrenals as well as the HPA axis. Your adrenal glands work with your body’s stress response and also help with regulating the immune system. When dealing with candida overgrowth and even potentially nutrient malabsorption due to the overgrowth, hormonal imbalances can occur along with adrenal health issues and imbalances in stress hormones. Any type of hormone imbalance can ultimately lead to thyroid health problems and dealing with a thyroid condition on top of adrenal health issues can cause your symptoms to be much worse than they already are.
Your Immune System May Be the Link
Molecular mimicry means that there is a structural similarity between a foreign substance, called a foreign antigen that activates your immune system and your body’s self-antigen. There may be molecular mimicry between Candida and the thyroid gland leading your immune system to mistake your thyroid for a candida yeast infection leading to thyroid dysfunction. Candida may also release superantigens triggering your immune system to attack your thyroid gland causing autoimmunity. Moreover, a distracted immune system that is focused on attacking your thyroid gland by mistake but neglects to keep your candida levels balanced can lead to uncontrollable candida growth, serious candida overgrowth, and increased vulnerability to autoimmune thyroid disease (9).
Testing for Candida Overgrowth
If you are experiencing symptoms of candida overgrowth, getting tested is an important first step. Testing for candida overgrowth is something that you will want to do with a functional medicine practitioner, like myself. They all well-versed in candida and can help you uncover underlying and co-occurring problems as well.
Your functional medicine practitioner can help you to order different gut infection panels that can be very helpful to determine if you have a candida infection. These panels are able to spot another fungal, bacterial, or viral overgrowth, gut dysbiosis, and other gut health issues that may be present. These are simple stool and urine tests that can uncover some critical health issues. If you suspect that you are dealing with candida overgrowth or another gut infection, you can schedule a consultation with me here. After reviewing your symptoms, concerns, and health history, I can recommend appropriate testing for your specific case and create an individualized plan tailored to your needs to recover your health from candida overgrowth, thyroid issues, and other potential health problems.
If you have candida overgrowth that’s affecting your thyroid and overall health, it is time to make some changes to balance your body and regain your health. Here are my natural solutions for candida overgrowth and thyroid dysfunction:
Visit a Functional Medicine Practitioner
If you suspect that candida overgrowth may be an issue that you are dealing with, working with a functional medicine practitioner, like myself, may be a great first step. They can help you to uncover why the infection may be occurring, get proper testing, and set you up with a specific candida diet.
It is important to note that candida overgrowth can be easily misdiagnosed, especially when your symptoms may appear to be affecting different areas of your body. It is very common for doctors to mistake your symptoms for depression, sinus infections, or other infections, and simply prescribe antibiotics. As you know, antibiotics are one of the worst offenders for candida overgrowth and can feed into your symptoms instead of resolving them. Diagnosing candida overgrowth takes a holistic approach to get you on the proper healing path. It is important that you work with a functional medicine doctor who is well-versed in candida overgrowth and practices a holistic approach.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Fungal Diet
The natural approach to improving candida overgrowth always starts with an anti-inflammatory diet. Remove inflammatory foods, such as gluten, sugar, refined carbs, alcohol caffeine, refined oil, grains, pasteurized dairy, artificial sweeteners, conventional animal products, junk food, and processed foods. Eat plenty of greens, vegetables, herbs, spices, and fruits. Eat healthy fats and high-quality organic animal protein. Add anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal foods to your diet, such as garlic, coconut oil, turmeric, aloe vera, pomegranate, and garlic.
Using some anti-fungal herbs and supplements is often a critical step in recovering from candida overgrowth and rebuilding your gut flora balance. Oil of oregano is a fantastic herbal supplement with powerful anti-yeast, antiviral, antibiotic, and anti-parasitic properties. It is often used for candida overgrowth, other yeast overgrowths, parasitic and bacterial infections, and food poisoning. Pau D-Arco, grape seed extract, garlic, olive leaf extract, and berberine are other great herbal supplements that are often used for candida overgrowth. Be aware that these supplements may cause some die-off reactions, which means that you may get some uncomfortable symptoms, such as headaches, digestive issues, or flu-like symptoms for a couple days or weeks before you feel better. Working with a functional medicine doctor is a great way to select the supplements that are right for your body and situation (10, 11, 12, 13, 14).
Support Your Gut
Supporting your gut flora balance is absolutely critical to your recovery from candida overgrowth. Eat plenty of prebiotic-rich foods, including garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, leeks, dandelion greens, and chicory roots. Eat plenty of fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kimchi for gut health. Take high-quality probiotics, such as Optimal Reset Microbe Synergy Complete. Support your gut lining with Optimal Reset Ultimate Gut Support. Support your liver with Optimal Reset Liver Love. For maximum gut health support, try my Low Carb Ultimate Gut Support Kit (15).
Support Your Thyroid
As you’ve learned candida overgrowth can lead to thyroid dysfunction, so it is important that you take care of your thyroid while focusing on repairing your body from candida overgrowth. If you are dealing with Hashimoto’s disease or any other thyroid dysfunction or thyroid disease, I recommend reading and following the recommendations in my book, The 30-Day Thyroid Reset Plan: Disarming the 7 Hidden Triggers That are Keeping You Sick. You will learn everything you need to know about thyroid disease. I offer a 30-day plan to improve your health and my favorite thyroid-friendly recipes to nourish your body with delicious meals.
Candida overgrowth is a common problem that may also lead to thyroid dysfunction or increase symptoms related to thyroid imbalance. The good news is that you don’t have to suffer from symptoms of candida overgrowth and thyroid dysfunction anymore. Follow my natural solutions for candida overgrowth to repair your body, regain your health, and reclaim your life.
If you are dealing with symptoms of candida overgrowth, Hashimoto’s disease, or other thyroid issues, I invite you to schedule a consultation with me. I can help to identify the root cause of your condition and recommend a personalized treatment plan to repair your body and regain your health and well-being. Schedule your consultation here.