Candida Die-Off: What It is and How to Prevent it

Candida Die-Off (Herxheimer Reaction): Causes, Symptoms, prevention and Natural Candida Treatments
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A lot of people say that they suffer from candida die-off when treating candida infections in their body. When large number of yeast pathogens such as candida albicans are killed off quickly in the body, you can experience candida die-off symptoms. This is the result of toxins that are released into the bloodstream during the rapid die-off of the yeast pathogens and the body’s reaction. As the body gets rid of the toxins, this causes an inflammatory response and you may feel like having the flu or a seasonal allergy. The medical name for this type of reaction is the Herxheimer Reaction or the Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction (JHR).

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When getting rid of a large number of candida fungi or other bacteria, viruses, or pathogens, you can sometimes feel worse before you become better. This can result in having joint and muscle pain, headaches, sore throat, and chills among other symptoms. This is a sign that the pathogens are dying off as the body eliminates them and detoxifies itself to get rid of infections.

There is some controversy about how Candida die-off affects the body and if yeast die-off is something that people experience. Some say that getting rid of large amounts of Candida yeast strains doesn’t have an adverse effect on the body. However, many other people report that when they initially start a candida diet, they have symptoms resembling the Herxheimer reaction.

In this article I will examine if there is any evidence showing that candida die-off is connected with the Herxheimer reaction. At the end of the article, you will find many ways to treat candida yeast infections naturally. Before looking at any connection between candida die-off and experiencing flu-like symptoms, let’s look at what the medical literature says about the Herxheimer reaction.

What is Candida Die-Off or Herxheimer Reaction?

What is candida?

Candida is a yeast that is naturally found in small amounts in your body’s intestinal tract, on mucous membranes, and on your skin. However, some conditions can cause a candida infection when the yeast starts multiplying and growing out of control.

What is the candida theory?

The person who found the connection between candida overgrowth and various health conditions was Dr. C. Orian Truss. He claimed in the ’70s that yeast overgrowth accounts for mental and emotional problems as well as other ailments. His theory was popularized later by William Crook, MD, in the mid ’80s.

Dr. Orian claimed that the use of an anti-fungal medication together with a low-carbohydrate diet, could improve or even reverse a broad spectrum of complaints in Candida sufferers, such as symptoms of irritable bowel, various skin conditions, allergies and mood problems including anxiety and depression. In 1984 he published the book “The Missing Diagnosis” where he wrote in a great detail about his theory.

Candida die-off and Herxheimer reaction

Dr. Orian studied the connection between the body’s immune response to antifungal treatments for candida and candida die-off. He claimed that the elimination of candida pathogens induces responses similar to the Herxheimer reaction.5

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Others have theorized that studies into the cell structure of candida show that it is affected by certain antifungal drugs resulting in an increase of dead candida cells. In the initial stage of killing off Candida fungi, these large number of fungi cause higher levels of toxins that elicit an immune response in the body. The symptoms of candida die-off are often seen when large numbers of candida fungi are killed off quickly.

Candida and conventional medicine

For many years conventional doctors dismissed the Candida theory claiming the concept is speculative and unproven, and there is no published proof that Candida albicans is responsible for the syndrome which has been described by Dr. Orian.

However a new study from 2016 showed a correlation between Candida infections and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It showed that people with mental disorders were more likely to experience memory problems when yeast infections were involved.

The researchers said that “Although we cannot demonstrate a direct link between Candida infection and physiological brain processes, our data show that some factor associated with Candida infection, and possibly the organism itself, plays a role in affecting the memory of women with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and this is an avenue that needs to be further explored”.20

Even though little research has been done into Candida die-off and its connection to Herxheimer reaction, there is some anecdotal evidence showing cases of Candida sufferers experience Herxheimer reaction symptoms.

What Causes Herxheimer Reaction?

The Herxheimer Reaction is sometimes experienced by people who start a course of antibiotics.

According to Dr. Laurence Knott on Patient.info, Herxheimer reaction (sometimes referred to as herx or herxing) is the body’s immune response to toxins in the body. This is often the result of using antibiotics used to treat syphilis, rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease, and tuberculosis. Doctors say this is usually a sign that the treatment is working.1

Dr. Robert Bratton from the Mayo Clinic says that around 15% of people who are treated with antibiotics for Lyme disease experience JHR (Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction). This feels as if the Lyme disease symptoms like headaches, fever, rigors, and sweating are getting worse. However, after 24 hours improvements in symptoms are seen.2

Many websites claim that people who experience herxing say that they feel that their symptoms initially get worse before getting better. This shows up as signs of inflammation like skin rashes, joint pain, and muscle pain that are exacerbated.

Also, studies done into the number of people who suffer from a Herxheimer Reaction after receiving penicillin found that as much as 25% of patients showed signs of their infection getting worse in the initial treatment stages.3

According to doctors from WebMD, Jarisch-Herxheimer reactions to antibiotics used to treat some infections can start as soon as 8 hours after treatment has started, and it is not the same as an allergic reaction to penicillin.4

What are the Symptoms of Candida Die-Off?

The symptoms that many people suffer when they kill off candida fungi in their body seem to resemble herxing in some cases. As the body’s immune system deals with increased levels of toxins from candida cells that have died, people may suffer from typical herx responses.

According to Dr. Bobak Zonnoor on Medscape, JHR can cause symptoms like:3

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  • Increased anxiety
  • Sweating
  • A fast heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Changes in blood pressure levels.

Other people being treated for a yeast overgrowth say that they experience the following candida die-off symptoms:

Doctors treating candida infections recommend that a person stays away from sweet foods, simple carbohydrates, and strengthen their immune system. This helps to deal with the candida symptoms while trying to eliminate a candida overgrowth in the body.

How to Prevent Candida Die-off Symptoms

The best way to prevent or treat candida die off symptoms is to avoid strong anti fungal remedies or a strict candida diet. Strict candida diets or strong oral anti fungal remedies can cause large numbers of yeast and fungal cells to die rapidly. This increases the chances of creating the unpleasant candida die-off symptoms.

There are many ways to kill off candida strains of yeast naturally and more gradually in your body and help prevent die-off symptoms.

Start with anti candida treatments slowly and increase them over time to help you deal with the possible die-off symptoms.

Natural Treatments for Candida

Most people who look for the symptoms of candida die-off do so because they need to treat a candida infection or candidiasis.

Let’s examine some of the best natural treatments for candida and how to use them effectively.

Coconut oil

Virgin coconut oil contains antifungal properties that are useful for getting rid of candida infections. Coconut oil can be used to treat oral thrush or vaginal yeast infections. The soothing properties of coconut oil also address many candida symptoms like itching and burning in the affected areas.

According to studies on coconut oil, it contains fatty acids that have antifungal activity. The journal American Society for Microbiology reported on clinical trials showing that consuming coconut oil can help to reduce the number of candida pathogens in the gut. The researchers said that coconut oil could be an effective way to treat candida infections using diet.7

Other studies have shown that lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid, and caproic acid in coconut oil can help to reduce candida yeast in cases of oral thrush.8

How to use:

Depending on the type of candida infection you have, there are different ways to use coconut oil to treat yeast infections.

To use coconut oil as a topical treatment for yeast infection, you should mix one tablespoon coconut oil with 2 drops of cinnamon oil and 2 drops of clove oil. Mix well and apply to the affected area 3 times a day until the yeast infection on your skin has gone for good.

Research has shown that a combination of clove oil and cinnamon oil has shown to have anti-candida properties.9

Coconut oil can also be used to treat oral thrush naturally. All you have to do is make a coconut oil remedy using a tablespoon of coconut oil and 2-4 drops of clove oil or cinnamon oil. Swish this around your mouth for several minutes and spit out.

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Remember not to swallow the liquid and dispose of in a container in the trash to prevent clogging your drain.

Coconut oil is also effective as a vaginal yeast home remedy. To get rid of the symptoms of a candida infection in your vagina, you should warm a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil and add 3 drops tea tree oil. Soak a tampon in the remedy and insert into your vagina for 2 hours to kill the yeast infection. Repeat daily until the infection has gone completely.

The Journal of Medicinal Food reported that coconut oil can be as effective as some popular pharmaceutical antifungal medications.10

Tea tree oil

The antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil make this an effective method to get rid of the yeast that causes candida infections. Tea tree oil can be added to coconut oil to be used in vaginal suppositories to treat yeast infections or you can make a mouth rinse to kill off oral yeast infections.

A study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy found that tea tree oil was effective against various strains of candida. The antifungal properties of tea tree oil kill off candida cells by breaking down the candida cell membranes.11

How to use:

To use tea tree oil to kill off oral thrush candida infections, this is what you should do:

  1. Add 3 drops of tea tree oil to a small glass of water and mix well.
  2. Swish the mixture around your mouth for a few minutes and spit out.
  3. Repeat 2 times a day to keep your mouth fresh and kill off bacteria and fungi.
  4. Take care not to swallow any of the tea tree oil remedy as it is toxic if swallowed.

Tea tree oil has the added benefit for your oral health in that it kills off bacteria and can be used to get rid of gum infection naturally.

You can also use tea tree oil to kill off vaginal candida infections naturally. A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that vaginal suppositories containing tea tree oil can help to prevent candidiasis and reduce the symptoms of yeast infections.12

Apple cider vinegar

Raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) contains enzymes and nutrients that help to stop candida overgrowth and reduce the symptoms of yeast infections. Apple cider vinegar also has a beneficial effect on the gut and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria.

In 2017, the International Journal of Current Research published information showing that apple cider vinegar is effective against strains of candida. Apple cider vinegar was used effectively to treat vaginal thrush, oral candidiasis, and candida infections affecting the skin. It was suggested that apple cider vinegar is an economical and effective alternative to popular antifungal drugs.13

Other studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can be used as a natural antifungal mouthwash to treat oral thrush.14

How to use:

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You can use apple cider vinegar in many ways to treat symptoms of candida infections and kill off various fungus and yeast strains. Here are some examples:

Internally. Add 1-2 tablespoons of raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink 2 to 3 times a day. Keep doing this until your symptoms improve.

Apple cider vinegar compress. Dilute equal quantities of apple cider vinegar and water to make an antifungal solution. Dip a small piece of cloth in the remedy and press against the affected area for 10-15 minutes. Wash with warm water and dry thoroughly. Continue using until your symptoms get better.

ACV vaginal suppository. Soak a tampon in an apple cider vinegar solution that is mixed with equal parts of water. Insert into your vagina for 30-60 minutes and rinse the area with warm water. Use the ACV tampon 1-2 times a day until your symptoms of a yeast infection have gone completely.

Apple cider vinegar mouth rinse. To get rid of oral thrush quickly and naturally, mix 2 teaspoons ACV and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a cup of water. Rinse the solution around your mouth for a few minutes. Continue using twice a day until signs of a yeast infection in your mouth have gone.

Probiotics for candida

Taking probiotics supplements is one way to boost the effectiveness of natural anti-candida treatments.

For example, the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy reported that some probiotic supplements help to prevent recurrent vaginal candidiasis.15 Also, probiotics have shown to be effective in helping to reduce the number of candida fungi in the mouth and can help boost conventional antifungal therapies for oral thrush.16

Taking probiotics is one of the 3 things you should do If you have been on a course of antibiotics. Probiotics are an important supplement to restore healthy bacteria to your digestive system that have died off as a result of antibiotics.

Live, raw yogurt also contains probiotics that can help to treat yeast infections. For more information, please read my guide on how to use yogurt for candidiasis.

Garlic

Among the medicinal properties of garlic is its power to kill off strains of fungi and yeast infections. The anti-candida activity of garlic is due to the compound allicin. This has been shown to destroy yeast, molds, and fungi that cause candida infections.

The Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine reported on the therapeutic effects of garlic supplements in the diet. Researchers found that garlic exhibited strong antifungal activity and can inhibit candida growth to help treat fungal infections. In cases of oral thrush, garlic was more effective than a popular antifungal in treating denture stomatitis (a mild inflammation and redness of the oral mucous membrane beneath a denture).17

Some evidence from studies indicates that garlic can also help to boost the effectiveness of traditional antifungals when combined.18

Garlic will also help to boost your immune system and offset any symptoms that you feel from candida die-off.

To maximize the health benefits of garlic, crush or mince the garlic, then wait 10 minutes before consuming it to further enhance the formation of allicin and to ensure the maximum synthesis of allicin.

Boost your immune system

Because candida overgrowth happens in the body when the immune system is weakened, it’s important to strengthen your immunity.

Researchers from the University of Maryland recommend immune-strengthening therapies to control candida. Apart from taking probiotics regularly, they recommend healthy doses of vitamins C and E, B-complex vitamins, and omega-3.19

For more advice on strengthening your immunity, please read my article on the best ways to naturally give your immune system a boost.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources:

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  2. Mayo Clin Proc.2008 May;83(5):566-71.
  3. Clin Infect Dis.2010 Oct 15;51(8):976-9.
  4. WebMD. Antibiotics for syphilis.
  5. OrthoMolecular. Restoration of immunologic competence to candida albicans.
  6. Medscape. Relapsing Fever in Emergency Medicine Medication.
  7. mSphere.2015 Nov 18;1(1)
  8. Med Mycol J.2012;53(4):255-61.
  9. Acta Biol Hung.2016 Jun;67(2):205-14.
  10. J Med Food. 2009 Dec;10(2):364-387.
  11. J Antimicrob Chemother.2004 Jun;53(6):1081-5.
  12. Phytother Res.2015 Oct;29(10):1628-33.
  13. Int J Curr Res. 2017 Apr;9(4):49317-49320.
  14. J Prosthodont.2015 Jun;24(4):296-302.
  15. J Antimicrob Chemother.2006 Aug;58(2):266-72.
  16. 2014 Mar;57(3):141-6.
  17. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014 Jan-Feb; 4(1): 1–14.
  18. PLoS One. 2012; 7(6): e38242.
  19. UMM. Candidiasis.
  20. ScienceDaily. Yeast infection linked to mental illness.
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