For many people, the idea that mushrooms can help candida, both of which are a fungus, is difficult to understand. As such, it’s natural to wonder how one fungus can effectively kill another in a way that’s beneficial to the human body.
Candida infections can be a difficult experience for sufferers, with a host of unpleasant and sometimes intolerable symptoms. Moreover, what can be even worse than the initial infection is how difficult it can be to get rid of candida, and prevent it from returning.
To help you understand the distinction between these two fungi, we’ll dispel some of the common misconceptions about candida and the use of mushrooms to help fight fungal infections.
Candida and mushrooms are distinct and separate organisms with very little in common, and medicinal mushroom extracts have the potential to help your body fight off a candida infection and keep it from returning.9
Candida – The Bad Fungus
The human body is home to many different microorganisms, including fungi. Candida is just one of the fungus species that exists on the outside (the skin), as well as on the inside (in the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina). Yet when there are normal amounts of fungus in the body, these organisms don’t cause problems.
A specific type, called Candida albicans, grows rapidly and can spread all over the body when an infection occurs or the immune system is compromised.12
Candida albicans is very easily triggered and is known as the most common cause of fungal infections in people.8
Some of the factors that contribute to Candida albicans overgrowth include:
Candida overgrowth or candidiasis, is commonly referred to as a yeast infection12 and it can occur almost anywhere on the human body, but thrives in moist locations.
Depending on the area it affects, the symptoms and potential further complications differ. The most common types of candida overgrowth include:
Thrush – develops in the mouth and throat and is characterized by white, bumpy patches on the tongue, cheeks, gums, tonsils, or throat. Unsurprisingly, these patches can be itchy, painful, red, sore, and even bleed if scratched.13
Esophagitis – usually develops as a result of thrush complications, when the areas affected include the mouth, throat, and the esophagus, causing pain, swelling, and difficulty swallowing.14
Vaginal yeast infections – as one of the most common vaginal infections in women, candida yeast infection causes severe discomfort, itching, redness, pain, abnormal discharge, along with multiple urinary infections. Some women are more susceptible to candida than others, causing frequent infections that can even occur before the start of every period cycle.15
Cutaneous (skin) candidiasis – develops as a skin rash in areas like skin folds, genitals, buttocks, under the breasts, armpits, and other moist areas of skin. It can also occur in newborn babies as diaper rash.18
Invasive candidiasis – the most severe case of candidiasis when the fungus enters and infects the bloodstream, potentially reaching the heart, brain, eyes, bones, and other organs. Depending on the organ it affects candidiasis can cause different symptoms, but it’s almost always followed with a high fever and chills, localized pain, hypotension, overall fatigue, and even multiple organ failure.17
Mushrooms – The Good Fungus
Not all fungi are equal and mushrooms are an excellent example of this. In Eastern Medicine a variety of illnesses are treated with mushrooms and their incredible benefits studied for thousands of years. Western science has demonstrated its effectiveness in supporting the immune system,22 and improving neurological pathways.7
The most common mushrooms used medicinally include:6, 11
Reishi – Boosts the immune system and improves sleep
Chaga – Aids in digestion, boosts immunity and lowers inflammation
Lion’s Mane – Supports healthy brain function
Cordyceps – Aids in athletic performance, increases energy, and improves lung capacity
Turkey Tail – Potent immune system booster
Shiitake – Improves cardiovascular health and lowers cholesterol levels
Maitake – Supports the immune system and promotes cardiovascular health
Mushrooms for medicinal use are typically found in capsule or powder form, although shiitake and maitake can be found in the grocery stores and farmer’s markets and eaten whole.
Treatment Options for Candida
Getting the right diagnosis for a candida infection usually isn’t difficult as the white, itchy, and uncomfortable patches are obvious. Healthcare providers typically perform a physical exam to test for Candida, although in some cases you need a skin scraping or microscopic diagnosis.
However, the symptoms can be more vague for invasive candidiasis, so you may need an array of tests to confirm a diagnosis. Lifestyle habits and diet will also play a role in diagnosis and treatment, therefore it’s important to share your background health information with your provider.
Furthermore, depending on the part of the body that is affected, the process of treating candida overgrowth varies. Outlined below are common conventional treatment options:
Thrush: treated with topical and oral antifungal medications, such as nystatin, clotrimazole, and fluconazole.
Esophagitis: treated with oral antifungal medications like fluconazole.
Vaginal yeast infections: treated with topical antifungal medications and tablets that you insert directly in the vagina.
Cutaneous candidiasis: treated with topical antifungal medications in the form of powders and creams.
Other candida treatment and management options include implementing a low-carb diet,19 managing stress levels, modulating your microbiome, and improving your sleep quality. You can also explore supplements like spirulina, grapefruit seed extract, Pau D’arco,4 and berberine 5. Cooking with coconut oil and turmeric has also shown to be effective in strengthening the body’s immune system. This helps with faster recovery and improving resistance to infection.2
To treat candida overgrowth you can try using certain strict measures, known as protocols,2 for at least three to six months. These protocols include modifying lifestyle factors that might be feeding the candida overgrowth (like stress and a high-carb diet) and focusing on killing and flushing the excess bacteria out of your body.
There is also an emphasis on nourishing the body with antifungal and healing foods and taking gut-healing probiotics packed with good bacteria.3
How long it will take to heal from candida overgrowth depends on a variety of factors. These include the severity and areas of the infection, treatment tools, and protocols, along with lifestyle choices.
Since candida is a fungus that normally lives on the human body it’s not possible to get rid of it entirely. However, you can work towards controlling and managing in order to prevent another rapid outbreak in the future.
How Mushrooms Can Fight Candida
Commonly, there is a misconception that mushrooms can’t be used to help address candida since both the mushrooms and candida are a type of fungus. For this reason, it’s often thought when dealing with a candida infection that you should avoid mushrooms altogether.
Fortunately, this is not true as mushrooms and candida aren’t related and their effect on the human body is completely different.1 While candida causes infection in the body, mushrooms can help fight these effects due to their unique properties as immune-system regulators.
Ironically, in nature mushrooms often have to defend themselves against other fungi and for this reason, they can produce a host of helpful antifungal compounds.10
Mushrooms are an independent species, unrelated to humans, animals, or plants, and they have their own life cycles. Moreover, mushrooms and mycelial networks can live for thousands of years and have acclimated to every part of the world. In addition to their immune-boosting abilities, their antimicrobial properties are well-documented.26
Since probiotic protocols are often used to help rid the body of candida overgrowth, mushrooms such as Chaga, which supports gut health, can also be taken to help rebalance the gut microbiome.
Taking Medicinal Mushrooms for Candida Overgrowth
In the fight against candida overgrowth, mushrooms can supplement other treatments, as they assist in strengthening the immune system.8 Also, since these mushrooms are adaptogenic, they will help your body modulate its own microbiome.
Easily incorporate 1 gram daily of medicinal mushroom extracts in powder form to broths, lattes, desserts, and smoothies, or you can opt to take them as a capsule.
Notably, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with blood pressure issues, and those on specific medications need to be careful with mushrooms. Whether they’re used to treat candida or other health issues, it’s important to discuss any supplements and additional treatments with your healthcare provider.
Mushrooms have a vast array of beneficial characteristics that make them a smart choice to incorporate into your lifestyle. Real Mushrooms’ line of top quality mushroom supplements can boost your health and wellness by supporting optimal cellular and system level functioning. Visit our website today to find out more about our mushroom products and their benefits.
*Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is intended for educational purposes. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by licensed medical physicians. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner for any medical advice.
- Postawska, Aga, Aug 2017, FIghting Fungi with Fungi: Candida Fungus Vs. Nutritional Yeat & Medicinal Mushrooms Candida Cleanser <https://blog.candidacleanser.com/fighting-fungi-with-fungi-candida-vs-nutritional-yeast-medicinal-mushrooms16201536>
- Davidson, Jay; Watts, Todd, Dec 2018 Candida Support Protocol: How to Get Rid of Candida Naturally Microbe Formulas
- Richards, Lisa, Feb 2019, The Anti-Candida Diet: 11 Simple Rules to Follow MDR Fitness Corp <https://www.mdr.com/blog/the-anticandida-diet-11-simple-rules-to-follow/>
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- Dudhgaonkar, S., Thyagarajan, A., & Sliva, D. (2009). Suppression of the inflammatory response by triterpenes isolated from the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum. International immunopharmacology, 9(11), 1272–1280. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19651243>
- Maria Letizia Gargano, Leo J. L. D. van Griensven, Omoanghe S. Isikhuemhen, Ulrike Lindequist, Giuseppe Venturella, Solomon P. Wasser & Georgios I. Zervakis (2017) Medicinal mushrooms: Valuable biological resources of high exploitation potential, Plant Biosystems – An International Journal Dealing with all Aspects of Plant Biology, 151:3, 548-565 <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/11263504.2017.1301590?journalCode=tplb20>
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