Over the Counter Treatments for Candida Overgrowth
Candida is part of the normal flora of the skin and mucous membranes of healthy individuals but a change in the equilibrium of this flora can lead to candida overgrowth. Common candida infections include oral thrush, skin rash and vaginitis. Several cost-effective and efficient over-the-counter (OTC) medications are available to treat these conditions. However, improper self-diagnosis is common. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two-thirds of all OTC candida drugs are sold to treat women who don't have the infection.
"Azole" Family of Drugs
Commonly used to treat candida vaginal and skin infections, drugs belonging to the "azole" family act by stopping the growth of candida at the site of infection. Miconazole, ticonazole and clotrimazole are some drugs that belong to this category and are available in the form of creams and suppositories. They should be applied at the site of infection as per the instructions on the package. The duration of treatment usually ranges from 1 day to 7 days, although according to the CDC, both 3- and 7-day treatments are equally effective.
Side effects are generally rare and mild, and may include itching or irritation at the site of infection, cramping, headaches or skin rash.
Reduced immunity is one of the major contributing factors to candida overgrowth, and the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends 500 to 1,000 milligrams per day of vitamin C, 200 to 400 international units per day of vitamin E and 200 micrograms per day of selenium to improve the functioning of the immune system. B complex, which is a combination of all the B vitamins, also plays an important role in maintaining the overall health of the individual. Although many of these nutrients can be obtained from the diet, vitamin supplements may be taken if the patient is prone to recurring infections.
Vitamin supplements are generally considered safe and side effects are rare including nausea, heart burn and headache.
Caprylic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid with potential antifungal effects that is available in capsule form. The information published by the University of California, Berkeley, reports that caprylic acid may be effective in treating asymptomatic candida infections in men. About 1 gram of caprylic acid along with meals can help increase acidity and thereby make it unfavorable for candida to grow. The most common side effects are nausea, bloating, constipation, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Propolis is a natural resin that can be derived from the buds of conifer and poplar trees, beeswax and other bee secretions. An article published in the October 2003 edition of the Journal of Chemotherapy states that propolis can significantly inhibit the growth of candida, and although, no clear effect was shown on adherence of candida to human cells, damage to the cell membrane structure of candida was well demonstrated.
Propolis is available in cream and lozenge form, and common side effects include swelling, redness, eczema or fever.
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