Asthma | March 21, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Inhaled steroids for the treatment of asthma have become a standard in Australia and many countries around the world. They are an essential cornerstone in the management of persistent asthma. However, a small percentage of people may experience an overgrowth of candida in the mouth and throat as a side effect of these medications.
Candida infections occur because the corticosteroids inhalers that depress the immune system in the lungs have the same effect on the surface of the throat. With a typical inhaler most of the drugs ends up on your throat on its way to the lungs. Unfortunately, this makes the surface area in these areas more prone to pathogenic microbes such as Candida spp.
Candida is a type of yeast or fungus that causes thrush or oral candidiasis. There are several species of candida, the most prominent being candida albicans. We all have levels of candida in our bodies but it’s when the populations are too high that it causes problems.
When infection occurs it triggers inflammation with localised tissue irritation and damage. It characteristically causes white blotches or spots on the mucosa of the mouth and throat or tongue.
Candida spp. can be sometimes difficult to treat as it can supress our immune system and creates a protective wall around called a biofilm. Prolonged use of antifungal medications can also make it resistant to treatment, allowing infections to persist and thrive in the body.
Always rinse your mouth with water, gargle and spit after inhaling doses of steroids. Brushing your teeth can be useful.
A spacer can be used with inhaled steroids to increase the amount going into the lungs instead of in the mouth and throat—reducing your risk of getting thrush.
A spacer is a chamber that connects to the end of the puffer—spreading out the medication and allowing slower inhalation into the lungs.
Tea tree is a natural anti-fungal agent so brushing your teeth with a tea tree toothpaste or gargling with a tea tree mouth rinse can provide further protection.
The trick to kick candida in the butt is to reduce sugars in the diet. Even what may be considered “healthy sugars” such as honey, dried and fresh fruit, juice etc. should be avoided or limited. Refined sugar, sweets, soft drinks and alcohol all encourage the growth of candida. Even other high carbohydrate foods such as grains and starchy vegetables such as peas, carrots, pumpkin and potato should be consumed sparingly.
Some people with candida infections develop an intolerance to yeasts found in foods and may find avoiding these foods along with fermented foods helpful. This includes bread, vinegar, pickles, alcohol, vegemite and yeast spreads, processed/deli meats, mushrooms, cheese and even leftover foods.
Diet should be based on natural, fresh wholefoods. Lots of serves of vegetables with good quality protein from fresh fish, lean meat, nuts, seeds and legumes. Natural, unsweetened yoghurt can be helpful to restore healthy levels of bacteria.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a healthy yeast that has been shown to reduce populations of candida by reducing their adhesion to the oral mucosa and stops them from forming colonies. It also supports levels of other healthy flora to further prevent invading pathogens in the mouth and throat.
Other species of probiotics have also been shown to be helpful against Candida and using a good quality high-strength formula may also be useful.
One of the best antifungal herbs is garlic. However, mincing and cooking with garlic destroys many of the properties that help it to fight off fungal infections. A good quality high-strength garlic capsule can be taken or use fresh raw garlic cut into small pieces and swallowed after a meal twice a day.
A good quality organic oregano oil is another safe anti-fungal treatment. The active constituents carvacrol and thymol have been found to be some of the most antimicrobial agents against candida but also to a broad range of other micro-organisms. It is available in capsule or liquid form but the liquid form would be best in order to get a topical action in the mouth and throat.
Echinacea is a great herb to use to help give the immune system a boost. Asthmatics can have sensitivities to this herb so it is best to use the Echinacea root only. Other alternatives with similar properties include Andrographis, Astragalus and Siberian Ginseng. Astragalas and Siberian Ginseng can be particularly indicated if the infection is chronic and persistent.
Zinc and vitamin C are essential for the immune system to work efficiently, especially when any infection is involved.
Vitamin D may be indicated as levels can be depleted in asthmatics and this may increase susceptibility to infection. For best results select a product from each category i.e. a probiotic, an anti-fungal herb, a herb for immune support, along with zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D.
Consulting a naturopath will help to customise a program specific for your needs as well as address other factors which could be triggering asthma. This would help to support the immune system in a more precise way. It is important to consult your GP if you have any concerns about your medications and if you are experiencing a current infection.
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