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In some holistic schools of thought, phlegm is said to be the cause of all disease.

Phlegm has a great importance in Traditional Chinese Medicine as it is both a condition as well as a cause of diseases. Although the Lungs and Kidneys play a role in the formation of phlegm, the main cause is rooted in the Spleen as it controls the transformation and transportation of body fluids.

When the Spleen is functioning well, the body does not have an excessive amount of fluid or phlegm. However, a deficiency in the Spleen function can result in excess phlegm, which creates the perfect environment for Candida overgrowth.

Candida is a class of yeasts which are the most common cause of fungal infections. Many species of Candida live harmlessly in the gastrointestinal tract and is a part of our natural intestinal flora. However, if our mucus membranes are impaired, the immune system compromised, or Candida numbers exceed their normal range, Candida can multiply exponentially, enter the bloodstream and cause infections and disease in the body effecting tissues, and organs.

What can cause Candida to multiple?

  • a diet of processed food and take aways
  • a diet which is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates
  • a high alcohol intake
  • antibiotics
  • oral contraceptives
  • hormone therapy
  • chemotherapy
  • diabetes
  • stress / chronic stress
  • a weakened immune system
  • mercury in tooth fillings (* significant research links mercury presence to Candida virality)

Some of the better-known symptoms of Candida overgrowth are:

  • Thrush
    • a rash around the vaginal opening
    • a rash on the penis
    • an itchy or painful feeling in or around the vaginal opening
    • redness, irritation, or swelling around the vagina opening
    • abnormal / foul smelling vaginal discharge
    • a burning sensation whilst having sex
    • a burning sensation whilst urinating
  • Oral Thrush
    • white or yellow spots inside the cheeks, tongue, tonsils, gums or lips.
    • bad breath

BUT, there are many more symptoms that often go unchecked:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • cramps
  • nail fungal infections
  • skin fungal Infections
  • eczema
  • skin rashes
  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • brain fog
  • joint pain

and more severely:

  • fungal arthritis – inflammation of a joint caused by a fungal infection
  • fungal meningitis – a fungal infection that has spread to the brain or spinal cord
  • endocarditis – fungi entering the bloodstream and attaching to already damaged areas of the heart
  • candidemia – a serious candida bloodstream infection that can affect the heart, brain, eyes, bones, and other parts of the body
  • chronic fatigue
  • autoimmunity

There are topical treatments to resolve surface fungal infections caused by Candida overgrowth and vaginal steaming with herbs (particularly oregano and lavender) can be very effective, but from a holistic perspective, the skin is merely an organ expressing an underlaying problem. By only treating a symptom, we could run the risk of supressing the imbalance deeper into the body and it expressing itself elsewhere eg: central nervous, vascular, lymphatic, and endocrine systems or organs, and possibly compounding the problem.

Living inside every person are trillions of microorganisms which include bacteria, viruses, fungi and other life forms, these are collectively known as the microbiome.

Let’s always remember, Candida is NOT bad, it is an important member of our microbiome but this community of microbes must reside in harmony and balance with each other. Candida overgrowth is when this balance has been upset.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine vegetables and carbohydrates are seen as the basis for a healthy diet. When taken in more than small quantities, foods such as meat, dairy, fat, and sugar cause dampness which can overload the Spleen and impair its function. The underline issue here is Spleen Deficiency causing an imbalance in the gut microbiome and this is what needs to be addressed.

For Spleen deficiency, a practitioner would recommend reducing damp producing foods such as dairy, sugar, bananas, alcohol, fruit juices from concentrate, peanuts etc. which is in line with an anti-candida diet.

There are plenty of anti-Candida diets available online which involve the elimination of sugars (refined or natural), starches, gluten, and inflammatory foods which Candida thrives on. The goal is to starve Candida and reduce the numbers until a balance with the other gut microorganisms has been achieved. For most people these diets, in conjunction with a good probiotic, are all great ways to move forward towards gut health which will eventually translate to better physical and mental health, and clearer skin.

In severe cases, a Candida Detox may be necessary to eliminate Candida overgrowth more effectively. Before starting a balanced diet, this detox would be completed. After this, a balanced diet will then keep the intestinal community existing in harmony and balance.

If you would like a free copy of the NWT Holistic Healing’s Candida Detox, please email:

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