What Is Candida Glabrata & How Is It Treated?
The family of Candida species consists of some of the most common fungal pathogens in the human body. Not only are they responsible for superficial infections, such as mucosal and cutaneous infections, but they can also cause systemic infection in more rare occurrences.
The five most common species in the Candida family include Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida tropicalis, Candida parapsilosis, and Candida krusei. Of these five, Candida Albicans has long been the most dangerous, but candida glabrata infections have started to rise.
With Candida glabrata continuing to rise — largely due to its resistance to antifungal medications — we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about the Candida glabrata species, including what it is, how it differs from other species, and the different infections it causes.
So, what is Candida Glabrata?
Like we mentioned above, Candida glabrata is a yeast belonging to the Candida family. As with other Candida species, it belongs to the Imperfecti class of Fungi, the Moniliales order, and the Cryptoccocaceae family. It was originally called Torulopsis glabrata, but that changed in 1978.
Candida glabrata is a normal member of the human microflora, is present in healthy people, and is generally found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the mouth, and the genital area. For the most part, Candida glabrata is harmless and won’t cause an infection (Candidiasis) in healthy people.
With that said, Candida glabrata is considered an opportunistic pathogen, which means it will cause an infection when given the opportunity. This is usually the case in immunocompromised individuals, but can also be the case when the yeast finds its way in places it shouldn’t be.
Candida Glabrata vs. Candida Albicans
Candida albicans remains the most common Candida species to cause infection, but there are rising concerns over the spread of Candida glabrata in recent years. Although the two are from the same family of yeast, they are in no way the same and have several striking differences.
For example, Candida glabrata has a higher resistance to antifungal medications (like fluconazole), doesn’t have the ability to form hyphae, doesn’t have the ability to grow or divide when eaten by macrophages (immune cells), and differ in gene structure in several unique ways.
Candida Glabrata Infections
As discussed above, Candida glabrata is generally harmless, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally harmless. In the event an infection rises, it will likely affect the urinary tract, the genitals, the mouth, or the bloodstream. It can cause both superficial infection and systemic infection.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common superficial infections caused by C. glabrata:
- Symptomatic Mucosal Infection – this type of infection has been identified in esophageal, oropharyngeal, and vaginal candidiasis in immunocompromised patients.
- Oropharyngeal Candidiasis – also known as oral thrush, this type of infection usually starts in the mouth but can spread to the tonsils and back of the throat.
- Esophageal Candidiasis – this type of infection occurs in the esophagus, more specifically the oropharyngeal lining, and is often the first sign of HIV infection.
- Vulvovaginal Candidiasis – this type of infection is most common in women, pregnant women, and diabetic patients. It occurs when C. glabrata overgrows in the vagina.
- Urinary Tract Candidiasis – also known as candiduria, fungal urinary tract infections are generally caused by Candida yeast, most common in hospitalized patients and elders.
- HIV Infection – though not a superficial infection in itself, C. glabrata infection is sometimes the first sign of HIV infection and progressive infection to AIDS.
Although not as common as superficial infections, Candida glabrata can also cause systemic infections in some people. For example, it can cause candidemia (blood infection when yeast disseminates to other organs) and fungemia (presence of fungi or yeast in the blood).
Causes of Candida Glabrata Infections
While there are plenty of causes of Candida glabrata infections, most of them are acquired in the hospital — with the exception of vulvovaginal candidiasis. With that said, the causes of candida glabrata infections are very similar to those of Candida albicans infections.
Here are some of the most common causes of such infections:
- Dysbiosis as a result of frequent use of antibiotics
- Frequent use of antifungal medications
- Reduced immunity in diabetics, HIV patients, cancer patients, and elders
- Barrier disruption or mechanical injury due to surgery
- Biofilms that stick on environmental surfaces, such as a catheter
- Contraception (birth control) usage
- Diabetes due to the presence of glucose in urine lowered immunity or previous exposure to fungi
- Pregnancy as a result of hormonal changes vaginal acidity
- Hospitalization or being admitted to the ICU
Although generally acquired in the hospital, Candida glabrata infections can occur in anyone — especially with a weakened immune system. With that said, those with a healthy and strong immune system are least likely to acquire a C. glabrata infection or any form of Candidiasis.
Signs & Symptoms of Candida Glabrata Infection
The warning signs and symptoms of Candida glabrata infection largely depend on the area of infection, whether it be the mouth, esophagus, genitals, urinary tract, or bloodstream (in more rare cases). Let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms of C. glabrata infection.
Urinary Tract Infection
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Increased frequency of urination
- Presence of blood in the urine
- Pelvic or abdominal pain when urinating
- Burning sensation during sex or urination
- Noticing a rash around the vagina
- White, cheesy substance under penis skinfolds
- Abnormal discharge of the vagina
- Itchiness or painful sensation around the genitals
- Redness or swelling around the vagina
- Burning or painful sensation in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing or eating, in general
- Loss of taste
- Redness in corners or inside the mouth
- Creamy white spots in the mouth that bleed when touched
How to Treat Candida Glabrata Infections
In order to diagnose a Candida glabrata infection, it is important to first understand why your immune system is compromised. Most Candida infections are the result of a compromised immune system.
Candida glabrata infections are often due to poor hygiene or acquired in hospitals, particularly in people who are being treated with fluconazole, which it can be more resistant to.
Your Functional Medicine doctor will help determine why your immune system is compromised and focus on the cause.
Once a Candida glabrata infection is confirmed, some combination of antifungals will be implemented. Treatment may include oral antifungal pill, cream, powder, suppository, liquid, etc. Your doctor will determine the best route based on your case.
How to naturally treat Candida infections
- Stop Feeding the Candida. Start by avoiding eating sugar (including fruit), dairy, alcohol, grains, and starches.
- Support Drainage. Once you’ve changed your diet, you may experience a healing crisis and have flu-like symptoms. Ensuring all drainage pathways are flowing — such as your liver, kidneys, intestines, and lymphatic system — will help you feel better.
- Eat to Support Yourself But Kills Candida. Now it’s time to consider foods to add to your diet that will support your body and immune system and kill Candida. They are:
- Fresh, organic meats and veggies
- Food that’s nutrient-dense
- Whole foods high in omega 3
- Foods that are high in fiber
- Incorporate Additional Strategies:
- Add aloe vera. It brings healing to the gut as Candida moves out, but it has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Add Candida-killing herbs. These include berberine, oregano oil, and Pau D’arco. You may also consider Biofilm disruptor, Candidex, Allicilin, and Cats Claw.
- Add oxygen supplementation. This may elevate good gut microbiome bacteria and hamper Candida.
- Add probiotics. If you’ve been following the steps above, enough of the Candida will have died to create room in your microbiome for healthy bacteria.
- Consider intermittent fasting. Fasting shortens the time in which we demand our digestive system to work, allowing our bodies to focus on other processes.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water (chlorine-free, fluoride-free).
- Use binders. BioActive Carbon-based binders can work to pull unwanted toxins out of the body through your stools.
If you believe you’re suffering from a Candida glabrata infection, contact me today. We’ll help you get to the bottom of your symptoms and put you on a treatment plan that works for you. If you suspect you have a candida fungal infection, you can assess your potential risk by taking our Candida Quiz. This Quiz can help determine if you are at risk and what should be your next steps.
For more chronic cases of Candida, consider Dr. Hagmeyer’s Candida Support Pack.
Natural Remedies for Fungal Infections
Many people suffer from fungal infections at some point or another.
Unfortunately, many fungi that cause infections are becoming resistant to aggressive forms of medications but respond positively to home remedies. Here are some natural, at-home remedies you can try:
- Yogurt and probiotics. The bacteria in these can help prevent and fight fungal infections.
- Tee tree oil. Dab it over the infected area to benefit from its antifungal and antibacterial properties.
- Soap and water. Clean the affected area twice daily to help control the spread of infection.
- Oregano oil. Mix a few drops with a carrier oil and dab on the affected area or take orally.
- Coconut oil. Use it as a topical antifungal medicine.
- Apple cider vinegar. Ingest ACV or dab it on infected skin to benefit from its antifungal properties.
- Aloe vera. It treats, soothes, and repairs skin damage.
- Vitamin C. Boost your immune system by eating foods rich in Vitamin C.
- Turmeric. Apply over the infected area or make turmeric tea and drink — either way, enjoy its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Ginger. Add ginger into your diet to prevent and treat fungal infections.
- Garlic. Eating garlic regularly can help prevent fungal infections. Apply it to the affected area can help fight fungus.
- Neem leaves. Boil leaves for 2-3 minutes and (once cooled) use to wash the infected area.
- Baking soda. Apply on feet or inside of shoes to fight athlete’s foot.