The length of a candida cleanse depends on the individual, how severe candida overgrowth symptoms are, and how long these symptoms have been present. Signs of candida overgrowth include:
- Recurring yeast infections (vaginal, fungal, thrush, etc)
- Carbohydrate and sugar cravings
- Poor digestion
- Mental fatigue, such as low mood and brain fog
- Headaches and migraines
- Worsened allergies, particularly to food
- Drugs: birth control pills, antibiotics, secondhand smoke
- Life factors: stress, poor diet, weakened immune system
Several factors have to be considered before starting a candida cleanse, such as:
- Health conditions? (Diabetes, leaky gut, etc. See the next section, “Is Candida Cleansing Safe” for more information.)
- What social/cultural/economic stresses may influence the time you can commit (work, family, etc)?
- How much yeast overgrowth do you have in your body?
- How intensive a cleanse can you commit to?
- What outcomes can you realistically expect?
Your responses depend on evaluating your habits, calendar, and ability to commit to a diet. Here are some cleansing options and general suggestions for the length and intensity of an effective cleanse.
Starting Out: Before the Cleanse
Before even beginning, taking actions such as reducing sugars, white flour and gluten, sweet fruits, caffeine, and alcohol will help the body adapt to change in a diet. Exercising, even with a daily 10 minute walk, can help strengthen immune function and adrenals. A candida cleanse is nothing to jump into, as not understanding the battle yeast puts up can cause many people stop their cleanse and revert to old habits.
Some people want to detox their whole body, and find that juicing vegetables and spices such as turmeric is most effective. Since grains, most nuts, and other essential calories and nutrients are cut out of the diet, people who decide to go through a liquid-only diet should not exceed 3 days before resuming regular meals.
The Standard Cleanse
A standard candida cleanse lasts 7-14 days with strict dietary restrictions. Depending on chronic conditions of candida infections, such as recurring vaginal infections, skin rashes, or severe allergies, some people will extend the cleanse for 6-12 weeks.
Many people underestimate the struggle of a standard yeast cleanse. Maintaining a diet not only shocks the body’s hunger responses by denying it the foods it’s accustomed to, but candida can cause die-off effects (see next section, “Is Candida Cleansing Safe?”). People usually experience the most negative effects on the third and fourth day, however symptoms of die-off and other effects that make one feel abnormal can last for months and may not appear until 2-3 weeks into the cleanse. How soon die-off occurs, and how long it lasts, may be an indication on how long you can expect to cleanse, however other factors, such as taking antifungals, will influence the intensity of die-off.
The Extended Cleanse
Even after the supplements or cleansing days are done, maintaining a healthy diet is critical for any effective results. Probiotics should be taken on a regular basis, and reintroducing food over time can help establish long-term benefits. Fruits can be added back into the diet, and should not exceed two servings per day for the first three weeks. Alcohol and caffeine can be added back into the diet depending on how much conditions have improved. Typically, 3-6 weeks is standard for reintroducing these two drinks, however some severe cases of overgrowth require them to be cut out for 2 years.
The good news is that many people find that when they are able to give foods up for a time, they have an easier time avoiding them and preventing overindulgence. The body becomes retrained to crave the foods you need, not the foods you want. For example, someone who always needed a morning pastry may find that what their body really needed was just a substantial, sweet treat. Once foods have been reintroduced, healthy crepes (made with ingredients such as brown rice flour), low-sugar fruit such as blueberries and raspberries (which are high in fiber), and cinnamon sprinkled on top can satisfy the same needs as a bearclaw or muffin. People comment that they don’t consume as much alcohol or coffee, having found suitable alternatives during their cleanse.
A Realistic Time Table
Completing a cleanse does not mean the body is over with detoxification or clearing out excessive yeast. Just because you finished does not mean it’s okay to return to your prior diet and unhealthy eating habits. Some people eliminate excessive yeast within a couple of weeks, while others take two years to completely heal. Die-off effects may last a few days, or a few months depending on the intensity of the initial cleanse, dedication of a good diet, and severity of candida overgrowth in the body.
When finished with your initial cleanse, and when you feel you’re ready to add in foods such as fruits, coffee, and alcohol, introduce them back into your diet individually and sparingly. For example, don’t have a fruit salad drizzled in honey with a glass of wine for dinner. Some people may begin to reintroduce foods into their diet, and find that candida overgrowth symptoms reemerge and they must avoid these foods for a longer period of time.