While having an awesome time while on break is wonderful and fine – what a relief to know that good health does not demand perfection 100% of the time – the risk is that off the wagon eating during a holiday or vacation can insidiously make its way into our regular routine almost without us realizing what has happened.
Have you ever experienced this yourself? A week or two after the vacation has ended you find yourself still waking up with brain fog, eating midafternoon candy bars or donuts for breakfast and suffering from stiff or painful joints.
If this has ever happened to you personally, you know that the first day or two back on the wagon is definitely the hardest. Those little critters known as gut pathogens which are normally in the minority in a healthy, balanced gut had a heyday while you were eating with abandon. They likely multiplied quickly and have increased greatly in proportion to the beneficial microbes, also known as probiotics.
Pau d’Arco Beats Back Candida
The typical pathogen that overgrows during a period of off the wagon eating is Candida – a term that refers to a large family of yeasts (one celled fungi) that under normal circumstances, harmlessly inhabit the tissues of humans. This is because a balanced intestinal tract from mouth to colon contains a preponderance of beneficial bacteria that keep candida overgrowth in check.
When not enough beneficial bacteria are present in a given body tissue to keep Candida under control, Candida transforms from a harmless state into an invasive species. Candida overgrowth can occur in many tissues of the body such as oral candidiasis known as thrush, the scalp as dandruff, fungus toenails, or vaginal yeast infections.
Cutting off Candida’s goodies by eliminating the junk allows the beneficial microbes to re-exert their authority and bring gut pathogens back into subjection before they start causing health issues.
They won’t go quietly, I can tell you!
Once you get over the hump which in my experience is the first 24-72 hours, you will likely find being back on the wagon comfortable again at last. You won’t be craving treats or junk every few hours and your blood sugar will stabilize back into a normal steady routine without excessive peaks or valleys.
The good news is that herbs can provide much needed assistance during those initial difficult hours when the gut pathogens like Candida are clamoring for their sugar fix and you are struggling to put an end the feeding frenzy.
The best herb I’ve ever used for this purpose is Pau d’arco, also known as Tabebuia.
The Pau d’arco herb is derived from the inner bark of a beautiful, large tree that is native to the rainforests of Central and South America. It will grow in any warm, humid clime, and I actually have two of these trees, Tabebuia impetiginosa, growing in my front yard.
Pau d’Arco: the Best Info Learned from the Candida Diet
I first learned about Pau d’arco while on the Candida Diet some twenty years ago. While the Candida Diet failed miserably to improve the health either of myself or my husband (we eventually realized that eating traditionally was the way to healing and health, not fad diet silver bullets), we found Pau d’arco highly effective at repressing Candida and significantly reducing sugar cravings.
While Pau d’arco has been used as a medicine to counteract fungal overgrowth for centuries, science is also validating these anecdotal observations. The Brazilian Journal of Biology found in 2010 found that Tabebuia avellanedae, one tree species that is the source of the Pau d’arco herb, does indeed exert an inhibitory effect on yeasts.
Which Form of Pau d’Arco is Best?
The form Pau d’arco is most often used is as a medicinal herbal tea, which I must admit, is an acquired taste at best! Even after drinking it as needed for the past 2 decades, I still don’t like it much!
The good news is that the taste isn’t so terrible that you can’t drink a cup or two for a few days to help you get back into the routine of healthy eating with sweets kept in moderation.
The definition of moderation is less than 36 grams (3 tablespoons) of sugar each day (less for children) from all sources (including fruit and fruit juice). To give you an idea of how little sugar this actually is, one navel orange contains approximately 23 grams of sugar. More than the 36 grams suggested limit causes significant immune system impairment according to research described in the classical compendium Search for Health by Tom Valentine.
Two cautions with regard to consumption of Pau d’arco tea are to start slow to avoid Candida die-off symptoms and make sure you get the real thing. There are Pau d’arco imposters out there, so make sure the source of your herb is either the Tabebuia avellanedae tree or the Tabebuia impetiginosa tree. Mahogany bark, for example, apparently has a similar color and aroma to the bark of the Pau d’arco tree but does not have its beneficial effects when consumed as a tea.
Getting back on the healthy eating wagon is not nearly as tough when you use Pau d’arco as your ace in the hole!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Biofilms: Overlooked Step in Treating Candida
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.