The winter holidays are upon us and your days are no doubt filled with peace, love and a calm sense of wonderment that the world is just slowly moving by.A question floats across your awareness: "How did the world get so quiet and content?" Yeah, right. It is also just as unlikely that you have decided to begin a month-long cleanse, eating no sugar, caffeine or alcohol as you meditate serenely for two hours a day.Like most of us, your diet has probably looked more like holiday cheese balls, sugar bombs, caffeinated mochas, or brandy-spiked eggnogs. And so your digestive tract takes a toll, and the inherent microflora that would normally stay in delicate balance, instead has a party. As part of the chaos, a normally well-behaved yeast species in your digestive tract known as Candida albicans, is instead is invited to wreak havoc.You may get a strong urge to "ditch the itch," seeking relief for the dry and itchy skin that Candida can cause. When this itch involves intimate areas, this problem, also known as a yeast infection, is often the same Candida. To complicate matters further for women, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has established a direct correlation between overgrowth of Candida in the digestive tract, and simultaneous vaginal yeast infections. And since yeast is a fungus, conventional treatment involves the use of antifungal medication such as fluconazole, which may increase the risk of severe side effects such as liver toxicity. Another antifungal, Amphotericin B, has also been reported to increase urinary excretion of magnesium. Would you risk potentially dangerous side effects if you knew safe, natural, and well-researched options were available to clear a Candida overgrowth from all parts of your system? In this article, we will address that "gut feeling" that we all have about Candida.THE NATURAL WAYA natural approach to Candida-balancing begins by restoring the population to a normal level without the use of risky pharmaceuticals. The infection must be treated in all areas that the Candida has colonized - skin, intimate areas, sinuses, ears, mouth and gut.In the 98 consecutive cases examined in the above study, they found that yeast overgrowth was not restricted to the vagina alone, but also found in the digestive tract. In addition, if Candida was found in the vagina it was always found in the stool and vice versa. The investigators concluded that, "...a 'cure' is not likely as long as the vagina remains the only treatment target."So, it may be prudent for women who have a vaginal yeast problem to give serious consideration to treating the possible "intestinal reservoir." An overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract can eventually result in yeast actually "translocating," or crossing the intestinal barrier and entering the bloodstream. Although physicians had previously believed this only happened in severely immuno-compromised patients (for example HIV and AIDS patients), recent studies have cast doubt on this theory, and suggest that translocation can take place in healthy animals and humans.Before we go further, I have one disclaimer for you. I used to work for a New Zealand herbal company called Forest Herbs, Ltd, even living in New Zealand where I had my first naturopathic practice. I no longer am employed by them and no longer receive a dime, so I share information about one particular product of theirs, simply because it works. There are many Candida products out there on the market, so feel free to find you own, or follow the recommendations of your natural health care practitioner.In the rain forests of New Zealand, a small, shrubby bush known as Horopito grows where fungus eats a freshly-planted orange tree within two weeks. The same properties that allow it to survive in such a moist climate, give it its antifungal properties.Kolorex is a product containing the native Horopito that has demonstrated the same ability to eliminate Candida as Amphotericin B, but without the liver-toxic side effects. It also spares intestinal microflora, the "good gut bugs." There are products available for general skin areas, foot fungus, those sensitive areas, thrush of the mouth and throat, and for the intestinal reservoir. Of course, an antifungal isn't going to do you a lick of good if you don't end the party. In other words, you've got to clean up what you're eating and address any other contributing factors, such as chemical or heavy metal burdens in the body, both which will predispose someone to Candida because of the immune-suppression. As part of a whole-body Candida plan, antifungals can help to restore proper balance in your system and get you back to vibrant health. But since timing is everything, you might just want to moderate yourself for the rest of the 2012. My advice? Enjoy the holidays, and plan for a good renewal process next year.Dr. Christopher Lepisto graduated as a naturopathic doctor (ND) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.