Could Candida be causing your child’s ADD/ADHD symptoms and more?




by Karen Brennan, Oct 26, 2015

 I am sure you have heard of the term before but do you know what it really means.  If you ask your doctor he or she may tell you it means yeast overgrowth in the mouth (oral thrush) or a vaginal yeast infection.  But systemic candida?  Your doctor probably will tell you it does not exist.  To be fair, candida isn’t something that is focused on in medical school. 

But coming from personal experience and as a nutritionist I am here to tell you it does exist and it can cause an array of symptoms. If your child is acting out, seems hyperactive or has behavioral issues you may want to continue reading this blog.  If your child has had several or more ear infections and has been on antibiotics than this article is also for you. 


So what really is candida?

In our intestinal tract we naturally have microorganisms or bacteria called lactobacilli, as well as yeast. They coexist in harmony unless we upset the natural balance by eating too much of certain food items such as sugar or by taking antibiotics.  Any significant imbalance to this normal gut flora can lead to illness and yeast overgrowth.  Again, most people think of a yeast infection as a localized issue but the truth of the matter is that yeast excretes a toxin that can then travel via the blood to any site in the body. 

Candida also weakens the normal intestinal membrane, creating leaky gut which is essentially toxins and food allergens passing through the membrane and traveling to other parts of the body. This process can also lead to an increased chance of the child developing food allergies.  This can then result in nasal congestion, abdominal pain and other symptoms that can also affect the child’s nervous system and mental health.

What are some additional symptoms of a yeast infection?

First let’s look at some of the symptoms of candida to see if any of this sounds like your child. I did not include specific ADD/ADHD symptoms since we are looking at symptoms in addition to those presented in ADD/ADHD.  However, most candida symptom lists will include the symptoms of ADD/ADHD

        • Fatigue


        • Fibromyalgia


        • Irritability when hungry


        • Headaches


        • Depression


        • Brain fog, forgetfulness


        • Diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation


        • Sore throat


        • Athletes foot


        • Carvings for sugar (this includes processed refined flour products)


        • Painful cracks at corners of the mouth


        • Pain in joints


        • Acne, skin rashes, psoriasis


        • Bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma


        • In children especially-toe walking, repetitive gestures or behaviors, decreased eye contact, not engaged, inappropriate laughter, repeating phrases from books, movies (as if from a script)


        • Autism Spectrum Disorder


        • IBS, Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis


        • Sensitive to strong smells such as cigarette smoke, perfumes and pesticides.


        • Frequent bladder infections


        • Anxiety


        • White coated tongue


        • Genital touching in young children


        • Easily gets angry


        • Chronic hair or foot odor in children

*please note that the above symptoms may not be related to candida and can also be related to other health issues as well.

Does this sound like your child? If so, let’s look at some causes

Note that usually it is not just one thing that causes the candida but several causes. The most common cause of candida in children is chronic ear infections treated with antibiotics. 

        • Corticosteroids such as prednisolone


        • Chronic stress


        • Birth control pills


        • Diet high in refined carbs and sugar


        • Nutrient deficiencies such as biotin, selenium or zinc (low zinc can be related to elevated copper and elevated copper can also cause candida)


        • Antibiotics from medications, from meat and dairy from conventional farmed animals


        • Food allergies/sensitivities (look for red ear lobes, red ears, rosy cheeks, dark or red circles under the eyes, or wrinkles under the eyes)


        • Acid suppressing drugs such as PPI’s, OTC antacids


        • Mercury fillings


        • Congested liver, reduced bile (hint: take a look at your child’s stool-is it brown or tan? If it is tan this is indicative of low bile flow)


        • Heartburn, reflux, GERD


        • Chronic colds, virus infections


        • Frequent use of non-caloric sweeteners



If you still are not sure, you can also assist your child with the candida checklist and spit test found here

If you want to assist your child with the candida Questionnaire, it can be found here at


So what do you do now?

The candida protocol involves rotating specific supplements, adding in pro and prebiotics; consuming a diet of whole foods consisting mostly of quality proteins, leafy greens and vegetables and using foods and supplements to boost the immune system and heal the gut.

The first place to start is with diet. Take a look at the diet of your child. Does it contain sugary beverages, refined grains, sugary and starchy snacks and candy? Ideally you want to make changes to the diet first but more importantly when doing so the entire family has to be on board.  Meaning, that you can’t tell your child he cannot have soda while you are in front of him drinking a can of coke.  So it means making changes (for the better) for the household, cleaning out the pantry and so forth.  It can be done. If this seems overwhelming to you, enlist help of an expert.  Many nutritionists come to the home to do pantry makeovers, or go on shopping outings with you to show you what to buy and avoid. 

Replace the junk food and processed food with whole food. Think “Just Eat Real Food”.  So include more vegetables, proteins and healthy fats in the diet. Make homemade snacks for the kids using almond and coconut flour and stevia instead of processed sugar.  

The next step is to start adding in herbs that can kill off the overgrowth of yeast. Herbs would include Pau D’Arco, allicin from garlic, caprylic acid, grape fruit seed extract, oregano oil, olive leaf extract and others-rotating these herbs, so using only one for 5 days and then switching over to a different herb. The length of time for use depends on the severity of the yeast problem.

Next you would want to add in probiotics from fermented foods and supplements. If using a supplement, use one that also has prebiotics in it or by a prebiotic supplement in addition to the probiotic. If getting probiotics from food sources avoid dairy during the yeast cleanse period since it is high in sugar.  Fermented foods such as fermented sauerkraut or fermented vegetables are good choices to add in. 

Find a quality nutritionist who can support you as this may seem overwhelming but does not need to be. A nutritionist should be able to break this down into easy doable steps for the child and the family.

  I have been through this and yes, at first it was a bit overwhelming but that’s because back in the 1990’s I did not have access to all the information and wonderful holistic mentors that exist today!  Heck, I had just gotten a computer and was not even sure what to do with it!  My son’s yeast was so bad it came out his ears and he was constantly clearing his throat.   He suffered from back to back ear infections and treated with antibiotics monthly for three years!  So for us it took a year to restore balance, but I am happy to say his mood improved greatly and he went from this little terror to the sweetest little red head! 

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Karen is a Board Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Nutrition Consultant, herbalist and has a Masters in Social Work. She has written two books on depression. She believes in addressing the root causes of depression and not symptom management. If you or your teen has depression and either has not has success with what western medicine has to offer or you just want to bypass medication and seek alternative help, and are ready to make small steps to improve your outlook on life, then contact Karen for a free 15 minute phone consult.