Vaginal tract infection (vaginitis) is one of the most popular reasons for women visiting their doctors. There are many types of vaginal infections and one of the most common is the yeast infection, Candida albicans. This common infection is characterised by a thick, curdy white, itchy discharge and reddened, raw vaginal tissue. When the ecology of the vagina is out of harmony, the beneficial probiotic bacteria in the vagina are destroyed, and Candida can proliferate, leading to a yeast infection. If you are a woman and you have a yeast infection, you need always ask yourself what may have caused this imbalance.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you eat sugar, or are you diabetic? (Candida thrives on sugar.)
- Are you wearing synthetic panty hose or panties without a cotton crotch?
- Do you wash your vagina with soap? (Soap can irritate the tissues. In most cases only water and a washcloth are necessary.)
- Do you have a depressed immune function due to an illness or unhealthy lifestyle? (Eating junk food or inadequate sleep, etc.)
- Are you taking antibiotics (which kill healthy flora), steroids, or birth control pills (which harmfully affect the pH of the vagina)?
- Are you pregnant?
- Have you ruled out food, pollen, detergent, or semen allergies with a medical practitioner trained in allergies?
- Are you sexually active? (Sexual intercourse is contraindicated while you are infected as you may pass the Candida to your partner and continue to pass it back and forth.)
Natural treatments for yeast infections include:
- You must eat a healthy, low-sugar, low-grain diet .
- You will want to increase your probiotic intake with probiotic capsules or by eating cultured foods because these contain the good bacteria that keep your vagina and gastrointestinal tract healthy and will replace the Candida. This is especially important if you are taking antibiotics.
- I am a strong believer in the importance of fermented foods and eat them with every meal to aid in digestion. Fermented vegetables are amenable to mass production because they keep for months on end without spoiling.
- Other good fermented foods are plain organic yogurt, miso, kimchi and sauerkraut. Fermented foods are eaten in every culture and ideally should be eaten with every meal because of their amazing health benefits.
- Other dietary considerations include avoiding all simple sugars, dairy (except if fermented), alcohol, cheeses, dried fruits, melons, peanuts and all suspected food allergens as all these will exacerbate Candida.
To avoid which fighting that yeast infection
- Avoid taking birth control pills, which weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to yeast.
- Avoid taking antibiotics
- Avoid douching, which can upset the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina.
- Avoid feminine deodorants. These can be very irritating to those with yeast infections.
- Avoid non-cotton underwear. Any underwear made of man-made fibres is not breathable, as cotton is. They trap moisture and heat, creating a perfect environment for yeast.
- Avoid tight clothing, such as pantyhose
- Avoid sitting in a wet bathing suit for a prolonged period. This creates not only a warm environment, but a moist one, as well. Perfect for yeast growth
Natural topical treatments include:
- Inserting one Boric acid powder capsule (see below) morning and evening for three to seven days for an acute infection, and 14 to 30 days for a chronic infection. Usually available in health stores or pharmacies or online.
- Boric acid has been used to treat vaginal infections for over 100 years. Not only is it antiviral and antifungal, it works against both Candida albicans and the more resistant Candida glabrata yeast strains. Boric acid is available over the counter and can be placed inside gelatin capsules that you insert into your vagina.
- Studies show the effectiveness of Boric acid is very high especially in women with chronic resistant yeast infections. One study with 100 women showed a 98 percent success rate with this condition. If you find that the Boric acid irritates your external genitalia you can protect the tissue with vitamin E oil (preferred) or Vaseline.
- Insert a garlic clove into the vagina in the morning and an acidophilus capsule in the evening for three to seven days.
- Prepare a retention douche with bentonite clay, Pau D’ Arco tea, yogurt, tea tree oil and goldenseal and douche two times a day for seven to 10 days.
- Soak a tampon with diluted tea tree oil and keep it in the vagina overnight.
- Take plain yogurt and dip a cotton tampon in it. Slowly slip it in your vagina (in case of vaginal yeast infection) or simply apply on the infected area (in case of other yeast infections) using your fingertips. Let it stay for 1-2 hours and remove it. In case of infection in the genitals, remember not to push the tampon in too far. Also, never use flavoured yogurts and go only for the plain one.
- Coconut Oil. To get the benefits, you need to wash the infected skin and then dry it gently using a very smooth and soft cloth. Then apply the virgin coconut oil with your clean fingertips and let it naturally dry. Use this remedy 2-3 times daily to stop the growth of the yeasts and get relief from the discomfort.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. To drive the benefits for treating your yeast infection, you can mix 1 -2 tablespoon of it with a glass of water and drink it 2-3 times each day. Alternatively, you may soak in a bath of lukewarm water after adding 1 cup of ACV in it. This will help you get rid of the itchiness.
- Oregano Oil. Take a glass of water and add oregano oil around 3 drops in it. Then drink it. For a week, you can continue with 3 drops but after that, you may increase the dose of oregano oil up to 6 drops per glass. However, in case of children and pregnant women, proper medical advice must be taken before consumption.
- Aloe Vera. Here, to get the benefits, you have to take an aloe leaf and extract the gel out of it. Then take a thin layer of the freshly extracted gel on your infected skin. Leave it to naturally dry. Apply this 2-3 times on a daily basis.
- Green Tea. Take green tea and steep it in hot water. Strain it a bit and then drink it when it is warm. To add on to the flavor, you may add a bit of lemon or honey into it. Drink green tea at least twice daily. Alternately, you may refrigerate green tea bags and apply on your infection for 10 minutes.
Allopathic treatments include the following anti-fungal:
- Clotrimazole, Miconazole, Terconazole suppository creams available over-the-counter or by prescription.
- Fluconazole, a single-dose treatment.
In my experience, I have been able to treat some of my female patients with acupuncture and natural remedies successfully. On the other hand, I’ve had female patients who’ve spent itchy painful days on end because they were not interested in western medical treatments, only to go nearly insane from their agonizingly raw, irritated vaginas. I would also suggest Boost Vitality, which is based on the ancient Chinese herbal formula called Gui Pi Wan.
My therapies are complementary, not alternative to modern western medicine and I have no hesitation in recommending and referring to them when all else fails.
The best way to prevent and treat yeast infections is to eat a healthy, low-sugar, low-grain diet, eat fermented foods, avoid the high-risk behaviours described above and experiment with any of the above treatments that you are intuitively drawn to, and I will bet that Candida albicans shall not hold your vagina hostage ever again.
James O’Sullivan - that's me, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving my patients, my students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
It's a wonderful life
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.