Infection of the vaginal tract (vaginitis) is one of the most common reasons for women seeking medical attention. There are many types of vaginal infections, but one of the most common is the yeast infection, Candida albicans, which is demonstrated by a thick, curdy white, itchy discharge and reddened, raw vaginal tissue. When the ecology of the vagina is disturbed, the beneficial bacteria in the vagina are destroyed, and Candida is allowed to proliferate, leading to a yeast infection. Therefore, if you are a woman and you have a yeast infection, you must 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 liner?
- 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 adversely 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. See MEVY.
- 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. Donna Gates, author of The Body Ecology Diet, presents a strong case for the importance of cultured foods and eating them with every meal to aid in digestion. When people complain to Donna that they don't have time to shred vegetables, she recommends people make it into a party and prepare it in bulk while socializing. Cultured vegetables are amenable to mass production because they keep for months on end without spoiling. Other good cultured foods are plain organic yogurt and miso. Cultured foods are eaten in every culture and ideally should be eaten with every meal because of their amazing health benefits.
- Other dietary considerations include avoidance of all simple sugars, dairy (except if cultured), alcohol, cheeses, dried fruits, melons, peanuts and all suspected food allergens as all these will exacerbate Candida.
Natural topical treatments include:
- Inserting one Boric acid powder capsule morning and evening for three to seven days for an acute infection, and 14 to 30 days for a chronic infection. I have not seen Boric acid capsules widely available in health stores or pharmacies but women can make their own by buying a bottle of Boric acid powder and gelatin capsules (a capsule-making machine makes the process go faster). 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.
Allopathic treatments include the following anti-fungals:
- Clotrimazole, Miconazole, Terconazole suppository creams available over-the-counter or by prescription.
- Fluconazole, a single-dose treatment.
In my experience as a physician, I have been able to treat some of my female patients with the natural herbal remedies successfully. On the other hand, I've had female patients who've spent painful itchy days on end because they insisted allopathic treatments were evil, only to go nearly insane from their agonizingly raw, irritated vaginas.
Ultimately, a few of these women, perhaps temporarily insane from the pain, wound up crawling to the store for the antifungal creams, ripping open the box, and inserting the cream right there in the pharmacy aisle!
The moral of this story is that you may wish to experiment with Boric acid or herbal treatments, but if you do not see results after five days you may wish to use an allopathic treatment, which is relatively harmless if used infrequently.
In conclusion, the best way to prevent and treat yeast infections is to eat a healthy, low-sugar, low-grain diet, eat cultured foods, avoid the high-risk behaviors 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.