Natural Treatments for Yeast Infections AKA Candida Albicans
Holistic Treatments for Yeast Infections
You already know about candida albicans so we'll bypass the 101 course and get right into talking about treatments. This article is aimed at those sufferers who are looking for alternatives, preventative and long term treatments.
You've been down this road before. The signs are unmistakable. The itching, the burning, the discharge, and you know you've got another one - a vaginal yeast infection. (You men can get yeast infections too. Though this article addresses the more common female symptoms, you can tailor the treatments to your manly needs. The ingredients are the same.)
So what do you do this time? Do you go to the local pharmacy to pick up a box of formerly-prescription-only antifungal cream treatment? Do you buy one of those expensive, promise-to-cure-yeast-infections-once-and-for-all remedies that are rampant on the internet? Or do you try one of the myriad home remedies that Aunt Mazy used? You've tried them all before. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. All you want is for the blasted organisms to stop parking on your doorstep and you'll do what it takes, anything, just to halt the misery. Oh to be able to wear your jeans again in comfort!
There is hope. (And Aunt Mazy was closer to the truth than you think.) You can take control of your health and get your life back on track. It isn't always easy however.
Things you will need
Natural Cotton Tampons
Lavender Essential Oil
Cardamom Essential Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar
Non-sweetened, organic yogurt
Rolled Sterile Gauze and cotton string
The Candida Diet (link provided below)
Your best determination
A good dose of humor
The Short Term
First things first. You need some comfort right now. These home treatments will help you feel better initially but they won't treat the underlying issues that cause chronic yeast infections - neither will the anti-fungal creams.
I like to keep all the ingredients on hand in what I call my yeast box. I've used them interchangeably at varying times. Some work better than others at different times and I am at a loss to explain why this is. But do yourself a favor and keep several ingredients on hand for a few different remedies.
The garlic tampon
Take a clove of garlic and peel it. Wrap it up in a piece of sterile gauze. Tie a string around it with either cotton kitchen twine or a long piece of rolled gauze. Be sure to leave a tail on it because you'll need a way to retrieve it. Keep in mind that if you choose the gauze to tie it with, be sure to hold it out of the line of fire when urinating or you'll have a dripping mess to deal with. Insert the garlic tampon just as you would a regular tampon and leave in place overnight. Use a fresh garlic tampon each night for a week.
Alternatively, I found this remedy in the book The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, Ph.D... 1 teaspoon fresh garlic juice to a few tablespoons of yogurt. Soak a tampon in it or use as a douche twice daily until symptoms subside.
Since garlic's odor is as legendary as its antifungal properties, I would suggest you use caution with these two remedies if you work in very close proximity to others. You might have an alibi at the ready for anyone that comments on the smell emanating from your direction such as, "I ate the best Italian food last night" or "Cold and flu season is upon us so I'm eating my clove of garlic a day" or my personal favorite, "I'm fighting off vampires."
Essential Oil Treatments
I love lavender. It's so soothing and has many uses plus the smell is divine. I always have plenty on hand. Put a couple of drops (I use three) of lavender oil on a tampon and insert. You can give it some extra oomph and add three drops of cardamom oil. Be sure to change tampon daily.
You won't ward off any vampires with these oils but due to their divine scent, you may have some swooners to contend with.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This is another staple of both my kitchen and medicine cabinets.
For some instant relief draw a shallow warm bath and add a few cups (2-3) of vinegar to the water. Sit in it for as long as the water is warm.
Mix about 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar to a couple of cups of warm water and douche a couple of times a day with the mixture.
Add a few drops of lavender oil to both of these treatments if desired.
Use natural or organic non-sweetened yogurt only. Yeasts feed on sugar so the non-sweetened variety is essential here.
You can either add a couple of tablespoons to a couple of cups of warm water and use as a douche or simply insert a tablespoon of yogurt into the vagina. As you can imagine, the latter, like the over-the-counter creams can be quite messy so take precautions to protect your clothing.
Eat yogurt daily for the yeast fighting cultures in it. Or if you're like me and don't really care for the taste of yogurt, take a pro-biotic capsule each day.
The Long Term
It all sounds easy doesn't it? "Just buy a few ingredients and that's it," you think. "So why do I need determination and a sense of humor?" you ask. Well, I saved the most challenging (and most effective) treatment for last so steel yourself. You will indeed need that determination - and a sense of humor is nearly required to get through the complete treatment. Yeast infections are no laughing matter but like most miserable things in life, humor helps us get through them and maintain some semblance of sanity.
Some of us are more prone to these types of infections than others. We seem to be ultra sensitive to the overgrowth of yeast. I thought I had kicked the candida issue until I became so ill with what I thought were other issues that I sought medical attention. I prefer to treat most of my health problems in a holistic manner by making good use of herbs and other alternative treatments but I had to cry "UNCLE" this time and get some help.
I had the good fortune to find a holistic M.D. in my neighborhood and it was then I found out just how strong candida had its hooks in me. I was physically weak with no energy to get even my most simple chores done. Depression had set in, my skin was a mess and my hair was falling out at an alarming rate. Since depression was one of my symptoms, a regular M.D. likely would have prescribed me some anti-depressants thinking that the depression was causing the other issues. I instinctively knew this was not my problem however.
My holistic doctor took tests to confirm her suspicions that candida was my problem. Sure enough, I had a serious overgrowth of yeast. This surprised me since I didn't have a vaginal yeast infection at the time. She explained to me that candida albicans can cause many other symptoms and that vaginal yeast was just one. My extreme fatigue was my main complaint and she assured me that this was due to the yeast overgrowth and would subside once we got the candida under control.
At that point she started me on a strict diet and included herbal supplements to help kill off the excess yeast.
She had me go to www.wholeapproach.com and download the food list. (It's free!) This site has a wealth of information on it about candida as well as products you can buy to treat it. You can usually find effective products locally at your neighborhood health food store as well. The main ingredients to look for are Oil of Oregano, Pau D'Arco, and Caprylic Acid. NOW and RenewLife both make effective anti-candida products.
You can choose to treat yourself using the approach listed on the site or you can choose to do it under the supervision of a trained medical expert. I chose the latter due to other medical issues I had. But be forewarned, most regular M.D.s do not treat this condition. Some do not even acknowledge its existence. You will likely need to find a holistic M.D. or a Naturopath to treat this condition at its roots. Be persistent though and you'll be glad you did.
During and after treatment
The diet and herbal treatment can cause temporary unpleasantness. Here is where the determination and sense of humor come in. People have different experiences on the diet. I was very weak and couch-bound for nearly three weeks after starting my treatment. I constantly felt like I was coming down with the flu and my energy level sunk even lower. Armed with the knowledge that this was a possibility and that I could weather it, I stuck to my guns. Many other people do not have quite as extreme reactions to the treatment but be prepared nonetheless.
The mad food cravings I experienced were almost unbearable and caused me to become quite cranky at times. My dear husband may have a different way to describe me during this period but he can write his own article if he wants to tell it another way. There were moments when I wanted to break into a pastry shop, lie in the display case surrounding myself with the delicious scent of fresh baked goodness and eat every sweet, yeasty treat within arms reach. But I didn't cheat. Hard as it was, I stayed on the program.
Being a vegetarian, I found the diet particularly challenging. You'll have an easier time of it if you're a meat eater. Since I have my own chickens, I made do with eating more eggs. I added additional legumes as well. I did lose a bit too much weight though and had to modify the diet further after a couple of months so as not to lose any more.
After the initial (and debilitating) yeast die-off, I began to feel much better. After a couple of months on the program, I had more energy than I had experienced in the last 15 years! The change was dramatic. My skin cleared, revealing a radiance I had not seen since my twenties. The depression lifted and instead of dragging myself out to feed the farm animals each day, I found myself skipping and jogging between the barn, the garden and the house. It was wonderful but I'm convinced the animals thought I was crazy. Life was good again. After experiencing this amazing transformation, I vowed to watch my diet carefully for the rest of my life. Feeling that good was and still is a powerful motivator to stay on track and healthy. Though I have to admit that sometimes I do slip. When I stray too far off course my body lets me know right away that I'm heading in the wrong direction. I quickly get back on the right path. I don't deny myself the very occasional pastry but I try not to overindulge and eat treats every day like I used to. I'm careful to eat lots of leafy greens and other veggies and to stay away from too many carbs.
I won't promise you that by following a candida diet and using herbal treatments you'll never have another yeast infection. So many things, including severe stress, antibiotics, steroids, etc., can trigger candida overgrowth. But if you follow this holistic approach, you'll be able to treat an infection quickly and you'll know exactly what to do to help support your body's own healing mechanism.
Thanks for reading and be well.