- Women's Health
Natural Home Remedies for Yeast Infections
How Yeast Infections Start
The vagina always contains a balance of yeast (specifically candida) and bacteria--both are naturally occurring organisms which work together keep us healthy. One of these bacteria, Lactobacillus, helps to keep everything--including the vagina's pH--in check. If the balance of bacteria is disrupted it can cause a yeast infection. Imbalances can happen because of antibiotics, pregnancy, poor diet, stress, and hormonal changes.
Once the candida fungi grows out of control, a yeast infection occurs, resulting in itchiness and redness. If it goes untreated, a thick, white discharge, resembling cottage cheese, may occur.
If you are looking for natural treatments for yeast infections, or prevent future ones from occurring, follow the 6 at-home yeast infection treatments below to balance your body's pH and improve your overall health.
Garlic, the Mighty Yeast Killer
Garlic is a big enemy of yeast and can help kill infections. The trick to use garlic effectively is to catch the infection early (when you are just feeling an itchiness that comes and goes and there is no white discharge).
To use as an effective yeast infection treatment, take a clove of fresh garlic and peel off the natural white paper shell that covers it, keeping the clove intact. Before you go to bed, place the clove of garlic in your vagina. In the morning, remove the clove and throw it away. (The effects of the garlic may cause you a watery discharge, so consider using a pantyliner during the night). One night’s treatment may be enough to kill the infection, but if you notice no change, repeat the process the following night. If the infection is more advanced (you are expelling white discharge), follow the steps from above, but make a small cut in the garlic clove before inserting it into your vagina. The cut in the clove exposes more of the garlic, making its anti-fungal activities stronger.
The All-Powerful Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an excellent multi-purpose wellness tool to have in your home. It is well known to have many health benefits, boasting anti-septic, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. An added bonus is it can be used both internally and externally to successfully treat yeast infections. Be sure when using these yeast infection treatments that you do not use plain white vinegar as this will feed the yeast.
To use internally, simply dilute it with water. Add 2-3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of filtered water and drink three times a day for a week to treat yeast infections. To use Apple Cider Vinegar topically, you must also dilute it. The best topical yeast infection treatment is to draw a warm bath and add two cups of apple cider vinegar. If you don't like the smell, or want an extra-soothing experience, add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Be sure to soak in the bath for at least 30 minutes. If you continuously use apple cider vinegar in your diet and beauty regime, you will help your body maintain its natural pH balance and prevent yeast infections before they start. Apple Cider Vinegar
Using yogurt to prevent and treat yeast infections is a familiar and effective remedy. This is because of the large number of probiotics contained in yogurt, such as Acidophillus and Lactobacilli. These are considered "good bacteria," which help fight bacterial imbalances in your body that can cause yeast infections.
To use yogurt to as a yeast infection treatment, start by eating it regularly. You can find probiotic yogurt in most grocery stores (look for the names of Acidophillus and Lactobacilli on the label). If you are lactose intolerant and sensitive to yogurt, look for Acidophillus as a food supplement--it is just as effective and maybe even more convenient. When buying yogurt, be sure to get plain, unsweetened yogurt as any sugar will feed yeast. You can also use yogurt as a topical yeast infection treatment. Use your finger to gently rub some yogurt on and inside your vagina. You can also dip a tampon in plain yogurt and insert it into your vagina. Treat the tampon as any other and be sure to remove it after 8 hours.
Drink More Water
Nothing supports the body’s cleansing and elimination capacity like water. If you do not hydrate your body properly it will be become imbalanced and provide the perfect environment for yeast to grow. Drinking more water is a great yeast infection treatment, simply because it causes you to urinate more frequently and flush out toxins. The general accepted recommendation is to drink at least eight glasses of water each day to stay healthy and keep your immune system strong and balanced. If are prone to yeast infections, you should try to drink more water than the recommended amount. Add a little bit of sea salt to the water to create a super-hydrating solution. And as always, try to filtered water that is pure and free of toxins.
Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano's health-boosting properties include being anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory, while also containing a boatload of antioxidants. What makes it a great yeast infection treatment are two phenols known as carvacrol and thymol. These two powerful agents work together to dehydrate and kill harmful the pathogens and microbes that cause candidiasis and yeast infections.
The best way to use for the treatment of yeast infections is internally. Start by adding 3 drops to a glass of water and drink twice a day. You can gradually double the amount of drops for a stronger effect, but be careful--oil of oregano is quite potent and can burn if not properly diluted. Look for bottles of this aromatic, medicinal liquid in health food stores or online. You can also find oil of oregano readily available for internal ingestion. oil of oregano capsules
A word about essential oils: For maximum effectiveness, you'll want to look for pure essential oils without additives. The University of Minnesota has a great article in which they explain how to determine the quality of essential oils. I recommend reading the whole article, but the shortlist of important things to look for is as follows:
- The Latin name (exact genus and species)
- The plant's country of origin
- No additives, or a statement purity
- Statement of how the plant was grown or gathered (wildcrafted, organic, traditional, etc)
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is another powerful essential oil which contains antibacterial properties that works well as a treatment for yeast infections.. One technique is to coat a tampon with coconut oil or , apply a 2-3 drops of KY jelly, and insert it into the vagina. Lubricating the tampon with oil or KY jelly does a couple things. First, it prevents the tea tree oil from being absorbed into the tampon. Second, it prevents the tea tree oil from coming into direct contact with the skin. Like oil of oregano mentioned above, tea tree oil is quite strong and can burn the skin, so it is important to dilute both. You can also look for vaginal suppositories made with tea tree oil, which are available in some pharmacies. If any of these remedies hurt, stop immediately. You may be using too much tea tree oil or have skin sensitivity to it. Another soothing method is to make a warm sitz bath (fill a tub with enough water to cover your pelvis) and add 2-4 drops of tea tree oil. Sit in the bath for 10 to 15 minutes each day until your symptoms subside. pure tea tree oil
Do not consume tea tree oil as it can cause toxicity, and before using, always test it on a small part of your skin for allergic reactions.
The anti-infection properties of cranberries are well-known as effective treatments for the urinary tract and vagina. Not only do they help fight infection, but they help balance your vagina's pH, which helps speed recovery.
Cranberries are most effective when used at the first sign of a yeast infection. A great way to use it is to consume it directly. However, keep in mind that you do not drink cranberry juice cocktails with added sugar--the sugar will feed the yeast and promote its growth. Instead, look for completely natural and unsweetened juice. If it is too tart for you, try diluting it with a little bit of water or add honey to sweeten it without feeding your yeast infection.
Cranberry supplements are a convenient way to get your daily dose of cranberry without relying on juice. You can easily find cranberry supplements online and in most grocery stores. Take care to follow the dosage amounts as high doses of cranberry may cause stomach distress.