There’s nothing quite like the discomfort of a vaginal yeast infection to really mess up your week and, ahem, social life. Over the counter cures like Monistat offer relief over the course of a few days. In my experience the one day treatment not only doesn’t work well but it can really cause a lot of irritation. Diflucan can be prescribed by your doctor if your yeast infection just won’t quit but it comes with a laundry list of possible side effects .What’s the holistic minded person to do?
1. If you are getting recurring yeast infections look to your diet first. It’s the usual bad stuff we all know about but often ignore: sugar, processed foods, too much bread and not enough fresh veggies. During a yeast infection especially remove these immune dampening, yeast feeding foods from your diet.
2. If you use tampons and other "feminine care" products make sure they are unscented. Even better buy organic tampons. Conventionally grown cotton uses more pesticides than any other crop, I don't know about you but I'd like to avoid pesticides being directly absorbed into my body. Even better than that check out the diva cup or other reusable device.
3. Healthy intestinal flora: If you have ever taken antibiotics then you need to rebuild your flora. A lot of people know about eating yogurt to do this. Unfortunately, conventional dairy products in general can be part of the problem causing yeast infections. The well-known brand Activia is chocked full of sugar! Find a high quality brand of probiotics at your local health food store. I like Jarrow; you want it to contain cultures of Bacillus coagulans and lactobacillus. You do not need to be on probiotics for life, 3 months should do it for most people. You take them; they multiply and do their job. Eating fermented foods is another way to bolster this process. 4. At the very first sign of a yeast infection pop a clove of garlic inside your vagina overnight. Uhm, what?
I promise you this works and it will often be the only treatment you need to nip this bad boy in the bud. Garlic has natural defenses against invading species and those defenses work on yeast. The first time I tried this I was worried about "losing” the garlic so I took a bit of fishing line and used a utility needle to make a kind of garlic tampon on a string. Pop it in before bed and remove it in the morning.
5. Those probiotics we just talked about? You can insert them directly into the vagina if the garlic thing doesn’t work. You can open the capsule and dump it into a high quality, plain organic yogurt and use a douching system or a turkey baster to get it in there. Yup, I said it.
A turkey baster works just as well on you as it does on turkeys. Another option is to open half the capsule and insert it. I find the vegetarian capsules to dissolve better inside the vagina than the gelatin type. The yogurt method has the added bonus of a soothing effect on your irritated vaginal walls.
6. Yin Care Effective herbal wash. This stuff works extremely well. It is a combination of Chinese herbal medicinal that fight yeast and other infections. I recommend the fragrance free version. It is available from Chinese medicine practitioners. You will need the applicator or some other douching system (I’d skip the turkey baster in this instance). Yin care must be diluted down to 5-10% with water depending on severity of the infection. My advice is to start at 5% and work your way up to 10% at the most. Use this twice a day once in the morning and once in the evening. Continue one day after the symptoms have gone away.
7. Acupuncture can treat yeast infections as well by helping to regulate your body’s internal balance. Dietary irregularities and over worrying can cause major internal disharmony and acupuncture can help to rescue the body from chaos. Ultimately acupuncture works on improving your digestion which has a direct correlation to vaginal discharge.
These are tried and true methods that I swear by. They are non-toxic and cost effective way to treat at home (except acupuncture, don’t try that at home!). If you suspect a systemic candida (yeast) overgrowth these methods will help you in an acute situation of a vaginal yeast infection. There are other methods to vanquish that I will discuss in later blog posts.