Up to 75% of Australian women have experienced a yeast infection at some point in their lives. Whilst there are many over the counter medications available from your local pharmacy, they often offer only short-term relief, and are followed by repeated infection that comes back with a vengeance. Thus more people are choosing to use natural products to heal their yeast infection. Please read on for more information.
What is a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection can be defined as an overgrowth of yeast in the genitals. It is a fungal infection of the candida bacteria species, most commonly Candida Albicans.
Causes of a Yeast Infection
- Birth control pills
- Tight clothing around the crotch area
- Feminine deodorants
- Foods that feed yeast such as sugar, refined foods, yeast, etc
- Non-cotton underwear
- Prolonged periods in hot baths, spas, etc
Yeast Infection Symptoms
Symptoms of a yeast infection include:
- Vaginal itching and burning
- A thick, white, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Pain during intercourse
Why Use Natural Treatments for Yeast Infections?
Probiotics are by far the most popular natural method of preventing and treating yeast infections. They consist of “friendly” bacteria’s: live microbial organisms that naturally live also in the vagina and gastrointestinal tract.
Probiotics control and heal a yeast infection by inhibiting other harmful bacteria’s (such as Candida) that may be causing the infection itself, and by replacing the good bacteria that may have be wiped out by medications such as antibiotics.
Foods such as Kefir, natural yogurt and other fermented foods such as sauerkraut are naturally rich in probiotics. They are also available in vaginal suppositories, but most choose to take them orally in capsule or powder form.
Plain, cold yoghurt has been used for centuries to naturally heal a yeast infection. Its healing properties are attributed to its high probiotic content. It can be beneficial when eaten, or applied topically or on top of a tampon before insertion.
NB: It is imperative to buy unsweetened yogurt, as sugar will only feed the infection and worsen symptoms.
Tea Tree Oil
Whilst science has yet to demonstrate its effectiveness, tea tree oil has been anecdotally reported to relieve symptoms of a yeast infection. Its healing properties have been attributed to its key ingredient, terpinen-4-ol.
NB: It is essential that the Tea tree oil be diluted appropriately before applying to the affected area topically.
Garlic is one of the most effective home remedies for a yeast infection. It carries both anti-fungal and immune-boosting qualities, and protects against further production of yeast in the body. It is most often taken in capsule form, but cloves may be eaten raw, boiled in some hot water as a tea or inserted into the vagina for instant relief.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar may be used to combat yeast in the body by restoring the guts natural balance of good bacteria whilst limiting the growth of yeasts like Candida in check. It is best taken orally, but may be added to a warm bath to treat symptoms topically (1 cup to the bath is recommended). NB: Do not apply the apple cider vinegar directly to the skin. Whilst it will kill the yeast, it is a very strong substance and will likely burn and irritate the skin.
How to Naturally Prevent a Yeast Infection
- Make sure to take Probiotics when using antibiotics
- Choose cotton underwear instead of the synthetic variety
- Avoid very hot baths, pools and hot tubs
- Avoid scented feminine products such as hygiene sprays, tampons and pads
If you are interested in finding out more on which natural treatment for yeast infections may best suit your needs, please speak to a health store professional, naturopath or pharmacist for more information.