Dealing with Thrush: Gross, but important


Dear Kelly,

I know this is a sort of gross topic, but it’s getting hot out and I thought your readers might be interested in the self-reliant methods I use to avoid or cure yeast infections.

Yeast infections are caused by bacteria called Candida albicans.  You might have a yeast infection if you feel itching and burning in the vagina and around the skin that surrounds your vagina (vulva), or if you have white, lumpy vaginal discharge, pain during sexual intercourse or swelling of the vulva.

Normally, “good” bacteria that exist naturally in the body and the acidic environment of the vagina fight off Candida, but other factors can hinder your usual defense system.  For example, antibiotics can kill off the body’s “good” bacteria, leaving the door open for Candida.  Birth control pills and steroids can also encourage yeast infections by changing the pH of the vagina.  Synthetic nylons or swimsuits without a cotton crotch can contribute as can tight jeans or a depressed immune system caused by illness or poor diet.  Pregnant women and those with diabetes are especially at risk.  To avoid yeast infections, stay away from sugary foods, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise frequently and get enough rest.

But if you do get an infection, there are a number of natural home remedies that can replace store bought anti-fungal treatments.  They’re good to know if you want to avoid putting chemical fungicides in your body.  These remedies could also make a huge difference in your quality of life if an emergency makes the pharmacy aisle unavailable.  My favorite cures are yogurt, garlic, tea tree oil, boric acid and cranberries.

Yogurt is one of the most common yeast infection home remedies.  Yogurt contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, one of the “good” bacterium that are usually found in uninfected vaginas.  To use yogurt to fight a yeast infection, either eat significant portions of it with every meal for a few days or apply it directly to the vulva and into the vagina.  Try putting a little yogurt into a syringe, minus the needle, and injecting it into the vagina to get to all of the infected area.  Be sure to use only unflavored, natural yogurt.

Garlic has natural anti-fungal properties that fight off yeast infections.  To use it, peel a clove and insert it just inside the vagina once a day (it will work its way out.)  Continue treatment for three to seven days.

To use tea tree oil against a yeast infection, apply a non-irritating lubricant such as olive oil or petroleum jelly to the end of a tampon. This will keep the tea tree oil from absorbing into the tampon and losing effectiveness.  Then, apply a few drops of tea tree oil over the lubricant and insert the tampon.  Leave overnight.  Repeat for three to seven days.

Boric acid provides a strong cure for yeast infections.  Stock up on Boric acid powder and gelatin capsules.  When you feel an infection coming on, fill a capsule with Boric acid and insert it into the vagina once a day for four to seven days for a single infection.  For a chronic infection, try this treatment for 15 to 30 days.

Lastly, cranberries are famous for their ability to battle urinary tract infections.  To a lesser degree, they can also fight yeast infections.  Cranberries work against yeast infections by lowering the pH of your urine.  Acidic urine passes over the vulva and combats Candida.  This is a mild remedy, best used at the very beginning of an infection or along with other treatments.  Drink real cranberry juice (not “cranberry cocktails” that are mostly sugar and will encourage Candida) or take cranberry supplements available from most health food stores.

If your readers are unsure if they have a yeast infection, they should consult a doctor before beginning any treatment.  Sometimes symptoms that resemble those caused by yeast infections could actually be indicative of other ailments such as sexually transmitted diseases.  In that case, treatments designed to fight yeast infections may be ineffective or even make things worse.

Submitted by: Anna Hill, Salt Lake City, UT