Vaginal yeast infections mainly occur because of overgrowth of fungus including Candida albicans and sometimes other lesser frequent species of Candida such as C. glabrata1. A report features in The Lancet medical journal in June 2007 noted1 that yeast infections also referred to vulvovaginal candidiasis are some of the commonest of the vaginal infections after bacterial vaginosis.
Many women suffer from vaginal yeast infections, and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention indicates that about 75 percent of women may have vaginal yeast infection, at least, in their life time3. But what causes the vaginal yeast infection? Well, as the name suggest, it’s yeast. That’s right – but do you know that the fungal yeast you find growing on plants and trees is akin to the one that develops in your body causing an infection? Again, that’s true.
The yeast resulting in vaginal yeast infection and Candida symptoms may not be harmful, but when the levels are too high, it tends to overwhelm the good bacteria thus leading to a vaginal infection.
What’s Vaginal Yeast Infection?
Your body has millions of yeast microbes, and most are regarded as ‘good’ in the sense that they help keep bad microbes in check and remain in the body without harming it. Take this for example, you have used beer, bread, and other products that contain yeast. Yeast helps improve the immune system and in producing food.
A particular strain of yeast that causes yeast infection is Candida albicans or candidiasis. One thing you want to know is that all strains of yeast actually are a type of fungus, and these aren’t plants simply because you will not find chlorophyll in them. Chlorophyll is a kind of energy used by plants and obtained from the sun that helps the plants to grow. The reason why yeast and fungi are different from plants is because they manufacture their own food, and that’s why they are able to multiply and spread in our bodies.
Vagina yeast infections follow under a form of vaginitis meaning that it’s an infection or inflammation of the vagina. The term ‘vaginitis’ is quite broad with many health conditions being classed under that term, including trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and non-infectious vaginitis. The most common of vaginitis is the vaginal yeast infections.2
The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include vaginal itching, slight bleeding, vaginal discharge appearing white in color, irritated skin, slight smell, and pain when doing sexual intercourse or urinating. Just like an individual could have vaginal yeast infection in genitals, there can also occur yeast infection in the digestive system. This can occur because Candida yeast can multiply fast spreading to other parts of your body resulting in various health problems.
Home Remedies for Yeast Infection
To help treat yeast infections, it requires that the fungus is killed with use of antifungal medications such as azoles that you can purchase over the counter or through a prescription. Doctors will treat yeast infections using antifungal medicines such as fluconazole or some over the counter creams for fighting fungal infections.
Sometimes, if you are nearing your period, you might have a yeast infection reason being the menstrual blood tends to increase pH levels in your vagina and alters your hormone levels, these things allow for multiplication of yeast. You might just want to wait for the period to see if the yeast infection resolves.
Sometimes, yeast infections can be treated using home remedies, and among the common ones are:
- Boric acid
- Douching using vinegar
- Tea tree oil
- Yogurt and probiotics
While there are reports featured online claiming that natural remedies used to treat yeast infection can really work, there aren’t rigorous clinical studies to support those claims. If you have yeast infection that doesn’t respond to these home remedies, you may want to seek doctor’s help.
An effective treatment of yeast infection is use of boric acid suppository capsules, these are particularly helpful in treating infection contributed to by non-albicans species. In a study2 conducted to find out how effective boric acid suppositories are, it found out that when they are taken nightly for a duration of about 7 to 10 days, these capsules tend to have a percentage cure rate of 92%.
An article featured2 in Diabetes Care journal in 2007, it cited that boric acid suppositories were able to effectively treat diabetic women patients having C. glabrata infections compared to oral azole medication. Many people will have an increased risk of getting yeast infection is they suffer from diabetes. What patients seeking for yeast infection treatment need to realize is that boric acid may lead to vaginal burning and when swallowed, it can be toxic. So it should not be used frequently and pregnant women are advised not to use it.
Yogurt and Probiotics
The body has good bacteria that help to keep bad bacteria and other pathogenic microorganisms including Candida in control. The vagina is one known location where you will find the microflora. Whenever there is an imbalance in these microbes, something that may be caused by hormones or antibiotics, it can result in overgrowth of yeasts. Yogurt or probiotics have been used as natural remedies to help in combating yeast infection. There isn’t consistent evidence to show that taking in healthy bacteria helps treat infections by yeast.
For example, the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy has reviewed that most of the clinical trials that have been done to confirm that colonization of the vagina with Lactobacillus can help in treating yeast infections didn’t have conclusive methodological support. Therefore, it has been difficult to ascertain the authentic and reliability as indicated in the studies.1
A published report featured1 in the Journal of Chemotherapy in 2009 indicated that strains of Lactobacillus indeed help treat bacterial vaginosis. However, there hasn’t been sufficient evidence to suggest that the strain helps treat yeast infection. Ingesting beneficial bacteria may cause no much harm in the body, and you can try the remedy to see whether it works for you or not. It’s however advised that you do not put yogurt directly into your vagina, there hasn’t been scientifically tested trials on the efficacy of putting yogurt in vagina, and again, it could result in resistant of infections to treatment.
Probiotics are know to help in restoring bacteria-yeast balance in the body. When you take oral probiotics that contain lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria, it helps to align the vaginal and digestive track microflora. Harvard Health4 has indicated that probiotic suppositories can be effective in treatment of vaginosis.
In the grocery stores, you will find oregano that’s is known as Origanum marjoram, it’s a spice. The oregano oil that’s used in treating yeast infections does not come from the same oregano you commonly find in grocery stores. You want to look for oil from a type of wild oregano known as Origanum vulgare. This wild oregano contains powerful antifungals known as carvacrol and thymol.
The Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry journal published3 a study indicating wild oregano oil slows or stops the growth of Candida albicans– it however depends on what dosage you are taking. Oil from wild oregano is considered a natural blood thinner, so if you are taking other blood thinners, you should avoid this oil. Again, if you have problems with blood clotting for example, people having vitamin K deficiency, they need to refrain from using this oil. Oregano oil is essential oil, and people need not take them orally.
Essential oils are meant for inhaling and not taking them orally. Studies are ongoing to find out more ways in which people can use oregano essential oils. Presently, you can only use oregano essential oils by diluting them in other carrier oils such as sweet almond oil or olive oil. An individual needs to massage the oil onto the skin or just inhale them using a diffuser. People are also advised to avoid applying essential oils around or near their vagina.3
Many health benefits are attached to coconut oil, a fatty oil that comes from coconut flesh. It has antifungal properties and studies indicate that it can be effective in treating C. albicans infections making it one of the few home remedies that have strong evidence to confirm their efficacy. Individuals wanting to treat vaginal yeast infection with use of coconut oil need to ensure that they get pure, organic oil. Coconut oil can be applied directly onto the infected area.
Tea tree oil
It’s another essential oil that helps to treat bacteria, fungi, and virus infections. Using vaginal suppositories that contain tea tree oil can curb vaginal infection. This essential oil also helps in maintaining a healthy vagina floral balance. Because tea tree oil is quite powerful, individual using it to treat various infections are advised to dilute it using carrier oils such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. Tea tree oil should not be swallowed and it only needs to be used occasionally and not frequently.
While a lab study showed that garlic is effective in killing Candida, there has been debate over its efficacy in treating yeast infection when used outside lad environments. People wanting to treat infections using garlic may want to add it onto their diet. Inserting garlic in your vagina can cause irritation, pain, and burns.
Apple cider vinegar
Having a bath of apple cider vinegar is a popular yeast infection remedy. There are many medicinal benefits of using vinegar with many having proven research results. You may add apple cider vinegar (half a cup) to some lukewarm bathwater for about 20 minutes. You will get the acidic component in the water that helps treat individuals of harmful microbes.
What you want to know is that a vinegar bath isn’t like vinegar douching, because the latter flushes out all bacteria including bad and good, something that may create an imbalance of the microflora, thus encouraging more infections. Douching using vinegar may leave you vulnerable to have recurrences of yeast infections.3
The body needs to have a strong immune system so as to fight infections and vitamin C is considered an immune booster. It’s also referred to ascorbic acid and has antimicrobial action if used in a tablet form. Some women have used it to help treat Candida. Using vitamin C suppositories may cause burning on the vagina’s sensitive skin. You can instead consider taking more of vitamin C in your diet to help fight the yeast infection. Vitamin C is also home remedy for strep throat.
You may not use hydrogen peroxide on every yeast species, however, it is known to be a powerful antiseptic for killing bacteria and yeast. If you are using it to treat vaginal yeast infection, you may want to ensure it is diluted. Also, do not use it for long, say more than five consecutive days.
The Take Away
If you plan to use home remedies to get rid of a yeast infection, you want to know that some may or might not work for your treatment. The effectiveness of these home remedies is going to vary from one individual to another. The nature and severity of the infection is also going to determine whether the remedies will be effective or not. If you use a home remedy by applying it onto the vagina, and you find that it’s causing burns, you should consult a doctor.
The vaginal skin is very sensitive and may be harmed by some of the remedies. Also, essential oils unlike carrier oils should not be applied directly onto the vaginal skin. You can avoid vaginal yeast infection by limiting processed foods and sugars because yeast tends to thrive in sugars. Try to use antibiotics only when necessary, they can cause resistance of bacteria to treatment.
Douching shouldn’t be used unless a doctor has advised you to use it. An individual should avoid using vaginal deodorants or sprays and scented lotions that are likely to change the balance of vaginal microflora. Yeast loves moist, damp environments, so you don’t want to spend more time in wet clothes.
You need to know that other diseases and conditions may be mistaken for yeast infection including hemorrhoids causing itching in your vagina, allergic reaction to use of feminine hygienic products or soaps, STDs like Chlamydia, herpes, trichomoniasis, and genital warts.
- Home Remedies for Yeast Infections. Available at https://www.everydayhealth.com/yeast-infection/guide/treatments/home-remedies/
- How to Get Rid of a Vaginal Yeast Infection for Good. Available at https://draxe.com/vaginal-yeast-infection/
- Home Remedies for Yeast Infections. Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/yeast-infection-home-remedy#modal-close
- Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics. Available at https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
- The Benefits of Oregano Oil. Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-oregano-oil#overview1