How to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection the Natural Way
Natural Remedies for Yeast Infections
Tea tree oil
Pau D'Arco tea
Vaginal yeast infections are awful. They are painful, irritating, and kill your sex life. They also involve messy discharge, have less than a fragrant odour, and can be really expensive to get rid of with prescription or over-the-counter treatments. About four years ago, I spent a year and a half suffering from frequent bouts of yeast infections. The doctor's prescriptions got rid of the infection, but within a month I'd have another one. I hated putting so many chemicals in my body and decided to use only natural, at-home, remedies with great success.
What Causes a Yeast Infection?
Very simply, a yeast infection is an excessive build of up candida yeast in the body. The yeast can build up in several different ways.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics kill off bacteria in your body. That's why we use them to fight infections. However, while they're killing off harmful bacteria, they're also killing off helpful bacteria which is supposed to be in our body to control the growth of candida. Without this helpful bacteria to kill it, yeast flourishes and causes an infection.
- Tight underwear: It's true. Tight underwear (or pants) create a warm, moist environment which is perfect for growing yeast. (Don't believe me? Try putting two pieces of organic bread and a little water in two different petri dishes/plates. Leave one in the fridge and the other in front of a window which gets a lot of sunshine (or by a heater), and see which one has more mould growing on it after a week.) Synthetic materials such as polyester are particularly bad. The material doesn't breathe, and promotes perspiration, which adds to the humid atmosphere that yeast cells love.
- Staying hot and sweaty: Out in the sun all day? Playing a lot of sport for long periods of time? Going for long bike rides? Again, you're sweating and creating a warm and wet environment for candida to multiply in.
- Alcohol: All alcoholic drinks, especially wine and beer, use yeast/sugar in their fermenting process, and if you're having two or three beers after work, or a glass of wine or two a night, you're consistently adding to the amount of yeast in your body.
- Sugar: Giving yeast sugar to feed on is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Unfortunately our diets are full of sugar. Obviously, there's chocolate, candy, cakes, etc... But, all carbohydrates contains sugar, therefore bread, pasta, rice, fruit, crackers, chips, and cereal are all contributors to yeast infections. Breads, and any doughy product, like pizza crust, are particularly bad because they are made with yeast and contain sugars. Most processed foods are likely to contain sugar in some form or another. Furthermore, an excess of sugar in our bodies has been linked to less effective immune systems so it's harder for our bodies to fight off infection.
- Being overweight: It's not the extra weight that makes heavier people more susceptible to yeast infections. It's, very simply, that overweight people tend to consume higher levels of simple and complex sugars in their diet, and the more weight you're carrying around your genital area (Think of thighs that are always pressed together.), the less chance there is of air circulation, hence a more humid atmosphere that encourages yeast cultures to grow. Those two things combined make it easier for yeast infections to exist.
- Sex with someone who has a yeast infection: Men can get yeast infections too. If you're having unprotected sex with someone who has a yeast infection it can be passed back and forth between you.
Great! I Know What Caused It. Now, How Do I Get Rid of It?
Well, there are a whole bunch of creams, pessaries, and oral tablets you can buy at the pharmacy. They do work, but here is a list of cheap, at-home remedies if, like me, you'd rather not pay twenty to thirty dollars, and you're slightly suspicious of how good those chemicals are. Remember though: I'm not a doctor, or nurse, and have no medical training. These are just the things that I've tried that I know work for my body.
- No alcohol: Sorry, but you have to give up the booze until the infection's gone. Also, as a preventative measure, take an honest look at how much alcohol you drink. If you're drinking every day, and you're getting frequent yeast infections, it's time to cut back.
- Cut out all sugar: No bread. No wheat. No fruit. No soda. No candy. No grain. The list goes on, and on, but you need to cut out the candida yeast's food source to eliminate it. Also, avoid mushrooms until the infection's cleared up. They are, after all, a form of fungi, and a yeast infection is a fungal infection. As with alcohol, be honest and look at how much sugar you have in your diet. (Keep a food diary for three days.) Again, if you're getting frequent infections, it may be time to adjust your daily food consumption.
- Cranberry juice: Cranberries fight against the growth of yeast but you must get the completely natural, unsweetened juice that you find in the organic section of the supermarket— not the cranberry juices made from concentrate. (Those contains sugar.) If in doubt, read the label. The only ingredient should be "cranberry juice." It tastes very tart, so you may want to dilute it with water to make it more palatable.
- Pau D'Arco tea: You'll find this in a health food store. Made from South American tree bark, this tea has anti-fungal properties to help combat infection. The boxes of tea do come with a warning though. If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or taking anti-coagulants, consult your health practitioner before using it. So far, I've not been able to find research on why this is so. If anyone has any insight into that I would love to hear it.
- Yogurt: It's got to be plain, natural, and contain live/active pro-biotic cultures. If you guzzle down a strawberry flavoured yogurt, you're consuming more sugar which will provide fuel for the nasty yeast cells to multiply. The pro-biotic, live cultures in yogurt encourage the growth of helpful bacteria that work against yeast infections. Eat a generous helping of this every day. (If you don't normally eat dairy and are worried about how it will affect your digestion, try yogurt made from goat's milk instead. You may have to hold your nose as you eat it. It has a strong flavour.) You can also use natural yogurt as a soothing lotion for the vaginal area and, as an alternative to a pessary, you can use a tampon coated in yogurt.
- Garlic: Take a single clove of garlic and, using a needle and thread, sew a piece of cotton through one end so it has a string, just like a tampon. Coat the clove of garlic in plain yogurt and insert into the vagina before going to sleep. Again, the garlic will help to eliminate the vaginal infection. The yogurt will prevent any garlic juice from getting on the sensitive, external skin of the vagina. (That stings.) I don't recommend doing this as a daytime treatment, unless you work from home, because you end with garlic odor on your hands.
- Virgin coconut oil: This is available from health food stores. Normally, you use it for cooking, but it also has anti fungal properties. It comes in a jar and looks like white wax, but as soon as it makes contact with the warmth of your skin, it melts into an oil. It smells nice and it's very soothing as a lotion on the sore skin of the vagina.
- Tea tree oil: Coat a tampon with virgin coconut oil. Then add two to three drops of tea tree oil to the coated tampon before inserting it. The coconut oil stops the tea tree oil from being absorbed into the tampon, and from burning the sensitive skin. It's important to note that none of these remedies should hurt. Anything beyond the mildest tingly sensation is an indicator that you've used too much tea tree oil and that you should sit in a cold bath, or that it's a good time to see a doctor.
- Salt baths: Take a warm bath (not too hot) and add a cup of salt to the water. When you get out of the bath, air dry the vaginal area using a fan or a hairdryer on the cold setting. Don't douche. That can really irritate the vagina because it flushes out healthy secretions and generally won't do that much good.
- Wear cotton underwear (or none at all) and loose fitting clothes: Also, using panty liners will soak up excess moisture and keep the vaginal area drier.
Following these guide lines, I find that even a severe yeast infection starts to calm down after the first 24 hours, and takes about three to five days to clear up completely. But, if I'm not completely strict about what I'm eating and drinking, and start sneaking in a few drinks and pizza slices, the infection can take over a week to go away.