If you’ve ever had a vaginal yeast infection, you’re all too familiar with the telltale symptoms that make it so miserable: itching, burning, swelling, painful urination, and an unpleasant white discharge. Most yeast infections result from an overgrowth of Candida albicans, a fungal organism that naturally inhabits the vaginal area, gastrointestinal tract, and skin folds. Candida usually lives in harmonious balance with the body’s beneficial bacteria, but when this balance is thrown off– by changes in vaginal pH (ideally an acidic 3.8 to 4.5), diabetes, pregnancy, chronic stress, or medications such as birth control pills, steroids, or antibiotics– Candida fungus can multiply out of control, triggering a yeast infection.
While conventional treatments will cure most yeast infections, non-prescription creams like Monistat might become less effective with time– especially in women who have recurrent infections. And prescription antifungals like fluconazole cannot just cause nausea, headache, and dizziness, however when used for long period of time, they might even cause harmful bacteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 75 percent of women will experience at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. The condition can be prevented, however– especially if you limit your intake of substances that feed Candida, such as sugar and refined carbohydrates– and treat at home with natural remedies.
A yeast infection clearly indicates that the beneficial microorganisms that usually keep Candida in check need a boost to recreate a healthy balance. A probiotic supplement that includes the strains Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus will help not just clear up a yeast infection, however also prevent a recurrence, explains Susan Lark, MD, women’s health specialist. Take a supplement with at least 30 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) each day until symptoms subside. For prevention, a dose of 1 billion to 16 billion CFUs should help. You can also get probiotics from food– yogurt, kefir, tempeh, and cultured veggies like raw sauerkraut.
Derived from the inner bark of the taheebo (Tabebuia impetiginosa) tree in Central and South America, Pau d’arco has long been used to treat yeast infections. Studies point to lapachol and beta-lapachone, 2 antiviral and antifungal substances in the bark, that help fight Candida albicans overgrowth. Take 500 mg every day of the dried herb in capsule form.
Studies reveal the sulfur compound allicin found in garlic has natural antifungal Studies point to lapachol properties that suppress Candida albicans. To treat an infection, it’s recommended to consume 4 raw, sliced cloves– exposure to air activates the allicin– every day for two to three weeks, then scaling down to one clove every day until your symptoms have gone away. If you can’t stomach the idea of consuming that much garlic, take 300 mg a day of a garlic supplement till your symptoms subside.
This fatty acid’s antifungal properties help treat yeast infections. Lark recommends taking 1,000 to 2,000 mg three times a day with meals till symptoms pass. However, she alerts, at these high dosages you may experience fatigue and achiness as your body eliminates large amounts of Candida at the same time. So, start with 500 mg once or twice a day for the first day or more before increasing to full dose.
Studies show that berberine– an alkaloid extract of the herb Oregon grape root– is a powerful inhibitor of Candida albicans. Take 200 mg two to four times per day of a supplement (in capsule form) that is standardized to 80 percent berberine.
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