Suzanne and I happened to meet Katolen Yardley MNIMH, a Medical Herbalist, a few weeks ago at a dinner party. She caught our attention immediately with her vibrant personality and passion for reproductive health. She is also the owner of the Alchemy & Elixir Wellness Centre in downtown Vancouver. We were thrilled when she agreed to provide her expertise as a holistic medical professional on helping people deal with a common issue, yeast infections. Check out her easy and effective natural tips below!
A typical yeast infection, also known as candida albicans, is a fungus normally present in the body in small amounts. The presence of other healthy flora keeps the bodies levels of candida albicans in check, however the vaginal flora is very sensitive, responding immediately to any changes in our environment. If any triggers disrupt the sensitive balance of good and bad bacteria, candida albicans can flourish.
Some common triggers which can lead to the development of yeast infections include: poor diet, elevated stress, a chronic yeast overgrowth, use of the birth control pill, any change in vaginal ph (if the body becomes too alkaline or too acidic), and most commonly, the recurrent use of antibiotics. Symptoms include: localised itching, redness of the genitals, yeasty or smelly discharge, or a curdling / cottage cheese white discharge.
Holistic Suggestions for Yeast Infections:
- Antibiotic use can disturb the balance of natural flora and can cause an over growth of yeast. Use only as a last resort.
- Watch your diet, as yeast “feeds” on sweets and sugar. A diet high in refined simple sugars will fuel the overgrowth of yeast in the body. For stubborn and chronic yeast infections remove all refined sugars from the diet, this itself can be enough to clear up the infection. Consumption of refined sugars will increase the amount of circulating sugars in the blood, “feeding” the problem and raising the likelihood of chronic yeast issues.
- Soak an organic cotton tampon in a mixture of tea tree essential oil (use 2-3 drops) diluted in 1 /3 cup warm water, and gently insert the tampon for a cooling, soothing aid.
- Unsweetened natural yoghurt can be applied gently to the labia and inside the vagina to restore the ph balance; creating a cooling, soothing application, reducing irritation and localised inflammation.
- Acidophilus: a good bacteria, found naturally throughout the body. Helps to increase the amount of good bacteria, reducing the likelihood of bacteria overgrowth, and offering prevention for yeast infections. Taken in capsule form as a preventative and for treatment of chronic yeast issues.
- A herbal douche can be made of anti fungal / anti bacterial tinctures using equal portions of Calendula, Lavender, Thuja and Chamomile. A douche of these tinctures can be created by mixing 1 Tbsp of the tincture to 1/3 cup hot water. Pour into an empty douche bulb (available at the drugstore). Ensure that the liquid is lukewarm to prevent burning and lay down in the bathtub, insert the douche bulb gently into the vagina, and let the fluid gently bathe the vaginal walls. This topical application is an excellent way to address localized irritation, itching and inflammation while assisting the body to clear up the condition.
- Herbs in tea or tincture form can also be taken internally to support immune system function and provide anti bacterial, anti inflammatory, anti fungal and anti yeast support. Calendula, Echinacea, Garlic and Pau d’arco are all supportive to the immune system while providing effective anti fungal and anti yeast properties. Consult your local herbalist for guidance on dosages and custom blending right for you.
- Garlic: anti viral, antibacterial increases the bodies natural resistance to infection and enhances general immunity. Add fresh garlic into cooking and take internally in capsule form.
- Aloe vera gel is another cooling and soothing option used topically to reduce vulva irritation and inflammation.
- Avoid wearing nylon or synthetic fiber underwear, and avoid pantyhose, which do not allow the body to breathe. Cotton underwear is best.
- Temporarily avoid intercourse, or use condoms, to decrease the risk passing the yeast infection along to your partner. If you have engaged in intercourse and are experiencing continual recurrent yeast infections, your partner may need to be treated as well to clear up the infection and risk passing it back and forth to each other.
- Boric acid powder: a traditional boric acid crystals inside the vagina can effectively address stubborn yeast infections. Place the boric acid into two 00 sized capsules and insert into the vagina. Repeat for 7 days. As the body melts the capsule, the powder may irritate sensitive vaginal tissues slightly - but will cause no long term concerns. When using this traditional home remedy, it is common to experience burning the first couple days. If this burning persists, discontinue use and try another remedy. Place the 00 sized capsules into the body in the evening before bed, when you are laying down - this provides more time for the boric acid to come into contact with the yeast. There will be a fair bit of discharge so a pad may need to be used. , the use of
Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RHT is a Medical Herbalist in private practice in www.katolenyardley.com and www.alchemyelixir.com.