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Win the Yeast Infection War

Win the Yeast Infection War

Q: I’ve been plagued by yeast infections for four years, and nothing seems to make them go away permanently. Am I going to be on this roller coaster for life?

A: Since vaginal infections are easily misdiagnosed, it’s important to get confirmation that yeast is indeed the cause of your symptoms. Ask your health care provider to swab the affected area for culture and analysis by a microbiology laboratory. If possible, work with a lab, such as Genova Diagnostics (, that can also test the organism for sensitivity to natural products, since that could help streamline your treatment.

The primary culprit in situations like yours is often a type of yeast called candida albicans; however, recent studies have shown an increasing incidence of candida glabrata, a related strain. C. glabrata tends to be hardier than C. albicans and may be more resistant to typical antifungal drugs, so it frequently causes recurring infections. The layer of mucus that coats the vaginal walls contains an elaborate ecosystem that includes a complex mixture of immune proteins along with numerous bacteria, predominantly Lactobacilli. In addition, various strains of candida can be found in up to 25 percent of healthy, asymptomatic women. This doesn’t cause a problem until something throws the ecosystem out of balance, which allows the yeast to overgrow and invade the delicate membranes that line the vagina.

Antibiotic use, diabetes mellitus, and suppressed immunity significantly increase the risk for vaginal–as well as intestinal–yeast overgrowth. Antibiotics kill off lactobacilli and other healthy bacteria that normally keep candida under control. The persistently high blood sugar that occurs with diabetes actively fuels the growth of yeasts, and diabetes often suppresses the immune system. People with HIV can also have weak immune systems, as can people taking corticosteroids or immune suppressive drugs. Chronic emotional or physical stress can suppress immunity as well. Studies have found that a subgroup of otherwise healthy women with recurrent vaginal yeast infections may have a localized immune disorder involving deficient secretion of a protective protein called immunoglobulin A. This makes it difficult for them to eradicate yeast from their mucous membranes.

If you haven’t already been checked for diabetes or HIV, get tested. Even if you aren’t diabetic, it’s still a good idea to minimize your intake of foods and beverages that raise blood sugar, especially alcohol, white potatoes, fruit juices, white sugar, and other refined carbohydrates. Cut back on dairy, too, since yeast loves lactose. Unsweetened yogurt is an exception since it contains insignificant amounts of lactose and is also a good source of lactobacilli. Another exception: Bovine colostrum. It contains immune-boosting substances that have been shown to increase the secretion of immunoglobulin A, which may fight off vaginal infections. Take it in powder form in a dose of 5 to 15 grams per day.

You can also restore balance and enhance vaginal health by taking powdered Lactobacillus acidophilus as a supplement and using it as a douche. For optimal results you should consume at least 30 billion organisms a day, typically one to three capsules of a high potency product. (Remember to keep it refrigerated to maintain potency.) Yogurt douches have long been a popular and effective remedy for vaginal yeast infections. However, now that L. acidophilus is available in suppository form, most women prefer the convenience of this method over douches. A typical course is to insert one suppository nightly for one to two weeks. Repeat as often as necessary.

I recommend that women with recurrent yeast infections supplement long-term with freeze-dried garlic and olive-leaf extract. Both have potent antifungal properties but do not inhibit the growth of healthy lactobacilli. Take 1,500 mg of garlic daily (about two cloves) and 1 to 2 grams of olive leaf extract a day. Ingesting 1 to 3 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil a day would also help.

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Read more: Health, Alternative Therapies, Diet & Nutrition, General Health, , ,

By Robert Rountree, MD, Natural Solutions magazine

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1:12PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012


12:56PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Boric Acid powder can also be used as a douche and many natural pharmacies sell it as a suppository as well.

2:45AM PDT on Oct 7, 2011

Yeah Robert you are right to point out "Unsweetened yogurt is an exception since it contains insignificant amounts of lactose and is also a good source of lactobacilli."

10:34AM PST on Jan 15, 2011

Fay, a doctor isn't going to give you a rundown of all possible side effects when he gives you a prescription. You get that information from the pharmacist when you fill the prescription - and you get a printout describing the drug - and all known side effects. And you have a chance to talk to the pharmacist about the medication and ask questions.

Didn't you read the list of potential side effects on the printout you got when you filled your prescription? Because the symptoms (rash, soreness, severe allergic reactions, etc.) are known potential side effects of Diflucan.

If you didn't want to risk the potential side effects and didn't think the risk was worth taking the Diflucan, then you shouldn't have taken the pill. All drugs - including 'natural' ones - have potential negative side effects.

And saying that because you had a negative side effect to Diflucan means you would never take anything that wasn't 'holistic' again is silly. If I had a bad side effect from an herbal preparation should I then swear off from all herbal medications again?

10:13AM PST on Jan 15, 2011

After a recent course of antibiotics for a severe sore throat, I was diagnosed with a yeast infection caused by the antibiotics, I was then prescribed 1 Diflucan tablet which has now caused a Toxic Shock Syndrome all over body rash & aches & pains! I never usually use conventional medications & now I have leart my lesson. I am shocked by the little warnings these Dr's give you as to the possible side effects!
Apparently this can be life threatening too, so I must admit this will be the last time I take anything that's isn't holistic!

10:02PM PDT on Jul 13, 2010

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3:31AM PDT on Jun 15, 2009


11:58AM PDT on Apr 25, 2009

Just as there can be "side effects" to ingestion of, or application of, any "natural" substance, sometimes even fatal. And in this case, Monistat does actually make you healthier. Because once the yeast infection is gone, you are, in fact, healthier!

11:22AM PDT on Apr 25, 2009

Monistat is just like any other drug, it provides immediate relief, but it also has side-effects and does not make a person healthier. For instance, if you take Allegra for insomnia, driving and binge eating in your sleep are listed as some of the side effects. And the active ingredient in Attention Deficit Disorder pills is methamphetamine which is the same illegal street drug called METH.

Adverse Reactions (Side Effects)
A mild increase in vaginal burning, itching or irritation may occur when MONISTAT* is inserted. Abdominal cramping and upper respiratory infections have also been reported. Stop using MONISTAT* and consult your doctor if you have abdominal pain, hives, skin rash, headache, vaginal swelling or redness, burning on urination, or if you have severe vaginal burning, itching or irritation.

10:22AM PDT on Apr 25, 2009

I've been reading in some of the comments about the use of yogurt, vinegar, and other such "natural" remedies - but yogurt, vinegar, and other such things aren't natural. They're created in a manufacturing plant. Just like Monistat (which usually works a heck of a lot faster and more efficiently!)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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