Yeast infections are extremely common, with up to 75% of women estimated to experience them in their lifetime. Yeast is normally present in the digestive system and vaginal tract in small amounts, and is kept in check by the beneficial microflora of our microbiome. If these beneficial bacteria are compromised, yeast is able to overgrow and cause symptoms of infection. Natural treatment for recurrent yeast infections involves eradicating the overgrowth with herbal antifungals, repopulating the microbiome with beneficial strains of bacteria, and maintaining remission with diet and lifestyle modifications.
Starve Yeast Overgrowth
Yeast thrives on sugar. Limiting refined sugars and tropical fruits is essential in combating yeast overgrowth. Other foods to reduce include risen breads and fermented foods, which also contribute to yeast growth. A temporary elimination of these foods may be necessary to eliminate an active infection, with a less restricted long-term dietary modification set in place to prevent recurrence.
Eliminate Active Infection
There are several botanical medicines that are effective in killing yeast. Oregano contains volatile oils that are both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Goldenseal and Oregon grape contain antimicrobial alkaloids such as berberine, which are effective in killing yeast. Caprylic acid is a fatty acid found in coconut oil that has been shown to have antifungal properties useful against yeast. These compounds have additional actions beyond their antimicrobial properties and aren’t safe for everyone, so care must be taken when creating formulas to ensure they are an appropriate treatment.
Repopulate the Microbiome
A vital piece in addressing yeast infections and preventing recurrence is nourishing the microbiome with beneficial strains of bacteria that help prevent yeast from overgrowing. Certain strains of Lactobacillus are helpful in preventing yeast overgrowth, and can be taken orally or used as suppositories.
Address the Root Cause
In addition to resolving an active yeast infection naturally, care must be taken to investigate the root cause behind the original yeast overgrowth, in order to prevent infections from recurring. Diet plays a major role in feeding yeast and determining the state of the microbiome, and must be discussed in depth. Hormone imbalance or use of oral contraceptives can affect the pH of the vaginal tract, which is another factor that plays a role in maintaining a low yeast population. Immune function plays a role as well, and must be nourished appropriately for the body to effectively ward off infections.
Disclaimer: this information is meant to be general and for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Not all herbs are safe for everyone. Consult a licensed healthcare practitioner for personal medical care and prior to starting new treatment