A yeast infection is just the external manifestation of a fungal overgrowth that has already taken place elsewhere in your body, typically the intestines. The fungus that causes these annoying infections is most commonly Candida albicans, but there are other culprits. Normal gut flora can keep the yeast in check, but circumstances such as hormonal fluctuations, poor diet, or antibiotic use can cause the yeast to grow unchecked and manifest as a yeast infection.
Luckily, your body is already equipped to deal with the yeast. It just might need a little help reducing their numbers and building back its defenses. Many herbal remedies have been proven to work as well as, if not better than, prescribed or over-the-counter medication for yeast infections, with better long-term prognosis and fewer side effects.
Before beginning any form of treatment, however, be certain that what you are treating is indeed a yeast infection and, of course, discuss all treatments with your doctor before starting.
Step 1: Stop Feeding the Yeast
For any natural yeast infection treatment to be effective, you’ll have to stop aiding the enemy. If you have been using antibiotics or hormonal-based birth control, try to eliminate them or else you’ll be fighting an uphill battle with the yeast. Reduce or eliminate your consumption of sugary, yeasty foods as much as possible. Even things normally good for you, such as fruits and grains, will be treated as food by the yeast. In this first step, you can effectively starve the yeast.
Step 2: Boost the Body
The entire time you’re fighting the yeast, you want to be replenishing your body’s supply of the good stuff that normally keeps the yeast in check. That would be a number of bacteria that live in your digestive tract, particularly a strain called acidopholus. This is commonly found in most types of yogurt. Eating plenty of yogurt while treating a yeast infection can help restore your body’s natural flora, and you can boost it further by taking a probiotic supplement.
Step 3: Kill the Yeasties!
The best part, of course, is killing the fungus and getting your life back, sans itchiness. Many herbs have some element of antifungal or antiseptic property. These are just some of the most tried and true for yeast infection cures:
Apple Cider Vinegar (with Mother): This stuff is hailed as a cure-all by many, and it possesses antifungal properties that murder yeast. It can be taken internally or externally, but should be heavily diluted before applying at the infection site. Otherwise, it will sting quite a bit. One method of application is to put a cup into warm bath water and soak in it for a while. This provides quick, but typically short-term relief.
Garlic: Easily one of the best options, and should be one of the first herbs to try from anyone suffering a yeast infection. It helps if you really like garlic. Garlic is a potent natural antibacterial and antifungal, and should be included in the daily diet for maximum effect. For treating a yeast infection, a garlic vaginal suppository inserted into the vagina overnight for 4-5 days will not only destroy yeast, but it will also provide an almost immediate relief to symptoms. To prepare, take one or two garlic cloves and wrap them in gauze or cheesecloth, tying a string around it for later retrieval.
Pau D’Arco: This is an herb taken from the bark of the La Pacho tree, which grows in the Andes. It’s been discovered that the tree has an uncommon resistance to fungus and will not permit it to flourish. It has strong antifungal properties and is best used as a tea. Drink up to 3-6 cups daily, but not more than this as large amounts of Pau D’Arco can be toxic. Optionally, the tea can be used as a douche for more immediate results. Pregnant women should not use this remedy!