Home remedies are all the rage at the moment and it seems that no matter what the ailment, there are a plethora of natural solutions out there that claim to be able to help.
This is true for colds, for general lethargy and for any number of other issues. But what about something very concrete such as a yeast infection? In this post, we will look at some of the common home remedies for yeast infection and whether they really work, because it is crucial to always approach any home remedies with a dose of cynicism. While many are effective and really can help you to address your complaints with minimum hassle and a lot less expense, there are a great number of ill-advised solutions out there that will make the problem worse or simply have no effect whatsoever. Just because you read it on a blog, that doesn’t mean it is true!
What is a Yeast Infection?
Yeast infections are the most common form of vaginal infection following bacterial vaginosis according to a report in The Lancet published in 2007. Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the particular fungus ‘Candida albicans’, along with some other species of candid such as Candida glabrate.
To treat a yeast infection, it is necessary to kill the fungi causing the problem. The most common method of doing this recommended by doctors is to use medications known as ‘azoles’. These can be purchased via a prescription or even OTC (over the counter). Azoles are highly effective against C. albicans but are less useful against other forms of yeast infection. Not only that, but they are also known to have a number of unwanted side effects.
Home Remedies for Yeast Infection: What is Effective?
With this in mind then, what can you do in order to treat a yeast infection without needing to use prescription medication?
A number of different home remedies for yeast infection are recommended by blogs and other sources include:
- Boric acid
- Douching (seriously)
- Tea tree oil
While some of these options seem to be supported by positive anecdotal reports, the fact remains that most are unsupported by any research of scientific rigor. At best they are ineffectual and at worst they might be highly damaging.
Let’s take a look at some of these options…
Yogurt and probiotics are highly beneficial for your gut health and everyone should consider adding these to their diet. These are natural sources of ‘good bacteria’ which can help to increase the number of good bacteria in the stomach for a range of positive health effective such as improved digestion (via the production of more natural digestive enzymes), better hormone balance and improved nutrient absorption.
In theory, increasing the good bacteria can help to reduce the production of ‘bad’ bacteria by crowding them out and this could theoretically include the yeast infections that many women suffer with.
That’s the idea and it’s sound in principle. Unfortunately, in practice it is less solid. Apart from the fact that there is simply no evidence to support this as an effective means to combat yeast infections, it’s also true that consuming yogurt will not necessarily have any impact on the balance of flora in that region. And no, it is not a good idea to apply yogurt ‘topically’.
At least one report suggests that lactobacillius recolonization of the vagina may be a promising avenue, but much more research needs to be conducted before any conclusions can be drawn.
That said, there is no ‘downside’ to consuming yogurt or other forms of probiotics, so you can always try this if you feel so inclined. The worst case scenario is that it will improve your digestion, mood and metabolism!
Some research suggests that boric acid suppository capsules could be effective in combating yeast infections – especially infections other than the albicans species. One study looked at participants that used the suppositories nightly for between 7-10 days and found that this had a 92% success rate.
This is considered a relatively safe alternative to azole medication for the treatment of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. That said, it is worth noting that boric acid can be acidic when consumed orally and may cause burning when used in suppository form.
Other Home Remedies
As well as these two options, many more strategies are commonly recommended online for treating vaginal yeast infections. These include the use of garlic cloves inserted into the vagina at night, along with diluted tea tree oil added to the vagina via an applicator-style tampon.
There is no evidence to suggest that either of these options will work. Tea tree oils are thought to be effective in combating candida but there is currently no research on whether or not this would work in the suggested context. Meanwhile, garlic cloves are unlikely to cause any negative impact or damage but are also very unlikely to be effective.
Meanwhile, douching and yeast infections are completely unrelated. In fact, cleansing via douching can actually promote yeast infections as a result of removing healthy bacteria from the vagina that could otherwise prevent an infection. Likewise, if you already suffer with an infection, douching may spread to the cervix. Douching with vinegar meanwhile is especially ill-considered, seeing as the acidic nature of vinegar can make it highly damaging to the vaginal walls.
Other options such as coconut oil and pomegranate gel are likewise ineffective and not recommended.
There is a notion that anything ‘natural’ must therefore be better from us. Unfortunately, the research does not in any way back up this concept and in reality, you are much better off using products that have been manufactured specifically for the use that you are considering and that are recommended by doctors!