What Is A Yeast Infection?
Yeast is a fungus, which is naturally present in the skin, digestive tract and the vaginal area. Overgrowth of this yeast in the vaginal regions or other parts can cause an infection, which is known as ‘candidiasis’.
What Causes A Yeast Infection?
The fungus, which is responsible for vaginal yeast infection is ‘Candida albicans’.
The vagina contains a balanced mix of yeast and bacteria. Certain bacteria like lactobacillus prevents the overgrowth of yeast and thus, it helps in maintaining a proper balance.
But, if the growth of the yeast precedes the growth of bacteria, it can penetrate into the deeper layers of the vaginal tissues and give rise to signs and symptoms of yeast infections. Causes of such an infection are:
- Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus
- Having a weak immune system
- Use of antibiotics, which can disrupt the balance of natural vaginal flora
Home Remedies for Yeast Infection
How can you treat yeast infections in women?
Yeast infections can be treated with drugs or the use of anti-fungal creams and ointments. However, modifying your dietary habits or adding some healthy foods to your diet may help in getting rid of yeast infections. Let’s have a look at the home remedies to treat yeast infections:
Prevent Yeast Infections with Probiotics
Probiotics are live micro-organisms that are beneficial for human health. Some of the common probiotics are a type of bacteria called ‘Lactobacillus’. The vagina already contains lactobacillus, but depletion of this bacteria gives rise to yeast infections.
Probiotics have been investigated as possible agents for the prevention of recurrent vaginal yeast infections in women.
Intake of probiotics increases the production of lactobacillus in the body, which fight yeast infections and reduce the population of Candida albicans in the vagina.
In an interesting study, pregnant women with vaginal yeast infection received a mixture of yogurt and honey vaginally. Yogurt is a probiotic while honey acts as an antimicrobial agent.
The results indicated that women in the yogurt-honey group showed greater improvements as compared to the group of women who received anti-fungal agents.
Hence, applying yogurt to the outer part of the vagina can help in relieving itching and burning. Moreover, eating plain yogurt may also help.
Garlic has been used as a spice, food and medicine since ancient times. Studies have reported that garlic inhibits the growth of fungi including yeasts such as Candida albicans and protects against fungal infections.
Allicin, an active compound present in garlic is a powerful anti-fungal agent against Candida species. It inhibits the lipid synthesis of the yeasts and reduces the colonization of Candida species.
Scientists have concluded that garlic not only kills the yeasts, but it also enhances the body’s immunity against such infections.
In one study, two groups of women were treated with garlic and clotrimazole, an oral medication to treat yeast infections, respectively. Both the groups showed improvements and a reduction in their symptoms were observed.
Hence, garlic is also as effective as anti-fungal oral medication. Because garlic is a natural and convenient remedy, women with yeast infections should add garlic to their daily diet.
Turmeric or the golden spice is commonly used in day-to-day cooking. Curcumin, an active compound of turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-microbial agent.
This compound reduces the colonization of Candida species and inhibits the multiplication of fungus. It further decreases the adhesion of Candida albicans and reduces their activity.
Furthermore, curcumin suppresses oxidative stress and protects the immune cells. Hence, it boosts the immune system and keeps fungal infections at bay.
Curcumin reduces the inflammation linked to yeast infections and helps in lowering the symptoms in women.
Hence, adding turmeric to the daily diet may help women with yeast infections. Add this golden spice to a cup of milk or to your bowl of salad and soup to get rid of yeast infections.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that exhibits antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses and fungi including yeasts. This oil is a mixture of more than 100 different compounds that protect against the onset of yeast infections in women.
One study observed that treatment with tea tree oil makes the yeast cell membranes permeable, which predisposes the yeast cells to damage.
Tea tree oil disrupts the structure of the yeast cells and impairs their functioning. Moreover, this essential oil inhibits the respiration of Candida albicans, kills them and causes them to rupture.
Treatment with tea tree oil when clubbed with other anti-fungal drugs to treat vaginal candidiasis, enhances the action of the drugs, which leads to quick results and improvement in symptoms.
Women with vaginal yeast infections can make their own suppositories by combining one drop of tea tree oil and two tablespoons of coconut oil.
Disturbance of the immune system triggers yeast infections like candidiasis in women. Virgin coconut oil is a natural substance and a good choice for the treatment of yeast infections in women.
Several researchers have reported that virgin coconut oil is a potent anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral agent. It also strengthens the immune system, which keeps yeast infections at bay. Such an effect of virgin coconut oil is attributed to the presence of fatty acids in it.
One interesting study found that coconut oil is effective in killing yeasts and Candida albicans strain is most susceptible to coconut oil.
Always choose virgin or pure coconut oil for treating yeast infections. For vaginal yeast infections applying coconut oil topically may help.
To treat yeast infections of the mouth, swish coconut oil in the mouth for 15 seconds. Adding coconut oil to the daily diet may also help.
Add Zinc-Rich Foods to The Diet
A weak immune system increases the risk of yeast infections. Zinc is an essential mineral, which boosts immunity and reduces the risk of yeast infections.
Zinc deficiency can weaken the immune system; therefore, it is important to get your daily dose of zinc via foods.
Neutrophils are immune cells that keep the fungal infections under control. Neutrophils release fungicidal material that is capable of killing the fungi.
Zinc maintains the number of neutrophil cells in normal range, so its activity is optimal to fight Candida albicans.
Zinc also helps in releasing other immune cells that engulf the fungi and infected cells of the body.
Hence, it boosts the immune system and protects the body against infections. Foods rich in zinc include:
- Lean Meat
- Nuts and oilseeds
- Whole grains
Eat Vitamin C-Rich Foods
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is considered to be a potent antioxidant. Owing to its antioxidant properties at high concentrations, vitamin C fights against fungal infections.
This vitamin enhances the lethal effects of anti-fungal drugs on Candida albicans. Vitamin C arrests overgrowth of yeasts and thus, reduces the population of Candida albicans.
It further boosts the immune system and facilitates recovery from yeast infection. Being an immune-booster, vitamin C helps the body to fight against infections more effectively.
Therefore, women should fill their diet with good sources of vitamin C. Ask your doctor before starting any vitamin C supplement. Foods rich in vitamin C include:
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
Home remedies are a convenient and safe way to manage yeast infections. Taking care of your diet by eating whole and nutritious foods and avoiding the intake of refined and sugar-laden foods is a great strategy.
Remember to keep yourself well-hydrated. Dehydration of the skin in and around the vagina can disrupt the normal pH balance of the vagina, thus giving rise to yeast infection.
Moreover, dehydration can also lead to oral thrush. Hence, make sure you drink water adequately all throughout the day. Do not replace water with other fluids like tea, coffee, juices and sodas.
If your symptoms worsen, contact your doctor immediately.
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