If you’ve ever experienced a yeast infection, you’re not alone. 75 percent of women experience vaginitis as the result of a fungal overgrowth of the vaginal area at some point in their life and almost half of women experience multiple yeast infections throughout their life.
While you may be in good company, that doesn’t bring comfort or relief from the burning, itching, thick white discharge and pain during sex that are common symptoms of an infection. And, while pharmaceutical drugs may help to kill the fungal infection, they also typically kill beneficial microbes that help prevent future infections. Fortunately, there are some potent and effective natural remedies that can help. Here are some of my preferred options:
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Thyme is often overlooked as a natural medicine probably because it is viewed as a culinary herb, but this herb proves that food really is the best medicine. It has been found to be an excellent anti-fungal medicine in many studies. In one study in particular, published in the medical journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that the herb was effective at killing drug-resistant strains of Candida albicans. The researchers believe the anti-fungal effect is due to a naturally-occurring compound in thyme, known as thymol. An oil extract of thyme was used in the study. Thyme oil gel capsules are available from many health food stores. Follow package instructions for the best results.
Certain Probiotics: Before you shrug off probiotics because they may not have worked for you, keep in mind that you’ll need specific strains of beneficial microbes to get the best results. And, contrary to common belief, yogurt does not usually make the grade for containing the study-proven strains. One Canadian study published in the medical journal FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology, showed that the combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus fermentum RC-14, taken orally in supplement form could restore vaginal microbial balance and eliminate infection-causing yeasts and harmful bacteria.
Garlic: Garlic is a well-established antifungal remedy that makes a great addition to your diet. It is best known for its sulfur-containing compounds, particularly allicin. Eating one clove of raw garlic daily can help diminish the growth of yeast cells. No, that doesn’t mean you have to chew on a garlic clove to get the health benefits. Instead, mix raw garlic into homemade salad dressing, or toss it with some chopped tomatoes and fresh basil for a delicious salad or topping for your favorite bread.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is a board-certified doctor of natural medicine and international best-selling and 19-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking (New World Library, 2016).