Q. Vaginal thrush is making my life a misery. What do you suggest?
A. Probably the most common fungal infection, thrush, or candidiasis, is caused by the yeast organism Candida albicans.
It appears in the vagina but can also occur in the mouth and in damp skin folds.
Women using the Pill, antibiotics, and steroids are more at risk, as are pregnant and menstruating women, as these conditions trigger changes in the vaginal pH balance, encouraging the yeast to multiply.
Conventional thrush treatments may become less effective over time, so it’s essential to try to prevent the problem in the first place.
First, eliminate all the foods that feed the yeast: alcohol, sugar, refined carbohydrates. Repopulate your gut with friendly bacteria to control the yeast. A probiotic containing both Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus will help clear and prevent yeast infections. Choose a supplement containing at least 30 billion CFUs (colony forming units). Eat food-based probiotics, too – unsweetened yoghurt, kefir, tempeh, and sauerkraut.
Helpful supplements include garlic, a powerful natural infection-fighter, and the South American herb pau d’arco, which has antiviral and antifungal effects. To inoculate the vagina with friendly bacteria, soak a slim tampon in natural acidophilus yoghurt and insert at night; repeat for 10 nights. You can also try sprinkling a cup of sea salt into a warm bath and having a nice soak; this relieves itching and pain and speeds up healing.
Lynda Wharton is an acupuncturist and naturopath, and the author of Well-Being – an essential guide to vibrant good health for women (HarperCollins). Contact Lynda at email@example.com.