By Funmilola Olukomaiya
Vaginal thrush is a common infection caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast. This yeast is normally harmless but can cause some uncomfortable symptoms as it lives naturally in the bowel and in small numbers in the vagina.
Candida lives harmlessly on the skin, in the mouth, gut, and vagina and is normally kept under control by harmless bacteria.
Studies have shown that at least three out of four women will experience at least one yeast infection in their lifetimes.
Symptoms of vaginal thrush can include vaginal itching or burning, a white discharge and stinging or burning while urinating.
Some people choose to use home remedies or “natural” thrush treatments. These involve using things that you might have at home to treat the thrush.
These treatments have been studied and some show some possible benefits but they are not medically proven to be effective.
1. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is known to help boost our immune systems. They also have an antimicrobial effect when used as a tablet. Vit C could be used to kill the overgrowths of yeast that causes vaginal thrush or better still, help the immune system manage the infection better. Vitamin C is taken orally and shouldn’t be used directly on the sensitive skin around the vaginal area.
2. Natural yoghurt and honey: You can mix your own vaginal cream using yoghurt and honey. This can be used instead of traditional medical antifungal creams, like clotrimazole cream (Canesten). Yoghurt contains bacteria than can change the environment of your vagina to make it harder for thrush to grow and honey can reduce some of the symptoms of thrush.
Studies comparing yoghurt and honey vaginal cream with clotrimazole found that patients’ thrush symptoms improved after 7 to 14 days of treatment. Treatment with yoghurt and honey was found to be similar to clotrimazole and in some cases was reported to be more effective in improving some vaginal symptoms.
3. Coconut oil: Coconut oil can have antifungal effects and has been shown to stop the growth of the yeast that causes repeat thrush infections. Raw and organic oil can be used inside or outside the areas affected by thrush. You can also use warmed coconut oil to mix with essential oils like oregano oil.
4. Garlic: Garlic contains a chemical called allicin, which has antibiotic effects that can be used to treat infections like thrush. Garlic can be taken orally (by mouth) raw, in cooking food, or in garlic extract or allicin tablets. It’s not currently known if garlic is able to cure a yeast infection, but garlic might be able to prevent vaginal thrush infections or improve existing infections.
5. Aloe Vera: Aloe vera contains vitamins, enzymes and amino acids that help inhibit the growth of candida. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-irritating and antifungal properties that help control and treat vaginal thrush.
Prepare aloe vera juice by blending together 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and 1 cup of orange juice or just plain water. Drink this aloe vera juice once daily for a few days.
Home remedies may or may not work as treatments for a thrush infection. They can be recommended when first-line medical thrush treatments don’t work, but in the first instance, it’s important to speak to your doctor so that they can make sure there are no other causes for your symptoms.