Vaginitis is an inﬂammation of the mucous membrane that lines the vagina. The symp- toms usually include burning or itching and may extend to abnormal vaginal dis- charge, painful urination, and pain during sexual intercourse. The vast majority of women will experience vaginitis at some point during their lives, and the unpleasant symptoms usually send women to their doctors for treatment.
Vaginitis is commonly caused by an overgrowth of yeast (Candida albicans). Com- mon symptoms may include vaginal itch and/or soreness, burning, a cottage cheese–like discharge, and pain during intercourse. A physician can make a diagno- sis, after a microscopic examination and a culture of the vaginal secretion. Other com- mon conditions can mimic vaginal yeast infections. These include bacterial vaginosis (BV); the symptoms of this bacterial infection can include an abnormal grayish-white vaginal discharge and a foul-smelling vaginal odor. Another common cause is tri- chomonas vaginitis. This is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a one-celled microorganism called Trichomonas vaginalis. Symptoms include a foul-smelling, yellowish-green vaginal discharge and itching. Symptoms worsen during menstru- ation. This section focuses on yeast-related vaginitis. It is important to see your doc- tor to discover the cause of your vaginitis, because certain infections can be quite serious.
Women who experience chronic yeast infections often have a common history of being on repeated courses of antibiotics. While antibiotics may destroy harmful bac- teria, they also have the potential to wipe out helpful normal ﬂora in the vagina, as well as in the urinary and digestive tracts. Good bacteria, such as Lactobacillus aci- dophilus, play an important role as part of the local immune system in the vaginal area. They function to prevent the overgrowth of yeast and other opportunistic organisms that can cause infection. In addition, these good acidophilus species help to maintain an acidic pH in the vagina, which makes it less likely that an overgrowth of yeast will occur. These good bacteria also produce hydrogen peroxide, which is a natural antimicrobial agent that kills bacteria and fungus. Acidophilus supplements taken internally, as well as applied directly into the vagina (insert at night and cover with a pad), are an effective means to prevent and treat yeast infections. This remedy is best done under the supervision of a doctor. In addition, it’s helpful to eat yogurt that is rich in friendly bacteria. A 1992 study found that women who consumed 8 ounces of yogurt daily had three times less incidence of vaginal yeast infections, as compared to women who did not eat the yogurt.
A key dietary factor that will help prevent reoccurring vaginal yeast infections is to reduce simple sugars in the diet. Yeast thrives on sugar, and too much of it has a suppressive effect on the immune system. Finally, be aware that food sensitivities can aggravate yeast infections for some women.
The immune system is constantly on the lookout for opportunistic organisms such as the yeast Candida albicans. When functioning optimally, it keeps unhealthful organisms in check. High stress, poor nutrition, and other factors can impair immune function, allowing for the overgrowth of candida. Many conventional doctors argue that only people with severe immune suppressive diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, have immune systems that are weak enough to allow for the overgrowth of yeast. This appears to be untrue, and a surprising number of seemingly healthy persons suffer from a weakened immune system, linked to systemic candidiasis.
Hormone balance is important in preventing vaginal yeast infections. These infec- tions commonly occur one week prior to the beginning of a woman’s menstrual ﬂow. This is a sign that hormone balance plays a key role in the susceptibility to vaginal yeast infections. It is not unusual for women who experience PMS to also have prob- lems with yeast overgrowth. Imbalanced estrogen and progesterone levels lead to an unfavorable vaginal pH. Typically, many of these cases are caused by what doctors call “estrogen dominance.” The normal increase of progesterone does not occur dur- ing ovulation, and as a result, the relative balance of estrogen is too high. We have also found that many women resolve their chronic susceptibility to vaginal infections once they discontinue the use of the birth control pill. It is a well-known fact that this med- ication increases the incidence of yeast infections.
In summary, natural approaches are your best bet to resolve chronic cases of vagi- nal yeast infections. They can also be effective for relieving acute cases, when used under the supervision of a medical professional. If you are pregnant, do not start any therapy unless instructed to do so by your doctor.
• Cottage cheese–like discharge
• Pain during intercourse
• Poor diet (especially, too many
• Birth control pills
• Sexually transmitted diseases
• Tight clothing
• Excessive douching
• Poor hygiene
• Food allergies or sensitivities
• Candidiasis (systemic)
• A suppressed immune system
• A hormone imbalance
• Flora imbalance
Fortify your immune system by eating a diet that’s focused on natural, whole foods.
One of the best dietary strategies for restoring the natural balance of vaginal ﬂora
is to eat a cup of unsweetened live yogurt every day. Make sure the yogurt contains
L. acidophilus and other friendly ﬂora.
Garlic and onions can be consumed liberally for their antifungal properties. Flaxseeds also ﬁght yeast infections. Take 1 to 2 tablespoons daily, along with 10 ounces of water.
Women with vaginitis often suffer from dehydration. Drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours.
The following tests help assess possible reasons for reoccurring vaginal yeast infections:
Immune system imbalance or disease—blood
Hormone testing (thyroid, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1, estrogen, progesterone)—saliva, blood, or urine
Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida/ﬂora testing—stool analysis
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
Food to Avoid
If you have vaginitis, you have two reasons to avoid sugar. For one, many of the organ- isms, such as Candida albicans, that cause vaginal infections feed on sugar. Second, sugar depresses the immune system, making it difﬁcult to recover from your current infection and leaving you vulnerable to repeated cases of vaginitis. Do not eat any reﬁned sugars, and restrict your intake of simple sugars from fruits, honey, molasses, and other natural sources.
Avoid foods that are high in yeast or mold, especially alcohol, aged cheese, dried fruit, nuts, and nut butters. You must also stay away from fermented foods, including vinegar, pickles, tempeh, and soy sauce.
Food allergies may be the cause of recurring vaginitis. Read the Food Allergies sec- tion and follow the elimination diet there. If your symptoms disappear when you stop eating a certain food, eliminate that product from your diet.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Vaginitis
Super Prescription #1 Lactobacillus acidophilus
Insert 1 capsule intravaginally each evening, and cover with a pad overnight. Repeat for seven consecutive days for acute infections. Also, take a probiotic supplement (with friendly bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus) orally that contains at least 4 billion organisms twice daily, thirty minutes after meals. These friendly bac- teria ﬁght yeast overgrowth.
Super Prescription #2 Homeopathic Combination Vaginitis Formula
Take as directed on the container. It contains the most common homeopathic reme- dies used for vaginal yeast infections.
study of women who had recurrent vaginal yeast infections looked at the effects of daily ingestion of yogurt that contained Lacto- bacillus acidophilus. Women who con- sumed 8 ounces of yogurt daily for six months had a three fold decrease in infec- tions and in vaginal candida colonization.
In a study, one hundred women with chronic vaginal yeast infections who were unresponsive to prolonged
Super Prescription #3 Boric acid
Insert a 600 mg capsule intravaginally each morning and evening for seven days for acute infections (cover with a pad). For a chronic infection, repeat for a total of two to four weeks. Vitamin E oil can be used on the external genitalia to pre- vent burning and discomfort. Note: Do not ingest boric acid orally.
Super Prescription #4 Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) Take 3 ml or 500 mg four times daily for immune support. ventional therapy were treated with 600 mg of boric acid suppositories twice daily for two or four weeks. As a result, 98 percent of the women who were unresponsive to common antifun- gal treatments were cured.
chinacea (Echi- nacea purpurea) has been shown to enhance immune function and have antifungal proper- ties. A German study looked at the effect of oral echi- nacea supplemen- tation on women who had a history of reoccurring vagi- nal yeast infections. Of the sixty women taking echinacea, only ten had recur- rences of yeast infections.
Super Prescription #5 Vitamin C
Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily for immune support.
Super Prescription #6 Oregon grape root (Mahonia aquifolium) or goldenseal
Take 3 ml or 500 mg four times daily for immune support.
Super Prescription #7 Oregano oil (Origanum vulgare)
Take 500 mg of the capsule form or 0.5 ml of the liquid twice daily or as directed on the container. Oregano oil has potent antifungal effects and is very important for women who have repeated vaginal yeast infections due to systemic candidiasis.
Pau d’arco (Tabebuia avellanedae) has antifungal properties. Take 100 mg or 0.5 to 1.0 cc three times daily.
Garlic (Allium sativum) counteracts yeast infections and improves the immune sys- tem’s defenses. Use several drops of garlic oil in a douche. For extra strength, you can also take garlic orally. Take 300 to 450 mg twice a day.
Vitex (chasteberry) is effective for women with hormone imbalance who experi- ence repeated, cyclical vaginal yeast infections. Take 180 to 240 mg of a 0.6 percent standardized extract daily. Note: It should not be taken in conjunction with the birth control pill.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. For an acute vagi- nal yeast infection, take a 30C potency four times daily. For a chronic vaginal yeast infection, take a 6x, 12x, 6C, 12C, or 30C potency twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the rem- edy, unless symptoms return. Consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Borax is a remedy to use when you have a vaginal discharge that resembles egg whites or a white paste and have a feeling that warm water is ﬂowing out. Vaginitis that responds to Borax often appears midway between the menstrual periods.
Calcarea Carbonica is a good choice when a woman experiences burning and vagi- nal itching before and/or after the menstrual period. Women who require this rem- edy are usually chilly, are overweight, and crave sweets, milk, and eggs. They become fatigued and overwhelmed easily.
Kali Bichromium is useful when the discharge is thick yellow and makes the exter- nal genitalia itch and burn.
Kreosotum is the most common remedy for acute vaginal yeast infections. There is a burning discharge with a putrid odor, along with great itching. The discharge is worse before menses or during pregnancy.
Natrum Muriaticum is used when the burning discharge resembles an egg white.
There is often vaginal dryness, along with the discharge. The woman craves salt and tends to be reserved. She feels worse in the sun and in warm rooms.
Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) is indicated when there is a creamy-white or yel- lowish discharge. Symptoms often change throughout the day. The woman feels bet- ter in the open air. She has a strong craving for sweets and a desire for company.
Sepia is helpful when the vaginal discharge is yellow and itchy or white and offensive-smelling. A woman who requires this remedy often feels run down and irri- table and wants to be left alone. She may feel a bearing-down sensation in the pelvic area.
Sulphur is used when the discharge is yellowish and offensive smelling, with great burning and itching. The woman’s symptoms may worsen from warmth and bathing.
See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.
• If you have a vaginal discharge, use Conception Vessel 4 and 6.
• Work Lung 1 to ease stress.
Work all the female reproductive areas to stimulate blood ﬂow and encourage healing.
To stimulate the immune system, especially the production of antibodies, work the lymph and the spleen.
Add several cups of organic apple cider vinegar to your bath, and soak for ﬁfteen to thirty minutes. Allow the water to ﬂow into your vagina.
Tea tree oil, a natural antiseptic, is a highly potent remedy for vaginitis. You can use the oil in a douche or in a compress two times a day, as needed, until the inﬂamma- tion is under control. Tea tree oil is sometimes irritating, so start off by using just two or three drops of oil; if you don’t have a reaction, you can try a few drops more.
To relieve tension, use lavender, rose, geranium, bergamot, or jasmine in a bath, a diffuser, or whatever preparation suits you best.
General Stress-Reduction Techniques
Some women who have a history of sexual abuse experience chronic vaginitis. Besides the recommendations in this section, seek counseling and spiritual support.
Bach Flower Remedies
Following are some suggestions.
Once you’ve chosen a rem- edy, place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
If vaginitis makes you feel unclean, take Crab Apple.
Women who ﬁnd it difﬁcult to turn down others’ requests should take Centaury to develop a clear sense of their own desires and to build their inner strength.
Elm is for women who take on too much responsibility and wind up exhausted or depressed, “overwhelmed.”
After an extended period of stress that results in deep fatigue and exhaustion, Olive will help.
• Avoid sexual intercourse during the course of treatment to avoid irritation and reinfection. For some chronic cases of yeast-related vaginitis, the male partner needs to be on an antifungal protocol (see the Candidiasis section).
• Wear loose cotton clothing that allows your genitals to breathe. Avoid tight jeans and pantyhose with nylon crotches.
• If you go swimming, change out of your wet bathing suit quickly. Otherwise, you’ll create a breeding ground for bacteria.