Medical Information : Home Remedies for a Vaginal Yeast Infection
Home Remedies for Vaginal Yeast Infections
How effective are home remedies for treating yeast infections?
Yeast infections (vulvovaginal candidiasis) are the most common type of vaginal infection after bacterial vaginosis, according to a report published in the journal The Lancet. (1)
Vaginal yeast infections are the result of an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans, and less frequently other Candidaspecies, such as C. glabrata,C. parapsilosis, C. tropicalis, andC. krusei.
Treating yeast infections typically requires killing the fungi with antifungal drugs called azoles, which can be purchased by prescription or over the counter (OTC). These include:
Topical azoles are very effective against C. albicans, but far less so against other Candida species — these yeasts are often treated with other antifungal medication, such as amphotericin B (Abelcet, AmBisome, Amphocin, Amphotec, or Fungizone), flucytosine, nystatin (Mycostatin), or the oral azole fluconazole (Diflucan). (3,4)
Natural Remedies for Vaginal Yeast Infections
Despite the effectiveness of prescription and OTC medication for yeast infections, some people prefer to treat their ailments with natural or home remedies.
For yeast infections, purported natural therapies include:
- Yogurt and probiotics
- Boric acid
- Tea tree oil
- Douching (especially with vinegar)
Though some positive anecdotal reports can be found on the internet, most natural remedies for yeast infections are not (yet) supported by rigorous clinical studies. (5)
Yogurt, Probiotics, and 'Good' Bacteria for Yeast Infection
The vagina is home to numerous beneficial microbes, which keep pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes, including Candida, in check.
The yeasts grow out of control when something — such as antibiotics, hormones, pregnancy, or health issues, like diabetes and HIV or AIDS — disrupts that delicate balance.
Because of this fact, one of the most common natural remedies for yeast infections has long involved restoring the vagina's population of friendly bacteria, especially Lactobacillus acidophilus, by using yogurt or probiotics.
Overall, despite a host of research on the topic, the evidence for consuming healthy bacteria to treat or prevent yeast infections is inconsistent, at best.
An early report in 1992 found that daily ingestion of yogurt containing L. acidophilusdecreases candidal colonization and infection. (6) Another study published in 2010 found that probiotics taken after conventional treatment of vaginal yeast infections may lead to "somewhat fewer recurrences" of the infection. (7)
But numerous reviews have found that most clinical trials on the subject had methodological issues, making it difficult to draw reliable conclusions. (8)
For instance, a review published in the Journal of Chemotherapyfound that Lactobacillus strains can help treat bacterial vaginosis, but the bacteria have no clear benefit for yeast infections. (9)
A review published in November 2019 in theCochrane Database of Systematic Reviewsfound that there may be some evidence showing that probiotics can help cure yeast infections, compared with conventional treatments. But the authors had very little confidence in this conclusion given that the quality of the evidence was low or very low. (10)
Either way, regular ingestion of beneficial bacteria poses very little harm, so you can try the remedies without worry (though it may be a waste of money). (8)
Probiotic Combination Therapies for Yeast Infections
While taking probiotics in lieu of antifungal medication is not yet supported by science, some other research suggests that women with vaginal yeast infections may benefit from probiotic combination therapies.
For instance, a prospective study published in July 2012 in the journalArchives of Gynecology and Obstetricsfound that a mixture of bee honey and yogurt applied to the vagina may help cure yeast infections in pregnant women. (11)
Similarly, a study published in November 2015 in theGlobal Journal of Health Sciencefound that a vaginal cream of honey and yogurt was comparable in efficacy with clotrimazole vaginal cream for yeast infections. (12)
Additionally, a clinical trial found that a certain probiotic capsule, when combined with conventional antifungal medication, can help provide a long-term cure against recurrent yeast infections. (13)
Still, more research is needed to fully reveal the benefits of these alternative therapies.
Boric Acid for Treating Yeast Infections
Research shows that boric acid suppository capsules appear to be very effective against yeast infections, particularly those caused by non-albicans species.
An early study found that boric acid suppositories, when taken nightly for 7 to 10 days, have up to a 92 percent cure rate. (14)
More recently, a 2007 article in the journal Diabetes Carefound that boric acid vaginal suppositories were more effective against C. glabrata infections in diabetic women (diabetes is a risk factor for yeast infections) than an oral azole medication. (15)
And a later review in the Journal of Women's Health found that it's a safe alternative to azole medication for the treatment of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (four or more infections in a single year) caused by non-albicans Candida.
But boric acid can occasionally cause vaginal burning, is toxic when swallowed, and shouldn't be used frequently or when pregnant. (16)
Other Home Remedies and DIY Approaches For Yeast Infections
Garlic and tea tree oil are also popular natural remedies for vaginal yeast infections.
Numerous studies have shown that garlic has antifungal properties. But when taken orally, garlic has no effect on vaginal Candida counts, according to a study published in the journal BJOG. (17)
Some women promote placing garlic cloves in the vagina at night — while this treatment is unlikely to cause any major damage (besides, possibly, allergic reactions and chemical burns), there's no scientific evidence to show it works.
To fight yeast infections, some women suggest applying diluted tea tree oil to the vagina using an applicator-type tampon.
While tea tree oils are effective against various Candida species in both laboratory and rat studies, clinical (human) trials are lacking. (5, 18)
Douching and yeast infections don't mix. The cleansing may actually help promote yeast infections by removing healthy bacteria from the vagina. And if you already have an infection, douching may spread it to the cervix and into the uterus.
Douching with vinegar may be doubly bad because of the potential damage the liquid can cause to the vaginal walls. (19)
You can find numerous other natural remedies for yeast infections online, including coconut oil, pomegranate gel, and echinacea purpurea liquid.
But before trying any alternative treatments, it's best to check with your doctor.
Video: Medical Information : Home Remedies to Treat Yeast Infections
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