Yeast infections and urinary tract infections (also called UTIs) are the bane of women everywhere.
In every grocery store and corner drug store you see almost and entire isle devoted to curing these two common female ailments; products like Monistat, Vagistat, Azo Yeast and Azo Cranberry, Cystex and Vagisil line the shelves, yet the list goes on. There are even douches that claim to treat your yeast problems.
If you want the advice of a medical professional, go to your gynecologist or your primary care physician. They’ll most likely give you a round of antibiotics and tell you to report back when it’s all clear. They will of course do tests and take swabs, making sure that it is actually a yeast infection or a UTI.
As if we women wouldn’t know what’s wrong with our own bodies.
Everywhere we go, we are assaulted with propaganda that tells us we must go to a health care provider for the simplest of things; that we are unable and ill-equipped to deal with it on our own. That to do so would be to risk “misdiagnosis” and set ourselves up for worse infection and complications that would not have been there if we had first consulted the “professionals.”
All of this is a sad misconception, one that is truly hurting us instead of helping us. We have become dependent upon products that wreak havoc on our systems (not to mentions our pocket books), and we have almost lost the ability to think and care for ourselves as a result.
Don’t believe me that those products can truly harm us? Here’s an example: back in the 1950s, women were told to use Lysol as a douche to counter the “foul odor” the vagina naturally emanates to make themselves more desirable to their husbands (yes, the very SAME Lysol that you use to clean your counters and doorknobs that contains bleach). Today, no woman in her right mind would get that stuff anywhere near her vagina. But sixty years ago, it was recommended. And by who? Health care professionals.
Yet there is some good news: the truth is getting out. Women all over are beginning to reclaim their natural rights to take care of their own health and well-being. We are taking control, and it’s about time. We are remembering our roots, beginning to take pride in being well-informed women—women who can take care of our own selves, thank you very much. Mother Nature is experiencing a revived interest in her remedies and cures for what ails us, and it is this revival that signals better health for both our bodies and for the planet as a whole.
The following are several time-tested natural remedies for yeast infections and UTIs, followed by the why’s and how’s of their effectiveness.
White Vinegar is cheap and is by far the best remedy I have found to treat your run-of-the-mill yeast infection. Yeast infections occur when there is an overgrowth of the natural flora that is present in the vagina, and the vaginal environment is too base to suppress it. In order to correct this imbalance, you need to lower the pH of the vagina to be slightly more acidic so it kills the extra flora.
Take a regular syringe (about 10 ccs worth will do; 10 mL is it’s equivalent in measurements) and keep it strictly for this purpose. Sterilize it before use by dousing it in rubbing alcohol and letting it dry so you don’t make the infection worse.
Take a small cup and fill it with four tablespoons distilled water and between one and two tablespoons white vinegar, making between a 50/50 and a 75/25 water/vinegar solution. Obviously, the more vinegar you add the more acidic the solution would be. I would recommend starting with the 75/25 solution. If improvement is not seen by later that same day, then increase the ratio to 50/50.
Douche until all of the solution is gone, then splash the outside of the vagina with cold water to remove excess vinegar. Do this two to three times per day until the symptoms of the infection abate, then continue for one additional day to be sure the infection is gone.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil has long been known as an antiseptic, anti-fungal, and natural antibacterial. It’s uses range from treating dandruff to ringworm to athlete’s foot, to fungal toe nail infections and vaginal yeast infections. It’s uses are many, and it has been proven safe in the proper doses.
To employ this remedy, use between one to three drops of the pure essential oil in your vinegar solution. This gives it that little extra “kick” to help get the job done.
Cranberry juice has got to be one of the most debated—and well-known—natural remedies for a UTI in the country. It works; it doesn’t work; use capsules; use pure juice; it cures the infection; it does nothing for the infection; some even claim it makes the infection worse!
With all the hype, it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth about what.
Usually, you can tell if they’re trying to protect their revenue source if the advice comes from a big pharmaceutical company or one of their agents. On the other hand, someone from GNC or one of the other big vitamin companies are of course going to want you to buy their product, so they are going to tell you it works.
Those from the private sector are a bit more reliable, I think, and usually more consistent in their statements.
From personal experience, I can tell you it works. But there’s a catch: you can’t just go out and buy your standard cheapo “cranberry juice” from Wal-Mart and expect it to work. Not only is there relatively little actual cranberry juice in those products (read the label. You’ll see.), they are also loaded with sugar or high fructose corn syrup; both are contributors to yeast/bacteria overgrowth because yeast and bacteria feed on sugar. The more sugar you eat, the worse your symptoms get.
A UTI happens when bacteria gets pushed up into the urethra. Again, an acidic environment will cause the bacteria to die off. Cranberry juice becomes acidic in the system—unlike citrus fruits, which become base in the system and actually contribute to the infection—and when you drink upwards of one quart per day, it acidifies the system enough to kill off the invading flora and stop the infection.
The best thing to do is to go to a health food store and find 100 percent pure cranberry juice, unsweetened, and mix it with water. You should drink between one and two quarts of pure cranberry juice a day while symptoms persist, and then for one to two days following.
In a pinch, Northland brand juice makes a 100 percent unsweetened cranberry blend that is mostly cranberry and does the trick if you’re on a budget. It’s about half the price of what you’ll find in a health food store.
Eating plain, unsweetened yoghurt puts good flora into the digestive tract and allows the body to help fight off infections. Between 70 percent and 80 percent of your entire immune function originates in your digestive tract, so keeping this organ in proper working order is imperative. Keeping a healthy balance of good intestinal flora is a dose of preventative (and sometimes curative) medicine that is easy, cheap, and saves us tons of money in the long run by helping keep the immune system strong.
The following remedies are not ones I have used, but rather some that I have heard will aide in eliminating yeast infections and UTIs. These are for your information, so feel free to check them out at your leisure and draw your own conclusions as to their efficacy. Plain, unsweetened yoghurt is said to help cure yeast infections when applied like a cream to the outside of the vagina. The yoghurt is left on for fifteen minutes, then rinsed off with warm or cold water.
Fresh garlic cloves or fresh garlic juice is said to have anti-fungal properties that will cure a yeast infection when applied to the inside of the vagina, much like a douche. Or, inserting a peeled clove of garlic into the vagina, leaving it in for fifteen minutes and then removing is also said to work.
Bearberry, also called Uva Ursi, is a type of cranberry and is said to have similar properties as the common variety. It works very similarly to cranberry juice, and is said to be able to be substituted for it. Tea is recommended, diluted with other beneficial herbal teas.
Goldenseal capsules are said to be quite the effective herbal antimicrobial.
Marshmallow root is said to increase the acidity of the urine to a level that kills off the bacterial growth.
Diuretics (Birch leaves, dandelion leaves, and hydrangea) are said to relive the urgency feelings associated with UTI’s, since it releases fluids from tissue. Birch is for pain; dandelion is for a liver cleanse (eat the raw leaves in salads); and hydrangea is for flushing the kidneys.
Don’t forget your typical recommendations when you begin to experience the symptoms of an infection down under: cut out refined sugar, coffee, cigarettes, refined carbohydrates, sodas, sweet tea, and sugary drinks (including citrus fruits and juices), carbonated beverages, chocolate, and processed foods until the infection has abated. Keep the genital area clean and dry, wear loose-fitting breathable clothes, cotton panties (or don’t wear any at all under a skirt!), and drink distilled water until you think you’re going to float and you pee every ten minutes. The more you flush out your system, the sooner the infection will be gone.
I hope I have given enough information that you can go forward with a little more confidence, and perhaps try some natural remedies before you reach for the prescriptions.