Trusted for 23+ Years
Natural Yeast Infections Remedies
Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert
Traditional & Alternative Treatments
The most common yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans and other Candida yeasts such as Malassezia, Torulopsis, Trichosporon, and Cryptococcus. Yeast infections and Candida overgrowth are more common than many think and sometimes go on without people knowing they have these conditions. They are caused by an overabundance of yeast and can cause skin rashes (typically seen under folds of skin such as under breasts, in-between legs, etc.); in addition, there are yeast infections of the mouth (thrush), yeast infections of the esophagus, digestive tract and the sex organs including both the vulva, vagina and penis (especially in those who are uncircumcised).
Everyone has candida in their body (particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, mouth, vagina, etc.), but sometimes it can get out of control. Even when appropriately treated, yeast infections typically take around five months to go away entirely and to restore proper yeast balances.
Candida is an aggressive form of yeast, and it can shoot threads through soft tissue within the body, making it relatively easy for it to get excessive. When the yeast levels go past a healthy level in the gastrointestinal tract, it can cause a leaky gut; meaning that the lining of the tissue is exposed to harmful bacteria, chemicals, parasites, and foods that can irritate the body.
Candida growth that has gone past healthy levels can produce toxins in the body; these toxins are acetaldehyde and gliotoxin. They can contribute to other health issues such as Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune disease, and alcohol-related cancers. Most people will see Candida overgrowth through their skin, genitals, mouth, and throat. In highly severe cases, systemic candidiasis can occur and can be life-threatening. This is when candida spreads throughout the body and can impact the heart, eyes, liver, kidneys, brain, joints, and genital tract. This disseminated candidiasis typically occurs in people with low white blood cell counts (neutropenia) and is not a typical Candida infection for most people.
If you have persistent yeast infections (more than 3-4 within a year), you may have a Candida overgrowth issue or other health problems such as diabetes, so it will be essential to be tested. Symptoms of Candida overgrowth are many, and you may be surprised at just how many symptoms it can produce.
Examples Of Candida Overgrowth Symptoms
- Vaginal infections and itching
- Digestion problems such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, spastic colon
- Chronic vaginal yeast infections
- Headaches including migraines
- Rashes on the skin such as eczema, psoriasis, hives as well as acne
- Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, and brain fog
- Stiff joints
- Fungal infections of the skin and nails (i.e., athlete's foot, toenail fungus)
- Fatigue and fibromyalgia
- Autoimmune diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Multiple sclerosis, etc.)
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depression
Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Rectal irritation and itching
- Strong seasonal allergies
- Itchy ears
- Chronic nasal congestion or sinusitis
- Strong cravings for food made with sugar and refined carbohydrates
Contributors To High Candida Overgrowth & Yeast Infections
- Taking antibiotics (they can kill off good bacteria)
- High stress
- Using hormone-altering contraceptives (birth control pills, shots, rings, skin patches, etc.)
- Eating sugar, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates
Hormonal changes: high estrogen levels can affect the acidity of the vagina and lead to yeast overgrowth (often seen during pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, and during a woman's menstrual cycle)
- Wearing clothes that do not let your skin breathe
- Wearing wet clothing such as a swimsuit
- Wearing menstrual pads or tampons too long
- Heredity factors
- Living in a hot or humid environment
- Having sex with someone who has a yeast infection (this happens very rarely)
Tests For Candida Overgrowth
Three tests can detect your Candida levels: blood, stool, and urine. These tests check for IgG, IgA, and IgM Candida antibodies. If you are tested, make sure to ask for a comprehensive examination. Standard tests may not pick up on things like D-Arabinitol (a waste product of Candida yeast overgrowth).
Vaginal Yeast Infections
Yeast infections in the vaginal area can be a part of Candida overgrowth or specific to the vagina and vulva. They are very common, and over 75% of women have at least once during their lifetime. Symptoms of a yeast infection are typically itching, soreness, pain, and even burning during urination or sexual activity. There is also a white discharge that is typically thick and possibly clumpy. Women who get them often see these symptoms the week before their menstrual period starts. Diagnosis of a yeast infection is made through a basic vaginal exam.
Penis Yeast Infections
Men can get yeast infections in the tip of their penis, called balanitis. Men are more prone to get yeast infections when uncircumcised or have diabetes. Symptoms of balanitis are itching or burning at the tip of the penis or around the foreskin and/or a rash. To prevent yeast infections of the penis, men are encouraged to clean under the foreskin, and treatment typically involves antifungal cream or oil. Men who have chronic balanitis and are uncircumcised should look into treating themselves for Candida overgrowth and may also wish to consider circumcision.
Treating a one-time yeast infection versus Candida overgrowth takes on two different strategies. The best ways to treat them are topically and through proper nutrition simultaneously. Traditional antifungal treatments are typically effective if it is just a one-time issue. Examples of these are:
- Oral yeast infections are often treated with oral medication and lozenges (i.e., clotrimazole and nystatin).
- Skin, nail infections, jock itch, and athlete's foot are typically treated with creams and ointments (i.e., amphotericin B, clotrimazole, miconazole, clotrimazole, nystatin plus a steroid, ketoconazole, and econazole).
- Vaginal yeast infections are typically treated with suppositories (i.e., clotrimazole, miconazole). However, there are also oral medications such as fluconazole. Often women find that using them for 14 days is helpful to ensure that the yeast is under control if it is an intense infection. If you use a cream or suppository to treat your vaginal yeast infection, you may need to abstain from sex or find alternative birth control methods if you use a latex condom or diaphragm as the oil in some of these medicines can weaken latex.
- Mouth yeast infections are treated with oral medications and mouth rinses (i.e., nystatin).
Candida Rash Tips
Anyone who has had a rash caused by yeast overgrowth knows they itch and often severely. This can cause scratching, which can make it worse and cause damage to the skin. To decrease the itching, many find that using topical analgesic creams or sprays with pain-killing properties is helpful.
Many people also find that taking the over-the-counter allergy medicine and antihistamine Benadryl orally is helpful, especially when trying to sleep. This medication makes most people tired, so make sure that you read the directions carefully and avoid driving or doing anything that would put you at risk when under its influence if you choose to take it.
One of the biggest tips for beating candida skin rashes is to keep them dry. That can be very difficult, considering that most are in skin folds. However, making sure to dry the skin after taking a shower or bath completely is essential, and one can do this by using a very dry towel and then using a fan or hair dryer to blow cool air on the skin surface to make sure it is very dry.
Afterward, some find it helpful to apply an antifungal powder such as Zeasorb antifungal treatment powder. Once the powder is applied, putting a breathable fabric barrier against the skin is beneficial. For example, in having it under the breasts, you can put paper towels or a handkerchief underneath them to wick away sweat and keep the skin dry. If you have a large belly that hangs down, you can roll up cotton underwear or something like it and place it under the belly. Get creative, but keep the skin dry as it will help kill the fungus causing the rash as it can only thrive in a moist environment.
If the rash is in the groin area, you may want to use absorbent sanitary napkins to keep the moisture away from your body. You can sprinkle the antifungal powder on them as well. You can use these in other areas of the body as well.
Most doctors recommend taking medications such as Diflucan for 6-12 weeks. This can contribute to antifungal resistance later. Candidiasis that does not respond to treatment may be due to Candida overgrowth and antifungal resistance from the long-term use of antifungal drugs. New drugs are continually being developed; however, preventative measures through alternative treatments focusing on nutrition may be desirable.
There are also herbal remedies for candida control which often contain garlic, pau d'arco, grapefruit seed extract, black walnut hull, oregano oil, biotin, aloe vera, anise seed, wormwood, and caprylic acid.
Antifungal Drugs Are Not As Effective For Candida Overgrowth Issues
Conventional doctors will typically prescribe antifungal drugs in the form of creams and pills. However, if the issue is more widespread and chronic, these may not address an underlying Candida overgrowth problem.
Conventional medicine typically focuses on reducing symptoms rather than treating the disease of Candida overgrowth. It is good to explore nutritional support by changing your diet to help combat Candida long-term. Below are examples of treatments that have been effective in working for them to address yeast infections. Be careful in using these as some remedies can burn the skin:
Orally and also topically via the powder inside the capsules.
Coconut oil contains caprylic acid, which effectively treats yeast problems. It has been proven through scientific study to be quite effective in combating Candida strains. Make sure to use the purest form through organic, virgin coconut oil. Take 1 Tbs. of coconut oil three times a day for at least a week. You can also buy supplements in capsule form. In addition, you can also apply it topically and put it inside the vagina.
Olive Leaf Oil (Oleuropein)
Studies have shown promising results in taking this as an antifungal supplement by using 250 mg to 500 mg of the extract three times a day. It is considered an antibacterial, antiprotozoal, and antiviral supplement. It has no serious side effects and can also help treat HIV, hepatitis B, C, and herpes.
This effectively kills bacteria and can be used in various ways. Bentonite clay removes oil and toxins from the skin while providing an antimicrobial effect. They effectively treat acne, boils, seborrhoea, ulcers, and fungus. For internal use, mix one teaspoon of clay powder in 2 oz. of water and drink. Mix 1 part clay powder with three parts purified water for topical use.
Tea Tree Oil & Oregano Oil
Ensure the proper concentration for the type of topical yeast infection you have, and never consume tea tree oil. Mixing with a carrier oil is recommended. Neither of these oils should be used for internal yeast infections such as vaginal yeast infection, as it can kill good bacteria.
When used in a 600 mg vaginal suppository twice per day for two weeks, it is effective in women particularly resistant to yeast infection treatments. The boric acid may cause local irritation, so it should be used under the supervision of a physician.
Additional Folk Remedies
Oregon grape root extract, baking soda, plain, unsweetened yogurt with probiotics, lemongrass, urine, aspirin dissolved in rubbing alcohol, colloidal silver, goldenseal, citronella oil, orange oil, onion extract, patchouli, lemon, myrtle, selenium, zinc supplements, calendula, aloe vera gel, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, Epsom salts, cod liver oil.
Herbal Candida Support
There are a few herbal remedies on the market that one can take orally to help clear a yeast infection. These are typically only recommended for adults and women who are not at risk of being pregnant. One such formula is by Now Foods called Candida Support and contains caprylic acid (from magnesium caprylate), pau d'arco, black walnut, oregano powder, garlic, olive leaf, cat's claw root, wormwood herb.
Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
There have been marked results using Chinese herbs and acupuncture to treat candida overgrowth and yeast infections. An acupuncturist should prescribe herbal formulas after you have been seen so that they can recommend one that will be specific to your issues.
Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques
Dr. Devi S. Nambudripad developed the NAET treatment in 1983. The techniques of this treatment are non-invasive, drug-free, and alleviate allergies of all types and intensities. The methods use energy balancing from the following healing modalities: acupuncture, acupressure, allopathy, chiropractic, nutritional, and kinesiological. To learn more about it, you can visit the website: NAET.com.
The candida cleanse diets serve to starve the offending yeast population in order to help get it under control. Typically they last 3-4 weeks. Candida cleanses and eliminates sugar, processed food, alcohol, nuts, cheese, and caffeine. In addition, other foods such as bread, rice, and some fruits should be avoided. Eating foods such as the ones listed above, known for their antifungal properties, are encouraged in addition to probiotic dietary supplements.
Candida Fighting Foods
Fermented Vegetables Vs. Pickled Vegetables
Some say fermented vegetables (cultured vegetables) can cause yeast infections, and those say they can effectively treat yeast infections. So which is true?
When people speak of fermented vegetables in negative terms, they often refer to things like canned or jarred pickles, sauerkraut, etc., which, when bought in the store, are not fermented in a healthy manner; they are pickled. Pickled foods are preserved in an acidic base like vinegar, and while vinegar is a product of fermentation, it does not offer the probiotic and enzymatic value of fermented vegetables. Pickled foods do contribute to yeast infections, while fermented foods do not.
When food is fermented correctly, it preserves it without heat or pressure, unlike the canned and jarred pickled foods in the supermarket. Proper fermentation allows all of the beneficial lactobacilli to thrive, which creates lactic acid, thus increasing the vitamin and enzyme content in the food and improving the digestibility and bioavailability within it.
You can purchase properly fermented foods in some grocery stores but only in the refrigerated section. If canned or in jars and not refrigerated, they are pickled and not properly fermented. They, too, tend to be on the more expensive side, so most people choose to ferment vegetables themselves.
When it comes to vegetable fermentation, it is also crucial that they be appropriately fermented to provide the right health benefits. Vegetables that are fermented do not contribute to yeast infections; rather, they help combat them.
The fermented vegetables that are most effective in treating Candida overgrowth are fermented in an anaerobic vessel or when the vegetables that are fermenting are entirely submerged under the brine. This process starves the vegetables of undesirable bacteria that thrives on oxygen. It better provides those vegetables with the healthiest forms of probiotic strains so that they combat the candida rather than contribute to it.
If you use wild fermentation, Mason jar fermentation, or open crock fermentation, make sure that they are submerged under the brine. You may find that the fermented vegetables do not fight the candida and may even contribute to it.
Cold-pressed Coconut Oil
Make sure to get organic, virgin coconut oil for the purest option. Coconut oil contains caprylic acid and is quite effective as an antifungal agent. Another benefit is that it contains lipase enzymes; however, the lipase enzyme may not be as well absorbed by the body because it is a processed oil. Also, processed oils are easily converted into fat as the body quickly absorbs them in a very short period. In contrast, whole foods like nuts, etc., take a lot more time to digest, and most of the fat is taken out of your system through bowel movements. Much better forms of lipase enzymes are whole foods such as fish, avocados, nuts, and raw coconut.
Garlic contains the compound allicin, a potent antifungal capable of killing Candida albicans. The suggested amount to consume is two raw cloves, or you can take them as supplements in capsules.
Eat almonds raw to get the complete nutrients that contain probiotic properties. Almonds improve digestive health by increasing beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract and contain a high level of alkaline protein.
This improves circulation and metabolism and positively impacts Candida overgrowth. Cayenne pepper can be taken in capsule form, so you do not have to use it on food if you do not desire it.
Unsweetened Yogurt & Kiefer
These contain lactobacillus acidophilus, a type of bacterium that assists in restoring balance to the vagina.
Apple Cider Vinegar With The Mother
Use only Bragg's with the "Mother" in it. When they say the "mother," they refer to the dark, cloudy substance that floats around in the apple cider vinegar. This is from the naturally occurring pectin and is the molecules of protein in apple residues. Because apple cider vinegar is rich in natural enzymes, it can help regulate candida's presence in the body and encourage the growth of healthy bacteria. This, in turn, helps to minimize the overgrowth of candida. You must mix it with water to drink it as it is highly acidic. Also, do not use sugar to sweeten it; rather, use a natural sweetener like stevia.
Other apple cider vinegar does not contain this as they over process, filter, and overheat them killing off the best part. Vinegar, in general, is made in a yeast culture, and this depletes the stomach of acids that can cause inflammation in your gut.
Alternative Treatment To Avoid
Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE / GFSE)
There is conflicting research showing that the seeds and pulp do not contain antimicrobial properties, while others say it does. This conflict is partly because GSE is not just the seeds and pulp of grapefruit; it is made through a process that converts it into a synthetic chemical. It entails that the pulp and seed are dried into a powder and then dissolved into purified water to remove pectin and fiber. Then it is filtered, and the distilled slurry is dried at a low temperature to create a highly concentrated flavonoid powder. It is then dissolved into vegetable glycerine and heated. Later ascorbic acid and food-grade ammonium chloride are added, and it is heated again, this time under pressure. It then goes through a catalytic conversion using hydrochloric acid and natural enzymes until there is no more residue of the hydrochloric acid. Finally, the slurry is filtered and treated with ultraviolet light once it is cool and now it does contain antimicrobial properties.
The most significant controversy regarding it is about potential preservatives in the GSE. Preservatives such as benzethonium chloride, triclosan, methylparaben, and Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, propyl p-hydroxybenzoate are considered to be toxic (particularly when consumed internally) and therefore may cause harm. There are claims that independent tests conducted in multiple labs over 20 years showed that all commercial GSEs had at least one or more synthetic microbicides and disinfectants. However, considering that GSE is in and of itself a synthetic microbicide, that would explain why all of them had at least one. We know about GSE because it is irritating to the skin and can increase inflammation in the body. While it is safer than many other chemical preservatives, it is a synthetic chemical and is not natural.
Personal Lubricants For Yeast Infections
There are only a select few personal lubricants that are good for vaginal health. There are even brands that make lubricants designed to prevent yeast infections.
While coconut oil is excellent for treating yeast infections, it is not recommended as a personal lubricant as oils can clog vaginal ducts and help harbor bacteria, leading to a UTI. In addition, oils can break down condoms and some sex toys. Therefore, if those are being used, it is advised that you specifically find out if the materials in that brand can be used with oil lubricants or err on the side of caution and use water-based lubricants.
Silicone lubricants are okay for vaginal use; however, if you are using certain sex toys, they too can have a chemical reaction with them, so we recommend sticking with water-based lubricants unless you check first.
Finally, we recommend you use only a nontoxic, paraben-free water-based lubricant. Parabens are in many lubricants in drug stores and even given out by doctors' offices. Parabens have been linked to serious health problems. Commonly used parabens include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, so check your labels.
Glycerin & Yeast Infections
There is a lot of concern expressed about glycerin in lubricants for those with chronic yeast infections. However, some of these concerns are not based on accurate information. Glycerin is not sugar; rather, it is a sugar-alcohol compound. There are different types of glycerin, and which grade is used in the lubricant can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the balance of yeast.
The preferred glycerin for lubricant is pharmaceutical or medical-grade as long as it is in amounts that have not raised the osmolality to an unhealthy level. Food-grade glycerin that contains fatty acids is more likely to contribute to increasing osmolality levels and a yeast infection.
Medical & Pharmaceutical Grade Glycerin
Medical glycerin is used for treating glaucoma and reducing pressure in the eyes. Pharmaceutical glycerin is used as a sweetener in cough syrups, throat lozenges, gel capsules, vaginal and anal suppositories, eardrops, skin creams, and eyewash solutions.
Yeast infections can be caused by many things such as hormones, antibiotics, lack of sexual hygiene, the wrong kind of vaginal hygiene, and using something with sugar in your vagina. However, pharmaceutical and medical-grade glycerin is not a sugar or toxic.
Unless you have verification from a manufacturer, there is no way to know if your product's glycerin is medical or pharmaceutical grade or the osmolality levels. Therefore, unless a manufacturer can verify that it is, you may wish to avoid it.
Make sure that you never use something that has sugar in it, in or around the vagina, as it can contribute to a yeast infection. This includes things like whipped cream, chocolate, and honey. This can also include having just had them in your mouth and having the remnants of them in your mouth when you perform oral sex. Also, gum, candy, or mints that have sugar in them that your partner may have recently had in their mouths may also be an increased risk for yeast infections.
See the following lubricant guides for more helpful information:
You should consult your physician should you decide to try an alternative treatment for a yeast infection or Candida overgrowth. It may cause further health problems if you take it with another medication or have a health condition that may become exacerbated by the alternative treatment. Also, research alternative treatments to discern if they make sense for you.