Thrush is an itch you can't scratch, at least, not in public. The recurring irritation, itching and pain that it causes can go on for days if not weeks. I'm very lucky that I've only had it a few times and it was so long ago I can hardly remember it. But I remember the itching. My thrush experience was brought about from the contraceptive pill changing the environment of the vagina. In my case, stopping the contraceptive pill is what made all the difference. But we are all different and the causes will be different for each individual. It's important to always bare this in mind when treating anything yourself. The advice given here is a thorough look at the symptoms of Candida and how to alleviate them. I've tried to point out the most likely causes but if you've had it for a long time, and you haven't got to the bottom of it, save yourself some money on over-the-counter remedies that don't work and just go see a herbalist. It will save you money in the long run. Trust me.
Thrush is caused by a fungus called candida. It is a natural part of our digestive and vaginal flora. But sometimes we change our internal environment enough for it to really thrive and reproduce at a rate that leads to the symptoms of thrush. Very mild cases of vaginal thrush may clear up within a few days but most need treatment.
Possible symptoms of vaginal thrush include;
- itching and irritation of the vulva
- pain on urinating
- vaginal discharge which is odourless
- thick and white or thin and watery
- pain while having sex
- red and cracked skin around the vulva
- recurring cystitis
- pre-menstrual and menstrual problems
If thrush is left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body. It's rare to get serious side-effects from vaginal thrush but it's a clear sign that you are not living a healthy life and therefore shouldn't be ignored.
- High sugar diet
- Sex before you've created enough natural lubrication, the friction on a dry vagina can cause it. it's not a serially transmitted infection it can simply be triggered by the act of sex. It can also be passed on to partners if it's bad enough.
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Immunodeficiency such as in chemotherapy (or even just long-term stress)
- Inhaled corticosteroids
SIDE NOTE ON INTESTINAL CANDIDA: Candida has become a very popular diagnosis in recent years but the symptoms of it look so similar to other things it's often hard to diagnose. The ONLY precise way is to have your stools cultured. I would recommend this if you've struggled with what you think is candida and have never managed to get abreast of the situation. The treatment for candida in the gut is often harsh and can do more harm than good if a correct diagnosis isn't found.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES
These are changes which you should try to make if you want to avoid getting thrush. If you follow this advice but still get recurring infections I would recommend seeing a herbalist.
- Low sugar diet to prevent thrush
- No sugar whatsoever while treating thrush
- Wear natural fibre underwear such as cotton
- Avoid tight fitting underwear which doesn't allow air to the vagina
- Always follow antibiotics with a course of probiotics
- Avoid yeast (minimise bread and mushrooms as much as possible)
This is what to take while you have an infection.
- Garlic. Slice up a raw clove and have it on a small piece of buttered toast each morning, or get Alicin max capsules which don't taste of garlic at all.
- Bio-live yoghurt. Eat a cup of plain yoghurt 2-3 times a day
- Apple cider vinegar. Put a tablespoon in a glass of warm water each morning, add a dash of lemon juice to help the taste a bit. This will help change the pH of the vagina making it less hospitable for Candida.
- Probiotics. I particularly recommend the Bio-kult brand which make one specifically for thrush.
These herbs can be combined any which way you want. But there should be more Anti-fungal herbs than there are immune enhancing ones and just a dash of the blood sugar balancing herbs. There are many more herbs under each category but I have chosen the most commonly found wild ones or the ones most strongly associated with Candida.
- Anti-fungal; Marigold (Calendula officinalis), Bearberry (Berberis vulgaris), Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris).
- Immune enhancing; Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia or purpureum), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Nettle seed (Urtica dioica fruct.)
- Blood-sugar balancing; Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanica), Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinalis rad.)
I try to use herbs which are easy to grow and find in the UK so I don't usually use Goldenseal which is a commonly recommended herb. It is also endangered and should not be used unless absolutely necessary. These other herbs have worked just as well in my practice as a sustainable alternative.
The anti-fungal herbs will help to kill the Candida albicans and improve the balance of flora in the vagina. They are often anti-inflammatory too so will help with the itching and irritation. The immune enhancing herbs help to improve the immune system so that it can combat the Candida itself. The blood-sugar balancing herbs do just that. This helps to stop feeding the Candida as they live off sugars.
THRUSH TINCTURE RECIPE
- Marigold (Calendula officinalis) 30ml
- Bearberry (Berberis vulgaris) 10ml
- Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) 20ml
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) 5ml
- Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia or purpureum) 20ml
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanica) 5ml
- Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinalis rad.) 10ml
I would recommend taking 10ml 3 times a day while you have symptoms and for a day after they go away.
I'd recommend using either Tea tree or Marigold pessaries while you have thrush. Put one in the vagina each night and wear panties to bed as they will melt and leak slightly. Most of it will be absorbed into the vagina. I particularly like to use these if the vagina feels dry and irritated after sex. The friction of sex on a relatively dry vagina can result in Cystitis and Thrush symptoms from the heat created. Pessaries are not easy to find over the counter. I'd recommend finding your local herbalist. http://www.nimh.org.uk/?page_id=1627
EMOTIONAL CAUSES OF VAGINAL THRUSH
I don't want to over-generalise here so it's important that you know each person will get Thrush for different emotional reasons. These are simply questions worth asking yourself if you experience Thrush. It may not resonate with you at all and that's fine too. These are only suggestions for personal inquiry and how you relate to your body.
Thrush is a pattern of inflammation and irritation with heat. This hints to a possible irritation emotionally relating to sex or intimacy in a more metaphorical sense. I have seen a pattern of Thrush and Cystitis in women who have been sexually abused in the past but this is probably the most extreme emotional explanation of Thrush. Somatisation of emotions are not as literal as sometimes explained. Problems in the vagina are not always in relation to sex itself but rather how we are intimate with others in the emotional sense.
Thrush may point to a more subtle form of sexual discomfort such as for those that grew up in a household which was not supportive of the expression of intimacy through sex. If you have recurring Thrush it's good to question if you're having sex and/or being intimate with the right person? Do you feel like you're being taken advantage of? Are changes occurring which has upset the balance inside you? Is there a sexual passion rising in you which is not being fully expressed?
In some women, the symptoms of Thrush seem to come back over and over. Sometimes it seems there is little respite from one infection to the next. If you have tried the advice above and are still getting Thrush regularly it's important to seek individualised treatment from a Herbalist. To talk about treatment plans with me you can book a free chat here.
This is just one way to treat vaginal thrush naturally. I'd love to hear about any home remedies you use which haven't been listed. Just put it in the comments below and hopefully we can put a stop to antibiotic use for Thrush.
Disclaimer: this information is for educational purposes only and should not be used without advice from your medical practitioner especially if you are already taking any medicines.