Yeast infections 

Candida albicans is a small budding fungus commonly found in the bowel. It only becomes a problem when the immune system is compromised, for example by antibiotics, the contraceptive pill, corticosteroids, chemotherapy, stress, ME, and AIDS. Then it can overgrow and destroy all the normal flora in the vagina and bowel, and can even be life threatening in people with seriously compromised immune systems.

Many treatments for candidiasis rely on removing yeast from the diet – this includes bread, fruit, alcohol, cheese, and fermented yeast products. However it is better to make your body healthy enough to fight the fungal overgrowth by boosting the immune system, restoring normal body flora, and restoring the normal acid pH level of the vagina.

Your diet should include garlic, raw if possible, onions, dark green leafy vegetables, and plenty of vegetables. Keep fruit low as it contains sugar. Lemons, grapefruit, unsweetened cranberry juice, live yogurt and cider vinegar should form part of your daily diet as they are very useful acidifying foods. If you eat meat this should only be organic as other meat (and dairy foods) will contain antibiotics and hormones. Avoid refined and processed foods, especially carbohydrates, and avoid sugar, tea, coffee and alcohol.

When there is a vaginal infection you may have a creamy discharge with a yeasty smell, and an insatiable desire to itch. Sexual intercourse is best avoided or use a condom. Once you resume intercourse it is important to pass urine after making love in order to flush out the alkali semen that can trigger another attack. It is important for both partners to treat themselves as infections will only be passed back again.

Tights and tight jeans or leggings should be avoided; air should be allowed to circulate as much as possible.

Treatment and self help

Useful herbs : yarrow, sage, lavender

Essential oils : tea tree, lavender, oregano

Make a strong tea with the herbs, infusing them for 20 minutes or so, add 1-2 drops of each of the essential oils to each pint of tea and use this in a bidet, a bath or as a penis soak. Dry the area well afterwards, using a hairdrier to finish off as candida thrives in a warm, moist environment.

Pessaries – use peeled garlic clove wrapped in muslin leaving a tail for retrieval. This can be made stronger by nicking or bruising the garlic. Do this during the day so that if you experience a burning sensation you can remove the garlic. Change the garlic every three or four hours. Tea tree pessaries are also good. Douching with cider vinegar, acidophilus and the herbs previously mentioned may also be helpful. Live yogurt applied directly will alleviate burning and itching temporarily.

A bowel cleanse is essential (see my  contacts list  for a list of local herbalists) as the bowel is the main area where the candida lives. Simply treating the symptoms will not clear up the problem and candida infections will recur unless the whole system is treated properly. Acidophilus is a useful supplement to the diet as it repopulates the bowel with useful bacteria which will help to fight off the candida.

Immune boosting herbs should also form part of the treatment, these might include echinacea, siberian ginseng and especially a South American herb called Pau d’arco. Pau d’arco can be taken as a tea – one ounce to one pint of water, simmered for 20 minutes, two cups a day. I also prescribe some very special aromatic waters made by an exclusive distillation process which have proved very successful in fighting candida.

All herbs  for immune boosting and bowel cleansing are available from herbalists.