Chronic Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are aggravating and distracting. Recurrent yeast infections are even worse: there is not much more frustrating then treating a yeast infection only to have it show up again. And again. They interrupt your life and you just want them gone! Over-the-counter yeast treatments are readily available in our supermarkets and drug stores and they are cheap and easy.
But what if there was another way to treat and manage vaginal yeast? A way that took the whole woman into account?

What are Yeast Infections?

Yeast infections are an overgrowth of the organism candida albicans. Normally, candida and good bacteria exists in low numbers in the vagina as "normal flora". Sometimes, birth control pills, stress, antibiotics, douching, and hormonal imbalances can alter the environment of the "normal flora" and kill the good bacteria. These bacteria live along with the yeast, Candida albicans, and compete for food from our body. The presence of the bacteria does not permit the yeast to grow more than what it should. But when the good bacteria are killed, it results in the abnormal growth of this yeast, and can result in candidiasis or yeast infection.
Typically the vagina is the most influenced. These yeast infections may also be caused by a fall in the body's acidic level, which can occur during menstruation and even at the time of many sicknesses like diabetes or HIV. In treatment of recurrent yeast infections, determining an underlying cause is important.

Symptoms of Yeast Infections?

Symptoms can include chronic vaginal discharge, unpleasant odor, redness or itching. It is important to talk with a doctor about your symptoms, because bacterial vaginosis can look and feel like a yeast infection, but requires a totally different treatment. For example, often, when we treat with an over-the-counter topical yeast cream, the cream can cause more burning and irritation than the infection!

Holistic Treatment of Chronic Yeast Infections

In holistic and Chinese herbal medicine, there are several herbs and therapies that have been used traditionally to treat yeast infections.
Diet is important: avoiding sugar, artificial sweeteners, cheese, and alcohol may be beneficial. Eating yogurt with live cultures of acidophilus can introduce good bacteria which can help keep yeast numbers in check. Garlic can be beneficial for its anti-fungal properties.
Nutrient deficiencies can contribute to yeast overgrowth: make sure you are taking a good multivitamin that is rich in vitamin A, B6, zinc, magnesium, and essential fatty acids. Several herbs may have the ability to reduce fungus, others can be beneficial to boost the immune system. These herbs include calendula, echinacea, german chamomile, ginger, rosemary, tea tree and thyme. Other alternative therapies for yeast infection include aromatherapy, ayurvedic medicine, detoxification, hydrotherapy, and mind/body medicine.
Prevention is as important as the cure. The simplest method is to make sure that you use pantyhose and underwear with a cotton crotch so that the area breathes. Most organisms thrive in warm moist conditions with adequate nutrients and low oxygen levels. If you swim during the warmer months, make sure to avoid sitting around in a wet bathing suit for long periods.
There are a host of alternative treatments and preventions available for women suffering from chronic or recurrent vaginal yeast: talking with a holistic or integrative practitioner may be beneficial to you.
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