In many ways, I’m a hippie. I don’t eat meat, I have a box of patchouli incense on my bookshelf, and I listen to a fair amount of Phish. While some of this has spread over to the ways in which I approach health issues, I’ve also got a fair amount of skepticism when it comes to the various headlines of Natural Remedies That Really Work!1!!
But just because some headlines take things a bit too far, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some good approaches out there, too, especially for yeast infections. One caveat for all of these – if you’re experiencing symptoms for the first time, please get checked out by a healthcare provider. You might be dealing with a run-of-the-mill yeast infection, but it might be something more serious, and getting the right diagnosis is key to getting the right treatment, and to feeling better.
Yogurt and Probiotics
Yogurt with live cultures can be a great topical treatment to soothe a yeast infection, and some folks have gotten really crafty and made yogurt popsicles to bring a cool approach to using it internally. This is probably best suited for if you know your body well and catch things early, or if you’re wanting to head an infection off because you’re on antibiotics. However, it’s probably not going to be enough to re-establish balance if your infection is fully-fledged.
You can also use probiotic capsules, so long as they also contain live cultures of lactobacillus acidophilus, but know that randomized tests on these types of treatment haven’t reached any definite conclusions. So long as your yogurt doesn’t have any sugar, sweeteners or flavors, you won’t be making things worse, though.
No matter how much garlic you eat, it won’t have an effect on your yeast infection. And to date, there haven’t been any studies showing garlic’s effectiveness at treating yeast infections when used internally. Most treatment regimes require a long-term approach, which can make it a lot less appealing than quicker remedies.
Finally, the same aspects of garlic that make it a good candidate for stopping yeast production can make it really irritating to your vagina. If you do want to try this method, though, please go slowly – a clove that’s been cut in half will be a lot more potent than one that’s only been peeled, and adding more irritation to an already painful area isn’t doing your body any favors.
This one’s interesting. It’s definitely effective, and can often be what health care providers prescribe for recurring yeast infections (more than 4/year). However, boric acid is poisonous if it’s taken orally, so you’ve got to be quite careful around kids and pets. And it can be very irritating to your skin if the preparation isn’t right – you can get a compounding pharmacy to help prepare the suppositories to avoid this. If you’re having recurring infections, though, it’s best to check in with your healthcare provider – there might be some underlying issues that are causing the recurrence, and you’ll want to be able to treat those, rather than always playing catch-up.
Your best tool – yourself
Whether you’re treating your infection with a commercial, over the counter approach, a DIY home remedy, or a prescription, you’re the one in the best position to know what’s working. If something that’s supposed to soothe you instead is making your vulva more irritated, don’t push though it! Not all treatments work for all people, and even something you’ve used in the past may be having a difficult interaction with your system this time.