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Natural Remedies for Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are pretty common to the female experience.  We all have yeast inside of us, both “good” and “bad”, but there are times that things can get unbalanced, and the “bad” yeast takes over.  It’s never pleasant, but it doesn’t have to mean that we immediately reach for over-the-counter medical concoctions or prescription pills. Here are a few tips for both prevention and treatment of yeast infections – naturally.

1) Probiotics

I’ve sung the praises of probiotics before, when I shared about staying healthy while you travel. Probiotics are a powerful ally against yeast overgrowth. All that beneficial bacteria helps control the yeast and keeps things healthy – and this is especially true if you are taking antibiotics.

Don’t wait until your round of antibiotics is over to start taking probiotics; begin right away, so that as the antibiotics are killing off all of the bacteria inside you (good and bad alike), you are replenishing the good bacteria. Many people find that they develop yeast infections during or just after taking antibiotics. Probiotics are the solution here.

Probiotic capsules will work, but so will eating lots of plain yogurt or other cultured foods and drinks, such as lacto-fermented pickles and kombucha.  Personally, I take a probiotic capsule everyday, and I also include cultured foods in my diet on a regular basis.

2) Cut Out the Sugar

This sounds simple: sugar feeds yeast.  If you have a yeast infection, cut out the sugar from your diet.  However, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds if you’re a real sugar lover.

Photo by kate fisher

With a very bad or persistent infection, you will need to cut out sugar completely – that means not just sweets, but also sweetened beverages, foods with added sugar, potatoes, white rice, white flour, and even fruits.  All of these foods are going to feed the yeast, but you want it to starve, not thrive. Cut out the sugar and the yeast will not have any food to live on.

3) Garlic

Garlic is one of nature’s most powerful anti-yeast foods.  The best way to capture its health benefits is by consuming it raw. Find some ways to add some raw garlic into your diet while you are fighting a yeast infection: minced and tossed in salad, for example.  Or, try mincing it and stirring it into plain yogurt (along with some chives and dill, perhaps) for a yummy vegetable dip; with both garlic and yogurt, it’s a double whammy!

If you can’t stomach it raw, you will still benefit from eating it cooked.  Garlic capsules are also available over-the-counter, but I should add that I don’t have any experience with these, so I can’t testify to their effectiveness.

Another way to use garlic in the fight against a yeast infection is as a suppository. Stick with me now, because this is going to sound crazy.  (I thought so at first!)  A health & wellness practitioner once recommended this method to me, and I can assure you that it works amazingly well.  Here’s what you do:

  1. Carefully peel a glove of fresh garlic, making sure the clove stay pretty well intact, without nicks.
  2. Thread a needle with some sturdy thread (regular all-purpose thread will work fine) and push the needle all the way through the garlic in the fattest part of the clove.
  3. Draw the thread through the clove and when you have about four-six inches of thread on both sides of the garlic, cut the thread and knot the two ends together.  This string will be used to remove the garlic, just like the string on a tampon.
  4. Before you go to bed, use your finger to insert the garlic vaginally, then don’t get out of bed again until morning (or else it might fall out!).  In the morning, gently use the string to remove the garlic and throw it away.

Depending on the severity of the infection, you may have to do this for more than one night.  Also, it may possibly burn a little bit.  But all I can say is that it works.  And if you combine this method with the other tips above, you will most likely be infection-free lickety-split.

Do you have other tips and suggestions for fighting yeast overgrowth naturally? We would love to hear them!

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  1. Meghan

    Wow, that garlic tip is kind of awesome. I will give that a try. I had issues with yeast that was almost completely out of control a few years ago. I was using probiotics and the drugs and just couldn’t get rid of it. For people who might have a similar issue (and these tips aren’t working for them), there is a product called Candex sold at Whole Foods. It completely cured me. Here’s the thing, it’s super expensive, like $50 for a big bottle. But I was that desperate, so it might be worth it. Obviously it is a way last resort.

  2. Kara

    How interesting! I knew about probiotics (and less/no sugar makes complete common sense), but raw garlic? Who knew! If I ever get an infection, I’ll be sure to try these tips.

    On a similar note, might we cover natural remedies for bladder/urinary tract infections? All the cranberry juice in the world has yet to save me from that torture.

    • Naomi

      Kara-try a cranberry supplement. I take 500mg cranberry extract daily for prevention. It’s way more potent than drinking the juice. Plus, it’s a great anti-oxidant.

      • Kara

        Thanks, Naomi. I didn’t know there were supplements.

    • greendragonfly

      My urologist (yes, I’m under 70 and have one of those) said that cranberry juice actually irritates the lining of the bladder making things worse. She says that the reason cranberry juice works is because folks drink so much of it that it flushes the infection out… but then went on to recommend a cranberry supliment…. Theracran was the one that she told me to use. I did, I didn’t get any more infections, but there are bigger issues beyond the UTIs…

      That said, to avoid infections, drink a LOT of water. And if you see blood in your pee, get thee self to a doc immediately, even if you have to go to the ER. (At that point, no amount of natural remedies or cranberry juice or water are going to help.) I didn’t and now have other lovely problems.

      Finally, if you keep getting infections despite diet and water changes… go to a urologist. Other conditions present themselves via infections. You need to figure it out before they get worse.

  3. LaToya

    This is wonderful. I have a health condition that requires me to be on daily antibiotics for the rest of my life. Probiotics have helped me immensely to fight of yeast infections. You just have to remember not to take probiotic and antibiotic at the same time. Try to space them out evenly. If you take antibiotics on the morning and at night then take the probiotic in the afternoon. I didn’t figure this out until I had a yeast infection for about a month and was loosing my noodle over it.

  4. EmJay

    My daughter has a tendency to get a yeasty, diaper rash with antibiotic use. I assume it is the same process happening. I make a apple cider vinegar solution (1:3 vinegar: water) and spray it on the rash area. In addition, to letting her air things out on a regular basis. Seems to help clear it up pretty quickly.

    • Meg

      Great tip EmJay! My daughter is having the same problem right now and we haven’t had too much luck getting rid of the yeast rash. I’ll try this one!

  5. Maegan

    A very timely article for me! Thanks for the tips.

  6. Cara

    My son just had a yeast diaper rash and thrush. I’m nursing so I cut out processed sugar, used grapefruit seed extract diluted in water on the rash and I took some as well, I also used it to clean his cloth diapers, in the rinse cycle. Vinegar or baking soda are good to keep it at bay as well. Yeast likes a neutral pH so you can throw it off one way or the other with either vinegar or baking soda.

    • greendragonfly

      I LOVE grapefruit seed extract (GSE)!!!! I’ve used it for years to treat the yeasty beasties and even had my hubby take it so that we’d stop swapping the yeasties between us. Taken orally (there are tablets) it works wonders in a few days. It also treats a lot of other things, like toe nail fungus and other infections. I LOVE it. I also used it to treat the mildew in my cloth diapers, only thing that saved them.

  7. Naomi

    If I feel like I’m starting to get a yeast infection, at the first sign of irritation, I use some organic unrefined coconut oil topically. And eat some plain yogurt. Clears it right up!

  8. Laura

    This is so helpful! Seriously. I get yeast infections in my ears (gross!!), and I recently saw garlic ear drops at the health food store — aha! Now I *know* I have to try them! Thanks. 🙂

  9. Lauren

    I was fighting a recurring vaginal yeast infection for some time (meaning it would crop up whenever I had my period). The usual OTC treatments weren’t working, and oral fluconazole would only supress it for a short time. The candida cleansing diets that I read about are, frankly, beyond absurd and didn’t seem like a reasonable solution whatsoever.

    I found a tip regarding the strong anti-fungal properties of tea tree oil and oil of oregano, and some advice for using them on a tampon as a remedy for yeast infections. So I followed the instructions – I dipped a tampon in lubricant (I used astroglide, but others will use just about any non-irritating clean oil), put a few drops each of tea tree oil and oil of oregano on the tampon while using the oil applicator to sort of spread the drops around, and inserted it. I left the tampon in for a few hours, about four or so. I did this every day for one week, and took oil of oregano orally at the same time. Holy smackers, did it ever work! I had complete symptom relief after about four days, but kept it up for the whole week as symptom relief often doesn’t mean full removal of the infection. The infection has not come back – I’ve been completely free of it for months now.

    A couple of notes:

    1) the various bits of advice I found only said to use one kind of oil – tea tree or oregano, but I figured that seeing as I had both types on me and different plants have different properties, I’d use them both. I have never tried this with only one variety of oil.

    2) Yes, the essential/extract oil bottles say not to use it on sensitive skin or mucosal linings. But I figured that if tea tree oil has historically been used as an antiseptic on open wounds, I could jolly well use it vaginally. It actually wasn’t bad at all. It is a little “spicy”, but I imagine that there are several varieties of “pleasure enhancing” lubricant out on the market that give the same sensation. The spicy sensation went down after about 10 minutes, and by the third day I didn’t notice it *at all*. Instead, I found the sensation to be somewhat cooling and relieving.

  10. mamaTAVE

    Sugar is a hard one for me, especially since my body (well, the yeast, I suppose) is craving it at these times!

  11. jackie s

    hello, do you know of any natural remedies for ear infections. we dont have health insurance and my 1 year old seems to have one.. ive read extra virgin olive oil with garlic dropped into his ear would work, i just dont want to make matters worse.. please email me..thanks!

  12. Michal Day

    I have used a homeade douche, mixing distilled water, acidopholous (the powder from the capsules, a few drops of tea tree oil, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a tiny pinch of salt, and one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide or so ( I vary the amount). **I was given this recipe by a respected and effective herbalist. It works, but it takes a bit to kick the yeast so what I do is use it for maintenance at this point…like if you feel you are getting a yeast infection, this douche will prevent it. Buy the vinegar/water ‘ready-made’ douches and then rinse them out really good. This is what I do to make these. **Keep in mind that yeast morphs and will get ‘resistant’ to repetitive treatments, so make sure to vary your treatments for yeast each month or so. **try homeopathics alongside these douches, and your probiotics and anti-yeast herbs and you got a remedy that is lethal for those yeasties!

  13. L

    Try Threelac…it’s live acidophilus…you mix a packet with water at least 3 x per day…will really clean out the Candida….

  14. Chrissy

    I have found that at the onset of a yeast infection a combination of herbs and lots of water help me . For the itch I apply aloe Vera gel with a q-tip. I then start taking cranberry pills with acidophilus supplements 3x a day. In addition to that I mix. 3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of water once a day, generally first thing in the morning . By day 3 I notice a significant difference little to no itching I continue for at least 7 days total even if I am no longer itching. I feel thus method is natural and works with your body and less messier than those creams and stuff . This is just my personal experience .

  15. Donna

    I am a 57 yr old and have had trouble with yeast infections off and on all of my life. Today I found you with a search because I was desperate for some kind of solution that did not invovle doctors and more medications. These are what got me in this mess to begin with. I want you to know that not more than a few minutes after inserting the garlic suppository I could tell that it was doing it’s job kicking those nasties butts !! Thank you so much for your advice. This which I will use for two nights along with the ACV and a probiotic regimin for the next week should kick all those nasies to the curb. Now I know what to do so it doesn’t take over my life like this again. Thanks again for all the help.

  16. Casey

    May be TMI, but I take probiotics every day and I eat yogurt. However, every single time I have to take antibiotics I STILL get a bad yeast infection! Why is that?

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