Thrush is a fungal infection caused by the overgrowth of the Candida albicans yeast and can occur in warm, moist areas of the body such as the vagina, groin area, mouth, gut and skin. Candida albicans is a commensal yeast which means that it is always present in the human body, however, it only causes symptoms during times of overgrowth. This can occur due to incoming foods that are feeding the yeast or due to damage of the other microbe populations in the gut and/or vagina.
The main symptoms of vaginal thrush include a thick white discharge, intense itch or pain, swelling and redness of the genitals. Some people will also experience a white coating on their tongue, digestive disturbances or notice their sexual partner also complaining of genital irritation which is usually because the Candida yeast has spread between them during intercourse.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
LOOSE CLOTHING & NATURAL FIBRES: Symptoms of itching, pain and redness can be alleviated by removing irritants in the form of tight fitting clothing such as yoga pants, synthetic underwear, some soaps and other chemical irritants. By switching to cotton or bamboo underwear, reducing time spent in swimwear and wearing loose pants, irritation of the area is minimised giving you some relief.
GARLIC: Adding garlic to your meals or if you’re brave enough, crushing a clove into a small glass of water and shotting it back while you have thrush may help to give an anti-fungal boost to your body. Studies have found that chemicals in garlic have the ability to enter into the Candida cells and destroy them from the inside out!
PROBIOTICS: The Saccharomyces boulardii (SB) yeast has been found to reduce Candida infections in the gut and may be a useful probiotic supplement for combatting thrush. Other strains that have been shown to have a therapeutic effect on the vaginal microbiome include Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
HERBAL MEDICINE: There are many herbs that have anti-fungal and anti-microbial actions that directly target the Candida albicans yeast, however, it is best to speak to a qualified naturopath or herbalist so they can prescribe the right herbal mix for your body at a safe and therapeutic dose.
ANTI-CANDIDA DIET: There is some evidence to suggest that an anti-candida diet may help to reduce thrush. This includes cutting out sugars such as breads, fruit juices, sweetened and processed food which feed the yeasts in the gut. However, as Candida albicans is a commensal yeast, starving them completely may encourage survival mechanisms and proliferation. Moderation is key, cutting out excess refined sugars is good for your health for many reasons!
SEXUAL ABSTINENCE: Unfortunately until you have your thrush under control, abstaining from sex is necessary to avoid passing the infection on to your partner who may then pass it back to you. Sex can also cause inflammation and irritation of the vaginal canal resulting in micro-tears where Candida albicans can hide out and flourish.
If you have any questions or you would like some help with this, please contact me for an appointment.