Yeast Infection (Holistic)

About This Condition

Yeast infection means fungal overgrowth. Vaginal yeast infections are one of the most common reasons women seek healthcare. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Switch to cotton underwear

    Avoid the increased risks of yeast infection associated with nylon underwear and tights

  • Try beneficial bacteria

    To prevent the overgrowth of yeast organisms, eat yogurt containing live acidophilus cultures daily, and use acidophilus topically as vaginal suppositories or a douche

  • Ask about problem medicines

    Discuss with your doctor whether you can avoid taking antibiotics, oral contraceptives, or adrenal corticosteroids (such as prednisone) that may lead to yeast infection


About This Condition

Yeast infections usually result from an overgrowth of a species of fungus called Candida albicans. They can occur on the skin, under nails or mucous membranes of the mouth, vagina, bronchi, and lungs.

Vaginal yeast infections are one of the most common reasons that women consult healthcare professionals.


Yeast infections are a type of vaginitis. The hallmark symptom of a yeast infection is itching of the external and internal genitalia, which is often associated with a white discharge that can be thick and/or curdy (like cottage cheese). Severe infections lead to inflammation of the tissue and subsequent redness, swelling, and even pinpoint bleeding.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

According to one study, yeast infections are three times more common in women who wear nylon underwear or tights, than in those who wear cotton underwear.1 Additional predisposing factors for Candida infection include the use of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, or adrenal corticosteroids (such as prednisone).

Underlying health conditions that may predispose someone to Candida overgrowth include pregnancy, diabetes, and HIV infection. Allergies have also been reported to promote the development of recurrent yeast vaginitis. In a preliminary trial, when the allergens were avoided and the allergies treated, the chronic recurrent yeast infections frequently resolved.2 In most cases, sexual transmission does not play a role in yeast infection. However, in persistent cases, sexual transmission should be considered, and the sexual partner should be examined and treated.

Eating Right

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

Eat a well-balanced diet
A diet low in fats, sugars, and refined foods may help prevent yeast infections. Many doctors also recommend avoiding dairy products, artificial sweeteners, refined carbs, and fruit and fruit juices.

Some doctors believe that a well-balanced diet low in fats, sugars, and refined foods is important for preventing vaginal infections caused by Candida. In one preliminary trial, avoidance of sugar, dairy products, and artificial sweeteners resulted in a sharp reduction in the incidence and severity of Candida vaginitis. Many doctors advise women who have a yeast infection (or are predisposed to such infections), to limit their intake of sugar, fruit juices, and refined carbohydrates. For persistent or recurrent infections, some doctors recommend that fruit also be avoided.

Another trial found that dramatic increases in intake of several sugars in healthy people partially increased stool sample levels of Candida, but only in 12 out of 28 people.


What Are Star Ratings?
3 Stars
Lactobacillus acidophilus
3 capsules or 1/4 tsp powder, taken by mouth three times daily, or use powder in douche or vaginal suppositories daily
Supplementing with probiotics may prevent the overgrowth of yeast organisms.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a species of friendly bacteria that is an integral part of normal vaginal flora. Lactobacilli help to maintain the vaginal ecosystem by preventing the overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria and Candida. Lactobacilli produce lactic acid, which acts like a natural antibiotic.

Lactobacillus acidophilus can be taken orally in the form of acidophilus yogurt, or in capsules or powder. It can also be administered vaginally. In a controlled trial, women who consumed 8 ounces of Lactobacillus acidophilus-containing yogurt per day had a threefold decrease in the incidence of vaginal yeast infections and a reduction in the frequency of Candida colonization in the vagina. In another trial, women who were predisposed to vaginal Candida infection because they were HIV-positive received either Lactobacillus acidophilus vaginal suppositories, the antifungal drug, clotrimazole (e.g., Gyne-Lotrimin®), or placebo weekly for 21 months. Compared to those receiving placebo, women receiving Lactobacillus acidophilus suppositories had only half the risk of experiencing an episode of Candida vaginitis—a result almost as good as that achieved with clotrimazole.

Many women find relief using an acidophilus-containing yogurt douche daily for a few days or weeks, depending on the severity of the infection. Three capsules of acidophilus or one-quarter teaspoon of powder can be taken orally one to three times daily. Acidophilus can also be taken preventively during antibiotic use to reduce the risk of Candida vaginitis.

2 Stars
Boric Acid
Insert vaginal suppositories containing 600 mg twice per day
Boric acid capsules inserted in the vagina have been used successfully as a treatment for vaginal yeast infections.

Boric acid capsules inserted in the vagina have been used successfully as a treatment for vaginal yeast infections. One study demonstrated that 85% of women who used boric acid vaginal suppositories were cured of chronic recurring yeast vaginitis. These women had all previously failed to respond to treatment with conventional antifungal medicines. The suppositories, which contained 600 mg of boric acid, were inserted vaginally twice a day for two weeks, then continued for an additional two weeks if necessary. Boric acid should never be swallowed.

2 Stars
Tea Tree
Swish 15 ml of a 5% or less solution in mouth for 30 to 60 seconds four times per day, then spit out
One trial found that a mouthwash with diluted tea tree oil was effective in decreasing the growth of Candida albicans in people with oral Candida infections (thrush).

A small, preliminary trial found that a mouthwash with diluted tea tree oil was effective in decreasing the growth of Candida albicans and in improving symptoms in AIDS patients with oral Candida infections (thrush) that had not responded to drug therapy. People in the study took 15 ml of the oral solution (dilution of tea tree oil was not given) four times per day and were instructed to swish it in their mouth for 30 to 60 seconds and then spit it out. For use of tea tree oil as a mouthwash, one should not exceed a 5% dilution and should be extremely careful not to swallow the solution.

1 Star
Refer to label instructions
The essential oil of cinnamon contains various chemicals that are believed to be responsible for cinnamon’s antifungal effects.

The essential oil of cinnamon contains various chemicals that are believed to be responsible for cinnamon’s medicinal effects. Important among these compounds are eugenol and cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamaldehyde and cinnamon oil vapors exhibit extremely potent antifungal properties in test tubes. In a preliminary study in people with AIDS, topical application of cinnamon oil was effective against oral thrush.

1 Star
Refer to label instructions
Echinacea, which enhances immune function, has been used successfully to treat yeast infections.

Many doctors recommend that people with recurrent yeast infections take measures to support their immune system. Echinacea, which has the capacity to enhance immune function, is often used by people who suffer from recurrent infections. In one study, women who took echinacea experienced a 43% decline in the recurrence rate of yeast infections.

1 Star
Refer to label instructions
Oil of oregano has been shown to effectively inhibit the growth of Candida albicans.

A test tube study demonstrated that oil of oregano, and an extract in the oil called carvacrol in particular, inhibited the growth of Candida albicans far more effectively than a commonly employed antifungal agent called calcium magnesium caprylate. However, clinical studies are needed to confirm these actions in humans.


1. Heidrich F, Berg A, Gergman R, et al. Clotting factors and vaginitis. J Family Pract 1984;19:491-4.

2. Kudelco N. Allergy in chronic monilial vaginitis. Ann Allergy 1971;29:266-7.

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