Vaginal thrush is a type of infection that most women suffer from. In fact, it affects up to 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lifetimes. Some women may even experience more than one episode of it.
Vaginal thrush, also known as a vaginal yeast infection or candidal vulvovaginitis, occurs due to excessive growth of yeast (candida) in the vagina.
Under normal circumstances, the vagina contains a balanced mix of yeast, including candida, and bacteria. The bacteria produce acid, which prevents yeast overgrowth. When the balance between the naturally occurring yeast and good bacteria gets disrupted, it causes a yeast infection.
The most common symptom of vaginal thrush is itching in the vagina and the vulva, which may be severe. Other symptoms include a burning sensation with urination, white and thick vaginal discharge having an appearance like cottage cheese, severe pain during intercourse, and redness and soreness around the vagina.
Though not classified as a sexually transmitted infection, this problem is more common in women who are frequently sexually active. Some of the other risk factors include taking antibiotics, pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes, impaired immunity, HIV/AIDS and use of oral contraceptives or hormone therapy that increases estrogen levels in the body.
Most cases of vaginal thrush are easily treatable. If you would like to avoid taking prescription medication, you can give natural home remedies a try.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for vaginal thrush.
Yogurt contains good bacteria or probiotics and thus helps maintain the proper balance of good bacteria to keep yeast from overgrowing.
A 1992 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that daily ingestion of 8 ounces of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus decreased both candidal colonization and infection.
Another 2012 study published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that the mixture of bee-honey and yogurt produced a high clinical cure rate and a reasonable mycological cure rate in patients with vulvo-vaginal candidiasis during pregnancy.
A 2003 study published in FEMS Immunology and Medicinal Microbiology reports that the combination of probiotic L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. fermentum RC-14 is safe for daily use in healthy women and can reduce colonization of the vagina by potential pathogenic bacteria and yeast.
In a 2006 research review published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, experts found that some probiotics, especially L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. fermentum RC-14 may be effective against candida. However, more randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with a larger sample size should be carried out for a proper conclusion.
- Dip a tampon in yogurt and insert it in the vagina for 2 hours. After removing it, clean the area with lukewarm water and pat dry thoroughly. Do this twice a day.
- Also, include yogurt containing live cultures in your diet. You can also opt to take probiotic supplements after consulting your doctor.
Note: For treating a yeast infection, only use plain, unsweetened yogurt. Any sweetened yogurt will only worsen the condition.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil stands out as a natural remedy for vaginal thrush. It has effective antifungal properties that can kill the fungi responsible for yeast infections.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food analyzed the effectiveness of coconut oil against a range of fungal organisms and found that the oil’s medium-chain fats were effective at killing 52 types of candida species.
- Directly apply extra-virgin coconut oil topically on the affected area, 2 or 3 times a day until you see improvement.
- You can also include it in your daily diet. Start with 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin coconut oil daily and gradually increase the dosage to up to 3 tablespoons per day.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
The natural enzymes in apple cider vinegar help regulate the pH of the vagina, which in turn helps prevent yeast growth.
Additionally, it is known to boost immunity and good bacteria in the gut and vagina, which helps in preventing as well as treating vaginal thrush.
Plus, apple cider vinegar has malic acid containing antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
- Add 3 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to 2 cups of warm water. Use this solution to wash the vaginal area, 2 times a day until you notice improvement in your condition.
- Combine equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water. Soak a tampon in the solution and insert it into the vagina for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the tampon, wash the area with warm water and then wipe the area until it is completely dry. Repeat once daily until the infection heals.
- Another option is to fill your bathtub with warm water. Add 2 cups of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to it. Sit in the bath with your knees folded toward your body and allow your vagina to soak in this bath for 15 minutes. Gently pat yourself dry before putting on clothes. Enjoy this soothing bath once a day only.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of warm water. Drink it twice daily for a few days.
4. Boric Acid
Boric acid has mild antiseptic and antifungal properties and is effective in treating vaginal thrush.
A 2007 study published in Diabetes Care reports that diabetic women with vulvo-vaginal candidiasis show higher mycological cure with boric acid vaginal suppositories given for 14 days as compared to single-dose oral 150-mg fluconazole.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health suggests that boric acid is a safe, alternative, economic option for women with recurrent and chronic symptoms of vaginitis when conventional treatment fails due to the involvement of azole-resistant strains.
- Boric acid suppositories are very effective and can be easily made at home. To make the suppositories, fill “00 size” gelatin capsules with boric acid. Insert 1 capsule deeply into your vagina at bedtime, once or twice a week.
- Alternatively, dilute 1 teaspoon of boric acid in a 2 cups of warm water. Apply the diluted solution on the vaginal area for a few minutes, then rinse the area thoroughly with water. Do this once daily for 2 weeks.
Note: As boric acid can occasionally cause vaginal burning, it shouldn’t be used frequently or when pregnant.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera contains vitamins, enzymes and amino acids that help inhibit the growth of candida. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-irritating and antifungal properties that help control and treat vaginal thrush.
A 2012 study published Mycoses journal found that aloe vera fresh leaves plant extract can help reduce the growth and germ tube formation of Candida albicans.
- Prepare aloe vera juice by blending together 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and 1 cup of orange juice or just plain water. Drink this aloe vera juice once daily for a few days.
- You can also extract the gel from an aloe leaf and apply it on the affected area a few times daily until the infection clears.
Note: Make sure to wash the aloe leaves thoroughly before use. Also, do not drink aloe juice in excess as it may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
6. Oil of Oregano
The oil of oregano made from wild oregano is another effective treatment for vaginal thrush.
Oregano oil contains two naturally occurring antimicrobial agents, carvacrol and thymol, which help dehydrate and kill candida yeast cells. This oil is not only an antifungal but also has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2001 study published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry found that wild oregano oil either stopped or slowed down the growth of yeast depending on the dosage used.
- Dilute oregano oil with an equal amount of olive oil and apply it on your vagina topically, 2 or 3 times a day for a week.
- Alternatively, you can take 1 or 2 capsules of oregano oil twice daily for a week.
Note: As this oil is a natural blood thinner, do not take it if you are taking blood thinners or have blood-clotting issues. Also, pregnant women should avoid oregano oil.
7. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a potent antiseptic agent that can help treat vaginal yeast infection effectively. However, it should always be used in diluted form.
A 2003 study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy highlights the therapeutic effectiveness of tea tree oil against fungi, in particular, against candida albicans.
A 2006 study published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews shows that a range of yeasts, dermatophytes and other filamentous fungi are susceptible to tea tree oil.
- Add 5 to 10 drops of tea tree oil to 4 cups of water. Use this solution to wash the vaginal area, 2 times daily until the infection is under control.
- Another option is to add some tea tree oil to your bathwater and take a long, relaxing soak.
Note: Never ingest tea tree oil. Pregnant women should not use tea tree oil in any form.
Garlic is another effective herbal remedy to treat mild to moderate vaginal thrush. It has a natural antifungal property that helps control the growth of yeast and hence provides relief from uncomfortable symptoms.
A 2005 study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy highlights the antifungal activity of fresh garlic extract against candida albicans.
- Take a clove of fresh garlic and peel off the natural, white paper shell that covers it. At bedtime, put the clove into the vagina. The next morning, remove the garlic clove and clean the vagina with lukewarm water. Do this once daily for 2 or 3 days.
- Eat a few fresh garlic cloves daily and also include it in your cooking.
- You can opt totake garlic tablets or supplements, after consulting your doctor.
9. Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract is another effective home remedy for treating vaginal thrush, due to its potent antiviral and antifungal properties. It can kill any parasites you have growing and breeding inside of you.
It is also beneficial at restoring the balance between good bacteria and yeast in your vagina.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of olive leaf tea daily. To make the tea, steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive leaf in a cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain it.
- You can opt to take olive leaf extract (250 to 500 mg) 3 times daily. However, consult your doctor for the proper dosage for you.
10. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another powerful yeast and fungus killer and hence very effective in the treatment of vaginal yeast infections.
According to a 2009 study published in Brazilian Oral Research, 5-percent sodium bicarbonate is effective against candida albicans.
- Mix 1 cup of baking soda in a bathtub filled with warm water. Soak in it for 10 to 15 minutes once daily for 1 week.
- You can also dissolve ½ teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it once daily on an empty stomach for 2 weeks. Take a break for 2 weeks and repeat again for another 2 weeks.
- To reduce your risk of vaginal thrush, wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting pants or skirts. Do not wear tight-fitting underwear or pantyhose.
- If your clothes are wet, change them immediately.
- Avoid hot tubs and very hot baths.
- Avoid using scented tampons or pads.
- Avoid using powders and fragrant sprays in the genital area.
- Change your underwear daily and wash them in hot water.
- Avoid douching because it can kill good bacteria in the vagina that prevent infections.
- Clean only the outside areas of your vagina with gentle soap and water.
- Eat a well-balanced, whole-food diet that includes vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean meat.
- Eliminate sugar, junk foods and food additives from your diet.
- Limit the use of antibiotics.