When my oldest son was born, the nurse-midwife made me take intravenous antibiotics because I had tested positive for a strain of bacteria that could pose a risk of infection to my son. Of course, within a couple of weeks of being born, my son developed oral thrush and I developed a vaginal yeast infection. I was breastfeeding him and his infection made nursing painful for him. It also manifested itself as a rash all over his genitals. I tried an over-the-counter antifungal cream for myself because I reasoned that it might get rid of the infection faster than something natural, but the effectiveness was less than satisfactory and the infection persisted. I couldn’t use the cream for him, of course, because it wasn’t suitable for babies. I needed to try to find ways to help both of us get rid of the infection, repopulate ourselves with good bacteria, and be able to continue breastfeeding.
Starve the Yeast.
At that time, I was not on a Paleo diet (which is also naturally anti-candida) and wasn’t even truly gluten-free. I was eating mostly whole foods, but that included a good number of homemade muffins, coffeecakes, pastas, breads, and other foods that yeast love. I had to get rid of all of that for ten days so that I could starve the yeast. So, no grains, no sugars, limited starchy vegetables and fruit, and since my son was getting all his nutrition from my breastmilk, I was starving the yeast in him also.
Kill the Yeast.
Some of the effective yeast infection natural remedies that I used were ones that I took internally. However, I also made a salve for his genital infection and to use for myself. It contained black walnut leaf tincture (a nut tree found in the United States) and tea tree oil (a tree found in Australia), both anti-fungal herbal remedies, and it contained some soothing herbs for skin, including plantain and chickweed (both weeds, and this type of plantain has no connection to bananas) and calendula (popularly known as marigold flowers). The skin herbs helped with the itching and healed broken skin, while the anti-fungal herbs killed the yeast colonies growing there. To ensure that the infection would not come back, I had to treat it internally as well. One of the most effective yeast infection natural remedies, garlic, can also irritate babies, so I had to be careful with that and use only small amounts. I took black walnut tincture and grapefruit seed extract in water, and regularly used apple cider vinegar. I began to see improvement after a few days on this regimen, and after a week there was great improvement. Now it was time to include things that would repopulate my body with good bacteria.
Bring in New Residents.
Once the yeast was taken care of, both on our skin and inside our bodies, I needed to find ways to get some good bacteria inside us so that there would be no room for the yeast to come back. At that time, I did this by eating yogurt. The important thing to remember about eating yogurt is to avoid the sugar sweetened, additive laden kind. Plain is best, or maybe add a little honey if it is too sour for your taste. Another thing I did was take a probiotic supplement. Doing both helps to make sure that there is a wide variety of strains of bacteria moving in, and increases the likelihood that most of them will survive. Other sources of food based good bacteria are plain kefir and lacto-fermented vegetables. Lacto-fermented vegetables may actually be the best way to repopulate the gut. This is a fermentation method that uses naturally occurring bacteria that are present on the surface of all fruits and vegetables and are in the air. Vegetables are immersed in a salt water bath in a sealed jar for several days until little bubbles appear. The vegetables feed the bacteria and since the variety of organisms is the same as what occurs in nature, you can be sure that you are getting the correct combination for your body. Fifteen years ago, when I was trying to help us get better from our yeast infection, I did not know about lacto-fermented vegetables. I discovered them a year ago when I started my Paleo diet. I would highly recommend trying them. They are delicious and are an excellent way to preserve food for up to a year in cold storage.
Through my experience, I discovered that the most effective yeast infection remedies were food based. Since then, I have never had antibiotics again, and regularly eat plain yogurt, kefir, and lacto-fermented foods. I also do not eat grains or anything containing sugar (the 85% dark chocolate pieces don’t count, as the health benefits of dark chocolate outweigh its sugar content). I have not had any full blown problems with yeast since then, but I do keep the grapefruit seed extract handy.
Have you had any personal experience with yeast infection? Have you been able to cure it and would like to share your story? Do you have questions? Please use the comments section below.