What is a yeast infection?
Often women with yeast infections will see Dr. JJ because they have vaginal yeast infection (Candidiasis: vaginitis caused by Candida albicans (a yeast).
This is a very common complaint for women. Causes could include their immune system being compromised or stressed and some women get it from their partner. Dr. JJ has had some patients where he has treated their yeast infection and it has cleared up, but keeps coming back. They then test their partner only to discover that he has a yeast infection (yes, males can get yeast infections too). A man can have a yeast infection and not show any symptoms.
There is another diagnosis of a "whole body yeast infection" or "systemic yeast infection" called Candida, which Dr. JJ does not agree with. This is usually a group of general symptoms that are then labeled as candida or a yeast infection. Dr. JJ believes that these symptoms are usually due to digestive problems and not having a well-balanced gastrointestinal flora.
There are a number of things that can affect the balance of your flora, including anti-biotics. While there are many instances where it is necessary to take an anti-biotic to fight an infection, it is also important to take a pro-biotic when you are taking anti-biotics (not at the same time, take the probiotic a few hours after taking the anti-biotic), to help replenish the good bacteria. Once the full prescription of anti-biotics has been taken, Dr. JJ will often recommend his patients continue to take probiotics for up to a month.
What are some common symptoms of yeast infection?
Yeast infection symptoms for women include vaginal discharge, itchiness and pain during sexual intercourse. For those with "candida" or gastrointestinal imbalance they may have gas, bloating, itchiness around the anus. In babies, cancer patients and HIV patients yeast may present itself orally as thrush (white spots on the tongue, or a white coating on the tongue that doesn't go away).
Men often don't show symptoms of yeast infections (they are asymptomatic). So a man can have a yeast infection and not realize it.
How do you diagnose a yeast infection?
In addition to reviewing the patients symptoms, there are some tests to determine if a patient has a yeast infection. For women, a doctor would do a vaginal smear on a slide and look at the slide to see if there are a lot of yeast cells, to determine if they have a yeast infection. For men, a doctor would analyze a seminal fluid discharge to determine if they have a yeast infection.
Jennifer was diagnosed with Candida from her holistic dentist. Then dentist took an oral sample of Jennifer's saliva and examined the sample under a microscope. From the sample, she could see an imbalance in the bacteria. Dr. JJ explained that Jennifer had an imbalance in the bacteria and the microflora in her mouth and digestive tract. So, the healthy bacteria levels were out of balance. Candida occurs naturally in everyone, so calling the imbalance candida is not accurate.
What are some natural treatments for yeast infections?
Natural yeast infection remedies include probiotics and an elimination diet:
A simple natural cure for yeast infection is taking probiotics orally. This helps put the good bacteria levels back into balance. There have been a number of positive studies on probiotics, including one where pregnant women took probiotics orally to prevent bacterial vaginosis. Probiotics can also be taken vaginally as suppositories.
When Dr. JJ has a female patient that has had chronic yeast infections, he will typically do a week of Probiotic suppositories, followed by one month of taking probiotics orally.
There is a Candida diet as well, but Dr. JJ does not recommend this to his patients, because he finds it to extreme. He will typically put his patients on a good detox (elimination diet is a good basic detox). In the elimination diet you avoid foods like wheat, dairy, sugars and alcohol for a short period of time. This is effective because a lot of the opportunistic pathogens like sugar, so eliminating these foods interrupts their food source.
Dr. JJ has found the candida diet too severe, and a lot of his patients who have gone on the diet have become so sensitive that when you try to reintroduce a normal diet, they get flare-ups.
Jennifer tried the Candida diet, and found it was very restrictive. It included a regime of no fermented foods, no fruits other than tart/sour fruits (grapefruit, sour apples, lemon), no sugar, no wheat, no yeast products, no vinegars, no alcohol, no dairy, no sugars, and much more. She also took Caprylic Acid and Betonite, and lots of Acidophilus. It was tough to do, but it seemed to work for her. Dr. JJ commented that those that prescribe the candida diet focus on trying to kill it off. Dr. JJ feels that approach is appropriate for perhaps a parasite, but that a parasite different from a yeast infection. For a yeast infection, the focus should be on re-balancing the intestinal flora. He recommends giving your body probiotics to recolonize the good bacteria- you don't need to kill things off or starve it, like the approach used in the candida diet.
Probiotics also act a little bit like an anti-biotic. This is because a healthy probiotic like Lactobacillus secretes lactic acid which is used to kill off other bacteria. Other probiotics also have something called bactericides that act like anti-biotics and are designed to kill of other bacteria. Probiotics kill off other bacteria and also colonize their good bacteria. This makes probiotics a very effective yeast infection cure.
The length of time to take a candida treatment/ yeast infection remedies depends on the case. It is something that would need to be assessed on a case by case basis by a healthcare practitioner.
Once the yeast infection is treated, is it gone for good?
It depends, there are a number of things that will disrupt your flora balance including: stress, smoking, poor dietary habits, parasites from traveling to a foreign country, taking antibiotics. These things may cause someone t get another yeast infection.
It's very important to work with a healthcare practitioner to review your overall health and determine what approach is best suited for you.
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What's Dr. JJ taking today:
Probiotic: Probiotics are a form of "good bacteria". The probiotic that Dr. JJ is taking contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Dr. JJ often uses a probiotic as a yeast infection natural treatment. Probiotics can also be found in yogurt, unpasteurized sauerkraut and other fermented foods.
You can find a naturopath in your community through the Find a Practitioner link on our website www.vitaminjunkeys.com