Alternative treatment for vaginal yeast infection
By Tracey-Ann Brown, Complementary & Oriental Medicine
A vaginal yeast infection, also called vaginal candidiasis, is an inflammation of the vagina characterised by vaginal itching, irritation, and a white cottage cheese-like discharge. In some cases, the symptoms are mild, and in some, it can feel like sure punishment from hell. They are pretty common, and thankfully, usually easily treated.
Vaginal yeast infections are caused by the fungus candida, which is normally present in the vagina, along with bacteria in a balanced mix. When there is an overgrowth of yeast, itching, burning and other symptoms occur.
Causes of yeast overgrowth include:
Antibiotic use, which leads to a change in the pH of the vagina, allowing an overgrowth of yeast;
Immune system impairment;
Douching and anything that changes the amount and type of bacteria normally in the vagina.
In cases where yeast infections are recurrent, a more long-term treatment is required and some adjustment to diet and lifestyle is necessary.
In traditional Chinese medicine, vaginal yeast infections are usually characterised as damp-heat in the lower jiao.
Damp is characterised by any kind of discharge from a bodily orifice.
Heat because burning and/or itching symptoms are present.
Lower Jiao refers to the pelvic region and the genitalia (distinct from the upper jiao, which refers to the head and chest, and the middle jiao, which encompasses the area just below the lungs and above the pelvis).
Anti-fungal treatments in the form of oral tablets, or vaginal inserts are often prescribed.
The primary acupuncture points used in treating vaginal yeast infections are those along the Girdle Meridian (Dai Mai meridian). The acupuncture points found along this meridian primarily circle the pelvis and are used for any kind of vaginal or urinary infection. These points are also used to help break up adhesions or obstructions (fibroids and cysts) in and around the pelvic area. During acupuncture, extremely thin acupuncture needles are gently inserted and stimulated to relieve symptoms.
Herbal formulas comprise primarily herbs called damp resolvers. These herbs are used to resolve damp-heat and are used to clear thick discharges and relieve itching from the vagina. Commonly used herbs include:
Fu Ling (Poria Cocos, Poria)
Che Qian Zi (Plantago seeds)
Dong Gua Ren (Winter Melon)
Huang Bai (Amur Cork-Tree bark)
Long Dan Cao (Gentiana, Chinese gentian root)
Ku Shen (sophora root).
Herbal preparations may be administered orally as vaginal inserts and external herbal washes to soothe irritation in the affected area.
A number of dietary recommendations are made to ease symptoms and reduce the chance of recurrence, especially in cases of frequent yeast infection occurrences. Key recommendations include the elimination or reduced consumption of
Highly processed food.
Dr Tracey-Ann Brown is an oriental medicine practitioner of acupuncture and herbal medicine at Revamp Comprehensive and adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology in oriental/Chinese medicine; email: firstname.lastname@example.org