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Common Ailments ~ Thrush

THRUSH

Three out of four women will suffer an attack of vaginal thrush in their lives. Symptoms are a lot of thick, white vaginal discharge that may look similar to cottage cheese. The discharge may smell ‘yeasty’, like freshly baked bread. Other symptoms include intolerable vaginal itching, a burning sensation during urination and sometimes a rash.

Thrush occurs when yeast, candida albicans, which lives in the vagina and the anus, begins to overgrow. This happens when something disturbs the balance in the vagina, which normally keeps the yeast in check. For example being run down can reduce your body’s natural defences, leaving you open to an attack of thrush.

Antibiotics prescribed for an infection are another common culprit because they kill the ‘friendly’ bacteria as well as harmful ones. Other prescribed medications, such as steroids and immuno-suppressant drugs, can also weaken the body’s normal defences leaving you more vulnerable to an attack.

Self help relief tactics:

  • Live yoghurt containing cultures of lactobacillis, the bacteria that keeps Candida under control, is a natural enemy of thrush.
  • Crushed ice wrapped in a cloth and applied to your vagina will help sooth the itching.
  • Vinegar can help acidify the vagina. Dilute 1 tsp in 600ml of water and add a cupful to your bath and soak in it for a while.
  • Yeast feeds on sugar and, in the vagina is nourished by glycogen, a form of sugar which is deposited in the mucus cells. Eating less sugar will lower glycogen levels, giving the yeast less to feed on.
    • Go for:
      • Fresh, unprocessed vegetables
      • Whole grains such as millet and brown rice
      • Beans and pulses
      • Nuts and seeds as fresh, raw and unprocessed as possible
      • Organic or free range meat, poultry and fish
      • Natural bio-yoghurt
    • Avoid:
      • Bread and pizza
      • Savoury, yeast based spreads
      • Sweets, cakes, biscuits, pastries and foods with added sugar
      • Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and pasta
      • Fresh and dried fruit and fruit juices
      • Mushrooms, melons, and blue cheeses
      • Black olives
      • Soya sauce and vinegar based dressings

Prevention tactics:

  • Try to reduce stress levels and make time in your diary for relaxation
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the loo, to help avoid carrying infection from the bowel to the vagina
  • Wear cotton underwear, loose fitting skirts and baggy trousers are also a good idea. Avoid tights, tight jeans and synthetic underwear
  • Avoid perfumed soaps, bath salts and biological washing powders

Herbal helpers

Black Cohosh

A common name for this herb is squawroot as it was originally used by Native American women to help with problems in the female reproductive tract. It helps to balance your hormones and has a relaxing effect on your nervous system, so is useful for anxiety. Black cohosh contains the chemical formononetin shown to be a fungicide which brings improvement to the misery of thrush symptoms.

Ginseng

Ginseng is a far eastern shrub whose roots have been used in china for more than 4000 years to boost the immune system. Ginseng is a vitality booster. It acts by strengthening the adrenal glands and stimulating the t-cells of the immune system (which help to eliminate toxins).

This is a wonderful herb for increasing vitality, but should only be taken for up to three weeks at a time to be most effective. It is a natural source of oestrogens and helps raise your body’s immunity and balance hormones. Ginseng may be taken as dried root, tincture, fluid extract , powder or tablet.

Liquorice root

Liquorice root is dried and powdered to prepare a tincture. The herbs general health promoting action is helpful when convalescing from bacterial infections. It helps detoxify the liver and therefore benefits the whole system.

With antiviral and immunity enhancing effects, liquorice stimulates production of antibodies, balances oestrogen and soothes muscle membranes. It is used as dried or powdered root, or as a tincture or decoction.

Liquorice enhances the immune system by stimulating the production of interferon (proteins made by cells in response to viral infections), making it a wholesome and highly effective treat which can be made into candy sticks popular with children.

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