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Ask the Herbalist: Yeast Infections

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QUESTION: I was reading up on my herb book to find natural remedies for a yeast infection and came across goldenseal. Last night I followed the directions from the book. It said I could do up to 50 drops of the tincture. I put that in about a cup and half of water and I downed it. About 2 and half hours later I woke up with the worse panic attack accompanied with fast heart rate, nausea and diarrhea. I know in the past I have had all four of these do to stress and my stress level is kind of through the roof right now however I haven't had any problems until last night. Is there a strong chance that my body just did not agree to the herb. I am now afraid to take it because I don't want to feel what I did last night. Today, my stomach has been uneasy and I'm super tired probably because I was up all night. A side note: I did take it on an empty stomach if that matters or not. Thank you for your time.

ANSWER: Thanks for writing.  Sorry to hear about that. Yes, an empty stomach would matter. You may find comfort is using these:

Peroxide Douche -- Three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide in one quart of filtered or bottled water and use once a day for one week to 10 days. Hydrogen peroxide is produced naturally by bacteria in your vagina and kills yeast. So this douche will help you replenish the hydrogen peroxide balance.

Vinegar Douche -- Put one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in one pint of water (filtered or bottled). You can use this douche for one week to two weeks. This douche may burn initially, but will stop after the first couple times.

Probiotics such as acidophillus rebuild and balance the intestinal and body flora preventing overgrowth of yeast. You can insert two capsules of acidophilus into your vagina daily to increase the flora directly.

Eat plenty of fresh garlic, and drink Green tea with 15 drops extract of Pau d'Arco. Sweeten only with very little honey. Avoid foods that stagnate the system: Red meats, pork, white sugar, all dairy and all fried foods. An old Afro-Cuban remedy that we suggest you explore is a douche using the following: Soak one or two tablespoons of dried Jackass bitters leaves in a half a cup of Vinegar overnight. Strain and add one tablespoon to a cup of water to make the douche.

Hope this helps!

I hope you can help me.  I have a chronic yeast infection problem.  I have been to two different doctors and they don't know why I have this problem. They have prescribed the usual creams and pills and nothing seems to work. The infection clears up for a week or two then comes back.  I am 37 and hypoglycemic.  I have cut sugar and caffeine out of my diet and lost weight to boot and still nothing works.  I started drinking acidophilus milk about a month ago and I still got an infection.   I don't know what else to do, I just want to live a normal life again.

ANSWER: As a matter of fact, I have a tea for drinking and also an anti-yeast "tea" to douche with. You should also check what you're eating. If you are eating sugar, stop it right away. That goes for artificial sweeteners too. Sugar seems to increase the amount of yeast in the body. (Just like when you make
bread!) You can find my tea on the website at www.allgoodegifts.com  under Teas in the Herb Shoppe. Select the Anti-Yeast Tea for drinking and for the Douche select custom and in the comments section of the checkout, put Anti-Yeast Douche. (Instead of the 12 tea bags, you will get 3 large teabags that can
be reused.)

QUESTION: I am 47 and recently when to the doctor for a yeast infection.  I have a yeast infection all the time.  When he examined me he found a small tumor in my uterus.  He wanted to do a DNC and a lathoscopy.......something like that.... to investigate to see what was going on.  He says that my uterus is swollen which is why my bladder is leaky and that he couldn't take the tumor out.  He wants to do a hysterectomy.  I do not have any other symptoms.  I do not bleed a lot.  My periods are regular.  I do not cramp.  I do not have PMS, just a little nervousness a few days before.  I feel that a hysterectomy may be a bad idea. I know that there could be other health issues arise because I let him get rid of my uterus.  I am not sure about the tumor, I saw it when he did a sonogram.  and at that time he thought through the sonogram he could see that the lining of my uterus was healthy looking.  Since my D&C I have had two periods. They are just a little more heavy the first two days than they were before the D&C.  Do you think it is possible that the yeast infection is causing the swelling of my uterus?  I believe that my diet might be keeping my yeast
infection thriving.  I have taken medication for it but it comes back in a few weeks or sooner.  I have started eating different but I still have the yeast infection.  Is there anything I can do besides take medications
and have a hysterectomy?  If I could be absolutely, 100% sure that I would have no problems and would have much more energy and feel just great after a hysterectomy and it would cause no other health problems, then I would give him the go-ahead.   The D&C hasn't really helped me at all. Do you have any suggestions or comments?

ANSWER: I'm with you. The medical community in this country seems a little too eager to yank out a woman's uterus for any "female problem". The tumor is a bit of a concern. Any particular reason why he felt it couldn't be removed? The uterus is the main blood supply to your ovaries. Having it removed can put you into early menopause as well as messing with those delicate hormones.
There are lots of things you can do besides resorting to something as sever as a hysterectomy. Unless of course, your medical professional is thinking cancer. In that case, I would recommend getting a second and third opinion before proceeding with a hysterectomy. It should be your very last resort. I have an Anti-Yeast tea that I make that you can take as well as use as a douche to get rid of the yeast problem. If you're interested, e-mail me with the word ORDER in the subject line for more info. Drink 8 oz of unsweetened cranberry juice every day. Take a high quality acidophilus every day. Eliminate alcohol and sweets from your diet as these exacerbate the yeast problem in the body.

I seem to get recurring yeast infections lately. I was told Pau d'Arco taken daily would help prevent this. It will also cure it when taken in higher doses (5-6 capsules/day for 3 days). I would like to know more about this herbal supplement. I am also wanting to have another baby. Is there any side effects from this supplement that would cause complications, miscarriage or even deformities to the baby. I'm afraid I'll even get them during pregnancy and I don't want to keep taking OTC products or even Diflucan. I'd appreciate any info you have on this!

ANSWER:This is a download off The Natural Pharmacist Website.

Lapacho, Latin Named: Tabebuia impestiginosa 
Alternate Names : Pau d'Arco, Taheebo
Principal Proposed Uses
Yeast Infection, Respiratory Infection, Bladder Infection
Other Proposed Uses
Diarrhea, Cancer? 

The inner bark of the lapacho tree plays a central role in the herbal medicine of several South American indigenous peoples. They use it to treat cancer as well as a great variety of infectious diseases. There is intriguing, but far from conclusive, scientific evidence for some of these traditional uses. One of lapacho’s major ingredients, lapachol, definitely possesses antitumor properties, and for a time was under active investigation as a possible chemotherapy drug. Unfortunately, when given in high enough dosages to kill cancer cells, lapachol causes numerous serious side effects. Another component, b-lapachone, continues to be investigated as an anticancer agent since it may have a better side-effect profile and acts similarly to a new class of prescription antitumor drugs.1 Herbalists believe that the whole herb can produce equivalent benefits with fewer side effects, but this claim has never been properly investigated. Various ingredients in lapacho can also kill bacteria and fungi in the test tube.2 However, it is not yet clear how well the herb works for this purpose when taken orally 
What Is Lapacho Used for Today?
Based on its traditional use and the fledgling scientific evidence, some herbalists recommend lapacho as a treatment for cancer However, we do not endorse this usage. There is no good evidence that lapacho is an effective cancer treatment, and cancer is clearly not a disease to trifle with! Furthermore, the mechanism by which lapacho possibly works may cause it to interfere with the action of prescription anticancer drugs. Definitely do not add it to a conventional chemotherapy regimen without consulting your physician. Lapacho is also sometimes used to treat candida yeast infections, respiratory infections such as colds and flus, infectious diarrhea, and bladder infections. Note: Do not count on lapacho to treat serious infections. 
Lapacho contains many components that don’t dissolve in water, so making tea from the herb is not the best idea. It’s better to take capsulized powdered bark, at a standard dosage of 300 mg 3 times daily. For the treatment of yeast and other infections, it is taken until symptoms resolve. The inner bark of the lapacho tree is believed to be the most effective part of the plant. Unfortunately, inferior products containing only the outer bark and the wood are sometimes misrepresented as "genuine inner-bark lapacho." 
Safety Issues
Full safety studies of lapacho have not been performed. When taken in normal dosages, it does not appear to cause any significant side effects.3 However, because its constituent lapachol is somewhat toxic, the herb is not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers. Safety in young children or those with severe liver or kidney disease has also not been established. 

From the Mother Nature Website

Pau d’arco (Tabebuia impestiginosa) 
Common names: Lapacho, taheebo
Parts used and where grown: Various related species of pau d’arco trees grow in rain forests throughout Latin America. The bark is used for medical purposes.
In what conditions might pau d’arco be supportive?
• infection
• yeast infection
Historical or traditional use: Native peoples in Central and South America reportedly use pau d’arco bark to treat cancer, lupus, infectious diseases, wounds, and many other health conditions.1 Caribbean folk healers use the leaf of this tree in addition to the bark for the treatment of backache, toothache, sexually transmitted diseases, and as an aphrodisiac.
Active constituents: Lapachol and beta-lapachone (known collectively as naphthaquinones) are two primary active compounds in pau d’arco. According to laboratory tests, both have antifungal properties as potent or more so than ketaconazole, a common antifungal drug.2 Although these compounds also have anticancer properties, the effective dosage for this effect is toxic.3 4 Therefore, pau d’arco cannot currently be recommended as a treatment for cancer.
How much should I take? Because the naphthaquinone active constituents are not water soluble, a tea from pau d’arco bark is ineffective. Capsules or tablets providing 300 mg of powdered bark can be taken; usually three capsules are ingested three times per day. A tincture can be used in the amount of 0.5-1 ml, three times per day.
Are there any side effects or interactions? High doses of lapachol can cause uncontrolled bleeding, nausea, and vomiting.5 Use of the whole bark is much safer than isolated lapachol-the whole bark has no known serious side effects.6 Pregnant or lactating women should avoid use of pau d’arco.
1. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 470-1.
2. Guiraud P, Steiman R, Campos-Takaki GM, et al. Comparison of antibacterial and antifungal activities of lapachol and beta-lapachone. Planta Med 1994;60:373-4.
3. Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 180
4. Oswald EH Lapacho. Brit J Phytother 1993/4;3:112-7.
5. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 470-1.
6. Oswald EH. Lapacho. Brit J Phytother 1993/4;3:112-7.

Check the Web at Jim Dukes Ethnobotanical Database for Pau D' Arco for constituents and medicinal chemical activities of the plant.

As to where can you buy this herb we carry it in our store and are glad to mail order it to you. Please Call!

Here is some more information:

If you are trying to get pregnant I would not use Pau d'Arco as cautioned above, if you want to use this herb then use a birth control method to stop chances of getting pregnant while on it. You may want to read my previous question and answer on pregnancy and getting pregnant for other ideas.

In general lower your sugar and refined and processed white flour and wheat load, these simple sugars in diet increase chances of infection. Drink lots of water to continually flush your system. Reduce the consumption of fruit juices and sugar laden soda and drinks, some even say eliminate fruit in general. Diet plays a critical role clean it up completely see my other questions and answers on a simple change to eating using a 3 by 5 reminder card.

Increase use of probiotics, or "friendly" bacteria, use a mixture of acidophilus, bulgaricus, and bifidus. The suggested daily dose should be in the range of 3 to 10 billion viable organisms. Look for refrigerated products.

Get 500 - 1000 mg of Vitamin C and a Zinc supplement into your diet.

Sleep without underwear, wear cotton panties not synthetics, change when sweated. When you can keep underwear off, many ladies stop wearing them completely.

A cycle can be created by first getting a bacterial infection, then being treated with antibiotics and finally getting a yeast infection, this can happen quite regularly for some women. You may want to avoid antibiotic use. Yeast are naturally kept in check by the good bacteria in most of the body areas they exist. But, the use of antibiotics for illnesses can upset this balance, then Yeast flourish. The Yeast infection occurs because both the good and the bad bacteria is killed by the prescription antibiotic and the Yeast take the opportunity to take over. Yeast like a warm, dark and moist environments, classic conditions in skin folds, the vagina and under the arms where Yeast infections normally occur.

While you are pregnant you may get an infection because your body is moister and sweeter caused by your joyous condition. Some western medically trained doctors will tell you the OTC yeast infection creams and ointments and/or the use of the prescription drug, Diflucan will not cause a problem during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant, you must determine the risk and benefit ratio, if it were me, I would err on the side of caution.

A natural approach used by some women has been the consumption of live culture yogurt which is another source of good bacteria, to rebalance the bacteria/yeast ratio in your body.

Others include yogurt douching which introduces the bacteria directly to the problem area, garlic suppository which are antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral etc and therapeutic use of your diaphragm with Goldenseal and other herbs.

Here is a fairly interesting site on Yeast infections, the lady says if you are offended by blunt talk of yeast infection causes and cures don't read on. http://www.msu.edu/user/eisthen/yeast/  I felt there was some good information here.