This unpleasant but common female complaint usually involves a vaginal yeast or bacterial infection, which is sometimes accompanied by recurrent bladder problems. It may be (but isn’t always) a byproduct of chronic intestinal candidiasis, and so it i
Apart from Candida albicans, the other common vaginal opportunistic organisms causing thrush are Trichomonas vaginalis or, as some believe, Gardnerella vaginalis. Rarely, a resistant form may be caused by sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea or Chlamydia trachomatis (which makes it a good idea to test for these pathogens in cases of difficult thrush). Sometimes the culprit isn’t a yeast infection at all, but allergic vaginitis causing itching and a discharge, possibly triggered by hypersensitivity to certain hygiene products.
For the past century French homeopaths have effectively treated thrush caused by local candida infection with 12g gelatin ovules containing mother tinctures of golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis) and calendula (Antibiotics, 1976; 3: 577-88; Comp Med Res, 1987; 2(2): 135-40 and 1990; 4 (1): 1-7);
A C Cowperthwaite, Textbook of Gynaecology, 1888, p 423). Those ovules, made by Laboratoires Boiron in Lyons and Laboratoires Sibourge in Marseilles, are now available outside of France (in London’s NutriCentre, for British readers).
Naturopathic medicine also uses golden seal to treat thrush (J Pizzorno and N Murray, Textbook of Nat Med, 1986; VI: Vagin-5), or barberry (Berberis vulgaris). Both are diluted as douches, to which some add chlorophyll (BMJ, 1957; i: 268-70).
Boric acid solution has been used to treat thrush with success rates equal to or better than nystatin (Am J Ob Gyn, 1981; 11: 145-48). But be aware that if boric acid is repeatedly used in undiluted form and copious quantities it can accumulate and become poisonous.
Another inexpensive folk medicine mentioned by Pizzorno and Murray involves swabbing the vagina with gentian violet (Med Times, 1978; 106: 26-32; Practitioner, 1936; 137: 122 and 143: 611). Garlic may be added to douches of deadnettle (Lamium album) or lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) (R F Weiss, Herbal medicine, A B Arcanum, Gothenburg, 1988), or when wrapped in gauze may be inserted as a tampon pessary (Mycologia, 1977; 69: 342-8)
In herbal medicine, the current treatment of choice is teatree (Maleluca alternafolia). So powerful an antibiotic is this old Aborigine remedy that during the second World War the Australian government exempted leaf cutters from national service so that they could continue producing teatree, which was issued to the Army as a general disinfectant (Australian J Pharm, 1988; 69: 276-80). One teaspoon of this tincture added to a pint of water has a powerful antifungal and antibacterial action in vaginal thrush (and cervicitis), particularly if daily douching is supplemented with the weekly use of tampons saturated in the same percentage solution. Rather than irritating the skin or mucosa, it has a soothing effect (Ob Gyn, 1962; 19: 793-5).
Harald Gaier is a registered naturopath, osteopath and homeopath.