Category Archives: thrush

Probiotics for Digestive Health and Candida

Probiotics
Probiotics are a valuable part of a healthy diet (1)

Probiotics are a valuable part of a healthy diet, and may play an important role in sustaining overall intestinal health.  Many people suffer from the effects of intestinal imbalances which makes a focus on probiotics essential.  Prevention of imbalance before it occurs is clearly a better alternative to treating the often unpleasant symptoms.  Using probiotics is a safe, cost-effective, “natural” approach that may help act as a barrier against microbial infection.

The importance of digestive health

Digestive health is an important yet often ignored factor for our overall health.  If you haven’t been feeling yourself lately it is possible that this may be related to your digestive health.  Many health professionals and nutritionists believe that to be truly healthy we need a healthy digestive system and yet it is not an aspect many usually concentrate on.  If there is a problem with your digestive system, your body might not be able to absorb enough nutrients from your food, which can cause you to suffer from a number of different problems.

Friendly flora perform a number of constructive functions in the intestinal tract.  One main function is to help prevent occasional good/bad flora imbalance.  The “good” flora do this by crowding out the “bad” in the intestinal tract.

Candida

Each and every one of us carries Candida albicans in the digestive tract.  Candida, a single celled organism, produces more than a hundred different toxins which can be absorbed through the intestinal wall and in turn cause your body issues.  Provided these tiny yeast like organisms are kept under control by beneficial microbes and the immune system, they should do us no harm.  However, if there is an imbalance in the intestine, this could lead to Candida cells growing at a rate that is out of control leading to a number of problems.  This occurs when intestinal balance is disorientated by an impaired immune system, the use of antibiotics and stress or high carbohydrate diets, birth controls, diabetes and pregnancy. (2)

When Candida starts to proliferate, they become capable of penetrating the intestinal wall and leaking out into the body through the bloodstream, this can lead to  a negative effect on our health and overall wellbeing.  Some of the symptoms associated with Candida are:

•    Anger outbursts
•    Irritability
•    Headaches
•    Constant tiredness and exhaustion
•    Anxiety
•    Mood swings
•    Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
•    Intense cravings for sugars, sweets, and breads
•    Itchy skin
•    Frequent stomach pains and digestion problems
•    Skin problems (skin infections, eczema, psoriasis, acne)
•    Foggy brain / Trouble concentrating (3)

Treating Candida with probiotics

Threelac
ThreeLac may alleviate the yeast overgrowth symptoms faster than other treatment methods.

You can adjust the amount of yeast in your body through diet however it is not as easy as many people may think.  You would have to significantly reduce and even completely cut out sugar and high-carbohydrate foods.  Although most people can do this, they can’t sustain it for long and depriving themselves of these foods can often result in binge eating behaviour which is counter productive.  The more sugar you intake the more fuel you give yeast to grow in your body.

Although probiotics are naturally available in yoghurt, one of the most effective natural options for reducing yeast is a probiotic supplement such as ThreeLac as they are teeming with good live bacteria.  Because probiotics may help reduce the symptoms of yeast overgrowth it is an easier method than adhering to a very strict diet regimen.  Many women who suffer from thrush, “especially those who have undergone repeat antibiotic treatment, find probiotics to be really helpful in preventing recurrence and treating these conditions.” (4)

ThreeLac provides selected beneficial microflora for the purpose of replenishing needed friendly flora to promote intestinal health, a powerful probiotic formulation of three potent microflora in a lemon-powder base.

•    Bacillus coagulans: A probiotic organism that may help control occasional digestion and stomach problems.
•    Bacillus subtilis: A probiotic organism that may help crowd out “bad” flora in the intestines.
•    Enterococcus faecalis: The Enterococci constitute a major genus within the lactic acid bacteria group, and exists naturally in the human digestive tract. This effective probiotic bacteria is the result of formulation under strict laboratory conditions.

One of the benefits to using ThreeLac is that it may alleviate the yeast overgrowth symptoms faster than other treatment methods.  Also for those people who are lactose intolerant, yoghurt is not always an option so a probiotic such as ThreeLac could be an effective alternative.  A healthy digestive system directly relates to a healthy immune system and our overall wellbeing.

1. Image courtesy of Ambro.

2.  http://www.ecandida.com/candida-albicans.

3.  http://www.ghthealth.com/

4.  Ani Richardson, “ Natural remedies for the treatment and prevention of vaginal thrush infection“, bodykind blog, 05/082009.

Written by Mike Pye

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Natural remedies for the treatment and prevention of vaginal thrush infection

In April this year I wrote a detailed blog post about probiotics and their usefulness in the treatment and prevention of vaginal yeast infections, commonly known as thrush.  This topic seems to be of continuing concern to women and deserves to be revisited.

Vaginal thrush usually occurs due to over proliferation of yeast in the vagina, most commonly Candida yeast, for this reason vaginal thrush is often known as Candidiasis.  Illness, stress, lack of sleep, diet and hormonal changes can all cause the normal balance of yeast and bacteria in the vagina to be altered allowing for an overgrowth of yeast leading to thrush infection.

To recap:  Normally a healthy vagina contains mainly lactobacilli bacteria, ‘friendly’ or beneficial bacteria, which protect it from invading pathogens (detrimental bacteria and yeasts) such as those which cause urinary tract infections, thrush and vaginitis.  A healthy digestive system will also be dominated by a variety of different non-pathogenic bacteria.  If the vagina and digestive system are mainly colonised with ‘good’ bacteria these provide a barrier to the entry of pathogenic/harmful bacteria into the vagina.  Women diagnosed with thrush, are normally prescribed oral or vaginal anti-yeast agents.  However, these kinds of treatments are associated with frequent recurrences of the condition.  The antibiotics and antifungals may clear up the original infection but they also tend to disrupt the future bacterial/fungal balance in the reproductive and digestive systems, this can exacerbate the condition in the long term and may lead to quick recurrence.

Studies are beginning to show that probiotic supplements or foods may be helpful in order to boost the number of good bacteria in the vagina and digestive system.  In practice many women, especially those who have undergone repeat antibiotic treatment, find probiotics to be really helpful in preventing recurrence and treating these conditions.  Probiotic creams, vaginal suppositories and tablets are readily available, they usually contain the bacteria lactobacillus acidophilus.  Oral probiotics (and prebiotics) may also be useful in order to help keep an overall balance of good bacteria in the vagina and digestive and system.

Essential Oils

Recently I have become aware that many supplements containing oregano oil, clove oil, cinnamon and garlic are being marketed for the prevention and treatment of vaginal thrush and that oregano based creams and oils are available for topical application to the vagina for thrush treatment.  Looking at the research I can see that clinical evidence is beginning to grow in this area.  A number of laboratory/test tube studies (1,2,3,4,5,6) have been performed to show the usefulness of these agents but human trials are still necessary before firm conclusions can be drawn.

The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of plant oils has been known for thousands of years.  Oregano oil and clove oil contain bioactive chemical compounds called phenols.  These plant compounds have potent anti-microbial effects.  Carvacrol is the major phenolic component of oregano oil and Eugenol is the major phenolic component of clove oil (as well as being present in cinnamon).  These phenolic compounds are often listed on the packaging of anti-candida supplements.

Last year a laboratory (in vitro) study (1) took place to look at the anti-fungal activity of selected plant and spice essential oils against various species of Candida yeasts (including  Candida albicans, Candida dubliniensis, Candida tropicalis, Candida glabrata, and Candida krusei).  The results found that oregano and cinnamon essential oils were efficient anti-fungal agents.  The oregano oil was the most efficient anti-fungal oil and worked against yeast that were fluconazole resistant.  Fluconazole is a anti-fungal pharmaceutical agent, commonly used for the treatment and prevention of fungal infections including thrush, it is a common ingredient in creams and oral treatments.

Oregano and clove oil have shown good results in laboratory tests, the authors of one study (2) conclude that “Carvacrol and eugenol could be considered as promising products in the treatment of vaginal candidiasis. This work is a preliminary contribution to the development of a new generation of efficient and natural antifungal agents for curative treatment and prophylaxis [prevention]”.

If you regularly suffer from thrush and want to try an alternative to the anti-fungal agents commonly prescribed or available over the counter you may want to try taking oral probiotic and prebiotic treatments in conjunction with vaginal probiotic creams and suppositories.  The herbal supplements containing oregano, clove and cinnamon oil as well as garlic may be useful and oils/creams containing oregano oil may be helpful when applied topically to the vagina.  In addition to this it is helpful to eat a balanced healthy diet to provide all the nutrients necessary to keep the body functioning well and keep the immune system working properly.  This kind of diet is based on natural, unprocessed ‘real food’, e.g. low in refined carbohydrate and rich in vegetables, nuts/seeds, beans/pulses, lean unprocessed meats and oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, trout).

 

(1)Pozzatti P et al.  2008.  In vitro activity of essential oils extracted from plants used as spices against fluconazole-resistant and fluconazole-susceptible Candida spp. Can J Microbiol.  54(11):950-6.
(2)Chami F et al.  2004.  Evaluation of carvacrol and eugenol as prophylaxis and treatment of vaginal candidiasis in an immunosuppressed rat model.  J Antimicrob Chemother.  54(5):909-14.
(3) Chammi N et al.  2005.  Study of anticandidal activity of carvacrol and eugenol in vitro and in vivo.  Oral Microbiol Immunol.  20(2):106-111.
(4) Manohar, V., et al.  Antifungal activities of origanum oil against Candida albicans.  Mol Cell Biochem.  228(1-2):111-117, 2001.
(5) He M et al.  2007.  In vitro activity of eugenol against Candida albicans biofilms. Mycopathologia. 63(3):137-43.
(6) Low CF et al.  2008.  Inhibition of hyphae formation and SIR2 expression in Candida albicans treated with fresh Allium sativum (garlic) extract. J Appl Microbiol.  105(6):2169-77.
Written by Ani Kowal

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Probiotics for the treatment and prevention of thrush

In January this year I wrote about cystitis and other urinary tract infections and how probiotics and cranberry could be useful for prevention and treatment of such conditions.

 

Three other common genitourinary complains in women are vaginal thrush, vaginitis and vaginosis.
* Vaginal thrush usually occurs due to over proliferation of yeast in the vagina, most commonly Candida yeast, for this reason vaginal thrush is often known as Candidiasis.
* Vaginitis involves inflammation of the Vagina.  It is usually caused by a disruption in the normal chemical balance of the vagina or from infection by detrimental microorganisms (bacteria, virus and yeast).  However, the chemicals found in perfumed soaps, laundry detergents and fabric softeners can also cause or aggravate the condition. Vaginitis is usually characterized by a vaginal discharge and may be accompanied by itching and irritation.
* Vaginosis usually involves a disruption in the normal bacterial and yeast balance in the vagina and is characterized by increased vaginal discharge (which is often odorous) without inflammation, sometimes there is itching.

 
Normally a healthy vagina contains mainly lactobacilli bacteria, ‘friendly’ or beneficial bacteria, which protect it from invading pathogens (detrimental bacteria) such as those which cause urinary tract infections, thrush and vaginitis.  A healthy digestive system will also be dominated by a variety of different non-pathogenic bacteria.  If the vagina and digestive system are mainly colonised with ‘good’ bacteria these provide a barrier to the entry of pathogenic/harmful bacteria into the vagina.  Personal hygiene is important to protect against vaginal infections since bacteria from the anal area may enter the vagina during sex or when wiping after a bowel movement (this is why women are always taught to wipe from front to back).

 
Women diagnosed with thrush, vaginitis or vaginosis are normally prescribed oral or vaginal antibiotics or anti-yeast agents.  However, these kinds of treatments are associated with frequent recurrences of the condition and there is growing concern over antibiotic resistance.  The antibiotics may clear up the original infection but they also tend to destroy all the good bacteria in the vagina and/or digestive system and therefore disrupt the bacterial balance in the reproductive and digestive systems, this often exacerbates the issue or leads to quick recurrence of the condition.

 
Studies now show that probiotic supplements or foods may be helpful in order to boost the number of good bacteria in the vagina and digestive system.  The evidence for the use of probiotic supplements and vaginal suppositories in the treatment and prevention of vaginal thrush and vaginitis in women is still preliminary but ever growing.  There is a lot of logic behind the rationale and in practice many women, especially those who have undergone repeat antibiotic treatment, find probiotics to be really helpful in preventing recurrence and treating these conditions.

 

Probiotic creams, vaginal suppositories and tablets are readily available, they usually contain the bacteria lactobacillus acidophilus.  Oral probiotics (and prebiotics) may also be useful in order to help keep an overall balance of good bacteria in the vagina and digestive and system.

 
Even over ten years ago the benefits of eating unsweetened ‘live’ natural yoghurt was known to help prevent and treat vaginal infections.  Yoghurt was also used by women vaginally to help clear up thrush.  In 1992 a study (1) assessed whether daily ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus (a probiotic yoghurt) could prevent vaginal yeast/candida infection (thrush).  Women with recurrent vaginal candidiasis received a yogurt-free diet for 6 months and a yogurt-containing diet for 6 months.  A threefold decrease in vaginal candida infections was seen when patients consumed yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus.  Eating a daily yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus decreased candidal yeast colonization and infection.

 
Research has continued to show the benefits of probiotics in the prevention and treatment of vaginal infections.  A recent laboratory study (2) found that a probiotic (lactobacillus) bacteria could attach well to vaginal and cervical cells and could also prevent the growth and multiplication of vaginosis associated bacteria and yeast.  The authors of the study suggest that probiotic vaginal suppositories or oral supplements containing lactobacilli could be really useful in maintaining the normal composition of vaginal bacteria or re-colonising the vagina with these friendly bacteria after infection.

 
Another recent study (3) looked at the use of probiotic lactobacilli in conjunction with a commonly prescribed anti-fungal treatment (fluconazole) for the treatment of vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection).  The study involved 55 women diagnosed with vaginal candidiasis who exhibited vaginal discharge and at least one further symptoms e.g. itching and burning vaginal feeling, dyspareunia (pain during sex) and dysuria (painful urination).  The women were treated with a single dose of fluconazole and then supplemented every morning for the following 4 weeks with either two placebo capsules or two probiotic capsules.  After 4 weeks the group who were taking the probiotic showed significantly less vaginal discharge associated with any of the other symptoms as well as a lower presence of yeast.  The authors of the study conclude that probiotic supplements can increase the effectiveness of an anti-fungal pharmaceutical agent in treating vaginal disease.

 
There are many other recent studies (e.g. 4,5,6,7) which indicate that oral probiotic supplements and vaginal probiotic suppositories are very helpful in the treatment and subsequent prevention of vaginitis, vaginosis and vaginal thrush.  As mentioned previously, such probiotic supplements, vaginal creams and suppositories are widely available to buy.  These may be particularly useful after receiving antibiotic or anti-fungal treatment.  Women who frequently suffer from thrush or other vaginal infections may wish to take a daily probiotic and prebiotic supplement in order to prevent further problems.

 
The Mooncup!

 

Women who are suffering with vaginal thrush, vaginosis or vaginitis are usually recommended not to use tampons since they can often aggravate symptoms.  Also, some women are affected by the bleach and other chemicals that are frequently found in tampons.  These chemicals can affect the normal bacterial/yeast balance in the vagina and make some women more susceptible to vaginal infection.

 

Recently I came across a nifty alternative to regular tampons and sanitary towels, called the Mooncup.  Makers of the Mooncup say that it will not cause irritation and is suitable for women with sensitive skin, thrush, eczema or allergy.

 

The Mooncup is a reusable menstrual cup around two inches long and is made from a special medical grade non-allergic silicone.  It is worn internally like a tampon but collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it. Unlike tampons the Mooncup is not a disposable product, so you only need to buy one.  The Mooncup contains no bleaches, deodorisers or absorbency gels and does not interfere with your healthy vaginal environment, nor has it been associated with toxic shock syndrome.  For more information take a look to see if the Mooncup is something you might like to try.

 

 

 

(1)Hilton E et al.  1992.  Ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus as prophylaxis for candidal vaginitis.  Annals of Internal Medicine.  116(5):353-357.
(2)Coudeyras S, Jugie G, Vermerie M, Forestier C.  2009.  Adhesion of human probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus to cervical and vaginal cells and interaction with vaginosis-associated pathogens. Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol. 2008:549640. Epub 2009 Jan 27
(3)Martinez RC et al.  2009. Improved treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis with fluconazole plus probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14. Lett Appl Microbiol.  48(3):269-74.
(4)Cianci A et al.  2008. Efficacy of Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GR-1 and of Lactobacillus Reuteri RC-14 in the treatment and prevention of vaginoses and bacterial vaginitis relapses.   Minerva Ginecol.  60(5):369-76.
(5)Marcone V et al.  2008.  Effectiveness of vaginal administration of Lactobacillus rhamnosus following conventional metronidazole therapy: how to lower the rate of bacterial vaginosis recurrences. New Microbiol.  31(3):429-33.
(6)Petricevic L et al. 2008.  Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of oral lactobacilli to improve the vaginal flora of postmenopausal women. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 141(1):54-7.
(7)Drago L et al.  2007.  Activity of a Lactobacillus acidophilus-based douche for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. J Altern Complement Med. 13(4):435-8.

 

Written by Ani Kowal

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