This post was originally published on September 17, 2010 and was written by Katie Fox. Since we were already getting personal around here this week, I figured this was a good post to re-run. I’d also add coconut oil as a great supplement to anyone who is fighting a yeast infection. ~Nicole

Yeast infections are pretty common to the female experience.  We all have yeast inside of us, both “good” and “bad”, but there are times that things can get unbalanced, and the “bad” yeast takes over.  It’s never pleasant, but it doesn’t have to mean that we immediately reach for over-the-counter medical concoctions or prescription pills. Here are a few tips for both prevention and treatment of yeast infections – naturally.

1) Probiotics

I’ve sung the praises of probiotics before, when I shared about staying healthy while you travel. Probiotics are a powerful ally against yeast overgrowth. All that beneficial bacteria helps control the yeast and keeps things healthy – and this is especially true if you are taking antibiotics.

Don’t wait until your round of antibiotics is over to start taking probiotics; begin right away, so that as the antibiotics are killing off all of the bacteria inside you (good and bad alike), you are replenishing the good bacteria. Many people find that they develop yeast infections during or just after taking antibiotics. Probiotics are the solution here.

Probiotic capsules will work, but so will eating lots of plain yogurt or other cultured foods and drinks, such as lacto-fermented pickles and kombucha.  Personally, I take a probiotic capsule everyday, and I also include cultured foods in my diet on a regular basis.

2) Cut Out the Sugar

This sounds simple: sugar feeds yeast.  If you have a yeast infection, cut out the sugar from your diet.  However, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds if you’re a real sugar lover.

Photo by kate fisher

With a very bad or persistent infection, you will need to cut out sugar completely – that means not just sweets, but also sweetened beverages, foods with added sugar, potatoes, white rice, white flour, and even fruits. All of these foods are going to feed the yeast, but you want it to starve, not thrive. Cut out the sugar and the yeast will not have any food to live on.

3) Garlic

Garlic is one of nature’s most powerful anti-yeast foods.  The best way to capture its health benefits is by consuming it raw. Find some ways to add some raw garlic into your diet while you are fighting a yeast infection: minced and tossed in salad, for example.  Or, try mincing it and stirring it into plain yogurt (along with some chives and dill, perhaps) for a yummy vegetable dip; with both garlic and yogurt, it’s a double whammy!

If you can’t stomach it raw, you will still benefit from eating it cooked.  Garlic capsules are also available over-the-counter, but I should add that I don’t have any experience with these, so I can’t testify to their effectiveness.

Another way to use garlic in the fight against a yeast infection is as a suppository. Stick with me now, because this is going to sound crazy.  (I thought so at first!)  A health & wellness practitioner once recommended this method to me, and I can assure you that it works amazingly well.  Here’s what you do:

  1. Carefully peel a glove of fresh garlic, making sure the clove stay pretty well intact, without nicks.
  2. Thread a needle with some sturdy thread (regular all-purpose thread will work fine) and push the needle all the way through the garlic in the fattest part of the clove.
  3. Draw the thread through the clove and when you have about four-six inches of thread on both sides of the garlic, cut the thread and knot the two ends together.  This string will be used to remove the garlic, just like the string on a tampon.
  4. Before you go to bed, use your finger to insert the garlic vaginally, then don’t get out of bed again until morning (or else it might fall out!).  In the morning, gently use the string to remove the garlic and throw it away.

Depending on the severity of the infection, you may have to do this for more than one night.  Also, it may possibly burn a little bit.  But all I can say is that it works.  And if you combine this method with the other tips above, you will most likely be infection-free lickety-split.

Do you have other tips and suggestions for fighting yeast overgrowth naturally? We would love to hear them!