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Top 3 Natural Cures for Thrush
Top 3 Natural Cures for Thrush
Thrush. The term itself sounds terribly unpleasant, but the actual condition can be downright agonizing. Caused by a rapid overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans on mucous membranes, thrush can occur in the mouth, vaginal area or on the nipples of breastfeeding women. It’s marked by white, sometimes creamy-looking lesions that can crack and bleed when scraped.
Most often, thrush is merely uncomfortable and irritating but not overly dangerous. But according to the Mayo Clinic, it can cause more problems if it becomes chronic or, such as a possibility with oral thrush, if the infection moves beyond the mouth into the esophagus, making eating and swallowing painful. Worse yet, if thrush makes its way to the intestines or liver, it can impede your body’s ability to absorb sufficient nutrients from food.
Luckily, thrush isn’t too common in otherwise healthy people, because a fully functioning immune system can usually keep this fungus in check. But when the body’s yeast-fighting beneficial bacteria are compromised, due to infection, diseases such as diabetes or a course of antibiotics, Candida can proliferate. Older adults and infants also tend to have weaker immune systems, making them more susceptible to thrush. And, unfortunately for women who breastfeed, a baby can easily pass excess yeast from his mouth onto his mother’s nipples, and she, in turn, can pass it right back.
Most instances of thrush aren’t too tough to remedy. Mild oral cases can often be cleared up by practicing better oral hygiene or limiting sugar consumption—another probable cause, because excess sugar gives yeast great fuel for growth. For affected external areas, the most common conventional approach is to use an over-the-counter antifungal cream, which battles Candida head-on but does nothing to bolster the body’s natural defenses. Same story for doctor-prescribed oral antifungals, which can also cause liver damage, according to the Mayo Clinic. On the other hand, a few natural, drug-free remedies can give thrush a run for its money, yet spare you the downsides of mainstream medicines. Here are three things to try.
When everything’s functioning properly, the body has an arsenal of “good” bacteria on hand to help ward off infections such as thrush. But when these beneficial bugs become overtaxed or depleted, trouble—such as yeast overgrowth—can ensue. This is especially a concern when taking antibiotics, which wipe out infection-fighting bacteria. Therefore, taking in additional probiotics will resupply your diminished stores to help prevent or combat thrush. They are thought to stymie Candida growth by turning your insides more acidic and producing hydrogen peroxide.
Although research supporting the effectiveness of various Lactobacillus probiotic strains against Candida-caused infections is still inconclusive, preliminary evidence from both laboratory studies and human trials puts promise behind probiotics’ powers. Regarding vaginal Candida infections specifically, the National Institutes of Health reports that taking 1 billion live cultures of Lactobacillus GG bacteria twice a day for one week may help improve symptoms. Meanwhile, the Mayo Clinic suggests Lactobacillus acidophilus for thrush. And Cheryl Taylor, a certified breastfeeding educator and cofounder of drjaygordon.com, a website devoted to infant nutrition and breastfeeding, suggests taking Florastor, a probiotic supplement containing Saccharomyces boulardii lyo, a nonpathogenic, beneficial yeast from tropical fruit that’s supposed to withstand antibiotics’ system-ravaging effects.
You can easily get probiotics via supplements, but fermented foods and yogurt with live cultures also supply the good bugs. Taylor recommends unsweetened yogurt to avoid adding more yeast-loving sugar to the mix.
Grapefruit seed extract
Taylor swears by this high-powered natural antimicrobial for clearing up thrush. In fact, she says that the extract, synthesized from grapefruit pulp and seeds, is even more effective than other common bug zappers like tea tree oil and colloidal silver in inhibiting Candida albicans growth.
Taylor recommends mixing one drop grapefruit seed extract with one ounce distilled water and then dabbing the solution onto the nipples and inside an infant’s mouth once an hour as well as before and after nursing. If the baby’s bottom area has thrush, she says it may be easier to put the solution in a spray bottle to make sure the affected area gets covered. Taylor says symptoms should improve within a few days, but if thrush persists, try a stronger solution made with 15 or 20 drops.
Another nondrug thrush remedy is topical gentian violet, a dye that has antimicrobial properties. This substance works in the same way as grapefruit seed extract and can safely be swabbed onto skin or even inside a child’s mouth. Premade solutions are commonly 1 or 2 percent gentian violet. The major drawback of gentian violet, however, is that it’s very messy and can stain skin purple for several days—not so surprising, given that it’s the same stuff forensic experts use to fingerprint perps. Still, Taylor says it’s highly effective. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should avoid covering up areas, such as the nipples, after swabbing on gentian violet, because it can cause skin to dry out if not given enough time to breathe.
By: Melaina Juntti
Melaina is a freelance writer and editor in Madison, Wis., who focuses on natural health and wellness. Her work has appeared in Men's Journal, Delicious Living, Natural Foods Merchandiser, Natural Solutions, Inside Triathlon and Triathlete magazines.
August 16th, 2012