©2007 Publicaions International, Ltd. Garlic has strong antiyeast abilities and can help inhibit the growth of yeast-infection fungus.

If you've ever had one, chances are, you know how vaginal yeast infections begin -- they are characterized by intense itching and soreness accompanied by a thick white discharge.

These uncomfortable symptoms are most often caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. This organism thrives in moist, warm areas, making the vagina a perfect home for it. Normally other microorganisms keep Candida in check, but when this yeast grows profusely it causes a yeast infection.

Yeast infections can be uncomfortable, but there are many herbal remedies that use very simple components that can help relieve and ease their symptoms. In addition, there are some things to note during a yeast infection -- such as cutting down on fruit -- that may help you be more comfortable during its duration.

Herbal Remedies for Yeast Infections

Candida is a yeast that is classified as a fungus. Yeast thrives on sugars delivered by the bloodstream, so go light on your garden's fruit during an infection.

However, eating plenty of vegetables will give you the nutrients needed to boost immunity. Echinacea also provides support for immune function during this time.

Many herbs have the ability to conquer yeast. Calendula, goldenseal, rosemary, cedar, and myrrh all have antifungal properties. Make strong decoctions or infusions of these herbs to ease itching and burning; use either internally as a douche or apply externally with pads that have been soaked in it.

Garlic has strong antifungal and antiyeast abilities. It is particularly good at inhibiting the growth of Candida. If you can tolerate it, chew and swallow at least 1 raw clove or more per day. This needn't be taken alone. It may be more palatable to mince or press 1 clove and sprinkle it on your daily salad or any other dish you prefer.

The friendly bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus is helpful taken orally or inserted as you would a suppository in the vagina. It is available over-the-counter in capsule and powder form, or you can use yogurt containing active cultures.

Mind that garlic also is an anticoagulant; inform your physician if you take anticoagulants. If not, when you find yourself with a yeast infection, using the herbal remedies mentioned above may help relieve the discomfort of a yeast infection -- and even expediate getting over it.

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Eric Yarnell, N.D., R.H. (A.H.G.) is a naturopathic physician and registered herbalist in private practice specializing in men's health and urology.  He is an assistant professor in the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University in Seattle and is president or the Botanical Medicine Academy.  He is the author of several textbooks including Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Naturopathic Urology and Men's Health, and Clinical Botanical Medicine; He writes a regular column on herbal medicine for Alternative and Complementary Therapies.  This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.