Healing Thrush for Good with Naturopathy & Herbal Medicine

Thrush is the result of an overgrowth of a normal yeast-like fungus called Candida. It most commonly occurs in the gut or the vagina, and on top of causing a series of uncomfortable and challenging symptoms, it can also become reccurent and difficult to resolve for good. Interventions such as anti-fungals and anti-biotics often provide immediate relief, but can lead to changes in the microbiome that increases the risk, frequency and severity of re-infection over time. This can create a vicious cycle over long periods of time that can be difficult to break free from.

When in the gut, candida can cause bloating, abdominal pain, changes to bowel movements, and poor all-round digestion, absorption and elimination. The overall inflammation that increases in the intestines can set up a reactionary gut environment – increasing the list of ‘trigger foods’ and severity of symptoms like bloating and pain over time. Chronically inflamed tissue is less functional, and less able to heal itself, so this can become a perpetual cycle, establishing an ideal environment in which candida thrives. Common trigger foods are refined carbs/simple sugars (wheat products, sugary foods etc) and dairy products.

With genital thrush, sensations can include itching, burning, tingling or irritation, and usually coincides with a ‘cottage-cheese’ like discharge. The vaginal tissue can feel sensitive and sore, both during the infection and, if they are recurring frequently, between infections as well. It is also common for infections to peak at particular moments in the cycle – such as around ovulation, and in the lead up to bleeding. As the bowel is partly responsible for the breakdown and elimination of hormones like oestrogen, when candida/ dysbiosis is apparent in the bowel, it can drive the problematic oestrogenic environment, and cause or worsen vaginal thrush.

Thrush can also occur orally, in which the tongue has a thick coating of white mucous. In more severe manifestations, candida overgrowth can be affecting multiple systems at once. With all this in mind, it is easy to see that there are many factors to consider when treating acute or chronic thrush. And unfortunately the options from allopathic medicine can perpetuate and worsen the condition in the long term, while also contributing to a disrupted microbiome overall. Contrary to common belief, thrush is often not a hygeine issue. In fact, over-cleaning the vaginal tissue, or tongue scraping frequently, can be contributing to infections by wiping out good bugs with soap.

Common things that can increase the likelihood of thrush are:

  • RECURRENT ANTIBIOTIC USE. This can wipe out the normal, healthy microbiome as readily as pathogenic microbes, and afterward leaves ’empty homes’ in the tissue for opportunistic pathogens to move in and proliferate.
  • COMPROMISED IMMUNITY. If your Immune system is not able to mount the response required to deal with an opportunistic infection, then resolution of the infection can be difficult without some kind of supportive intervention.
  • HORMONAL IMBALANCE. Candida loves an oestrogenic environment – so high oestrogen and/or low progesterone can set the scene for thrush to both appear and recur.
  • HIGH DIETARY INTAKE OF REFINED CARBOHYDRATES. Simple sugars are food/fuel for candida, and can support the environment it likes to proliferate in.

An essential part of the Naturopathic approach to healing thrush for good is to heal the tissue at the site of the infection, and address local inflammation, tissue damage, and lack of tone/integrity of the membranes. Thankfully, this is something Herbal Medicine does really, really well!

By working with the local tissue – ie. the gut lining or the vaginal membranes – your body gets the support it needs initiating healing actions that break the cycle of reinfection. Once herbs have supported good tone, proper movement of fluids and wastes, and healing qualities that manage blood flow, inflammation and local hydration, the environment becomes one that candida doesn’t thrive in.

THEN we can start building the RIGHT microbiome with more typical interventions like probiotics, diet, herbal anti-fungals etc.

So that is an overview of how Naturopathically, we can heal thrush for good. Sometimes it resolves quickly (within a month or two), sometimes it takes longer to rectify underlying issues such as hormonal involvement, or compromised immunity (several months+). Your unique circumstances will play a part in how the healing process unfolds.

If you would like specific, nourishing, Naturopathic support to break the cycle of candida infections, make a booking with Rebecca to start talking about how she can guide you in healing from candida.

Rebecca is a Naturopath, & Kinesiologist with 9 years of clinical experience. Her practice is grounded in folk medicine and the wise woman tradition of healing. She incorporates astrology, tarot and esoteric traditions in her sessions where needed, and also runs Women’s Circles. Rebecca has a deep passion for bringing balance and health back to Menstrual Cycles, and working with Mental and Emotional Health. You can find out more about Naturopathy and Rebecca, and book your appointment at Kundalini House here.