03 May 2009

Garlic as a DIY yeast infection remedy

If reading about vaginas is not your thing then this isn't going to be a good post for you. It's going to be part of a post I'm getting together on garlic for the [flower blog].

A few days ago I came down with a yeast infection. If you've ever had one you KNOW what it is. If you're a guy or are not familiar with yeast infections, they're extremely common. It's just an overgrowth of the Candida albicans yeast that normally lives in the vagina. I won't go into detail about the numerous causes and symptoms of yeast infections. The point is that while they aren't a huge deal they're very uncomfortable. Over the counter antifungal treatments (like Monistat) are usually some concentration of miconazole nitrate as a cream or suppository. For most women, including myself, these treatments are safe, quick and effective. A doctor may also prescribe fluconazole creams.

I'm open to trying herbal remedies whenever I can because 1) it's cool and 2) I might be able to add an efficacy anecdote to my site. A friend whose knowledge I trust said I should look up more info on using garlic as a treatment. While I've been perfectly happy with Monistat I like to shy away from using synthetic chemicals when I can (again, it's not because I don't think they're safe, it's just nice to do some cheaper and more fun!).

Anyway, I found a protocol written by a certified nurse-midwife for using a clove of garlic at [Midwifery Today]. (I have strong opinions about the loss of women's herbal knowledge but I don't want to spout them off here. If you want to know more start with John Riddle's history [Eve's Herbs].)

So, on to the interesting part where I shoved a clove of garlic up my lady bits.

I bought a bulb of fresh "organic" garlic for about fifty cents from the grocery store. When I got home, I peeled one of the cloves and scored it lengthwise a few times with a knife to increase the surface area a little. According to the article, scoring or cutting the clove in half will increase the strength of the dose but you can leave it whole.

After that, just insert the clove like a tampon. If you've used tampons without an applicator it's pretty much exactly like that. If you're squeamish about poking it up there or have long nails you can push it most of the way in while you're sitting and then stand up. The vaginal muscles will help pull it upward.

You can't lose the clove "up there" because it will just stop if it gets to the cervix. The vagina isn't nearly as big as we tend to think it is. You'll probably be able to feel the clove by running a finger around the vaginal wall. If you are nervous about losing it you could always run a string through it for easy removal.

If you like doing it the old fashioned way you can also just bear down and expel it or pull it out with a hooked finger. It pops right out for me but I'm used to using a [Diva cup]. It will also probably slip out while you poop. I wore an unscented panty liner during the whole process to catch any discharge but there wasn't really any.

Some women report being irritated by the garlic; I was not. I wouldn't have known it was in there except that my symptoms were subsiding and my mouth tasted like garlic.

Yes, I could taste the garlic. Everything I ate tasted of garlic. My breath smelled like Italian food. It was kinda gross but VERY COOL. I can see why the CNM recommended doing this at night if that kind of thing bothers you.

Obviously this is a "try at your own risk" deal (and probably a bad idea if you're allergic to garlic or your symptoms don't subside) but it worked for me. Using a garlic suppository seems at least as effective as Monistat 7-day cream based on how quickly the symptoms were relieved. It was much less messy than the cream but made me smell like I was warding off vampires.

Verdict: on hold for a few more days to make sure the symptoms don't return.

Why would I write about something like this? If we don't talk about our bodies we'll continue to lose control over them. I refuse to be embarrassed about my physiological processes (even though I sometimes still am!) and hope to share information.