Thrush Treatment – Get Rid of Thrush For Good (Yes, It’s True!)

Many women come into my clinic with symptoms of thrush and urinary tract infections, so I’ve decided to write about it so people can be informed about how to truly beat these two highly unpleasant conditions.

Like any health problem, prevention really is the best way to ensure optimum health and wellbeing, both physically and emotionally.

What I am finding is that a few simple misconceptions and poor dietary and lifestyle habits are causing many women to develop thrush unknowingly.

What Is Thrush?

Thrush is the common name given to a vaginal yeast infection. Vaginal yeast infections are caused by Candida, a type of fungus.

Candida lives in the gut most of the time, but it can be transferred to the vagina, causing thrush. Through dietary and other factors, the candida grows more rapidly and then causes inflammation and then infection.

This is what causes a yeast infection, which can also lead to urinary tract infections (UTI’s).

Thrush Symptoms

Vaginal thrush can cause severe itching, a discharge which is usually white (often described as looking like cottage cheese), and sometimes pain or burning when passing urine (wee).

Thrush is more common amongst women who are sexually active, but it can also occur in women who are not sexually active.

What Are The Causes?

Not cleaning the genital and anal area properly can be a major factor (water alone is not enough) and a poor diet full of high GI carbohydrates and refined sugars also makes the bacteria grow.

Many things seem to trigger thrush, such as being ill, using antibiotics and some types of the ‘pill’. Thrush that keeps coming back may be a sign of diabetes or insulin resistance. Therefore a low GI diet and restoring proper gut flora and function is very important.

However, Candida always starts in the gut first, and this is caused by poor diet (i.e. high sugars and yeast based foods) as well as high levels of stress, antibiotics, the pill, illness and disruption of the gut flora.

That is why it’s very important to replenish the gut flora with a high potency prebiotic and probiotic daily. The best form of probiotic contains the NCFM strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus. It is the most scientifically validated therapeutic strain discovered, with a proven track record for gastrointestinal survival, bile tolerance, adherence and colonisation.

But before you start adding in the good bacteria (probiotic) and begin eating the right foods for the good bacteria to grow, it is essential to clear any microbes and bad bacteria first. At the same time you also need to repair the gut lining.

Thrush Treatment

The conventional treatment is usually a cream or pessary (dissolving tablet) which is placed in the vagina daily for up to a week. A treatment in the form of a tablet, such as Nystatin and Diflucan, can be used as well.

The problem with some of these tablet treatments is that while they are designed to kill the bad bacteria in the gut that causes thrush, they can also kill the good bacteria. This then leads to the gut flora being susceptible to further growth of Candida. Basically it means you are worse off than when you started – and who wants that?

The way Chinese and complementary medicine would treat these conditions is to treat the root cause, not just the symptoms. It makes much more sense to treat what is causing the problem in the first place, rather than having to treat recurrences in future.

Firstly, we have to rid the body of the micro organism causing the thrush in the first place. In my clinic, I use powerful antimicrobial herbs that help remove gastrointestinal organisms which may contribute to gut inflammation and permeability. These herbs are also particularly potent against microbial infections.

At the same time, we would use a combination of Chinese herbs to rid the body of the cause of thrush and treat the symptoms at the same time. All treatments may need to be taken for weeks after symptoms have gone, and also as a prevention. Sometime we make a herbal vaginal wash to assist any acute symptoms.

All of this is also done alongside a strict grain free, higher protein, clean eating style of diet. Many people recommend eating yoghurt when you have thrush, but there are not enough probiotics to fix or reverse the problem, let alone address the root cause. You also have to be careful of supermarket probiotic drinks, as they are often loaded with sugar.

Prevention

After the thrush is addressed, we then have to replenish the gut flora.

I use specially selected Chinese herbs to restore the gut and digestive function, as well as using prebiotics and probiotics, as mentioned earlier. This all needs to be done in the right order and combination to be 100% affective.

Diet must be addressed to help prevent thrush. Grain free/Paleo/Primal is what I recommend to all my patients. This is because candida and other bacteria thrive on sugars and yeast, so these need to be omitted from the diet as much as possible. Natural sugars in fruits are fine in limited amounts.

You will also need to address your stress levels. High stress leads to poor health and disease. When you are stressed, you are most likely to become run down and susceptible to infections, such as thrush and UTI’s.

Is Thrush Contagious?

If the thrush or UTI’s come back, it is advisable to treat sexual partners. Bacteria can be passed on to a sexual partner. In males, it occurs more often on uncircumcised men than circumcised men. Keeping the penis clean (and dry), by washing under the foreskin and using anti-fungal creams can usually control this.

Tips To Prevent Thrush

Washing the anal-vulva area daily with a washer and a low pH body wash is essential. Water alone is not enough to get rid of any bacteria. When you wash your hands, you don’t use water only do you? The old school of thought was that perfumed based soaps can make thrush and UTI’s worse – but we now know that is not true.

Another good practice that has been thoroughly researched is using salt water washes around the anal-vulva/perineum area twice per day after showering. The salt water helps wash away and kill off any leftover bad bacteria. You can do this by using a cup of rock salt in a small bowl of water, washing the anal/vulva/perineum area.

Cranberry juice is well known for its prevention of UTI’s, but research now shows us that you shouldn’t take cranberry juice while you have an infection. It has been shown to make it worse. Take it to prevent, but not while you have an infection.

With thrush, avoid tight fitting pants and nylon pantyhose. These bring about the warm, moist conditions that yeast loves. Cotton underwear is healthiest option too.

Getting out in the sun and letting sunlight and air onto the vaginal/perineum area can also help.

Last Updated: July 16, 2015

CONTRIBUTOR

Women's Health & Reproductive Specialist


21 comments

  1. Thank you Dr Orr for giving me the exact information I need to share with my physically active, high sugar eating 13 yr old daughter.
    I have had this problem since I was her age, I’m 49 now. Over the years I have tried many a remedy or medical treatment, not to cure but control. In the end I have learned that a low sugar and almost GF diet has benefited balancing my ‘internals’ – although I love a good lollie now and again!
    I will share this with my girl and encourage her to reduce her high sugar habits and try to take on board the importance of balanced meals…that should be an easy sell?

  2. I think Chinese medicine has lots to offer and love getting a dose of acupuncture! I must say I suffered from thrush for many years and almost gave up on ever curing it. I use mama natures proskin treatment for thrush and it really does get rid of it. A friend suggested I use it after it helped her and touch wood i have not had a reoccurence since using it. Ube impressed. Only downside is that I had to order from England and would rather it was available here.

  3. I have been having this problem off and on.It is so difficult to get rid of it. I never knew it was thrush until i did my own reading. It is so uncomfortable.I read in the internet Canesten cream will help..which I am going to try.Can anyone suggest what type of probiotics I should take?Are they any particular brand?I am so stressed because of this problem. So i can still use feminine wash? Thank you.

    1. Diet is a big part of getting rid of this problem too Kavita. You need to reduce sugars and refined foods and they feed the bacteria that cause this problem. Canasten can help, but make sure you take the 7 day course. The probiotics you need should have Saccharomyces boulardi strain in them. You should also look for probiotics that have the NCFM strain in them too. Always make sure you take a prebiotic as well.
      For any long term thrush symptoms you should get a doctor to do some swabs as it may not be thrush, even if the symptoms may be the same. It could be something else
      Regards
      Dr Andrew Orr

  4. Thank you for the tips! What kind of Chinese herbs do you use to rid the body of the micro organism? And is it available online?

    1. If you visit a qualified practitioner they will be able to prescibed the right herbal medicine for you Sarah. You need to see a practitioner to get chinese herbs. You should also be taking pre and probiotics at the same time
      Hope that helps
      Regards
      Dr Andrew Orr

  5. Hi Please Please could you tell me where I can obtain the herbs, I have suffered Thrush for many years & what you have told us makes more sense than any doctors or consultants I have seen over many years,
    Hopefully Boo.

    1. If you visit a qualified practitioner they will be able to prescibed the right herbal medicine for you Boo. You need to see a practitioner to get chinese herbs. You should also be taking pre and probiotics at the same time
      Hope that helps
      Regards Dr Andrew Orr

  6. I get UTI regular also Thrush.
    When I was at the chemist this time getting my Antibiotics and Inner health plus
    I was told to put one Inner health plus capsule into the vagina.

  7. Helllo Dr. Orrr
    I do havr trush in my mouth. I had to do radiation for two weeks and Avastin four times. Avastin is an immunotheraphy treatment. it is made frim living cells. I notice after taking Avastin thush gets worse. What can I do to get rid of it?It is very painful when I speak and I do think it contribute to the hoarseness of my voice.I started using pre and probiotic. I don’t consume sugar and stay from food that have yeast like bread etc.

    Thany You Dr Orr

  8. Hi Doctor, i’ve been suffering this thrush since I was in high school. It got worse when I got to varsity. I’m a South African citizen and I would like to know if I can find these Chinese herbs in my country, and what specific herbs should I use to get rid of it for good. Please help because most doctors give me antibiotics and vaginal cream, which do not seem to work. Thanx

    1. Antibiotics can make thrush worse :(

      Have you definitely been tested for thrush? It can be confused with other things. But you can help with your diet (avoid sugars, grains), and with the other suggestions in this article.

    1. No… the amount of probiotics in yoghurt is low, and cannot be guaranteed while sitting on a supermarket shelf. Also, most yoghurts are full of sugar — the low fat ones compensate with extra sugar. But try the suggestions in the article, much better.

  9. I used to have thrush during my pregnancies, and I try so many things to get rid of it, but for the first time in my fourth pregnancy I am free of it and the only thing it work was eating fermented foods, like garlic and sourkraut, plus a good supplementation on vitamins and minerals.

  10. Dr Andrew Orr what is your gmail email because I need to ask you something but I don’t want t to write it as I’m only 11year old my email is amy1110112@gmail.com please help me I can’t sleep at night

  11. Nice article, however, you fail to mention what “powerful Chinese herbs” you use. Telling people in the comments to see a qualified practitioner in order to get them is a little vague. Not everyone knows or understands what you mean by “qualified practitioner” and saying that may make people who are seeking knowledge in relieving this ailment even more frustrated. Not to mention that without knowing exactly what they should be asking for, “qualified practitioner” may not know what is being recommended when they do ask them “I was told to get Chinese herbs.”

    Please explain yourself in detail on what herbs and where people may find someone qualified to administer them.

    1. Chinese herbs are prescribed from a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). A qualified practitioner is a qualified Doctor of Chinese Medicine. I hope that helps.

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