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

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

Based in Brisbane, Australia, Doctor Andrew Orr is a Women's Health & Reproductive Specialist, with masters degrees in both fields. He's also a nutritionist and a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Doctor Orr's fertility work with couples has resulted in the births of over 10,000 babies.


52 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?

      1. I’ve had thrush twice this year both after being on antibiotics. This time its. Awful my tiunge is really sore on the side the rest has healed but still having trouble with clearing up the rest. Been on the nystatin rinse and swallow 4 times a day up to 14 days I’m almost to 14 days. What’s next wed. I was told I would have to see the doctor if not cleared up. I’m supposed to be having gastric bypass sleeve surgery but can’t with this problem and I watch my duet…

  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

      1. Hi, i have been suffering with continuous thrush for over a year now and can’t seem to get tid of it. I am also pregnant now and it has become unbearable. I find myself in tears because i know nothing helps. I have had multiple swabs done, all came back with candida growth. I have been tested for diabetes, which came back negative and have even been to see a gynocologist, and i still have it. I feel hopeless. I haven’t tried pre and probiotics. Are they safe during pregnancy?

        1. Hey Sarah,

          I’ve suffered on and off over the years! I’ve found the SB Floravic and UltraBiotic 45 by BioCeuticals has helped me over the years. I took the UltraBiotic day and night for a month, and then for three months I take the other, also day and night. It you need another month of day and night then it won’t hurt. Otherwise I just take one capsule a day as a maintenance thing.

          It’s not a quick fix initially but long term it should hopefully help. Good luck!

  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.

    1. Did the capsule inserted help ease the pain and itchiness at all? I am currently on antibiotics due to a spider bite. I normally refuse antibiotics due to past history of thrush. I am reaching for anything to resolve this at the moment. I am taking 2 probiotics at night as suggested by chemist and today got 6 day canistan applicator. I am really needing this to go away.

  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. 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.

  11. I have a condition for the past year called HSP and have persistent thrush I have started to take a probiotic called Optibac extra strength and the doctor prescribes Canestan pessary and cream from time to time The thrush makes me feel quite unwell What can I do

  12. Hello Dr. Orr, I am suffering from Candida bacteria on and off very often(twice or thrice in a month) since 8 yrs. I am 34, I cannot bare this itching and swollen vaginal pain. pls help me to get rid of this problem. I leave in Germany, I have been using KADE FUNGI-3 , suppositories. But it does not help me for a longer period. after stopping the medication I am getting back the infection again, I need your help please.
    My e-mail Id is [email protected]. pls suggest me how to proceed further.

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. I would focus on the dietary tips as suggested in the article and work on repairing the gut. Eliminate grains and sugars from your diet, and see a good naturopath that can source some high quality, high potency prebiotics and probiotics for you. Eat fresh cut garlic, and include virgin coconut oil into your diet too. Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks. Good luck!

  13. Hey, so I have a thrush and my brother has as well. I myself am a very fit 16yo male, I watch what I eat a lot and do bodybuilding about 3-4 times a week. Since I’m 16 I can’t really control what I eat as much (since the parents buy the food) and so for lunch i have 2 or so slices of bread (varying types). I’ve somehow gotten myself a thrush under my foreskin, and am kinda embarrassed to tell my parents. Any advice?

    1. Cut out bread from your diet. If you want to eat bread then go for wheat and gluten free ones, drink plenty of water and try fruity green tea.

      Lemon and ginger water is also very good.

      You need to cleanse your gut. Avoid anything with sugar in it. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Garlic and bitter/ acidic fruits or veg are good as it will help keep your body at the correct ph balance.

      Take care

  14. Excellent article!! Thank you!
    I am on a paleo diet and love that you are holistically treating thrush. I have a paleo diet & eat pretty clean but in the last month I have increased my sugar intake (no refined sugars just honey, stevia and maple syrup) and I did add a little bit of grains after doing the whole30 this past month to see how it affects me- I don’t like how I felt so I have cut gluten completely. I also have been eating gluten free lactation cookies which have brewers yeast and I’m wondering if because of me consuming brewers yeast and not having a strong gut flora it made me prone to thrush? So I’m rolling my eyes because I added so little of these things to my diet and yet here I am again…. Dealing with Thrush as baby #2 turns 7 months (this happened with my first baby around the same time) So glad I found your site!
    Thanks for helping so many people!!

    1. Hi Sue
      I’ve just finished a chemo /radiotherapy regime and whilst I was undergoing my treatments I was told to stop all pre & probiotics and suplements . But I was alloed to drink Kombucha .Hope this helps .

    1. I can see references of bacteria causing thrush, but it does say thrush is a yeast infection at the begining of the article.

      See here: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/thrush-health/page2_em.htm

      “There are many types of bacteria in your mouth that normally control the growth of Candida. Sometimes a new type of bacteria gets into your mouth and disrupts the balance of the organisms already there, allowing Candida to overgrow. Health conditions and other things may also be involved.”

  15. Thrush is an yeast infection and most of the time it will return. You ca not get rid of it completely but you can control it.

    Diet and exercise is very important.

    Also, you need to learn to relax. People who are stressed or are not sleeping well maybe prone to all types of infections not just thrush!

    Medicine works but only temporarily. So the best thing is to improve your diet.

    Eat more fruits and vegetables. Sour/bitter/acidic ones are better. Such as limes, lemons, tomatoes, cranberries and apples (green ones).

    Drink water, green tea or if you hate the taste, then try the fruit green teas or herbal teas. Drink lemon and ginger water, ideally warm water. Drink at least 7/8 glasses of any of the above water. You need to flush out the infection from inside you.

    Garlic – try to add fresh garlic to salads or food and chew some fresh mint later on. Don’t worry about the smell from your mouth. If the smell is too strong just brush your teeth and use a mouthwash.

    Cut out White bread/rice and even wheat. Try wheat and gluten free diet.

    Eat yoghurt, try the non-dairy type, which also has probiotic cultures in them.

    Take a good multi vitamin and/or probiotic supplement daily. Ones with omega oils are the best.

    Eat fish, grilled or baked not fried.

    Avoid meat for a while if you can.

    Avoid sugary food and sugar.

    Exercise regularly, even a 15 minute walk is good. Dance around in your room!

    Sleep early and try to relax.

    I hope all this helps. Try to do as much or few of these things as possible.

    *Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet or routine especially if you are under 18, pregnant, breast feeding, unwell or elderly.

    Happy Christmas and new year!

  16. Hi I’m only 17 and unfortunately get thrush a lot, I notice I more commenly get it just after a period, but currently I’ve had it for almost 3 weeks now, I wasn’t persistent with the cream and first but after getting something a little stronger I’ve noticed a slight improvement however it’s starting to frustraight me as I’m so close to clearing it up but yet it won’t seem to completely go?? Any recommendations would be really helpful -Albany

  17. Its amazing to see a modern doctor also specializes in Chinese medicine. I do not know any doctors in Malaysia doing this although we have an abundance of Chinese medicine shops, operated traditionally. This kind of old & new mix should be encouraged. Congratulations!

  18. FYI – thrush is fungal not bacterial. I stopped reading the minute I saw this obvious error. Please get facts straight and educate people not misinform them. Thanks.

    1. Dr Orr stated that it is fungal, in the introduction:

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

  19. Great article…. very useful information on preventing and controlling thrush, however I seem to have a problem with the external symptoms of thrush, where my down below is very itchy, especially at nights, and I get a terrible burning sensation when I wee during the night. My GP prescribed me a canesten pestary and cream however these don’t seems to have worked. I think the internal thrush may have cleared as I dont have the discharge symptoms, however I can’t seem to get rid of the severe itching and soreness.
    I had a swab test done at the GP’s and I was clear of all STI’s and the results came back as ‘mild thrush’…. just to rule out anything else.
    Any help greatly appreciated!
    Thanks

  20. Hello, I live in Melbourne Australia and have been trying to get rid of my candida thrush illness for over 1 yr now, I’ve spent thousands on naturopaths and don’t know what to do, I am currently taking SB Floractive, fresh garlic, apple cider vinegar and I just can’t get rid of it, it comes back as soon as I have a treat (ice cream) as it’s depressing living like this. Can you recommend a Chinese herbalist that can give me the herbs I need to kill all the bacteria in my gut. Or tell me what to ask for as nobody knows anything about candida here. Thank you

  21. Are you a real doctor? Because this article is full of inaccuracies and misinformation and is not supported by real science

    1. Dr Andrew Orr is indeed a doctor, he has his Masters in Reproductive Medicine and Masters in Women’s Health just for starters (he just completed his third Masters degree). He’s also a fully qualified nutritionist, doctor of Chinese Medicine and much more, his work over the years has resulted in 13,000 babies for his patients. Are you able to share your qualifications and research/sources that this is inaccurate? Many diseases we deal with today are driven by diet and lifestyle choices, but can also be improved by making those changes.

  22. Hi Dr Orr, I am 6 months pregnant and I have a yeast infection. My partner has also experienced symptoms. We have been using a cream topically and trying to keep a clean diet. I have learnt that the pill and pessary treatments are unsafe during pregnancy, is there something more effective that I/or we can take?
    The Chinese medicines you wrote about, are they safe to take during pregnancy and where can I buy them? I live on the Sunshine Coast, QLD.
    Many thanks

  23. Hi, docter Orr, I think I may have this but I guess I’m to ashamed to A) believe it and B) tell anyone. Especially my two month boyfriend. I’ve looked up the symptoms and they all say the same thing; however when I go to the bathroom it doesn’t burn or sting and my vagina isn’t incredibly itchy. It is itchy once in a while but that may just be the sweat as I do walk a lot and it gets hot. I don’t know what to do. My doctor is a male and lives a few doors up from my house and I would prefer to see a female doctor and get the medication without anyone knowing. I guess I am embarrassed. Please help!

  24. Hi Dr Orr. I am pregnant and had thrush symptoms for the first time recently. Went to the doctors and did a swab with result being heavy candida growth. Rather than heading straight to the Pharmacy to get canesten as my Dr advised I adapted my diet (not too strictly) and was more cautious with hygeine. The symptoms disapeared and I went back to do another swab a week later for peace of mind. This time results showed light candida growth. I have just noticed my toe nails have a fungal infection and am wondering if this can also be treated through diet? I am cutting processed sugars, drastically minimising wheats and upping my green fibre intake as well as eating garlic, yoghurt, coconut oil and a table spoon of apple cider vinegar daily. Hoping I can treat this quickly. How long should it take to clear my nails completely?

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