A vaginal infection most commonly due to the fungus Candida albicans. Candida albicans is normally found in small amounts in the vagina, mouth, digestive tract and on the skin. If for some reason the Candida albicans grows in excess, this will lead to a yeast infection.
Itching and or burning of the vulva and vagina
Abnormal vaginal discharge: from thin and watery to thick and chunky-like cottage cheese
Pain with urination
Pain with intercourse
Redness, swelling and irritation of the vulva
Causes of Yeast Infection in TCM
Emotional: Emotions such as anger or worry will at first stagnate the energy in the body, mainly affecting the liver and will eventually turn into heat. The liver channel flows through the external genitals, where the heat will accumulate and cause itching and redness.
Dietary: Consumption of greasy foods and dairy products can lead to the formation of dampness (heavy, sticky thick fluids) which will settle lower in the body (the genital region). Dampness is also a major cause for itching. When dampness and heat combine to form damp-heat, the itching will be severe.
Lifestyle: Overwork in life which can be working too much at a job or even too much sports and activities can weaken the spleen which controls the digestive system and will allow fluids to accumulate which forms dampness.
Treatment with TCM- Traditional Chinese Medicine
We have many specialized treatments for yeast infections. Throughout history Chinese Medicine has been isolating the herbs which effectively treat yeast infections. Acupuncture is also effective to regulate and strengthen the body to help it resolve and fight the infection it’s self.
Herbs are divided into those that are effective to use internally which clear heat and dampness and strengthen the immune system and those that are used externally which stop itching and have anti-fungal properties. External herbal formulas are combined into a formula and the herbs are boiled into a liquid which is used in a sitz bath to soak the affected area. This will bring relief from itching.
These herbal remedies are proven effective, they don’t have negative side effects and they will have long lasting results.
Treatment with Chinese Medicine addresses the problem at it’s root cause as well as treating the negative symptoms.
Acute Yeast Infection
An acute yeast infection can come on because of some unusual disturbance to the body. Commonly it can be from a course of antibiotics or from one of the above causes in TCM.
Treatment length will range from 1-2 weeks consisting of herbal medicine taken internally as well as soaked externally. Acupuncture can be done weekly as well for more effectiveness. The herbal medicine given usually clears dampness, heat and strengthens the digestive system as well as the immune system.
Chronic Yeast Infection
Women with chronic yeast infections are often caught in a cycle of treatment and re-infection. A prescription for an anti-fungal will temporarily resolve the problem, but the slightest aggravation will cause a re-infection. It can seem like the infection is constant. Commonly, infection can be triggered by sexual activity or can come at certain times through the menstrual cycle.
Treatments will be done aggressively, with acupuncture 2 times per week and herbal medicine will be taken daily to drink and soak the local area in. The treatment time can be expected to last for as long as it takes to break the cycle of the infection and then continued for that same amount of time. Herbal medicine will be changed to half dosage and gradually reduced until she can be put onto some maintenance pills which can be taken for an extended period of time.
For example, a woman who is getting infected with a yeast infection monthly can expect to need treatment for about 3 months. Once there has been one month that goes by with no infection, in this case 1.5 months, then we need to continue the treatment for another 1.5 months.