TCM Treats Candida and Bacterial Vaginosis – 1 Treatment You Have to Try for Recurrent Conditions!

TCM treats Candida and BV – is it really possible?

If you are asking that, then please read on.

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Recurrent Thrush or BV?

You are likely reading this because you think you have Candida (Thrush) or Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). You probably think that Chinese Medicine might help, especially if your condition is recurring.

You are probably experiencing some abnormal vaginal discharge, as well as symptoms like irritation and itch. it is good to know that both BV and Candida can happen at the same time.

TCM treats Candida and Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). But before, we talk about TCM, let’s give you the lay of the land!

How does Candida and BV happen?

This happens when the vaginal microbiome composition is disrupted, pathological microorganisms gain dominance – this a process known as dysbiosis.

This means that instead of being dominated by the Lactobacillus species, which maintains a healthy acidic environment in the vagina, the vagina is instead dominated by the Candida species (which is a yeast infection) or the Gardnerella species (which is a bacterial infection aka Bacterial Vaginosis).

Candida

Candida lives on our skin and in the inner linings of our body, e.g. the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina. It does so without causing much problems.

However, if conditions change inside the vagina, a yeast infection aka Candida can occur. Hormonal changes, medicines like antibiotics or changes in the immune system can clear out the existing Lactobacilli (good bacteria), resulting in an increased likelihood of a yeast infection.

BV

In a BV infection, Gardnerella Vaginalis and Prevotella Bivia begin by adhering to the vaginal wall. They then begin on a mission to clear out the existing Lactobacilli (good bacteria) in the vagina.

Gardnerella Vaginalis will begin to spit out enzymes like sialidase and prolidase which destroy protective mucus lining of the inner wall of the vagina. When this barrier protection is compromised, other bacteria can also infiltrate, which can lead to a chronic situation.

How to cure Candida and BV?

Three strategies:
1. Stop doing things that encourage their growth
2. Do things that reducing their existing colonization
3. Repopulate with good bacteria (Lactobacilli).

How do I know if I have Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common condition that can cause abnormal vaginal discharge, strong fishy odor as well as irritation and itch.

If you are experiencing any of the following, you may have BV:

  1. Increased vaginal discharge: This may be thin, white, or gray in color, and may have a fishy odor.
  2. Vaginal odor: BV can cause a strong, fishy odor that may be more noticeable after sexual intercourse.
  3. Vaginal irritation and itch: You may experience itching or burning in the vaginal area.
  4. Pain during urination or sexual intercourse: BV may cause discomfort or pain during these activities.

What exactly is happening when I have Bacterial Vaginosis?

What is Bacterial Vaginosis? Bacterial Vaginosis happens when Gardnerella Vaginalis and other bacteria clings on strongly to the inner walls of the vagina.

Why does this happen? This happens when the vaginal microbiome composition is disrupted, pathological microorganisms gain dominance – this a process known as dysbiosis.

This means that instead of being dominated by the Lactobacillus species, the vagina is instead dominated by the Gardnerella species.

During the early stages of colonization, Gardnerella Vaginalis and Prevotella Bivia adhere to the vaginal wall and gradually clear out existing Lactobacilli.

Gardnerella Vaginalis will begin to spit out enzymes like sialidase and prolidase which destroy protective mucus lining of the inner wall of the vagina. When this barrier protection is compromised, other bacteria can also infiltrate, which can lead to a chronic situation.

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What is the most common way to treat Bacterial Vaginosis?

The usual treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is with antibiotics.

  • Metronidazole is the most commonly used antibiotic for Bacterial Vaginosis. It can be taken orally or applied directly to the vagina as a cream or gel.
  • Clindamycin is another antibiotic available as a cream that can be used topically.
  • Tinidazole is like Metronidazole, but has a longer half-life and more favorable side effect profile.

Are Antibiotics the only way to treat Bacterial Vaginosis?

Antibiotics are effective at treating Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) in most cases, but they may not be the best option for everyone.

In some people, BV may recur even after treatment with antibiotics. This can be frustrating for the person experiencing it. There are several reasons why this may happen:

  • Antibiotics may not completely eliminate all of the harmful bacteria in the vagina: While antibiotics are effective at killing many types of bacteria, they may not be able to completely eradicate all of the harmful bacteria. What then happens is subsequent bacterial infection that is more drug resistant.
  • Antibiotics can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the vagina: Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria, but they can also affect the balance of good bacteria in the vagina. This can make it more difficult for the vagina to maintain a healthy bacterial environment and increase the risk of BV recurring. Antibiotics also create the perfect situation for Candida overgrowth aka Thrush.

When do I consider Chinese Medicine for Bacterial Vaginosis?

If you experience recurrence of Bacterial Vaginosis, this is likely when Chinese herbs can be very helpful.

How can Chinese Medicine treat Bacterial Vaginosis?

Firstly, Chinese Medicine balances out your hormones

An appropriate level of estrogen in the body maintains the integrity of the inner wall of the vagina.

It also causes glycogen to deposit on the vaginal wall. Abundant glycogen is useful because it is food for lactobacilli to grow and spread and produce enough lactic acid to create an acidic vaginal microenvironment.

An acidic vaginal microenvironment is healthy protects you from further BV infection.

If you experience vaginal dryness, are perimenopausal and are also prone to UTI infection, you may benefit from an herbal approach helps your body replenish its estrogen levels.

For example, Radix Rehmannia is estrogen-mimetic. It is able regulate estrogen levels in the body.

Secondly, Chinese Medicine takes a multipronged strategy to inhibit BV growth

Bitter-cold Chinese herbs like Gentiana and Scutellaria inhibit the growth of Gardnerella Vaginalis and the formation of biofilm. It is done by suppressing bacterial alkaline phosphatase and sialidase mRNA.

There is also increased production of thermonuclease, which is able to destroy biofilms.

How do I know if I have Candida or Thrush?

Vaginal discharge is a normal part of the menstrual cycle and can vary in amount, color, and consistency.

If you have Candida, which is a yeast infection, your vaginal discharge may be thick, white, and clumpy, like cottage cheese.

You may also experience other symptoms, e.g. itching, burning, redness, and swelling of the vulva (the area around the vaginal opening).

It is also common to experience pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse or urination.

What exactly is happening when I have Candida or Thrush?

Candida is a type of yeast that is naturally present in the vagina in small amounts. It is usually kept in balance by the beneficial bacteria that also live in the vagina.

When the fungus grows out of control, you have a fungal infection known as Candida or Thrush.

What is the most common way to treat Candida or Thrush?

The treatment for a yeast infection typically involves the use of antifungal medication. These come in the form of oral tablets, creams or pessaries which you can insert into the vagina.

Antifungal medicine often ends with -azole. The most commonly prescribed antifungals include clotrimazole, ketoconazole, miconazole and fluconazole. There is also nystatin, an antifungal which may not be as effective as the -azoles for thrush.

There are also supplements for BV and Candida that treat this stubborn condition. The supplements help to break the endless cycle of bacterial vaginosis leading to antibiotic use, resulting in subsequent thrush and candida overgrowth.

When do I consider Chinese Medicine for Candida or Thrush?

You would want to consider Chinese Medicine if you are suffering from Recurrent Candida.

How can Chinese Medicine treat Candida or Thrush?

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Chinese herbs target different components of the Candida Fungus

#1: Compromise Permeability of Cell Membranes

Here are some examples of how Chinese herbs are able to disrupt the cell membrane:

  • Sambucus Williamsii (接骨木) depolarizes the cell membrane leading to permeabilization.
  • Trachelospermum Asiaticum (络石藤) depolarizes the transmembrane potential.
  • Magnolia Officinalis (厚朴) reduces the content of ergosterol in Candida Albicans, enhances the effect of fluconazole.
  • Origanum Dictamnus (白鲜皮) increases membrane permeability and blocks efflux pumps.

#2: Compromise Fungal Cell Walls

  • Marchantia polymorpha L. (地钱) inhibits the expression of chitin synthetase gene 1 (CHS1), thereby suppressing the activity of CHS and the subsequent synthesis of chitin.
  • Houttuynia cordata Thunb. (鱼腥草) exerts synergistic effect with fluconazole (antifungal) by interfering with -1,3-glucan synthesis and transportation.

#3: Compromise Fungal Mitochondria

  • Berberine (黄连、黄柏) induces mitochondrial dysfunction. Berberine’s effects are in synergy with fluconazole, even in fluconazole-resistant clinical isolates.
  • Baicalin (黄芩) inhibits activities of enzymes in mitochondria and induces cell cycle blockage and apoptosis in Candida Albicans.
  • Curcumin (姜黄) increases cell death in Candida Albicans cells, either alone or in synergy with antifungal drugs such as azoles and polyenes.
  • Silybum marianum (水飞蓟) induces apoptosis related to mitochondrial Ca2+ influx in Candia Albicans cells.

#4: Compromise Biofilm Formation

  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum (肉桂) inhibits biofilm formation of Candida Albicans, Candida Parapsilosis and Candida Orthopsilosis.
  • Berberine (黄连、黄柏) inhibits biofilms formation of Candida Albicans, both alone and in synergy with miconazole (antifungal).
  • Magnolia officinalis (厚朴) inhibits biofilm formation via suppressing adhesion and growth of Candida Albicans.
  • Curcumin (姜黄) inhibits biofilm formation of Candida Albicans.
  • Thymus vulgaris L. (百里香) inhibits biofilm formation and development, and shows synergy with fluconazole (antifungal) against biofilms. It also exhibits antifungal activity against fluconazole-resistant isolates of Candida Albicans while enhancing host antimicrobial responses against Candida Albicans.
  • Plantago major (车前子) inhibits biofilm formation and decreases cell surface hydrophobicity of Candida Albicans (Candia Albicans cells with higher cell surface hydrophobicity present higher adhesion success).
  • Syzygium aromaticum (丁香) inhibits biofilm formation and preformed biofilms more effectively than fluconazole. This herb also exhibits anti-fungal activity against fluconazole-resistant isolates of Candida, and produces synergistic effects with fluconazole (antifungal)
  • Pelargonium graveolens (香叶) facilitates anti-biofilm activity, either alone or in combination with fluconazole (antifungal)
  • Rheum palmatum (大黄) inhibits biofilm formation of Candida Albicans.

#5: Interrupts ICL1

ICL1 is a key enzyme in the glyoxylate cycle, a metabolic pathway that occurs in Candida for the synthesis of carbohydrates.

Thymus vulgaris L. (百里香), Perilla Frutescens and Rosmarinic Acid (in Basil, Oregano, Lemon Balm, and Salvia Miltiorrhiza 丹参) inhibits enzymatic activity of ICL1 in Candida Albicans.

Conclusion

If you are suffering from Candida or Bacterial Vaginosis, consider using Chinese herbs! It is a viable intervention and you should give it a shot!

FAQs

Bacteria Vaginosis vs Vaginal Candida

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused by an imbalance in the vaginal bacteria, specifically an overgrowth of certain anaerobic bacteria. Certain factors, such as douching, new sexual partners, or the use of certain hygiene products, can increase the risk of developing BV.
The symptoms of BV include:

  • Thin, gray or white vaginal discharge with a fishy odor
  • Burning sensation or irritation in the vaginal area
  • Itching or discomfort during sexual intercourse

Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of a fungus called Candida, which is naturally present in the vagina. Certain factors, such as antibiotic use, pregnancy, or a weakened immune system, can disrupt the vaginal flora and allow Candida to multiply excessively, leading to a yeast infection.

The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:

  • Thick, white, clumpy vaginal discharge resembling cottage cheese
  • Intense itching and irritation in the vaginal area
  • Redness and swelling around the vagina
  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse or urination

Why Does My Vagina Have An Odor?

It is important to be aware of your normal vaginal odor and any changes. It is prudent to seek medical attention if the odor is accompanied by itching, burning, abnormal discharge or if there is pain during urination or intercourse.

Every vagina has a natural, mild odor due to the presence of healthy bacteria. This odor can be described as musky, tangy, or slightly fermented, and is a sign of a balanced vaginal environment. There should be no cause for concern.

However, there are other causes of abnormal vaginal odor, for example:
1. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): Overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria in the vagina causes a fishy, pungent odor, often worse after sex or during menstruation
2. Trichomoniasis (Trich): Sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite, which produces a foul, fishy odor and frothy, yellow-green discharge
3. Vaginal Yeast Infection: Overgrowth of Candida fungus leads to a bread-like or beer-like odor

Other Contributing Factors include:
1. Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations during menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause can alter vaginal odor
2. Diet: Certain foods like garlic, onions, or spicy dishes can affect vaginal odor
3. Hygiene Practices: Douching or using scented products can disrupt the vaginal pH balance
4. Sexual Activity: Semen can contribute to a distinct odor after intercourse.