Ayurveda, which means “knowledge of life” in Sanskrit, is a system of holistic healthcare first developed in India over 5,000 years ago. Ayurvedic medicine, which focuses on maintaining balance between your mind, body and environment, treats illness through a combination of dietary interventions, herbal remedies and yogic practices. Yeast, or Candida albicans, is a fungus that occurs naturally in the body, but when stimulated to overproduction creates infection. While in certain instances a yeast infection can be indicative of a more serious health problem, for many cases Ayurveda offers an effective means of treatment and prevention.
In Ayurveda, the body consists of a balance between the elements of air, water, fire and earth. Each person has a unique combination of elements that affects his or her mood, body type and appetites, and everyone falls into one of three basic health types, known as doshas. Your dosha provides a road map for maintaining equilibrium, but is vulnerable to imbalances due to poor diet, high levels of stress or environmental harms. Ayurvedic medicine is tailored to the individual and takes into consideration your age, sex, background and personal circumstances. Ayurveda approaches yeast infections as a symptom of bodily imbalance and recommends a combination of dietary and herbal remedies to restore equilibrium.
Yeast infections, which result from an overgrowth of Candida, can occur in the mouth, on the skin, and in the intestines. However, in women, yeast infections most commonly occur in the vagina. The Office on Women's Health estimates that roughly 75 percent of women will experience in their lifetime a vaginal yeast infection, a condition characterized by sensations of itching, burning and swelling, and the release of a thick, white discharge. While in some instances, a yeast infection is a sign of a more serious health concern, in most cases they are caused by a diet too high in sugar or simple carbohydrates, antibiotic use, stress, or external irritants, such as synthetic undergarments.
Yeast Infections and Ayurvedic Diet
As yeast feeds off glucose, Ayurveda prescribes that you avoid sugars and simple carbohydrates, as well as heavy or cold foods that slow down digestion. Ayurveda also suggests that you refrain from eating fermented foods, such as vinegar, as well as mushrooms, cheeses and products containing dietary yeast. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Beginning each day with a glass of hot water with lemon helps discourage the further proliferation of yeast. Additionally, consume a digestion-aiding lassi, or yogurt drink, each day. Yogurt helps restore healthy intestinal flora, and the addition of cilantro, fresh ginger root or ground cumin enhance its cleansing properties.
Yeast Infections and Ayurvedic Herbs
Ayurveda recommends taking Triphala as either a supplement or tea to treat yeast infections. Triphala is believed to improve digestion, boost the immune system and help cleanse the digestive track. Ground turmeric and licorice root can also be consumed as a tea and help provide relief from symptoms.
If you are experiencing severe or frequent yeast infections, consult your doctor. Additionally, talk with your doctor if you are taking any prescription medications before using an herbal supplement.