By Laurel Vukovic
Many women are plagued by the same nagging problems for much of their lives. Here are 67 drug-free, non-invasive treatments for PMS, cramps, varicose veins, and more.
For years, most medical researchers have excluded women from their studies, considering the female hormonal cycles to be an inconvenience, even an anomaly. For example, Jean Hamilton, professor of psychology in women’s studies at Duke University, reports that until recently pharmaceutical companies did not take the menstrual cycle into account in their testing of drugs.
Only in 1993 did Congress pass the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act, requiring inclusion of women in clinical research. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that conventional medicine still regularly treats many women’s health problems ineffectively, even harmfully. Indeed, natural changes such as those accompanying menstruation menopause are often viewed by conventionally-trained physicians as illnesses.
Meanwhile, many women, finding that medical science has little to offer them when it fights or ignores their hormonal cycles, prefer to use natural methods to treat minor, common problems on their own. Among these approaches are diet and exercise, nutritional supplements, herbs, homeopathy, and aromatherapy.
But natural health care means more than avoiding conventional medicine. “Our bodies tell us what they need,” says Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist and author of Herbal Healing for Women (Simon & Schuster, 1993).
“Our job is to listen.” Women can learn to distinguish between major and minor problems, to know when to consult a medical doctor, and to recognize the natural changes that go along with the cycles of menstruation and the process of aging. Women can also learn which natural remedies work best—and to treat the problem rather than the symptom.
“Oftentimes, problems treated with drugs reappear soon after the effects of the drugs wear off,” says Gladstar. And drugs can cause new problems, says Shari Lieberman, coauthor of The Real Vitamin Book (Avery, 1990): “You’re better off treating infections naturally as much as possible, saving drugs for situations that get out of control.”
Cultivating patience is also part of the process. “Natural remedies may take longer to produce results,” says Gladstar, “but once you correct the underlying imbalance, you prevent a cycle of recurrence.”
Here, leading holistic practitioners—an herbalist, a naturopath, a homeopath, an acupuncturist, and an aromatherapist—advise women on natural self-treatment for six common conditions. Design your self-care program by choosing from among their suggestions. If a condition persists or worsens, consult your health practitioner.
Some 85 to 95 percent of women suffer from a combination of the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms defined as PMS. Among the symptoms occurring before or during menstruation are water retention, fatigue, headaches, depression, irritability, joint pain, lack of coordination, muscle aches, intestinal upsets, breast swelling, and food cravings. These problems are caused by cyclic variations in the levels of estrogen and progesterone. Some PMS symptoms are normal responses to major hormonal shifts, but drastic or incapacitating symptoms indicate a serious disruption in the balance of estrogen and progesterone in the body, says Gladstar. This balance is influenced not only by how much of each hormone your body produces, but also by how effectively your liver, intestines, and kidneys dispose of them.
“Because both physical and emotional factors affect hormonal regulation,” Gladstar adds, “attention must be paid to diet, exercise, and emotional issues.”
Conventional practitioners prescribe a variety of medications for PMS, including prostaglandin inhibitors, tranquilizers and antidepressants, diuretics, and hormones, whose long-term effects are unknown. But more gentle treatments often work just as well, with fewer side effects.
Dietary changes alone will often relieve moderate PMS symptoms. Most holistic practitioners recommend a diet based on foods high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat, along with reducing intake of salt, sugar, and alcohol, all of which cause water retention, a major factor in PMS discomfort. To eliminate excess fluids, drink six to eight glasses of water daily and eat foods that are natural diuretics, such as watermelon, asparagus, and parsley. Avoid all sources of caffeine—even small amounts have been shown to trigger PMS symptoms.
Cravings for chocolate and sweets prior to menstruation are related to changes in blood-sugar levels, which fluctuate with hormonal changes. Eating smaller meals more frequently will help to stabilize blood-sugar levels, as will eating complex carbohydrates and low-fat proteins. Because cocoa is rich in magnesium, a strong craving for chocolate may indicate a deficiency of magnesium.
Tori Hudson, naturopathic physician and professor of gynecology at National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, recommends a high fiber diet. Also beneficial, says Hudson, are fish high in omega-3 oils, such as salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines, because they promote anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, thereby reducing PMS symptoms.
“There are no magic bullets for treating PMS,” warns Shari Lieberman. She recommends a good all-around supplement that includes B-complex (especially B6) vitamins, calcium and magnesium, and vitamin E.
GLA (gamma linoleic acid) supplements have been shown to have a positive effect on PMS, says Gladstar. She recommends 500 mg twice a day of evening primrose oil, borage, or black currant seed oil. Do not take GLA supplements during menstruation because they may increase bleeding.
A number of herbs can act as safe, natural diuretics, thereby reducing water retention. Gladstar suggests drinking two to three cups a day of dandelion leaf or nettles tea. To make a diuretic tea, pour one cup of boiling water over two teaspoons of dried dandelion leaf or nettles. Let steep, covered, for ten minutes.
For centuries, Chinese women have used the herb dong quai as a tonic. Dong quai helps to normalize the body’s production of estrogen. Gladstar suggests ore-half to one teaspoon of the tincture, or two capsules of powdered dong quai, three times a day. Dong quai can stimulate bleeding, so it should not be taken during menstruation.
The Chinese patent medicine Hsiao Yao Wan (sometimes spelled Xiao Yao Wan) is another excellent choice, says Lesley Tierra, acupuncturist and author of The Herbs of Life (Crossing Press, 1992), because it contains bupleurum, one of the best herbs for regulating the liver chi (energy), which is implicated in PMS. As with many herbal remedies, results can take several months to appear. Tierra recommends continuing the herbal remedy for several months after the problem is resolved. For all Chinese patent medicines, she advises following the dosage prescriptions on the package.
Naturopathic physician Judith Reichenberg-Ullman suggests buying homeopathic remedies labeled as 30c potency. Choose the remedy with the description that most closely matches your symptoms, and take two doses of the remedy (following the instructions on the bottle). If you do not respond, then it’s not the right remedy. Try another remedy or consult a practitioner
Judith Reichenberg-Ullman, a naturopathic physician and president of the International Foundation for Homeopathy, has seen homeopathy’s dramatic effect on the emotional as well as the physical symptoms associated with PMS. Because a woman’s symptoms are so individual, she believes self-treatment with the PMS formulas available in natural foods stores is a “hit-or-miss proposition,” and she suggests consultation with a practitioner.
PMS calls for a combination of effective essential oils_equal parts of chamomile, lavender, and clary sage (helpful for depression; has estrogenic properties), along with neroli for its sedative effects and geranium, which is one of the best hormonal normalizers , says Mindy Green, aromatherapist and co-author of Aromatherapy: The Fragrant Art of Healing (Crossing Press, forthcoming, Spring 1995). For water retention, she suggests combining equal parts of grapefruit, which is cleansing, juniper, which has diuretic properties, and carrot seed, which helps normalize liver function. Alternate the two essential oil blends (one in the morning, one in the evening.)
Naturopath Hudson advises women to take a break from their routines and to indulge in their favorite relaxing activities.
Along the same lines, Lieberman recommends daily aerobic exercise to burn up such stress-related hormones as adrenaline and to stimulate the flow of endorphins, chemicals produced by the body that alleviate depression and create a feeling of well-being. Lieberman finds that women who suffer from PMS generally have difficulty coping with emotional stress. Meditation, yoga, and massage are a few ways to handle that stress.
Up to 80% of women experience some degree of discomfort during menstruation. Menstrual cramps, which may be accompanied by nausea, diarrhea, backaches, and headaches, are the most common symptoms. Cramps occur when prostaglandin-induced contractions of the uterus temporarily cut off the uterine blood supply. (Prostaglandin is a hormone like chemical that regulates uterus contractions and can cause the uterus to contract too actively.) Aspirin and other aspirin-like over-the-counter medications often prescribed for cramps inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins and suppress the pain, but side effects can include increased menstrual bleeding. And the cause of the problem goes untreated.
Cramps that are related to other health problems, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids, should not be treated at home. Symptoms of these conditions include heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular menstruation, and feelings of pressure or pain in the pelvis. If you are experiencing these problems, consult a health practitioner immediately.
“Menstrual cramps that occur every month may indicate low levels of blood calcium,” says Gladstar. At least ten days before menstruation begins, she recommends increasing high-calcium foods in the diet, such as dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, seaweeds, and watercress. A diet rich in calcium also relaxes the central nervous system.
Hudson advises avoiding polyunsaturated oils—safflower, soybean, and most vegetable oils—because they can stimulate the production of prostaglandins. Instead use olive and canola oils, which are monounsaturated.
Lieberman says that since calcium and magnesium work together to regulate muscle contractions and the conduction of nerve impulses, a daily supplement containing 1,000 mg of calcium and 500 mg of magnesium helps women with cramps. Lactoovo vegetarians and heavy dairy eaters should skip the calcium, since their diets are already high in calcium. (Additional calcium could interfere with magnesium balance.)
“Nothing works better for menstrual cramps than herbs,” says Gladstar. For occasional cramps, she recommends warm ginger tea for its antispasmodic properties. Grate two to three teaspoons of fresh ginger root and simmer in two cups of water for several minutes. Add lemon and honey to taste. Drink as much as desired.
For acute cramps, Gladstar suggests combining equal parts of ginger, valerian, and cramp bark tinctures, to be taken in half-teaspoon doses every twenty minutes until the symptoms subside.
Acupuncturist Tierra recommends a Chinese remedy called Women’s Precious Pills to balance hormones and relieve menstrual cramps. Follow package directions for dosage.
Judith Reichenberg-Ullman recommends Colocynthis (bitter cucumber) for cramps that make a woman want to double over or pull her knees into her chest; Veratrum album (white hellebore) for violent cramps that may be accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting, or chills; Magnesia phosphorica (magnesium phosphate) for cramps that improve with application of heat and pressure on the abdomen; Kali carbonicum (potassium carbonate) for intense menstrual cramping as well as lower back pain; and Belladonna (deadly nightshade) for excessive bleeding and a sensation of heat in the abdomen.
A couple of days before menstruation begins, Green suggests massaging the following combination of essential oils into the abdomen once or twice a day, as well as using them in the bath. Blend together equal parts of chamomile, an anti-inflammatory; clary sage, which relieves depression; lavender, a relaxing herb; and the antispasmodic tarragon and marjoram.
Increasing blood flow to the abdominal area often relieves menstrual cramps. Gladstar recommends using a hot ginger poultice on the abdomen to achieve this effect. Make a strong ginger tea or add a half teaspoon of ginger essential oil to a quart of hot water. Dip a towel in the water and wring it out, lay it over the abdomen, and place a hot water bottle over the ginger towel to retain the heat. Relax for fifteen minutes.
Locally applied heat generally relieves menstrual cramps, but some women prefer cold, says Hudson. She suggests first trying heat and then switching to cold if that doesn’t work. She also recommends placing an ice pack on the abdomen while soaking the feet in hot water.
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are usually caused by intestinal bacteria that have made their way up the urethra and into the bladder. These infections seldom disappear on their own. Symptoms include frequent, painful, or burning urination and back pain. A more severe infection may be accompanied by blood in the urine and fever.
The conventional medical treatment for urinary tract infections almost always includes antibiotics, which eliminate not only the problem-causing bacteria, but also the beneficial flora, resulting in digestive disturbances and yeast infections. If you’re not running a fever, try natural methods, says Hudson. She recommends seeing a health practitioner if self-treatment produces no improvement within five days, if symptoms worsen, or if a fever develops.
At the very first sign of a bladder infection, drink large amounts of purified water to flush bacteria out of the bladder. Recent research has verified the effectiveness of cranberry juice in both the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections. Gladstar suggests drinking a quart or more of cranberry juice every day until symptoms subside. Avoid cranberry juice sweetened with sugar or other concentrated sweeteners because sugar feeds the bacteria. To eliminate the problem of sweeteners in juice, Reichenberg Ullman suggests taking three cranberry capsules three times a day.
How to Use Essential Oils
Essential oils, which are distilled from medicinal and aromatic plants, have long been valued for their effects on the body and mind, which range from relaxation to stimulation. Mindy Green, coauthor of Aromatherapy: The Fragrant Art of Healing (Crossing Press, forthcoming, Spring 1995), recommends combining essential oils because of their synergy.
Because they are extremely concentrated, most oils should not be directly applied to the skin. Instead, dilute them in carrier oil, such as pure vegetable oil, preferably almond, grape seed, or jojoba oil, which is actually a liquid wax. “It’s easily absorbed and never goes rancid,” says Green. Add a maximum of fifteen drops of essential oil combination to one ounce of carrier oil. You can use this as a massage oil or to treat a specific problem area.
To use essential oils in the bath, add ten drops of the recommended blend to a tub of warm water. Swirl the essential oils through the water with your hand before getting into the tub.
Increase your vitamin C intake to 500 mg every couple of hours to create a more acidic environment in the bladder and urinary tract, which will discourage bacterial growth, recommends Hudson. If you have diarrhea when taking that much vitamin C, cut back on the amount until you no longer have loose stools, and you’ll know that you’ve reached your tolerance level.
She also suggests taking one gram per day of bioflavonoids, 25,000 IU of vitamin A, and 30 mg of zinc to combat the infection.
“Drinking teas of mucilaginous herbs such as marshmallow root will soothe a mild inflammation,” Gladstar says. To fight infection, Gladstar recommends echinacea and Oregon grape root or goldenseal, two capsules three times a day, or a half-teaspoon of the tincture every hour in acute cases.
For a more severe infection, Hudson suggests combining equal parts of pipsis sewa, buchu, echinacea, and uva ursi tinctures. Take 20 drops every two hours for the first two days and then one teaspoon four times a day until the infection clears. Drink a demulcent tea such as marshmallow root at the same time to counter the strong antiseptic effect of uva ursi.
Reichenberg-Ullman, who finds that treating urinary tract infections with homeopathy is most effective when combined with herbs, suggests Cantharis (Spanish fly) for a sudden, violent infection accompanied by blood in the urine. Sarsaparilla is for burning pain in the urethra at the close of urination. Staphysagria (Stavesacre) is for “honeymoon cystitis,” a bladder infection that comes on after intercourse. Apis (honeybee) helps when there is a lot of stinging, burning, and swelling.
In the first few days of symptoms, use aromatherapy treatments three times daily, Green suggests. She recommends combining equal parts of sandalwood, which has been used for centuries in India for genitourinary
problems, bergamot, tea tree, frankincense, and juniper. Add the essential oil to a massage oil and rub over the bladder area. Also use it in baths. Continue for four to five days after the symptoms subside.
To prevent urinary tract infections, Hudson suggests urinating after sexual intercourse to flush out the troublemaking organisms. “The urethra is mildly traumatized after intercourse, which makes it easier for the bacteria to gain entrance and make their way up into the bladder,” she explains.
Hudson recommends that women who get cystitis after intercourse wash the vaginal area before and after sex with goldenseal tea. Pour one cup of boiling water over one teaspoon of powdered goldenseal. Cover, let steep until cool, and strain before using.
Fibrocystic Breasts (Lumpy Breast Tissue)
Up to 70 percent of women have fibrocystic breasts—tender, swollen breasts and breast lumps that fluctuate with the menstrual cycle. Until a few years ago, the condition was considered a disease, and conventional medicine often still treats it as such: prescribing diuretics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and synthetic male hormones, which can cause weight gain, unwanted hair growth, and reduction in breast size.
The cause of fibrocystic breasts is unknown, but excess estrogen, which can lead to fibrocystic changes, may play a role. Alternative health practitioners focus on natural methods of regulating estrogen. Although it’s estimated that 85 percent of breast lumps are not cancerous, all breast irregularities should be evaluated by a practitioner before attempting self-treatment.
Most alternative and many conventional health practitioners recommend that women with fibrocystic breasts eat a low-fat diet (fat content below 20 percent) and avoid caffeine. High fat intake helps stimulate estrogen overproduction. According to Hudson, a strict vegan diet, which eliminates all animal products, is most beneficial. If you choose to eat meat and poultry, Rosemary Gladstar recommends looking for sources raised without synthetic hormones, which are believed to exacerbate estrogen-related problems. Also, large amounts of whole grains and vegetables help eliminate excess estrogen.
Women with fibrocystic breasts should avoid all methylxanthine, a chemical found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and even decaffeinated coffee. A number of research studies have proved that breast lumps, swelling, and pain are reduced when methylxanthines are eliminated from the diet.
Lieberman recommends between 400 and 1,200 IU of vitamin E daily. As an antioxidant, vitamin E may help protect the breasts against excess estrogen, which can act as any other toxin. Vitamin E also has anti-inflammatory and hormone-regulating effects. Most people can start with a low dosage and gradually increase to the full amount. Because large amounts of vitamin E may cause a rise in blood pressure, anyone with hypertension should check with her health practitioner before taking supplemental vitamin E.
Lumpy, sore breasts may be a sign that estrogen is not being processed smoothly by the liver, says herbalist Gladstar. She recommends combining herbs that stimulate liver function, such as yellow dock, burdock, and dandelion root, with herbs that help to regulate the hormones, such as vitex, which stimulates progesterone, and dong quai, which helps normalize estrogen production. Gladstar has found the following herbal tea blend effective: Combine one part yellow dock root, three parts dandelion root, two parts burdock root, one part ginger root, one part licorice root, one part vitex, four parts pau d’arco. Use four to six tablespoons of the herb mixture per quart of water. Add the herbs to cold water and simmer, covered, over low heat for twenty minutes. Remove from heat and let stand twenty minutes. Drink three to four cups a day.
“This is generally a chronic problem, and it’s fruitless to self-treat most chronic conditions homeopathically,” says Reichenberg-Ullman. “I would suggest instead that a woman use herbs or other methods of self-treatment.”
Green explains that a number of essential oils have estrogenic properties, and can therefore aggravate fibrocystic breasts. However, essential oils that stimulate liver function play an important role in hormonal balance. Green recommends combining equal parts of carrot seed oil, rosemary, celery seed, helichrysum, and rose, and stirring this mixture into the bath at night.
Gladstar recommends alternating hot and cold compresses and applying a clay poultice, which is left on overnight to stimulate circulation in the breasts. To make a clay poultice: Mix clay (Gladstar favors green clay, available at natural foods stores) with water to make a thick paste. Smooth the clay over your breasts, wind plastic wrap around your body to keep the clay from staining your bedclothes, and rinse it off in the morning.
Gladstar also suggests gentle massage, another way to improve circulation. Many alternative practitioners believe stimulating circulation facilitates the flow of nutrients and the elimination of waste products.
Varicose veins are more than a cosmetic nuisance—the enlarged, gnarly, bluish veins are often painful and can cause leg cramps, fatigue, and ankle swelling.
Varicose veins develop when the veins in the legs are unable to return blood efficiently to the heart. The movement of blood is dependent upon muscle contraction that occurs during physical activity.
Conventional medical treatment for varicose veins involves surgical removal of the offending veins or the injection of a chemical into the veins that causes them to collapse. Both treatments are expensive and carry the risks of scarring and infection. And new varicose veins can appear if the underlying cause is not addressed. Alternative approaches focus on prevention and treatments that stimulate circulation and restore tone to the venous system.
Insufficient fiber causes straining during bowel movements, increasing pressure in the lower extremities and contributing to a breakdown of the veins. Hudson recommends a high-fiber diet along with a supplemental fiber product, such as psyllium.
“Drink plenty of water with fiber supplements or you can create constipation,” she cautions. “Most products advise adding one to three teaspoons to a glass of liquid. I recommend following that with another glass of water.”
Herbalist Gladstar suggests frequent consumption of foods high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which reinforce the capillaries and help them heal. Citrus fruits eaten with the white inner rind are an especially rich source of both.
According to Lieberman, it’s also a good idea to eat large quantities of dark red berries, such as cherries, blackberries, black currants, and grapes, because they contain plant compounds that restore the veins and capillaries. People with varicose veins tend to build up a substance called fibrin, which is deposited in the tissue near the affected veins. Lieberman recommends garlic, onions, cayenne pepper, and bromelain (an enzyme found in fresh pineapple and also available in supplement form), which help to break down fibrin and keep the blood thinned and moving.
For strengthening the venous system, Hudson recommends supplementing the diet with 1,000 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C and at least 1,000 mg of bioflavonoids daily.
An extract of horse chestnut has been used successfully in Europe to treat varicose veins. Apply a topical preparation to the affected area. Do not take horse chestnut internally unless under the supervision of a professional because it can be toxic.
Reichenberg-Ullman recommends Hamamelis (witch hazel) for swelling, inflammation, or a bruised or sore feeling in the veins.
Green suggests making the following essential oil blend: five drops of cypress, two drops of lemon, three drops of yarrow, three drops of frankincense, and two drops of rosemary.
Place fifteen drops of the essential oil blend into one ounce of calendula or St. John’s wort oil. Massage this combination gently onto varicose veins two to three times a day.
Though exercise is beneficial because it increases circulation, high-impact activity, such as jogging, can cause more problems, says Gladstar. Non-stressful activities like walking are best.
Whenever possible, elevate the legs to avoid pressure on the veins and capillaries. Gladstar suggests keeping a stool at work to prop up the feet, and sleeping with feet slightly elevated. In the morning and evening, massage the legs gently with a cotton towel soaked in cold witch hazel, which has gentle astringent properties. Rub gently toward the heart.
To stimulate circulation, Hudson suggests an alternating leg bath. To prepare the bath: Have two buckets of water ready, one filled with cold water and the other with hot. Place legs into the bucket of hot water for three minutes, then go directly to the cold bucket for one minute. The water should be as hot and as cold as can be tolerated. Alternate back and forth between the buckets three to six times. Diabetics should not use this treatment.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
Vaginal yeast infections, medically known as candida or monilia, are characterized by irritation, itching, and a thick white discharge that may smell like baking yeast. Antibiotic treatment—such as is often prescribed for urinary tract infections—may precipitate a yeast infection by eradicating the beneficial bacteria that keep yeast under control.
Conventional medical treatment focuses on eliminating the yeast with antifungal drugs, but does not address the underlying imbalance. Consequently, a woman can easily find herself stuck in a cycle of yeast infections.
“Natural treatments restore the proper acid-alkaline environment of the vagina and promote a healthy balance of flora,”
Recurring yeast infections should be evaluated by a practitioner to determine if another type of infection chomoniasis, is present or if they are a sign of a systemic disease like diabetes.
If you suffer from chronic yeast infections, says Lieberman, evaluate your diet. Avoid foods that contain molds or yeasts and aged or fermented foods, such as yeasted breads, aged cheeses, vinegar, and beer.
Hudson recommends eating a couple of cloves of raw garlic and a cup of yogurt containing active Lactobacillus acidophilus culture every day. Garlic has potent antifungal properties and the lactobacillus culture reintroduces beneficial bacteria.
Hudson also suggests taking the following nutritional supplements daily to boost the immune system: 25,000 IU of vitamin A, 2,000 mg of vitamin C twice a day, 400 IU of vitamin E, and 15 mg of zinc.
Lieberman suggests three capsules of grapefruit seed extract, which has antifungal properties, taken every day at bedtime (available at natural foods stores). Do not mix with any other supplements or foods. She also recommends one to two teaspoons of powdered acidophilus supplements (or the equivalent amount in capsules) per day to help replenish beneficial flora.
Gladstar recommends herbal capsules containing equal parts of powdered goldenseal, myrrh, and slippery elm to fight vaginal yeast infections. Mix the powdered herbs together and place the mixture into gelatin capsules (available at natural foods stores). For acute infections, take two capsules every three to four hours.
Reichenberg-Ullman recommends Kreosotum (creosote) for yeast infections with burning, discharge, and violent itching; Caladium for vaginal infections with itching; Mercurius (mercury) for infections accompanied by rawness and soreness; Apis (honeybee) for redness, swelling, and soreness; and Berberis aquifolium (mountain grape) for vaginal infections that occur simultaneously with urinary infections.
Green suggests: Add three drops of bergamot, five drops of geranium, five drops of tea tree, and two drops of myrrh to one ounce of carrier oil, preferably calendula oil because of its antimicrobial properties. Immediately prior to use, add five drops of this mixture to a pint of water or yarrow tea and douche. Repeat two to three times a day until the symptoms are relieved.
A strong yarrow herbal tea for the douche is better than water because it is astringent and benefits the entire genitourinary tract. To make yarrow tea: Add one ounce of yarrow to one quart of boiling water and let steep for fifteen minutes. To alleviate itching, douche with the water or tea temperature as warm as possible.
Hudson believes that the best treatment for vaginal yeast infections is boric acid suppositories. Fill gelatin capsules with boric acid (available at pharmacies). Insert one capsule vaginally in the morning and another in the evening for three to seven days if treating a mild infection, and for up to two weeks for a more severe infection. The boric acid suppositories can be continued for up to a month in the case of a very severe infection, but Hudson generally finds this treatment is effective within three to seven days.
Reichenberg-Ullman alternates boric acid suppositories with acidophilus suppositories, using a capsule of boric acid in the morning and a capsule of acidophilus at night in order to change the pH balance and replenish the healthy flora.
Laurel Vukovic is a frequent contributor to Natural Health, specializing in women’s health.
Reprinted with permission from Natural Health, July/August 1994. For a trial issue of Natural Health, call 1-800-526-8440.
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