Archive for category Women’s Health'

Vaginal Infections and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Vulvovaginitis And Common Vaginal Infections Genital Warts (Condyloma And Human Papillomavirus) Herpes Simplex Virus HIV Infection And Botanical Therapies A number of vaginal infections and sexually transmitted diseases can be treated with botanical medicine. A variety of strategies are used including antimicrobial herbs, immunomodulating herbs for chronic recurrent infections, topical applications, and even botanicals for supprting the nervous system for stress related infections. Table Condition / Botanical Medicine Summary Table includes a summary of the herbs used to treat these conditions. Condition / Botanical Medicine Summary Table Analgesic Anti-inflammatory Antimicrobial Astringent Demulcent Immunomodulator Nervine Vulnerary Actaea racemosa X Allium sativum X Aloe vera X X X Althea officinalis Andrographis paniculata X X Arctostaphylos uva ursi X Astragalus membranaceus X Avena sativa X X Berberis aquifolium X Calendula officinalis X X X Commiphora mol mol X Coptis Read more [...]

Vulvovaginitis And Common Vaginal Infections

The normal vaginal environment is a dynamic milieu with a constantly changing balance of Lactobacillus acidophilus and other endogenous flora, glycogen, estrogen, pH, and metabolic byproducts of flora and pathogens. L. acidophilus produces hydrogen peroxide that limits the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Disturbances in the vaginal environment can allow the proliferation of vaginitis-causing organisms. The term vulvovaginitis actually encompasses a variety of inflammatory lower genital tract disorders that may be secondary to infection, irritation, allergy, or systemic disease. Vulvovaginitis is the most common reason for gynecologic visits, with over 10 million office visits for vaginal discharge annually. It is usually characterized by vaginal discharge, vulvar itching and irritation, and sometimes vaginal odor. Up to 90% of vaginitis is secondary to bacterial vaginosis (BV), vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), and trichomoniasis. The actual prevalence and causes of vaginitis, however, are hard to gauge because of the frequency of self-diagnosis and self-treatment. In one survey of 105 women with chronic vaginal symptoms, 73% had self-treated with OTC products and 42% had used alternative therapies. On self-assessment, Read more [...]

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common form of infectious vaginitis caused by the polymicrobial proliferation of Gardnerella vaginalis, Mycoplasma hominis, and other anaerobes. It is associated with loss of normal lactobacilli. bacterial vaginosis accounts for at least 10% and as many as 50% of all cases of infectious vaginitis in women of childbearing age. Determining the presence of bacterial vaginosis can be difficult, however, because as many as 75% of women are asymptomatic. Symptoms Some or all of these symptoms may be present in women with bacterial vaginosis. • Milky, homogenous discharge • Possible vaginal irritation • Malodorous vaginal discharge (characteristic “fishy” odor) bacterial vaginosis is also commonly asymptomatic. Diagnosis Diagnosis is based on the Amstel criteria, which is considered 90% accurate with three or four of the following findings: the presence of milky, homogenous discharge, vaginal pH greater than 4.5 positive whiff test (“fishy” odor to the vaginal discharge), and the presence of clue cells on light microscopy of vaginal fluid. Odor is a symptom that is frequently associated with bacterial vaginosis, due to amines produced from the breakdown products of amino acids Read more [...]

Vulvovaginal Candidiasis

Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), commonly referred to as yeast infection, is the second most common cause of vaginitis in the United States. Approximately 75% of all women will experience an episode of VVC in their lifetime, with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis occurring in 5% of women. It is most commonly caused by the fungus Candida albicans; however, other Candida species, such as C. tropicalis and C. glabrata are becoming increasingly common, possibly because of increased use of OTC anti-fungals, and they are also typically more resistant to antifungal treatments. OTC antifungal treatments are among the top 10 selling OTC medications in the United States with an estimated $250 in annual sales. Establishing Candida as a cause of vaginitis can be difficult, because 50% of all women have Candida organisms as part of their normal vaginal flora. Candida is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, and conventional medical practice does not include treatment of male partners unless uncircumcised or presenting with inflammation of the glans penis. recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis is defined as four or more episodes annually. Recurrence may be a result of associated factors, intestinal microorganism reservoir, Read more [...]

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis vaginalis is a motile, flagellate protozoan. It is the third most common cause of vaginitis. Every year, approximately 180 million women worldwide are diagnosed with this infection annually, accounting for 10% to 25% of all vaginal infections. Current belief is that T. vaginalis is almost exclusively acquired through sexual contact. Male sexual partners are infected in 30% to 80% of cases. Symptoms Symptomatic infection causes a characteristic frothy green malodorous discharge with a high pH (can be as high as 6.0).s Additionally, there may be soreness and irritation in and around the vulva and vagina, dysuria, dyspareunia, bleeding upon intercourse, inability to tolerate speculum insertion because of pain, or a superficial rash on the upper thighs with a scalded appearance. The cervix may have a characteristic appearance, called petechial strawberry cervix, in up to 25% of cases. Chronic asymptomatic infection can exist for decades in women; an infection also may present atypically. In men, infection is mostly asymptomatic, or there may be a thin white or yellow purulent discharge with dysuria (nongonococcal urethritis). Diagnosis Trichomoniasis can be diagnosed on the basis of simple microscopy, Read more [...]

Vulvovaginitis: The Botanical Practitioner’s Perspective

Research and clinical experience indicate that women commonly seek OTC and alternative therapies for the treatment of vaginal infections and vulvovaginitis (Table Botanical Treatment Strategies for Vulvovaginitis). In one study, 105 patients, with a mean age of 36 years, and 50% with college degrees, referred by their gynecologists for evaluation of chronic vaginal symptoms, were interviewed about their OTC and alternative medicine use in the preceding year, it was found that 73% of patients had self-treated with OTC antifungal medications or povidone-iodine douching and 42% had tried alternative therapies including acidophilus pills orally (50%) or vaginally (11.4%), yogurt orally (20.5%) or vaginally (18.2%), vinegar douches (13.6%), and boric acid (13.6%). Botanical Treatment Strategies for Vulvovaginitis Therapeutic Goal Therapeutic Activity Botanical Name Common Name Eliminate / reduce infection Antimicrobial Allium sativum Garlic Arctostaphylos uva ursi Uva ursi Berberis aquifolium Oregon grape Calendula officinalis Calendula Coptis chinensis Goldthread Clycyrrhiza glabra Licorice Hydrastis canadensis Goldenseal Melaleuca alternifolia Tea tree Origanum Read more [...]

Vulvovaginitis: Antimicrobial Therapy

Antimicrobial herbs are used as primary treatments in cases of vulvovaginitis when due to infectious causes. For acute infections, they are generally used solely as topical applications. For recurrent cases, external application is combined with oral use. Internal treatment should focus on immune supporting and antimicrobial botanicals, including echinacea, garlic, goldenseal, Oregon grape root, Pau d’arco, astragalus, and various medicinal mushroom species such as maitake and reishi medicinal mushrooms. Also see site for a discussion on adaptogens and immune support. Numerous herbs have exhibited both broad spectrum and specific antimicrobial activities. Although treatment approaches vary with each of the different infectious causes of vulvovaginitis, antimicrobial herbs are usually applied generically regardless of the infectious agent. There appears to be little, if any risk of resistance with herbal treatments; however, labs specializing in delivering services to complementary and alternative medicine practitioners sometimes do sensitivity and specificity testing for natural agents with screening for vaginal infections. This is unnecessary except in chronic, recurrent, or intractable cases. Garlic Garlic is Read more [...]

Symptomatic Relief and Tissue Repair

Irritation and superficial damage from vulvovaginitis can lead to significant discomfort as well as fissures and rawness of the vaginal tissue. The use of herbs as topical agents for reducing inflammation, irritation, and for promoting healing are an important part of any herbal protocol for this condition. Tissue repair is also especially important because inflamed and fissured vaginal tissue increases a woman’s susceptibility to secondary infection, notably, with HIV. Herbs commonly used to promote local tissue repair and reduce discomfort fall into several categories including anti-inflammatories, vulneraries, demulcents, and astringents. Anti-inflammatories relieve local swelling, irritation, and pain; vulneraries work to heal wounds and irritated tissue, demulcents cool and soothe irritated tissue, and astringents tonify tissue and create a protective barrier on the surface, reducing further insult. Astringents can also be effective in drying up excessive secretions. Some of the many herbs with topical anti-inflammatory effects to consider using include licorice, marshmallow root, and lavender, all of which may be used in various combinations and preparations with other herbs to treat vaginitis. Calendula Calendula Read more [...]

Topical Preparations for Treating Vulvovaginitis

Sitz Baths, Peri-Washes, and Suppositories The most common forms of topical applications used in the treatment of vulvovaginitis are sitz baths, peri-washes, and suppositories. Instructions for each of these preparations are found in Chapter 3. Sitz baths may be done either in the bath tub with the water filled to hip height or in a purchased sitz bath, which is a small basin that fits over the bowl of the toilet and which may be purchased at most pharmacies. When prepared with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial herbs, they provide a soothing relief to vulvar / urethral irritation. The bath water and herbs should be used only once, and prepared fresh each time. The water may be hot or tepid, according to the patient’s comfort. For a Soothing Sitz Bath: Combine equal parts of dried thyme, calendula, lavender, and uva ursi leaf. Place one ounce of the herb blend into a quart glass jar or pot with a close fitting lid. Cover with 1 quart of boiling water, close the vessel, and steep for 30 minutes. Strain the entire contents into a sitz bath filled with water to the desired level. Add 2 tablespoons of sea salt per bath and soak. Repeat up to twice daily for 2 weeks. Peri-rinses provide an excellent alternative Read more [...]

Chronic Vulvovaginitis And Intestinal Permeability

The roles of intestinal dysbiosis and permeability (leaky gut syndrome) should not be overlooked in the etiology of chronic or intractable cases of vaginitis. The body’s ability to maintain control over the volume of microorganisms present in the intestinal and vaginal tracts is intimately connected to the health of the bowel and bowel flora. If the body is unable to sustain a healthy balance of microorganisms, those that normally inhabit our bodies without causing harm can overproliferate or migrate, becoming pathogenic. This is often the case with chronic vaginal infections. Further, when the body is in a chronic state of immune-mediated response and inflammation, normally controlled organisms may become opportunistic. Thus, a first line of botanical treatment for chronic vaginal infections, especially candidiasis, is improving the integrity of the bowel mucosa and helping to restore normal bowel flora. The former is done with many of the same anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and vulnerary herbs already mentioned, and a few additional botanicals. The most important of these include chamomile, marshmallow root, calendula, slippery elm, goldenseal, Oregon grape root, Dioscorea villosa (wild yam), and licorice root. Read more [...]