By Michael Biamonte CCN.
The Great Yogurt Conspiracy
In September 1972, two founders of the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers, Carol Downer and Colleen Wilson were arrested for allegedly practicing medicine without a license. Their Los Angeles < href=”http://www.fwhc.org/selfhelp.htm” target=”_blank”> Self-Help Clinic was raided by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and the Board of Medical Examiners who apparently had nothing better to do. The Self-Help Clinic presented the local medical establishment with competition. Concerned with the potential loss of revenue for the local physicians, one doctor, three uniformed police and several plainclothes investigators confiscated four truckloads of supplies and equipment, in order to shut down operations of the women-controlled clinic. The reason for the arrest? Downer had inserted yogurt into the vagina of a women’s center staff member.
The trial became known as the “Great Yogurt Conspiracy” and was a crucial turning point in the women’s health movement. Downer was found not guilty by arguing that applying yogurt as a home remedy for an ordinary yeast infection is not practicing medicine. The verdict reinforced women’s control over their own bodies and established that at-home methods of self-care are, indeed, lawful.
The Right of Self-Help and Self-Care
The feminist movement fostered Consciousness Raising (CR) groups, small friendship networks of women who gathered to share their life stories and create change in their lives. Carol Downer brought a plastic speculum into her CR group and the group began to focus on self-help, vaginal and cervical self exam. Later, she and the others founded the LA Self-Help clinic to share what they had learned with other women.
These self-help groups flourished around the country as women investigated what was, for them, new territory in women’s health. They researched natural, home remedies and discovered useful tools to self-care, such as yogurt to combat yeast infections. These groups spread the knowledge to other women and together they demanded simpler, easier, alternative treatments to common conditions such as yeast.
The Battle with the FDA
“Self-helpers” used their knowledge to critically examine the medical establishment. Why were women relying on healthcare providers for things they could do themselves? Many of these women began political work, using their new knowledge to advocate for women’s healthcare more generally. These activists had a decades-long battle with the Food and Drug Administration, pharmaceutical companies and medical care providers preceding the FDA’s approval of yeast medications for over-the-counter (OTC) sale. For decades after the Great Yogurt Conspiracy, women were still required to make and pay for an appointment at the gynecologist, have a pelvic exam, and fill a prescription to cure this easily recognized and easily treated condition. Women had been spending millions of dollars a year for care of problems they could easily manage themselves.
Yet, when women’s activism finally paid off with FDA approval for OTC sale of yeast creams, the cost of a one-time dose ranged from $13 to $20. Further, there are even easier to use prescription methods available now, created after the standard treatment became available OTC. In order to obtain these simpler and easier methods, effective in just a fraction of the time the older medications take to work, women must still see a doctor. Drug companies, male-dominated healthcare institutions and federal health policy-makers control women’s healthcare: what medications are available, what the standard of care is for women’s health problems, what health conditions are investigated and who can treat women. Yeast treatment is just one item on a long list of issues in women’s healthcare, such as HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and heart disease, that has been overlooked and mishandled by those in control. The journey yeast medications have taken shows us that evidently this control will not be easily surrendered.
The OTC medication manufacturers have been advertising aggressively since the FDA approval. Today, it is as common to see TV ads for Monistat or Gyne-Lotrimin as it is for breakfast cereal. These brands, as well as the three or four others in the running, provide a chemical neutralization for the build-up of vaginal yeast. They are creams inserted with an applicator, usually at bedtime, over the course of 7 days. During the treatment, a woman is supposed to avoid baths and sexual intercourse.
What You Can Try at Home for Starters
Many women use non-medical methods for treating yeast, because the cost of over-the-counter methods is high, because they are unimpressed with OTC methods, or simply because they prefer more natural methods. Following is a partial list of at-home methods that may be helpful. If your condition has been chronic, these may not work and you should seek a doctor who can guide you through the programs in this book.
- Insert unpasteurized, plain yogurt with a small spoon or spatula or vaginal cream applicator. Insert at night and wear a pad. Repeat for three to seven nights, until symptoms disappear. Douching with yogurt and water can help, too. It also helps to eat a lot of yogurt. Make sure the yogurt contains acidophilus and bifidus cultures. Health food stores are the best choice.
- “Paint” the vagina, cervix (you’ll need a speculum) and vulva (outside area including the labia or “lips” of vagina) with gentian violet. It stains so you’ll want to wear a pad. This usually works after one treatment. Biocidin is an example of a gentian product.
- Insert a garlic suppository. Carefully peel one clove of garlic. Wrap in gauze and insert into the vagina. Leave in for up to twelve hours. Repeat as necessary. It also helps to eat a lot of garlic.
- Drink cranberry juice. Unsweetened is best. Sweeten juice may feed the yeast and make it spread. Try a cranberry concentrate from the health food store.
- Insert potassium sorbate. This is used in home beer-making and can be found at wine-making stores. Dip a cotton tampon into a 3% solution (15 grams of potassium sorbate in one pint of water) and insert into the vagina at night. Remove in the morning.
- Drink or eat acidophilus. It is available in powder or capsules in health food stores or found in some milk and yogurt products. (Read the label; some dairy products have added acidophilus.)
- Douche with a vinegar/water solution, one tablespoon of vinegar to one quart of water, once a day. This is especially effective when used with yogurt suppositories.
- Nix the feminine deodorant sprays, no soap, nylon bathing suits, or pantyhose without a cotton crotch. Wear only cotton or nothing at all. Hot, moist environments incubate yeast.
- Lactobacilli such as acidophilus are natural residents of a healthy vagina. They prevent overgrowths of yeast. (They also turn milk into yogurt.) Insert two acidophilus capsules into your vagina daily. Adding lactobacilli vaginally stops yeast from growing and creates copious amounts of lubrication.
- Insert yogurt overnight. Be sure the yogurt you use contains live cultures of acidophilus or lactobacillus (it will say so on the label). Insert at least two tablespoons daily: you will need to wear a pad. Here are some tips on getting it in there. Yogurt can be inserted with an empty tampon inserter, vaginal cream inserter or a turkey baster (the baster works best). Symptoms could be relieved within 24 hours.
If the yeast is persistent and you experience chronic or repeated overgrowths, then your sexual partner may need to be treated as well. Have him soak his penis in yogurt or diluted apple cider for 5 minutes daily to kill the yeast living in or on the glans; this way he won’t keep reinfecting you.
If neither acidophilus or yogurt cure the yeast, you need to re-acidify your vagina. Boric acid is the most efficient, and you can purchase it in the drug store. Dilute it one teaspoon to one cup of warm water and mini-douche daily with the barrel of a syringe, or use a diaphragm jelly inserter which can be bought at the pharmacy without having to buy the jelly. Do not use this method if your skin is raw or broken, and discontinue if an irritation develops. This is wet and messy, but boric acid is anti-bacterial and will cleanse some non-specific vaginitis as well.
Apple cider vinegar douches (two tablespoons vinegar to a pint of warm water) are very effective. Even though yeast flourishes in an acidic environment, there is something in vinegar that inhibits its growth. Vinegar can also inhibit the growth of bacteria and trichomonas by establishing the proper acidity (pH) for the proliferation of “good” bacteria. Do not douche for longer than 10 days.
Regular douching should be discouraged. The vagina is a self-cleaning environment, so routine douching should not be necessary and could make your vagina too alkaline. Women who douche more than three times a month are four to five times more likely to have rampant yeast.
Non-Specific Bacterial Vaginitis
Non-specific vaginitis is bacterial and characterized by burning and itching, usually with a discharge, odor, sometimes a rash and painful intercourse. It is probably a good idea to visit your local midwife or nurse practitioner and have her check it out under a microscope to see what kind of bacteria you are dealing with. To eliminate a mild bacteria infection:
- Garlic — Insert a peeled clove of garlic high up into your vagina, being sure to push it all the way up to the cervix (which feels like the tip of your nose), every night for a week. Garlic is well known for its antibiotic properties, but you may walk around smelling vaguely like a pizza.
- Betadine (povodone-iodine) suppositories and douches are available in drug stores and help cure nonspecific vaginitis. Wear a pad to control staining.
- Tee tree oil or grapefruit seed extracts are now sold as douches. They can be very effective in killing yeast and bacteria. Look for them in your health food stores.
Lastly, as with all of menopause, you are more likely to be troubled with vaginal complaints if your adrenals have been exhausted by overuse of coffee, cigarettes, alcohol and white sugar. See a nutritionist or doctor who can help you repair your adrenal glands.
Women experiencing persistent vaginal yeast overgrowth who are using a cervical cap or diaphragm, need to wash and dry it well after use. Some women have found relief from tenacious conditions with the “sucking air” method of douching. In a bathtub, a woman can insert yogurt, vinegar or another remedy. Lying on her back, hands at her side and palms down, she can bring her feet back over her head. This action causes the vagina to balloon out and pulls the vinegar or yogurt all the way in to fill the vagina and get every fold of skin.
Systemic yeast is a system-wide infection/overgrowth throughout the body. It requires dramatic changes in diet and long-term attention to avoiding things that encourage yeast to grow.
Yeast and HIV
Having a yeast condition might increase your susceptibility to contracting HIV, since vaginal irritation may allow easier passage of the virus into the bloodstream. For years women’s health advocates worked to demonstrate that the common perception of HIV and AIDS was based on men’s experiences, and it is now recognized that nearly-constant yeast overgrowth can be a marker of HIV infection in women. The immune system suppression from HIV can cause an imbalance in the vagina’s chemistry, resulting in persistent yeast overgrowth.
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, and as such, does not need “washing.” In fact, regular douching can be harmful because it creates an upset in the normal vaginal Ph. In a healthy vagina, douching can actually cause a yeast infection if it kills that friendly bacteria!
Manufacturers of douches, deodorants, scented tampons, soaps and perfumes would have us believe the vagina is dirty. In order to sell their products they must make us believe women’s bodies are naturally unclean and have unpleasant odors. However, a healthy vagina has a pleasant, lightly musky odor and chemicals like these can mask changes in that odor which may signal an infection. These chemicals can also be harmful, by irritating the skin, mucous membrane, and Ph balance of the vagina. Unless it is used as a method for treating problems such as yeast overgrowth, douching is unnecessary.
THE ANSWER TO YOUR VAGINAL INFECTION IS NOT POLITICAL
My Approach and Perspectives
Many women that I consult with have been in and out of their doctor’s office with chronic yeast infections without finding out why or what to do to get rid of it once and for all. And there is an answer. If you have been told that the itching and burning you felt were not really there, that was false. If a doctor accused you of doing unsanitary things to cause your infections it is due his lack of understanding and confront of you problem. You may have noticed other strange symptoms, like reactions to foods and drinks, mood changes, extreme fatigue, a foggy lack of concentration, depression and many other symptoms during a vaginal flare up. If a doctor told you they have nothing to do with each other he was wrong. The odds are, most of what you suspected on your own about the whole subject of your vaginal infections is true. Let us first understand what is normal and what is not.
What is Normal?
It is considered normal for a small amount of white or grayish semi-solid material to be passed from the vaginal opening. This is the result of the normal breakdown and repair of cells in the cervix and the vagina. A watery or mucous-like secretion from the cervix should occur in response to sexual stimulation. During ovulation the discharge may be bloodied. This is normal.
What is Not Normal!
A white, creamy-white or yellow mucous-like discharge indicates an infection in either the vagina, cervix, endo-cervix or endometrium. The discharge may be frothy and cottage cheese like in the case of many yeast-type infections. A very foul discharge is common in bacterial infections, or when tampons or contraceptive devices are left neglected. A watery mucous-less discharge sometimes occurs in malignancy of the upper genital tract or from radiation therapy. Sometimes it can be caused by abnormal narrowing of the cervix or endo-cervix.
During childhood or after menopause the vaginal mucus is thin and lacks proper amounts of friendly bacteria which inhibit the growth of the infection-causing bacteria. Also the mucous lining carries an immune-boosting substance which protects against infections. If this was all there was to the story, women in their active reproduction years would not be plagued with the vaginal infections.
In adults the vaginal discharge is mostly caused by an infection in the lower reproductive tract. Trichomonas, candida, gardnenella, E. coli, staphylococci, streptococci and intestinal parasites are common causes. Other venereal infections may also cause the problem. Lower estrogen levels have been known to promote the growth of streptococci, staphylococci, coil-form bacilli and diphtheriods and may cause chronic vaginal infections.
Candida infection is of course more common today due to the use of antibiotics, birth control pills etc. Years ago it was thought to occur in only diabetic and pregnant women. However, due to the incorrect treatment of vaginal yeast infections with antibiotics and cortisone, and due to oral contraceptives which stimulate the overgrowth of yeasts, candida has risen to be a household word and the subject of many books besides this one! Candida is also called monilia, although the term is rarely used.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
It may begin with an external itching, redness or swelling of the vulva. At times burning and pain can be so bed as to interfere with walking. A whitish, non-bloody discharge either light or heavy, watery to cottage cheese-like is common. It will smell like vinegar or yeast. Pain during intercourse is a very common sign. If you have it chronically the symptoms will worsen 1 week to 10 days prior to menses.
Candida is a sneaky organism. As described in other sections of this book it can change form from a yeast to a fungus. As a fungus it grows into a plant-like structure, digging into your cells to find food. Women have described it as “having plants growing in there.”
In the fungal form it is sometimes less noticeable but will cause hundreds of symptoms not generally thought of as being connected to a yeast infection. In the yeast form it is easier to control. Antibiotics may reduce the infections for a short time, only to have it come back with a vengeance.
Many doctors have failed to diagnose candida due to the fact that it often is found with other bacteria. When candida is present other infection-causing bacteria have been known to grow and cause infections. Studies show that injecting animals with small amounts of candida along with small amounts of staph or strep will cause a huge infection. When animals are given much larger doses of staph or strep with no candida, infections or symptoms were much less. This may have happened to you. If so, proper diagnosis was missed. The medical profession is so lost on how to handle this problem that on television we now see ads for creams and other anti-yeast medication. This is their way of trying to cope with the floods of women who are not permanently helped, and of course the “yogurt conspiracy.”
Proper treatment and diagnosis of Candida albicans is essential in helping you. You can get better and get rid of the condition. But it can take many months or years. Why? Because it can travel through your body. Candida can ‘nest’ in the bowel but go on vacation in other parts of your body and may take residence there. When it returns home it will set up its nest again. Also many of them bury themselves deep into the cells of the bowel, and enough of them will remain to resume their lives and your discomfort once the cleansing is over.
I have found after 5 years of getting moderate success with other approaches that the approaches described in this book makes the most sense. Since I have gotten the best results with chronic yeast infections (and other problems of this type) in patients who have been to every practitioner I have ever heard of and are still relapsing, no one will dare argue that this is not the fastest and best route to take. Mainstream medicine has only creams and toxic, potentially damaging drugs to offer. Most will harm you before they totally kill your infection. However, since mainstream medicine knows nothing about intestinal cleansing, vitamins or immune-stimulating herbs their patients will never get well. If they do I would consider it a fluke.
The key to eliminating vaginal yeast infections is to stop treating the vaginal yeast infection. A paper printed in “The Journal of the American Medical Association” in 1977 stated: “Vaginal candidiasis does not occur naturally without infection of C. albicans within the large bowel and that a cure is not likely as long as the vagina remains the only treatment target.”
To really handle the vaginal yeast infection you must destroy the intestinal overgrowth. It is the intestinal overgrowth of yeast which makes you more susceptible to the vaginal problem.
It is an easy jaunt from the rectal area into the vaginal region for yeast. While yeasts do not have legs, feet, wheels or other modes of transportation, they can get to the vaginal area easily by transfer from toilet paper that gets tiny yeast cells on it as you wipe after a bowel movement, or as gas is expelled in flatulence (or “farting”) yeast cells can “ride the wind” into or about the vaginal area. Once in the vaginal area it is possible for them to grow into an infection if the immune system is weak, there is a lack of friendly bacteria, the Ph is too alkaline, etc.
Overgrowth of intestinal yeast will weaken and stress your immune response. This makes one more susceptible to having the smaller vaginal area become overrun by yeasts. If the intestinal area is overgrown with yeast, this means that much of the 40-foot-long small intestine and the 6- to 8-foot-long colon has yeast overgrowth. This places a significant strain on your immune system. This can allow vaginal overgrowth simply because the immune system is being suppressed by the intestinal yeast.
The intestinal tract is literally the nest when it comes to yeasts and candida in the body. Handling the intestinal yeast, or nest, relieves the immune system of quite a burden. Having this burden released frees up the “troops” to allow them to fight in the much smaller battleground of the vaginal area!
Michael Biamonte CCN.