Candida vaginosis or thrush is one of the most frequent infections of the female genital tract that causes painful sex and urination, which studies say could be resolved using bitter kola and garlic, reports SADE OGUNTOLA.
Candidiasis vaginitis or thrush, as it is more commonly known, is a fungal infection of the vagina. It is the most common cause of vaginal discharge in women during their reproductive years. Experts suggest that 75 per cent of women are affected by vaginal thrush, making it one of the most common infections seen by doctors.
Despite its widespread occurrence, many women keep on being embarrassed by this infection caused by yeast of the Candida family that are among the normal organisms that are part of the gut, mouth and the genital tract. Candida albicans causes around 80 to 95 per cent of infections, while Candida glabrata, which is more resistant to treatment, is responsible for about five per cent of occurrences.
The symptoms of vaginal thrush include itching, soreness and irritation, pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse, pain or discomfort during urination and vaginal discharge, which is usually odourless. This can be thin and watery, or thick and white, like cottage cheese.
Thrush, a condition that can significantly disrupt a woman’s life, however reoccurs in between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of women. As soon as the infection clears, it returns.
Unfortunately, another five per cent to eight per cent experience a persistent infection, thus many women incorporating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) such as yogurt and garlic into their personal care plan to prevent or cure this infection.
Many antifungal drugs, including imidazole antifungal agents such as miconazole and clotrimazole, which is the first-line treatment for thrush, have limited use, toxicity and side effects.
Within the last decade there has been an emergence of antifungal drug resistance, which was uncommon in the past.
Scientists in a new study have however corroborated the antimicrobial effects of garlic and bitter kola extracts on Candida albicans, indicating that they show promise as alternative therapy for vaginal candidiasis. Both herbs are easily and locally available.
The research published in the African Journal of Clinical and Experimental Microbiology was carried out by Adejare O. Y. from Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. Lagos; , Oduyebo O. O., Oladele R. O. and Ogunsola F.T from the University of Lagos in collaboration with Nwaokorie F. O. from the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research Yaba, Lagos. The study was entitled “In-vitro Antifungal Effect of Garcinia Kola and Garlic (Alliums Sativum) isolates of Candida”.
In this study, the researchers tested the methanol and aqueous extracts of bitter kola and garlic on various species of Candida collected from vaginal swab samples of women with vulvovaginal candidiasis. The effectiveness of the extracts was compared with fluconazole and miconazole, two common conventional antifungal drugs.
For this study, which was conducted between May and September 2007, 126 women with symptoms of vulvovaginal candidiasis were sampled from Lekki and Idi-Araba branches of a community healthcare facility for women and children in Lagos and Candida species were isolated from 25 of them.
Although the aqueous extracts of the herbs were less active than the alcoholic extracts based on the findings of the study, the researchers indicated that the different species of candida were inhibited by various concentrations to the bitter kola extract.
They wrote: “This study demonstrated the inhibitory effects of local herbs in comparison with known antifungal agents on vaginal Candidasis, Fluconazole and miconazole are azole anticandidal agents known to be highly active against Candida and so their inhibitory effects in this study is not surprising.”
Given that a high systemic concentration would be required for therapeutic effects, which implies possibility of systemic toxicity usually associated with a high therapeutic dose, they suggest that these agents could be incorporated into formulations of efficacious drugs for the treatment of vaginal candidiasis in future if larger study or clinical trials is done to corroborate the finding.
They wrote: “This study shows that the extracts of Garcinia kola and Alliums sativum possess anticandidal activity and provide preliminary evidence of the presence of one or more soluble constituents with antifungal properties. The antifungal properties can be investigated further by purifying and characterizing the active agents and by determining toxicological effect if any on normal vaginal micro flora.”
Reports have it that in using yogurt to treat thrush, the women both eat the yogurt that contains acidophilus, which is a probiotic that stimulates the growth of “healthy” or “good” bacteria in our bodies and apply it directly to the vagina at bed time. The plain yogurt is inserted using a spoon or an applicator for vaginal creams.
Also women increase their daily intake of garlic. Garlic has a high level of antibacterial and antifungal properties. A diet high in garlic fights bacterial vaginitis and prevents it from reoccurring. But the other option is to wrap a whole clove of garlic in a thin piece of medical gauze and insert this into the vagina.
The garlic is replaced with a fresh clove every eight to 12 hours. The small piece of the gauze is hung outside of the body for easy removal.
Previous reviews on common complementary and alternative therapies for thrush indicated some women also resort to using tea tree oil, black walnut, Echinacea and goldenseal to treat bacterial vaginitis.
The use of tree oil and garlic under some laboratory conditions had been shown to have some potential for the treatment of vaginal infections like vaginitis.
Most clinicians also recommend non-pharmacological management which included dietary changes and use of cotton undergarments.