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Using Probiotic Yogurt for Yeast Infections

Can you Really use Yogurt to get rid of a Yeast Infection?

 
L. acidophilus yogurt is going to be the best choice when you want to use yogurt to remedy a yeast infection. You may also want to select a yogurt with a thicker consistency--if you are going to use it topically.
L. acidophilus yogurt is going to be the best choice when you want to use yogurt to remedy a yeast infection. You may also want to select a yogurt with a thicker consistency--if you are going to use it topically.

Yogurt based yeast infection cures are inexpensive, safe, and available to nearly everyone. All types of yogurt are not suitable for medicinal use; as a good yogurt treatment requires living bacteria to actually be effective. It is living bacteria that fight pathogenic microbes. Without living bacteria, yogurt is nothing more than an amalgamation of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Yogurt that does not contain live bacteria that can survive the stomach’s acid, such as lactobacillus acidophilus, will not help very much either. If the bacteria cannot survive the stomach acid to some extent; none will make it to the intestines. Probiotic bacteria that do survive the stomach, can thrive in the intestines.

If you have been suffering from recurrent gential, or anal, yeast infections; you may be developing this problem due to yeast in the intestines. The yeast in the genus Candida are responsible for this type of problem. The yeast responsible for about 80% of all yeast infections is Candida albicans. The second leading species, accounting for a minority of infections, is Candida glabrata. Despite what specific species of Candida that causes the problem; it is proven this fungi can live in the intestines. Therefore, this intestinal Candida is a reservoir, and can migrate to the gentials. So, as you can tell, if you clear up an infection of the genitals; you get it again later because the yeast, once again, migrated from your gut to your gential area.

The key probiotics you want in yogurt, for a medicinal effect, are strains of Lactobacillus—especially L. acidophilus. The bacteria L. acidophilus, is often present in live culture yogurt. And, when you go to buy a probiotic supplement; frequently, the largest segment of the bacteria in that supplement will be L. acidophilus. L. acidophilus produces a medicinal effect via three primary avenues: eating up food resources (leaving fewer for pathogens), attaching to sites in the intestinal, or vaginal lumen (an interior hollow area of a tubular structure), and by secreting lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide.

As a result, yogurt with living cultures can play a key, if not extremely crucial, role in mitigating repeat yeast infections. But, as you can tell, you don’t need to eat yogurt, you just need to get the beneficial bacteria. This can be done via dietary supplementation with living probiotics or by eating other foods with such living cultures. One key benefit of yogurt, however, is the consistency. Yogurt makes a great spreadable treatment, and you can put it on your skin or in the vagina. Just by routinely placing probiotic yogurt on the infected area, this alone can help clear up a yeast infection. As will be discussed later in the research overview, a mixture of honey and yogurt was found to be very capable of mitigating a yeast infection.

The Bacteria in Yogurt

Pictured here is a infographic chart explaining what to look for when selecting a yogurt product. There are a lot of options, yet the quintessential item to look for is living Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures.
Pictured here is a infographic chart explaining what to look for when selecting a yogurt product. There are a lot of options, yet the quintessential item to look for is living Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures.

There are two primary types of bacteria that are used in the United States for the production of yogurt: Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus be used in yogurt products that are sold in the United States. Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus both produce lactic acid as a byproduct of their metabolic processes. As a result, these bacteria consume the carbohydrates in their environment and produce lactic acid. Lactic acid production can help to stop Candida overgrowth as this yeast does not like its environment too acidic. In addition to lowering the pH and making the environment less tolerable to yeast fungus, these bacteria also consume sugars which would normally be the food for the yeast. By reducing the amount of food available in their environment, they can stop yeast from having a feeding frenzy and rapidly multiplying.

Despite the positive roles Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus may be able to play in their environment, consuming yogurt produced with these strains of bacteria may not be able to help you allay a yeast infection at all. The reason these bacteria may not be able to help, is due to the fact they may not be able to survive in your intestines. Dead bacteria cannot consume food and produce lactic acid. Additioally, stomach acid may kill all of these two species of bacteria after you eat foods containing them.

Pasteurization also is something to consider. Pasteurization effectively kills any bacteria in the yogurt. Many commercial yogurts are pasteurized; and, therefore contain little or no active bacteria—rendering these commercial yogurts useless for medicinal purposes.

Research on Yogurt & Candida

Examine a yogurt’s label to ensure it has living probiotic bacteria.  Most yogurt is pasteurized, which kills all the bacteria. Additionally, look for yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus; as this species is an exceptional probiotic.
Examine a yogurt’s label to ensure it has living probiotic bacteria. Most yogurt is pasteurized, which kills all the bacteria. Additionally, look for yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus; as this species is an exceptional probiotic.

The first study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine [1992; 116:353-357], analyzed the effects of eating yogurt with live L. acidophilus cultures on women with women who had recurrent vaginal Candidiasis. The study attempted to see if eating this yogurt would serve as a way to mitigate infection occurrence. A weakness of the study was the small number of women who were involved. The researchers originally recruited 33 women with recurrent yeast infections; however, only 13 women completed the full study protocol. One reason for this, was that women who were assigned to eat yogurt at first, did not want to stop eating yogurt in the next phase of the study. These women were probably seeing positive results; and, did not want to terminate their helpful habit!

The 13 women, that completed the study, had an average age of 35 years; with ages ranging from 24 to 50 years. Three of these women reported five episodes of Candida infection in a two year time frame. Two women reported 6 to 8 episodes per year, and eight women said they had chronic infections. So we can see, the frequency of infection episodes, among these women, was quite high. The age the women began experiencing yeast infections ranged from 19 to 30 years. Some of the women, nine of them, stated they had a history of using birth control pills; and, none of the women had diabetes mellitus (typified by high blood sugar levels resulting from a lack of the hormone insulin or an insensitivity to this hormone).

Concerning the study design, patients were randomly assigned into one of two groups: a group who ate yogurt containing live L. acidophilus cultures (the experimental group), and a group who did not eat any yogurt (this group served as controls). The patients did this for 6 months. The next phase of the study involved the “yogurt group” discontinuing the eating of yogurt for 6 months, and the “no yogurt group” was to start eating yogurt for 6 months. It appears that the amount of yogurt, when designated to eat it, was 8 ounces on a daily basis. Because some women refused to give up eating yogurt, all the women were instructed to discontinue eating yogurt; thus, they all became the control group. This change occurred 8 months into the study.

The study found that all the women who entered the yogurt eating group, who were originally in the group not eating yogurt, reported they felt like they acquired some relief from their yeast infections. The research showed that, when patients consumed yogurt with live L. acidophilus cultures, there was a 3-fold reduction in the number of infections. The following quote was taken from the study, and gives the summation of the research in the researchers own words. Following this quotation, is a chart taken from the study. The chart greatly elucidates the reduction of infections the women experienced when they ate the yogurt. As you can see by the bars (which represent the number of infections a particular women experienced), eating yogurt greatly reduced the occurrence of Candida infections.

In summary, our prospective study of women with recurrent candidal vulvovaginitis found that the daily ingestion of 8 ounces of yogurt containing L. acidophilus decreased both candidal colonization and infection. The mechanism of action may be multifactorial; lactobacilli or a particular Lactobacillus species may have a direct effect on candidal growth and survival.

Annals of Internal Medicine [1992; 116:353-357]
This chart shows the frequency of yeast infections in women related to their eating of yogurt with L. acidophilus.  The control group did not eat yogurt, the yogurt group did. The x-axis denotes each women (each women is given a number).
This chart shows the frequency of yeast infections in women related to their eating of yogurt with L. acidophilus. The control group did not eat yogurt, the yogurt group did. The x-axis denotes each women (each women is given a number).

Another study looked at how a mixture of yogurt and honey would compare to the drug clotrimazole in terms of curing yeast infections. The research was published in the Global Journal of Health Science [2015 Nov; 7(6): 108–116]. The study used 70 women, all of who were not pregnant and had a vaginal yeast infection. The study divided the women into two groups of 35 women. One group of women were given a vaginal cream that consisted of a mixture of yogurt and honey. The other group of women were administered a clotrimazole vaginal cream. Both groups of 35 women were treated for one week. The women were asked to return to a clinic for examination at 7 days and 14 days after the treatment had completed. When the women were evaluated at these intervals, after treatment, clinical and laboratory signs and symptoms were ascertained.

The study found that the yogurt and honey mixture worked well at alleviating vaginal Candidiasis. For the women who took the yogurt and honey, at 7 days after treatment; their rate of itching went away for more than 75% of the women. Concerning the clotrimazole vaginal cream group’s itching, at 7 days after treatment; nearly 66% of the women got rid of their itching using this cream. At 14 days after treatment, the superiority of the honey and yogurt cream appears to be more significant. At both the 7 and 14 day intervals after treatment, the yogurt and honey group were shown to have a reduction in their symptoms that was superior to the clotrimazole group.

The research concluded that the combination of yogurt and honey is efficacious for the treatment of vaginal yeast infections. The yogurt and honey mixture was found to cause the mitigation, and recovery from, these infections. The researchers also stated, that this mixture of natural items doesn’t have the hazardous side effects of prescription drugs, and is more economical to use—as you don’t have to pay for a drug.

Below is a chart showing the prevalence of symptoms for both groups of the women at 14 days after treatment. Please note that the “control group” indicates the group of women who took the clotrimazole vaginal cream; and, the “case group” indicates the women who used the honey and yogurt mixture.

Note that research units denotes individual women in the groups.  As you can see, the yogurt and honey (case) group showed results at least twice as good as the control group. This natural remedy is clearly superior to the prescription drug (control).
Note that research units denotes individual women in the groups. As you can see, the yogurt and honey (case) group showed results at least twice as good as the control group. This natural remedy is clearly superior to the prescription drug (control).

Another study also examined the use of a honey and yogurt mixture for treating yeast infections. The research focused on pregnant women only, and was conducted over a two year period. Pregnant women who currently had vaginal Candidiasis were allowed to participate in the study. Women with diabetes, or those who had a compromised immune system, were not allowed to participate. The study garnered 129 women to participate in their research. These patients were allocated into two different groups: a study group (comprised of 82 women), which were treated with a honey and yogurt mixture; and a control group (comprised of 47 women), which received the drug tioconazole. The study group women were administered a yogurt and honey mixture vaginally two times a day for a week. The control group received a 100 mg tioconazole vaginal tablet once a day for a week. A thorough history was collected from all the study’s participants, followed by gynecological and general examinations.

Concerning the composition of the yogurt and honey mixture, it was comprised of 25.0% yogurt, 62.5% honey, and 12.5% distilled water. These three components were mixed vigorously until a homogeneous, semi-liquid mixture was achieved. A key reason honey works against Candida is due to the osmolarity (the ratio of solute to solvent). This study chose to incorporate 12.5% distilled water into their mixture; this lowed the osmolarity of the honey, and possibly reduced its effectiveness. Leaving the water out of the mixture, may have created a more effective natural treatment.

According to the study, the rates of vaginal Candidiasis symptoms (discharge, vulvo-vaginal redness, and vulvo-vaginal itching) were comparable between the two groups before treatment commenced. Both the study group and the control group showed significant improvement in their vaginal Candidiasis symptoms after both methods of therapy. The research found that the clinical cure rate for the study group (group I) was 87.8%. The rate of clinical cure in the control group (group II) was 72.3%. The researchers report that this difference was significantly higher. Concerning laboratory findings, women in the control group performed better than those in the study group. The study group had laboratory tests indicate a cure in 76.9% of the women. Comparatively, the control group had laboratory tests indicate a cure in 91.5% of the women.

The study concludes that the yogurt and honey mixture was an effective therapy. Yogurt and honey are readily available, cheap to procure; and, this mixture is easy to create. The yogurt and honey mixture therapy produced a high clinical cure rate for the pregnant women who had vaginal yeast infections. The researchers stated the mixture would be valuable as an alternative therapy or as an addition to a different treatment protocol.

Probiotic Viability During Refrigerated Storage

Refrigerated storage of yogurt containing live probiotic cultures does impact the amount of living bacteria in these products. Although, there probably will be enough bacteria living after a few weeks; the fresher a probiotic yogurt is, the more living bacteria it will have.
Refrigerated storage of yogurt containing live probiotic cultures does impact the amount of living bacteria in these products. Although, there probably will be enough bacteria living after a few weeks; the fresher a probiotic yogurt is, the more living bacteria it will have.

One study sought to see how live cultures of L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum (B. bifidum), when in yogurt, reacted to storage. The study was published in the International Dairy Journal [5.5 (1995): 515-521. The research used five different brands of commercial yogurt. The yogurt was obtained directly from the processors within two to three days of production. All of the five products claimed to have living cultures of L. acidophilus and B. bifidum; in addition to yogurt culture. The yogurt was stored at 4°C. The study tested the yogurt at three-day intervals, over the course of five weeks. The tests conducted on the yogurt, included counting the number of living organisms and determining the pH of the yogurt.

The study found varying survival rates for L. acidophilus and B. bifidum; and, there were differences in bacteria survival between yogurt brands. Three yogurt products retained high numbers of viable L. acidophilus until 30 days after the date of production; then the numbers declined. The other two products contained fewer L. acidophilus cells when fresh; and, the number of viable cells declined much faster.

Concerning the B. bifidum bacteria, all of the yogurt products showed a steady decline of viable cells after production. The decline for B. bifidum was more rapid than that of L. acidophilus; this was true for all the yogurts during storage. At the end of the five week storage period, very few living cells of B. bifidum were found, in any of the yogurts.

The study speculated that the decline in numbers of these bacteria was due to post-acidification of the bacteria, hydrogen peroxide production by the bacteria, oxygen levels in the yogurt, or oxygen permeation through the package. The decrease in pH in the yogurt, during the refrigerated storage period, may have affected the viability of the bacteria. The two charts below are taken from this study. The first chart illustrates the survival of L. acidophilus during storage. The second chart illustrates the survival of B. bifidum during storage.

The chart above shows how well Lactobacillus acidophilus survives refrigerated storage. The x-axis of the chart shows the lenght of time; with a maximum of 5 weeks. The y-axis of the chart indicates the number of living L. acidophilus bacteria. The different lines represent the different yogurt products. "CFU" stands for colony forming units.
The chart above shows how well Lactobacillus acidophilus survives refrigerated storage. The x-axis of the chart shows the lenght of time; with a maximum of 5 weeks. The y-axis of the chart indicates the number of living L. acidophilus bacteria. The different lines represent the different yogurt products. "CFU" stands for colony forming units.
The chart above shows how well Bifidobacterium bifidum survives refrigerated storage. The x-axis of the chart shows the lenght of time; with a maximum of 5 weeks. The y-axis of the chart indicates the number of living B. bifidum bacteria. The different lines represent the different yogurt products. "CFU" stands for colony forming units.
The chart above shows how well Bifidobacterium bifidum survives refrigerated storage. The x-axis of the chart shows the lenght of time; with a maximum of 5 weeks. The y-axis of the chart indicates the number of living B. bifidum bacteria. The different lines represent the different yogurt products. "CFU" stands for colony forming units.

There may be concerns about whether yogurt with live cultures, that also has fruit, can sustain the life of the probiotic bacteria. A helpful study, examined just this topic; and, analyzed how well probiotic bacteria would survive in stirred fruit yogurts. The study was published in the journal LWT-Food Science and Technology [41.7 (2008): 1317-1322]. The study used yogurt with the following fruit preparations: strawberry, mango, passion fruit, and mixed berry. The stirred yogurts were placed into refrigerated storage, at a temperature of 4°C, for 35 days. The study used plain yogurt for a control. The probiotic bacteria in these yogurts was L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis (B. animalis ssp. lactis).

The study found that all of the yogurt, except those containing 10g / 100g added mixed berry fruit and passion fruit, adding 10g / 100g of fruit to the yogurt did not affect the survival of the two probiotic bacteria. In the mixed berry fruit and passion fruit yogurts, there was more of a decline in L. acidophilus during refrigerated storage. However, despite this decline, all the yogurts at the end of storage, retained the recommended levels of L. acidophilus and B. animalis ssp. lactis. The study suggested, that the survival of the bacteria, could be augmented by selecting bacteria strains that had properties such as acid and oxygen tolerance. Additionally, the use of more initial bacteria inoculum would increase the number of living bacteria after storage.

The following chart was taken from the study, and shows how well L. acidophilus survived 35 days of refrigerated storage in yogurt with the aforementioned fruit mixes. The amount of fruit in the yogurt was 10g / 100g.

The above chart shows the survival of Lactobacillus acidophilus, in yogurt with 10g / 100g of added fruit, over the course of 35 days in refrigerated storage. The x-axis of the chart shows the time intervals over 35 days. The y-axis of the chart shows the number of colony forming units (CFUs) present in the yogurt.
The above chart shows the survival of Lactobacillus acidophilus, in yogurt with 10g / 100g of added fruit, over the course of 35 days in refrigerated storage. The x-axis of the chart shows the time intervals over 35 days. The y-axis of the chart shows the number of colony forming units (CFUs) present in the yogurt.

Possible Finding Conflicts?

From these two research studies, we can see seemingly conflicting results. Yet, a look at the dates of these two studies, may hold the answer. According to the later of these two studies on probiotic survival in yogurt, selecting strains of bacteria that can tolerate storage conditions better, can help in their survival. The first study was published in 1995; and, the later study was published in 2008—over ten years later. Thus, we can surmise, time allowed for advances to be made in the science of probiotic survival during storage. And, currently, the strains used in and manufacturing processes of, yogurt with live cultures, may even result in better viability of probiotic bacteria during refrigerated storage.

Concerning the addition of fruit to yogurt, it is clear that the survival of probiotic bacteria is not really changed much via this addition. Some books may tell you that yogurt with fruit is bad for the living bacteria; but, although this may be true, the negative effect of fruit is minimal, or non-existent. It does go to show you, that eating yogurt that is fresher, will provide you with more live cultures; despite what kind of fruit is added into it.

Yogurt Products & Bacteria

Including various anti-fungal herbs in your yogurt is going to be a great way to positively augment your yogurt remedy.  Just make sure the herbs are safe to eat before you take them!
Including various anti-fungal herbs in your yogurt is going to be a great way to positively augment your yogurt remedy. Just make sure the herbs are safe to eat before you take them!

Concerning S. thermophilus, and L. bulgaricus; neither species appears well known for being a probiotic. In addition to these two common strains of yogurt bacteria, some yogurt manufacturers include other strains of bacteria that are probiotic and can survive in the intestines. L. acidophilus is one probiotic that can survive the digestion process, and has been shown to be effective at controlling yeast infections.

According to Sondra Forsyth, in her book Candida Cleanse, yogurt is a great food to include in a Candida cleansing diet. The author states although other dairy products are not allowed to be used during a Candida cleanse, yogurt is. It is assumed the author was referring to yogurt with live cultures of Lactobacillus bacteria. Forsyth states that yogurt contains prebiotics (compounds in food that assist the growth of beneficial bacteria) and probiotics. Forsyth suggest buying plain Greek yogurt, and to look for the words "live active cultures" on the product label. Forsyth also states, that the good bacteria in yogurt, help to keep your intestinal system in good health; and, they work to acidify their environment with lactic and acetic acid. And, as you may know, Candida thrive in an environment with a high, alkaline pH.

Side Effects of Antifungal Drugs

Using a natural remedy for yeast infections is one way to avoid the undesirable side effects of conventional drugs. One drug used to combat yeast, Sporanox (also known as itraconazole), can cause congestive heart failure. Azole antifungal drugs, such as fluconazole (Diflucan) may cause hair loss. Additionaly, high doses of fluconazole can cause birth defects. Therefore, yogurt is a great alternative to harsh, synthetic antifungal drugs.

12 Hour Cure for Yeast Infections

Sarah Summer, in her publication Natural Cure for Yeast Infection, recommends using things like L. acidophilus suppositories in the vagina or putting fresh, plain homemade yogurt in the vagina. By using yogurt or acidophilus suppositories, the good probiotic bacteria can be reintroduced to the vagina and colonize the vagina. Once in the vagina, the bacteria will help reduce the amount of carbohydrates available for yeast to consume, and they will acidify the vagina via the production of lactic acid; keeping the vagina acidic and less conducive to yeast infestation.

Sarah Summer publishes her book through the large electronic publisher ClickBank. ClickBank is a subsidiary of Keynetics Incorporated, a US based firm. Summer offers an 8 week money back guarantee on her publication; if for any reason you are not satisfied with Summer’s publication you can get a prompt refund. There is probably not much paper used in the production of Summer’s book and therefore it is environmentally friendly. If you have any questions for this author, you can contact her via the email address provided at the very bottom of her website.

SOURCES:

  • https://dx.doi.org/10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(80)82938-9 — Collins E. B.; Aramaki, Koichiro. Production of Hydrogen Peroxide by Lactobacillus acidophilus. Journal of Dairy Science [1980 Mar; 63(3):353-7}. Full Text PDF
  • Google Books — Crocker, Pat. The Yogurt Bible. Robert Rose Incorporated, 2010
  • https:/dx.doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-116-5-353 — Eileen Hilton, MD; et al.. Ingestion of Yogurt Containing Lactobacillus acidophilus as Prophylaxis for Candidal Vaginitis. Annals of Internal Medicine. [1992; 116:353-357]
  • https://doi.org/10.5539/gjhs.v7n6p108 — Darvishi, Maryam; et al.. The Comparison of Vaginal Cream of Mixing Yogurt, Honey and Clotrimazole on Symptoms of Vaginal Candidiasis. Global Journal of Health Science [2015 Nov; 7(6): 108-116]. PubMed Full Text
  • https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-012-2242-5 — Abdelmonem, Allam M.; et al.. Bee-honey and yogurt: a novel mixture for treating patients with vulvovaginal candidiasis during pregnancy. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics [July 2012, Volume 286, Issue 1, pp 109-114]. Full Text PDF
  • https://doi.org/10.1016/0958-6946(95)00028-2 — Shah, Nagendra P., et al. "Survival of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum in commercial yoghurt during refrigerated storage." International Dairy Journal [5.5 (1995): 515-521].
  • https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lwt.2007.08.009 — Kailasapathy, Kasipathy, I. Harmstorf, and Michael Phillips. "Survival of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis in stirred fruit yogurts." LWT-Food Science and Technology [41.7 (2008): 1317-1322].
  • Google Books — Forsyth, Sondra. Candida Cleanse: The 21-Day Diet to Beat Yeast and Feel Your Best. Ulysses Press [May 27, 2014; 208 pages]
  • Folk therapy for vaginitis looking good. Science News, 3/7/92, Vol. 141 Issue 10, p158, 1/3p