Bacterial vaginosis is a very common condition that occurs in women. Though the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include vaginal discharge, itching and/or odor, bacterial vaginosis is neither a sexually transmitted disease nor a yeast infection. Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the normal bacterial flora of the vagina are altered from their normal balance. This vaginal dysbiosis results in a degree of inflammation that causes the symptoms experienced during a bout of bacterial vaginosis.
Most cases of bacterial vaginosis will resolve over time without any treatment. However, some women are treated with antibiotics such as metronidazole (Flagyl) because they find the symptoms too bothersome or are experiencing multiple episodes of recurrent bacterial vaginosis.
There are several popular natural remedies for bacterial vaginosis (also called BV). These natural medicines are used to both treat active BV and prevent recurrent BV. Unfortunately, there is limited evidence investigating the safety and effectiveness of many of these treatments. The best researched natural methods of treating bacterial vaginosis include:
Lactobacillus is a normal colonizing bacteria in the vagina that may be used as a beneficial probiotic. Most of the clinical research trials investigating the use of the lactobacillus in bacterial vaginosis use an intravaginal application. In two studies, intravaginal lactobacillus suppositories or tablets had increased cure rates for BV when compared to women using placebos. Another clinical trial looked at women who were treated with antibiotics and then given vaginal capsules of lactobacillus. These women went for a longer period before experiencing a relapse of BV when compared to women who had received placebo capsules.
The idea behind eating yogurt as a natural treatment for bacterial vaginosis is similar to the use of lactobacillus. Most yogurts contain lactobacillus, though some types of yogurt may also contain other probiotics such as bifidobacteria. Early evidence from clinical trials has shown that the incidence of recurrent bacterial vaginosis is slightly less in women who eat probiotic-rich yogurt every day.
*Tea tree oil:
Tea tree oil has many uses in the world of herbalism and, indeed, preliminary evidence does suggest that tea tree oil may be helpful in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. However, most tea tree oil in health stores and drug stores is found in a topical application where as the clinical trial which found tea tree oil beneficial in the treatment of BV specifically used a vaginal pessary embedded with tea tree oil.
Bacterial vaginosis is common and curable. In the majority of women, the natural healing ability of the body will resolve a flare of bacterial vaginosis. However, in women hoping to implement a quicker resolution or a decreased risk of recurrence, it may be beneficial to try one of the natural remedies discussed above. As with all new medicines, concerns and questions should be discussed with a health care professional before beginning treatment.
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