It is International Women's Day, and we're sharing a health tip every woman should know.
Updated: Mar 8
Blue Noun has teamed up with local herbalist Claire Mullan to let you know how easy it is to fight thrush without pharmaceuticals.
The wonder remedy is Calendula - or 'Pot Marigold.' Its many uses I discovered under Claire's tutelage, but to be legally clear, as a professional Herbalist, Claire would dispense a tailored herbal treatment only following a one-to-one consultation. There are legal issues with marketing curative health claims, but as her customer I am shouting about this one - it is so simple and effective - and can save women such discomfort. Let's get it out there!
NB: it is uncommon, but some people are allergic to calendula. Do a skin test while you are well, then keep calendula in stock for when thrush strikes.
Drink lots of Calendula tea.
It is not expensive. You can buy it loose from herbalist shops, such as Neal's Yard Remedies or online herbalists such as Baldwins. (Or grow your own and dry out the flowerhead - but note, there are several types of Marigold including French & African Marigolds. These other types won't help - and could harm you).
Douche with Calendula tea.
Get a nice big bowl and wash your vaginal region with (cool!) calendula tea. Not only does it have anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties to fight the infection, it is cooling and soothes inflamed skin immediately.
Wear a compress
Can't spend all day sitting in a bird bath? Put some calendula the onto a re-usable fabric pad or a (unscented) sanitary towel to make a compress which you can wear from the comfort of your sofa or bed. It is a great way to get the Herb to where it's needed, but be sure not to wear it for too long, as fungal infections need to "breath."
More about Thrush
Thrush is an unpleasant viral infection that both men and woman can get, although woman suffer much more frequently as their genitals share some of the qualities of a good Petrie dish. It’s estimated that 75% of all women will get at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime. Thrush is caused by a yeast known as Candida, which is just one of many types of fungi living on the human body. At normal levels, this is not problematic, however, when there's an imbalance and increase in Candida, it causes an infection called Candidiasis.
Symptoms of vaginal candidiasis include redness, swelling, itching, painful intercourse and sometimes a thick, white discharge from the vagina. Although it’s much less common, Candida can also cause a urinary tract infection (UTI) which can become serious if untreated.
If you haven't already had the pleasure, it can feel a bit like this:
Anyone can get thrush as a one-off, however there are also some contributing factors to the infection, which may lead to reoccurring infections, including:
Eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbs
High alcohol intake
A weakened immune system
Taking oral contraceptives
High stress levels
On this page I tell you how I got rid of both the discomfort and symptoms of a one-off thrush infection, but do remember the herbalist mantra and 'treat the whole body, not just the symptoms' and find out the underlying cause - especially of a repeating infection. Even if you have contributing factors you can't change, such as diabetes, certain foods have been shown to encourage “good” bacteria to grow and inhibit the growth of Candida. Find out more here).
Remember, get medical help if you need it: it is important to investigate underlying causes and be sure it is a candida infection.
More about Calendula
All together, calendula is a miraculous plant - attractive to look at and with so many other beneficial properties. As well as being anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal (these are the properties we're using to fight thrush) it is also anti-bacterial, anti-viral and a boost to the immune system. It is an excellent wound healer which can soften and reduce scarring, help calm gastroenteritis and IBS and is a useful mouthwash. All this information is out there to find in any good herbal medicine book...
Home Grown Tea, by Cassie Liversidge, 2014
More about Herbalism
If you consult a herbalist, they will give often give you a blend of tea to drink, but only after a full health consultation to discover what underlying problems may be causing your particular combination of symptoms.
Herbalist Claire Mullan also runs a weekly drop in Herb Hut Study Group in which the group accesses her textbooks and she guides them through learning the properties of each medicinal plant: participants learn how to help themselves. As she says, she just wants to share the knowledge and keep it alive.
"As well as passing on the knowledge of herbal remedies to help people find and maintain good health, I am passionate about empowering people to understand their own body."
Claire Mullan, 2020
Claire is also one of many guest speakers on Blue Noun English Language Courses. She gives our students an introduction to the healing properties of medicinal plants and talks about running a small business within the field of Health and Wellbeing.
Wishing all women everywhere strength, health and emancipation on this International Women's Day.
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