Information on this site is for educational and personal use only, and is not intended in any way as prescription or diagnosis. It is not a substitute for medical advice. If you have a medical condition, or take prescription medication, do not neglect good quality medical support.
The terms ‘treat’ and ‘treatment’, or similar, do not promise or imply cure.
Information given about products or their ingredients refers to research-based evidence; some sources of evidence are on the Links pages. It would be impossible to fit the information in these references onto each page.
Reference to ‘traditional use’ reflects well-documented common use, by ordinary people, over many years, often in more than one country. ‘Traditional use’ does not imply any research evidence or safety level, it is included for information only, and is not a recommendation.
No manufacturer or supplier has any financial interest in this website, or my business, nor do I have any financial interest in them. Although I sell Viridian products, they are also widely available elsewhere. Always read instructions on any product. Do not neglect medical guidance or treatment.
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Guide to Candida/Thrush.
Candida is a kind of fungus. It most commonly affects the female genitals (vulva or vagina) leading to irritation, itching and usually a characteristic white, lumpy discharge with no particular odour. It can affect the male genitalia also, or other parts such as mouth, skin or digestive tract. An internal (systemic) proliferation of candida can be hard to shift.
Candida is a fungus that usually lives on and around us, doing no harm. Only when things get out of balance, can candida also get out of balance, and proliferate. Candida may be encouraged by anti-biotic use, a low immune system, or a stomach upset. Some people seem more prone to it than others, and some women notice they are susceptible at certain points in their hormone cycle.
Candida can be extremely resistant to treatment. If you are using products to kill the Candida yeast, it is important to rotate different products to overcome this resistance. It is also essential to treat your whole health and boost your immunity. Use general health measures, such as constitutional homeopathic treatment or acupuncture, and immune-boosting products (unless you have an auto-immune illness).
I cannot give a comprehensive guide to the many products on the market. I will detail a few. Please beware of extreme claims and exhorbitant prices on some websites.
I really recommend seeing a natural practitioner of some kind for systemic candida. It is so helpful to have personal support, and close monitoring of any changes in your symptoms, as well as guidance on rotating the use of different herbs or supplements.
I can give some more detailed help, including dietary changes, in a Natural Health Answers REPORT. I can also offer homeopathic treatment, both at my clinic and by email. Homeopathic treatment is also suitable for babies with thrush in the mouth. Do not neglect medical guidance and treatment.
Natural remedies can act on hormones, including on menopausal symptoms, in several different ways.
Female hormones include oestrogen, progesterone, prolactin, luteinising hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, and others. Women also have some so-called male hormones such as androgens. Women also have many other hormones not directly connected with gender or the reproductive system, such as adrenalin or thyroid hormones.
Hormones are linked in complicated ways.
Many are linked into loops with each other, so that one hormone may stimulate, or inhibit, another hormone.
Non-reproductive hormones may also be connected with reproductive hormones: for example, prolonged stress can influence reproductive hormones (PMS, disturbed periods, flushes).
A hormone is like a chemical messenger, going from one part of the body to another part. It is like a key looking for a lock. The locks are known as receptors. Oestrogen works when it finds oestrogen receptors.
Some natural remedies can attach to the body’s oestrogen receptor sites. In theory this means that if oestrogen is too low, the herb ‘fits into’ receptor sites and increases apparent oestrogen levels. If oestrogen is too high (relative to other hormones), filling these sites will lower apparent levels of oestrogen, because the action of the natural remedy is more gentle that the action of the hormone.
Some natural remedies work by influencing the pituitary gland. This gland in the base of the brain is the controller of all our hormones, sending out messages to stimulate, or inhibit, them.
Other natural remedies simply work on the symptoms of menopause, such as sweating, joint pain, or anxiety and moods.
Natural remedies can also help with some of the causes of hormone imbalance, for example, stress or depression. Working on the cause may give better long-term results than treating the symptoms.
Single natural remedies, whether herbal or homeopathic, will give a clearer result. It is necessary to wait at least one month and preferably two months, before assessing the results. Your hormones take a while to adjust, and many other factors are involved.
Combinations. There are now an enormous number of ‘natural’ products available for female problems such as pre-menstrual tension, hot flushes, low energy, depression, joint aches or digestive difficulties. Many of these are combinations of 5, 10 or more things, in quite small amounts, because large amounts would not fit in the capsule! Most of these are not effective, and the effects are at best confusing. I recommend one I know to be a pure high-potency supplement.
Safety information about some natural remedies is given on these pages. For more personal information, please use the Natural Health Answers REPORT or book a full consultation.
Every woman is different. In some, PMS is mainly emotional, with weepiness, panic attacks, irritability or rages. In others, the main symptoms ar physical, such as abdominal bloating or breast pain and swelling.
Ideally, an individual consultation will point you in the right direction. But try some of these ideas in the meantime.
Pre-menstrual problems have been shown, in various studies, to be worsened by the following:
Tea, coffee, other caffeine-containing things.
Diets high in meat or fat, especially smoked meat which increases fluid retention.
PMS may be improved by:
Reducing fat, meat and stimulants.
Reducing sugar and fizzy drinks.
Increased mild exercise eg. jogging, brisk walking, swimming, yoga. Especially before the period, if it does not worsen breast tenderness!
Sexual activity/orgasm especially before or during the period.
This is one of the most widely useful herbs for so many female problems. Read on!
Agnus Castus (chaste tree) has a rather different action from other herbs commonly used for female hormones. Most act on oestrogen: this acts on progesterone.
Agnus Castus influences the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, the major controls on all hormones. It increases progesterone production and acts to improve the ratio of oestrogen to progesterone.
Agnus Castus also reduces another hormone called prolactin. During breastfeeding, prolactin enclurages milk production. Studies have shown Agnus Castus increasing milk production by up to three times that of control group, after 20 days of use.
At other times, excess prolactin may increase PMS, benign breast cysts, painful breasts, and even benign enlargement of the prostate in men. Studies in PMS sufferers using Agnus Castus have shown up to ninety percent having improvement of symptoms.
Other studies have shown this herb to useful with menstrual problems such as heavy periods, lack of periods, or irregular cycles.
Agnus Castus is sometimes used by herbalists to treat fibroids, ovarian cysts or endometriosis, and it may be used in fertility treatment as it stimulates progesterone levels, often low in infertility.
Because Agnus Castus inhibits the ‘male’ androgens, it may benefit acne sufferers with an androgen excess.
Last but not least, this herb also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and may help combat candida by improving the balance of bacteria in the bowel.
Agnus Castus appears safe for long term use at normal doses. Teenagers whose hormones are still developing should only use this under supervision.
Avoid with any progesterone drug, contraceptive pill or HRT.
Agnus Castus may aggravate spasmodic dysmenorrhoea (menstrual cramps) if not associated with PMS.
Caution with dopamine antagonist drugs. TOP
Black Cohosh is the first herb most women try for menopausal symptoms, and many are happy with it.
Black Cohosh originates in North America, where native people have long used it for menstrual or hormone problems, and arthritis. It is widely used in Europe especially Germany, and becoming more popular here. Research evidence is contradictory: some studies suggesting that 70% of women find relief from menopausal problems with Black Cohosh, while others suggest it is no help. This may be due to the research design.
Some clinical studies demonstrate that Black Cohosh can lower levels of Luteinising Hormone. This is one of the hormones that stimulates the ovaries to produce oestrogen. Black Cohosh contains isoflavones that bind to oestrogen receptor sites, and other chemicals acting on the pituitary and hypothalamus. Black Cohosh has a complicated action on several female hormones, and research has not yet clarified its exact mode of action.
Black Cohosh has also traditionally been used for painful or irregular periods, arthritic symptoms, and osteoporosis; these results have not yet been confirmed by research.
I do not advise using this herb if you are taking any conventional treatment for hormones, including the contraceptive pill, HRT, or tamoxifen. Current evidence does not suggest that the use of Black Cohosh and tamoxifen together is contraindicated, but professional guidance by a physician is recommended.
Some research indicates that Black Cohosh may be useful for hot flushes following breast cancer treatment: please consult a qualified herbalist.
Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Avoid if you have measles.
Avoid with chemotherapy.
Avoid with liver disease.
Normal doses appear to be safe for long term use, although some sources recommend limiting use to 6 months. Large amounts (several grams) may lead to abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, dizziness, and miscarriage.
Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) and Burdock (Arctium Lappa) form a helpful duo of liver detoxifying herbs. They are both extremely safe, having few known drug interactions, and appear safe for long-term use.
Dandelion has a confirmed diuretic action, and is one of our safest herbal diuretics. Dandelion does not deplete the body’s potassium, so it does not have some of the potential side effects of other diuretic drugs.
Dandelion and Burdock both encourage our bodies to cleanse and eliminate unwanted toxins. They stimulate the liver and kidney to detoxify unwanted chemicals, including excess oestrogen. These herbs are sometimes used to aid symptoms of oestrogen excess, such as menopausal symptoms, PMS, or symptoms of uterine fibroids. If you have tried more specific ‘hormonal’ herbs without benefit, try this more general treatment instead. In this you may compare Dandelion and Burdock with Milk Thistle.
Both Dandelion and Burdock are tonics for the digestive system; their bitter ingredients stimulate the digestive juices. Dandelion contains unique sesquiterpene lactones. Burdock contains lignans and sesquiterpenes.
Burdock is also traditionally used for general skin disorders, and has anti-microbial properties. It has an anti-inflammatory effect that may be helpful in conditions involving joint and skin inflammation, for example, arthritis with psoriasis.
Because of their gentle diuretic, detoxifying and hormone balancing effects, Dandelion and Burdock are often included in weight-loss programmes. The increase in bile flow may help improve fat metabolism (including cholesterol).
Lithium: Toxicity to lithium may be worsened due to sodium depletion.
Diuretics and Hypoglycemics: Theoretically, dandelion or burdock may heighten the action of these drugs, please take medical advice.
The milky latex in the stem and leaves of fresh dandelion may cause an allergic rash.
Available separately and in combination.
Dandelion tea/coffee made from your own garden dandelions!
Collect from areas not contaminated by chemicals or by dogs toileting.
Dandelion leaves: the young leaf can be used to brew tea, or in salads. Older leaves are horribly bitter. Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, with a high content of vitamin A as well as moderate amounts of vitamin D, vitamin C, various B vitamins, iron, silicon, magnesium, zinc, and manganese.
Dandelion root. Dig large dandelion roots, easiest in wet weather in Autumn. Clean thoroughly, and dice small. They can be dried in a very low oven and stored in airtight containers. For better flavour, roast carefully on a low heat in the oven or in a pan. Then infuse in boiling water for a tasty healthy drink.
You can also buy pure dandelion leaf or root from companies such as Cotswold Herbs, or Baldwins. See Links.
Echinacea is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-septic and anti-inflammatory herb. It boosts the immune system by stimulating T-lymphocytes, macrophages and fibroblasts.
For acne, it can be dabbed directly on the clean skin, either as tincture (more drying due to alcohol content), or wash the skin with warm water to which you have added some tincture.
Echinacea can be used in combination with Sage, in water, as a douche or rinse for vaginal thrush: maximum once daily. For candida, I advise you consult a health professional, and possibly use Echinacea alongside another anti-fungal. Please see the Guide to Candida.
Echinacea has long been used traditionally as a booster for the immune system. If our immune system is in good order, we can better withstand bacteria, fungi/yeasts and viruses. Recent research suggests Echinacea is safe to take long-term. Formerly, patients were advised to take a break occasionally from Echinacea, or to rotate its use with other immune boosters such as Astragalus or Olive Leaf. Naturally it is not wise to rely only on one herb for your immune health! Be sure to look after your whole health with good nutrition, emotional health and enough exercise.
Warnings: Patients with auto-immune conditions should take advice from a health professional. There is some evidence that immune stimulants such as Echinacea may worsen auto-immune conditions, however there is also evidence that they can help.
Not to be used if you have the following: any organ transplant; joint replacements; breast or other implants; pacemaker.
Pregnant or breastfeeding, use only under supervision.
How to Douche for Thrush
Douching means rinsing the vagina. This is quite tricky to do, and must never be done too often if you expect your natural juices to survive.
1. You can buy a douche bag from a pharmacy, follow the instructions and start with small amounts. 2. You can use a washing-up bowl! Find one wide enough to sit in (yes, I know this may be difficult) or use a bidet or bath. Add just a couple of inches/5cms warm water with your herb of choice. Herbs may be added as tinctures, I suggest 10 drops in a washing up bowl. They can also be added as an infusion (herb tea). One or two cups, cooled, added to the water. For thrush, cider vinegar may help because the fungus dislikes the acidity. Just a dash – not enough to sting.
Now sit in the water and gently rinse off any thrush discharge. If possible, insert a finger or two in your vagina and rinse the discharge from there too. Pat dry, you will feel some relief for some hours.
One of the most fantastic minerals for PMS and painful periods, Magnesium can also help with general nervous or sleep problems. This combination is most likely to help if your PMS takes the form of irritability and tension.
Magnesium has been called ‘nature’s calcium-channel blocker’ and some say it behaves like a natural tranquilliser; it also helps muscles to relax. In trials, Magnesium has benefited PMS including fluid retention, bloating, and irritability (Those mainly experiencing breast tenderness may do better with Evening Primrose Oil).
Studies show Magnesium improves heart function and can lower blood pressure, and Magnesium is essential for bone health.
Women with pre-menstrual migraine may like to know that low magnesium levels are linked with increased migraines. Also, Magnesium levels are depleted by alcohol, some diuretics, and laxatives. Excess Calcium can unbalance Magnesium levels, so women taking calcium-only osteoporosis supplements may benefit from additional Magnesium.
Vitamin B6 is often included in Magnesium supplements. Many trials show that Vitamin B6 reduces PMS. B6 enhances Magnesium levels in body cells, and can help lift depression. Alcohol, kidney problems, and oral contraceptives can all lower B6 levels, and vitamin B6 is such a helpful vitamin for energy, the blood, and the immune system, a little extra is a good idea. For more information, see B6 under Natural Remedies for Healthy Heart, Blood Pressure and Cholesterol.
Warnings for Magnesium
physician’s guidance advised with kidney or heart disease, or heart medication.
Those sensitive to Magnesium may develop diarrhoea: reduce dose.
Warnings for B6
Pregnant or breastfeeding women, do not exceed 100mg B6 daily. Others, do not exceed 200mg. daily.
Omega oils may help women’s health in several ways.
This is the best-known omega oil, found in oily fish and some other foods, including nuts and seeds. It is so helpful for so many areas of health that I would recommend it to anyone.
In particular, Omega 3 is essential for the development of the brain eyes and nervous systems of babies. Pregnant and breastffeding mums need to ensure a good supply, especially of the componenet called DHA.
Omega 6 is primarily used for PMS in which breast tenderness is the major component. Omega 6 is found in many vegetable oils, and is rich in evening primrose oil, blackcurrant seed oil, starflower oil, borage oil, also significantly in hemp oil.
Omega 6 contains high amounts of gamma linoleic acid or GLA. This is a fatty acid that the body converts to a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin E1 (PGE1).
Avoid in pregnancy
Avoid with anti-coagulant drugs
Avoid if you take phenothiazines for epilepsy
Pro-biotics are friendly bacteria, such as normally live in a healthy gut. They help boost our immune system and have many benefits including manufacture of some vitamins.
These friendly bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, use as their food a kind of fibre called pre-biotic fibre. This is not the kind of fibre in bran cereals. Rich natural sources of pre-biotic fibre include leeks, onions, shallots, oats, Jerusalem artichokes and pulses. The commonest kinds of pre-biotic fibre are FOS (fructo-oligo-saccharides) and Inulin.
Friendly bacteria, particularly acidophilus, produce substances harmful to the growth of candida. Pre-biotics may be even more effective than pro-biotics in combating candida in the gut, as they create the right environment for friendly, and not unfriendly, micro-organisms.
Pro/pre-biotics can help with the bloating so often a part of PMS. Some of the main brand-name supplements for ‘flat tummy’ rely on these as their main ingredients! Pro/pre-biotics are helpful in re-establishing normal digestion and bowel function after drug treatment, including anti-biotics. Pro-biotics are also themselves strong natural anti-biotics!
Warnings: none. If prone to loose bowels, start with cautious amounts.
Recommended: those little individual yoghourt drinks are a very expensive way to get probiotics, although the bacteria in them are usually very active and effective. Widely available as capsules, some need to be refridgerated.
This unusual complex has 75mg each of 4 major herbs, to balance female hormones and help cope with stress and change. This is much higher amounts than many other combination remedies. It also contains smaller amounts of another 4 herbs. It is totally pure and organic, and comes in a vegetarian capsule.
Viridian Organic Female complex is a combination of natural remedies to benefit both natural hormone balance, and herbs to balance anxiety, stress, adrenal function and the liver.
This organic complex has been used clinically for:
Menopausal symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, emotional irritability, vaginal atrophy, weight gain, depression, joint pains, poor libido, headaches, nervousness, and fatigue. Menstrual irregularities, such as amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, PMS and ovarian pain, cysts (PCOS), and in conditions of oestrogen excess e.g. uterine fibroids. There is NO guarantee that any natural treatment will help with all these.
Not recommended during pregnancy or lactation.
Women taking oestrogen therapy (HRT) should consult their healthcare professional before using this formula.
Due to the liquorice content, this is not recommended in the following: hypertensive patients unless under physician supervision (adverse effects are rarely observed at levels below 400mg liquorice per day).
Patients taking digitalis preparations for the heart, such as Digoxin.
Patients using diuretics in the Thiazide group.
Eating high potassium, low sodium diet normally prevents the side effects of glycyrrhizin, one of the active constituents of liquorice..
Due to the Astragalus content, this is not recommended for patients using anticoagulants, antiplatelet, or anti-thrombotic drugs.
Caution should be taken with transplant patients and those with autoimmune disorders.
Due to Artichoke content, not recommended in patients with known allergies to artichoke and similar plants (Compositae=Daisy family), nor in cases of closure of the gallbladder.
A wonderful anti-oxidant mineral, yet sadly somewhat lacking in our veg due to the farming practices of the last 50 years.
Essential for skin and immune health, zinc has been shown to be beneficial for acne in several well-conducted trials. One trial showed it to be as effective as anti-biotics for acne.
Always make sure that long-term zinc supplementation includes some copper, because extra zinc can deplete our copper. 15-30mg is adequate, and it takes around 3 months to show results for acne. Vitamin A is also good for skin health.
Putting Echinacea or tea tree oil on the spots also helps.
We absorb only around 20% of the Zinc from food, less if the food is processed! Our bodies do not store Zinc, so it is important to replace it on a regular basis. Zinc occurs naturally in many foods; if soil was good, rich sources of Zinc could include:
• Crab, shellfish, fish, poultry, red meat.
• Peas, black-eyed beans, peanuts.
• Dairy and eggs.
• Cereals especially oats and whole grains.
do not exceed the recommended daily dose for long periods. My own advice would be to take 30 mg for only 2-3 months then reduce to 15mg.
best absorbed when taken separately from high fibre food.
Copper should be included in Zinc supplements because Zinc alone may lower your Copper levels.