Natural remedies for sexually transmitted infections
Honey… I have something to tell you...
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections passed from one person to another person through sexual contact. An infection is when a bacteria, virus or parasite enters and grows in or on the body. More than 30 different bacteria, viruses and parasites are known to be transmitted through sexual contact, and it is estimated that more than one million sexually transmitted infections are acquired every day worldwide. That's a lot!
How are STDs transmitted?
You mean apart from the obvious? Many STIs are spread through contact with infected body fluids such as blood, vaginal fluids or semen. They can also be spread through contact with infected skin or mucous membranes, such as sores in the mouth.
Some common sexually transmitted infections include chlamydia, trichomoniasis, genital warts, herpes, gonorrhoea, syphilis, hepatitis and HIV.
What are the symptoms of sexually transmitted infections?
Some STIs have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Symptoms vary for each infection, but they can include sores or blisters on or around the genital area or in the mouth, pain or burning during urination, unusual discharge from the vagina or penis, itching, swelling, pain in or around the vagina or penis, pain in the pelvic area or abdomen or bleeding.
Women often have more serious health problems from STIs than men. For example, chlamydia and gonorrhoea, if left untreated, can cause infertility.
Do STD home remedies work?
Natural medicine can be an effective treatment for some sexually transmitted infections and can help to reduce the symptoms experienced by the individual. In some cases, natural remedies can provide a safe and effective treatment. In others, medical treatment such as antibiotics may be necessary, although we would always recommend using complementary medicine alongside any conventional treatment to ensure the best results.
Nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E and zinc are important for proper immune functioning.
Vitamin A is necessary for normal growth and integrity of epithelial tissues such as the vaginal mucosa. Vitamin A also provides resistance to infection.
Vitamin C improves connective tissue integrity and can help reduce the spread of infection. It is useful in diminishing the frequency and severity of outbreaks of herpes.
Vitamin E increases the immune response and is useful in the treatment of infections. It can be taken orally or applied topically to inflamed areas.
Low levels of zinc are associated with lowered immunity. Zinc is also essential for the proper utilisation of vitamin A. Treatment with topical and oral zinc can help reduce symptoms of herpes. High levels of zinc can also benefit symptoms of chlamydia and trichomoniasis that haven’t responded to antibiotic therapy.
Medicinal plants have a long history of being used for the treatment of infectious disease due to their antiviral and antibacterial activity. Some have general immune system boosting effects and some have specific effects on bacteria and viruses, with research demonstrating activity against organisms that cause some STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal, and has shown to be effective against a multitude of infections.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has been used successfully in the treatment of herpes, due to its antiviral activity.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) and Oregon grape (Berberis vulgaris) contain the chemical compound berberine, which has a significant effect against many bacteria, including the microorganisms that cause gonorrhoea and trichomoniasis. Berberine enhances immune function when taken internally and can provide symptomatic relief when used in douching solutions because it is soothing to inflamed mucous membranes.
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) has strong antibacterial and antifungal actions, and can be effective against candida and trichomoniasis.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is an anti-viral agent. Studies have shown that Melissa extracts are effective in reducing the frequency and severity of genital herpes lesions. It can be taken internally or applied topically in the form of creams.
Homeopathic treatment can also be utilised for sexually transmitted infections. The homeopathic remedy Medorrhinum is useful for gonorrhoea, and Cantharis can benefit chlamydia symptoms.
Some other natural treatments that can be useful in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections include colloidal silver and honey! Colloidal silver can help reduce inflammation and promote healing of syphilitic lesions, and honey contains an enzyme (glucose oxidase) that helps kill bacteria.
A well-balanced nutrient dense diet is recommended in all cases to ensure optimal health and strong immunity. A diet low in trans and saturated fats, sugar and refined foods is important.
To make the most of these natural therapies, and more, we recommend you consult your local Nutritionist/Herbalist/Naturopath/Homeopath. While this article aims to be informative, these practitioners have years of training in their field, and will be able to advise on the best uses of these natural remedies to help you get the best results and return back to a happier and healthier life!
Want to learn more?
If you want to learn more about natural health, Switch on Health has several short courses and accredited qualifications that you will love, including Advanced Diplomas in Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. Browse the short courses or learn more about our accredited Advanced Diploma programs here:
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