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Natural Gynecology & Obstetrics

Infectious Disorders of Gynecology

  

Acute / Chronic Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Herbal medicine is often superior in treating deep and serious infections, compared to antibiotics. Why or how is this so? Herbal medicines, flowing through the blood (just like drugs) will be permitted to access all levels of tissue – e.g. passing the BBB (blood-brain barrier), sinking into the deepest nerve roots, etc. Whereas drugs, of every kind, are prevented from reaching many of the body’s cells. The body recognizes the chemicals as ‘foreign’ and therefore not safe. In contrast, herbal medicines are recognized as safe by the body, and are thus able to tract down infection at the deepest levels and resolve even the most stubborn and chronic cases of PID.

 

Vaginitis and Vulvovaginitis

There is a variety of common vaginal infections which are the usual cause of vaginitis.

Bacterial Vaginosis and Trichomonas infection are both fairly easily treated with antibiotics and/or herbs. However, if you get chronic infections, then it is recommended that you take herbs only, as herbs will be able to lead your body to a permanent cure. For all cases, your partner should also be treated, or else the infection will simply return. Both conditions, in Chinese medicine, fall under the pattern of damp-heat, though there are often complications.

     

Candidiasis is a yeast-like fungal infection caused by Candida Albicans. Candida is found throughout the world. It is only a threat to us when our body is sufficiently out of balance. In part, this means the acid / base is out of balance, but it also means imbalance of work-life, dietary habits, stress and our failure to combat it, etc. 

An occasional acute infection is fairly easily treated with herbs (and/or chemical antifungals). However, if you get chronic infections, then it is recommended that you utilize herbs only, as herbs will be able to lead your body to a permanent cure. Many times, these ‘yeast infections’ are the result of recent antibiotic use. It is necessary to take pro-biotics for at least two or three months, and greatly reduce your sugar and carbohydrate consumption. Most probiotic supplements contain no viable life (i.e. have no effect). The brand Country Life makes a  good supplement called Power-Dophilus. Metagenics also makes some excellent probiotic supplements. Taking these, with the necessary dietary changes, in conjunction with the right Chinese herbs, should be able to break the cycle.

     

A version of vaginitis not necessarily related to pathogens is called Atrophic Vaginitis, which occurs past menopause, and can be considered the result of a lack of nourishing fluids (yin-essence). It is typically easy to resolve. However, it does take some time to rebuild what is missing. It is usually beneficial to start consuming sardines or mackerel, or consuming fish oil from these and/or from krill. Results for this pattern can usually be seen within one month of beginning herbs.

To prevent vaginitis: wear only cotton underwear, avoid very tight clothing, always wipe front to back, never douche with anything, use only certified organic pads, never use tampons, use only natural (chemical free) soaps, use condoms (or do not have sex with infected partners).

 

HPV (Genital Warts)

From both the Eastern and Western perspective, warts occur exclusively because of a deficient immune system. In the case of warts on the feet, there is also the likely complicating factor of poor circulation. There are two main ways of having warts, internally or externally. External warts are usually easy to cure, scar and pain free, with external-application herbs, coupled with strengthening the immune system. With daily application of the external herbs, visible shrinkage can be seen within one to two weeks. In most cases the wart will be gone within three weeks, and will not return.

     

Internal warts must be treated through increasing the immune system functionality, without the aid of local herbs to kill the virus. We can employ anti-viral herbs for internal use, but regardless, it can take a little longer to cure them. However, generally speaking, these warts can also be cured, scar and pain free. The time frame of results will vary, depending on complicating factors that may be weakening one’s health, such as draining lifestyle habits (over-work, too much stress, etc.), poor diet, diabetes or various parasites.

 

HSV (Genital Herpes)

All infections reflect a certain degree of immune deficiency. Why is one person affected and another is not? The only reason, from the perspective of Chinese medicine, is that one is in a weakened state (deficient) and the other is not. Of course, many lesser factors come into play, but this is the primary one. Therefore, the way to prevent both infection and recurrence is by tonifying the immune system and general strength of the body (in CM, the ‘correct qi’ and ‘defensive qi’). Since HSV always relates to a weakened immune system, it is necessary to have an improved lifestyle and well-regulated diet. With these efforts, and the right herbs, prevention becomes easy enough and recurrence is unlikely. Under the care of Chinese medicine, recurrence generally only happens if one is both off of herbs for a long time, and is under a prolonged period of too much emotional stress. It is much easier to take the right herbs than to change your life. Hence we are fortunate that the herbs can make life far more manageable.

 

Vaginal Discharge & Infections

There are many causes of vaginal discharge. In the modern age, it’s generally a good idea to have the discharge tested (lab work) and go from there. One is not obligated to take antibiotics or antifungals simply because they were prescribed. You have the freedom to seek whatever treatment you like for any condition.

     

Historically, in Chinese medicine, vaginal discharge was differentiated by color, odor, consistency and volume, to mention a few. All types must necessarily involve at least a local (if not systemic) weakness or deficiency of defensive energy (wei qi - superficial aspects of the immune system), for one to have gotten infected in the first place, and a deficiency of upright, righteous or correct energy (zheng qi - deeper aspects of the immune system), to have not been able to beat off and destroy the pathogen once contracted. In Chinese medicine, we do something called “pattern differentiation.” So that every person, every case may be treated at least somewhat uniquely and absolutely as correctly as possible. Whereas in Western medicine, the practice is to differentiate diagnosis based on microbes, in CM the practice is to differentiate the diagnosis based on signs and symptoms, both local and systemic. For example, one case of Trichomoniasis may appear with copious white smelly discharge, and another case with a sticky, dry, yellow discharge, in Western medicine, the treatment would be the same. In Chinese medicine, it is of only mild interest which microbe is involved. This is due to the fact that we have many herbs which are powerful antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic all in one! All that without killing intestinal flora or harming the body in any other way. We can take an interest as far as the microbes may relate to complications, or what lifestyle insights it may provide. 

 

Candidiasis - Candida Albicans (Yeast Infection)

This is the most common type of vaginal discharge in industrialized nations. This is due entirely to lifestyle and dietary factors, namely lack of exercise with excessive sugar / carbohydrate consumption, in addition to (fairly regular) antibiotic use. If there is an unpleasant yeast-like smell to the discharge, you can be fairly certain you are dealing with candidiasis. There is usually vaginal itching, redness and burning, and sometimes painful urination. The discharge could be clear, thin and watery, but ranges to cottage-cheese-like white clumpy discharge. 

     

This condition is always related to immune deficiency, or a similar imbalance. Candida is present on the skin, mouth, nose, vagina, etc. of all people (at least in developed countries). It is an opportunistic disease, taking advantage when there is an opportunity.

     

This condition may not need medical intervention unless severe or interfering with daily life. Follow the instructions of “What is a Healthy Diet” avoiding sugar and carbohydrates to an almost total degree for several months, then slowly reintroduce them once you’ve been symptom free for a month or more. You can also insert a good quality yogurt (with live probiotics) into the vagina every evening. Take Kyolic garlic pills, apple cider vinegar pills, and consume cranberry juice.

 

Trichomonas - Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis (or ‘Trich’ for short) is a nasty, common, parasitic infection or STD. Sores on the vaginal wall and/or cervix, can be confirmed by lab work diagnostics. Many people with the infection do not know they have it, hence it continues to spread easily.

     

When in full effect, there is a yellow-green frothy or foamy vaginal discharge with itching and a terrible (rotten-fish like) smell. The Western treatment includes antifungals such as Flagyl (Metronidazole) which has a tremendously high rate of proceeding cancers (i.e. it causes cancer). In addition, the parasite tends to survive the treatment anyway. Hence, in my experience (primarily in China) it is far better to use Chinese Medicine for this condition. 

 

Vaginal Bacterial Infections

 

Chlamydia

It is estimated that 1 in 20 sexually active women, aged 14-24 years, has chlamydia (cdc.gov). Of all reported cases, 75% are patients under the age of 25. A history of this infection, especially untreated, has been implicated in infertility, related to tubal scarring and subsequent ectopic pregnancies. This infection has become very common due to the effects of industrialization. That is, weakened body’s, weaker immune systems, increased stress…which shuts off the immune system, etc.

     

Chlamydia can be mistaken for a mild UTI that comes and goes quickly. There may be symptoms of mild fatigue, mild fever, and slight (on and off) vaginal discharge with odor, and UTI with burning and some odor. Many cases have no clear signs of infection. Like most bacterial infections, this condition is well treated by antibiotics and/or by the right herbs. It is my advice to utilize Western testing regularly. If taking antibiotics, be sure to take a good probiotic during, and for at least a month after, the course of treatment.   

 

Syphilis

Left untreated, syphilis will be fatal. The first clear sign is typically a sore around the genital area, during, and after, which it can easily be found in blood work. Antibiotics are generally considered curative. While I strongly believe that the disease could be cured with ‘clear heat-toxicity’ and ‘tonify qi’ herbs alone, it is not possible to find data on this topic. This is because, for many long years, even in China, they have used antibiotics to treat it. Hence, I can only suggest that anyone suspecting syphilis quickly get tested and use the Western treatment. In addition, be sure to take a good probiotic during, and for at least a month after, the course of treatment. Also, you should work hard to improve your health and lifestyle to decrease your general health risks.

 

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is another common bacterial infection, with about half a million new cases a year, most in persons between ages 15 and 24. Most women do not have any symptoms. When they do, the symptoms are often mild and can easily be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications, even with no symptoms. When symptoms are noticeable, they may include painful burning urination, metrorrhagia (vaginal bleeding between periods), and a yellow vaginal discharge. This condition can fairly easily progress to PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), and can result in sterility in both men and women (tubal scarring and subsequent ectopic pregnancies).

     

In the past, penicillin (and similar antibiotics) were the main Western treatment. However, the disease has become fully resistant to penicillin (and tetracycline, etc.), and therefore variations must be used, but they tend to have less good effect (presumably because the bacteria has ‘learned’ how to beat antibiotics in general). "Gonorrhea has progressively developed resistance to the antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it (cdc.gov)." 

     

So, feel free to try the Western treatment first, in conjunction with probiotics. If that does not work, then regardless it is still very likely that herbs will work.

 

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44 (cdc.gov). Western medicine does not know the cause of BV. It is known that the infection typically occurs in sexually active women. BV is linked to an imbalance of the normal vaginal bacteria (the PH of vaginal fluid being greater than 4.5). Having a new sex partner, or multiple sex partners, as well as douching, can upset the balance of bacteria in the vagina. It is unknown how sex contributes to BV.  There is no research to show that treating a sex partner affects whether or not a woman gets, or continues to have, BV. Regardless, BV can increase the chances of getting other STDs. It is known that BV rarely affects women who have never had sex. You cannot get BV from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools. Usually there is a thin, white, homogenous discharge that coats the vagina and has a fishy odor. Lab work can confirm the presence of pathological bacteria.

     

As this condition is one of imbalance, and reduced general health, it is a good match for treatment with Chinese medicine (herbs, acupuncture, dietary and lifestyle changes, etc.). If treated with antibiotics, the problem may temporarily resolve, but since the antibiotics will further imbalance the microbiome, it is really not a very good treatment all things considered. 

UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) & IC (Interstitial Cystitis)

Painful, burning, urgent, dark, smelly, scanty, and frequent urination. These are all elements that speak of, and represent, UTI’s and IC. In Chinese medicine, these are all ‘yang’ qualities. Hence the only two common patterns of these diseases are ‘heat’ patterns.

Most Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) will fall into the Chinese medicine category of “damp-heat accumulating in the lower abdomen.” This condition may, or may not, be related to emotional distress. In some cases it will get worse related to menstruation, but more often there is no change or relevance. Most often, the signs and symptoms are almost always present. Often related to fatigue, stress, and alcohol consumption. There is typically copious, yellow, smelly urination, with some urgency. There will be more urgency in cases with more heat, and less urgency in cases with more dampness (water retention). In most cases, (organic) cranberry pills and berberine (herbal supplement) will be helpful. 

  

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