From heavy or irregular periods, to urinary tract infections and yeast infections, to sex drive and fertility, the female body can be complicated. Many women walk away from the doctor’s office frustrated and exhausted with unanswered questions, symptoms that are easily dismissed, infections that keep returning, and prescriptions that often do more harm than good. There are nutritional supplements, herbs, probiotics, and enzymes that can effectively address yeast infections, urinary tract infections, irregularities within the menstrual cycle, fibroids, breast health, and bone health.
Candida or Yeast Infections
Candida is the most common type of yeast infection and can be found in the mouth, intestinal tract, vagina, and may even affect the skin. Symptoms of candida include exhaustion, digestive issues, cravings for sweets, brain fog, joint pain, and urinary tract infections. Candida actually aids in nutrient absorption and digestion, but when your natural pH is out of balance, this yeast overgrows and symptoms appear. A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates encourages candida to grow. Other causes of candida or yeast infections include broad-spectrum antibiotics, oral corticosteroids, diabetes, and a poor functioning immune system.
Changing your diet is the first defense against candida or any yeast overgrowth. Eliminate any foods high in sugar or refined carbohydrates and alcohol that feed candida. Replace these items with organic vegetables high in fiber that will help satisfy your body’s cravings for sugar like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, all forms of squash, zucchini, rutabaga, and pumpkin. However, the majority of the vegetables you eat should not be high in starch or sugar, and should be steamed. These vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, asparagus, artichokes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, bell peppers, and okra. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes the foods you eat should be warm and nourishing, and any cold foods should be kept to a single serving, or once per day. Top your salads with coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. Coconut oil contains lauric acid and caprylic acid which can be used internally and topically to kill candida. Apple cider vinegar and other fermented vegetables contain live enzymes and probiotics to help balance out the beneficial bacteria and fungus in your digestive system. Acidic foods like lemon juice, unsweetened cranberry juice, kimchi, and sauerkraut all contribute to raising pH levels in the body, naturally balancing out your body. The only fruits you should eat when treating an overgrowth of yeast are berries because of their high fiber content, however these should be kept to a minimum. Switch any sweeteners to stevia, maple syrup or honey and use sparingly.
There are many antifungal herbs and taking one or two of these powerful herbs as you change your diet can help the body quickly reduce yeast overgrowth and eliminate symptoms. These herbs include oregano, goldenseal, garlic, grapefruit seed extract, olive leaf, and pau d’arco. You can use these herbs fresh in your cooking, in tea, or you can find them in capsules and tinctures for supplementation. Crystal Star makes a product called Candida Balance that provides a complex formula of antifungals, and herbs that will help boost the immune system and restore your adrenal glands to support energy levels and a feeling of wellness.
The cell walls of candida and other types of fungus are made mostly of fiber. There are enzymes that can digest this fiber, breaking down the cell wall and killing the yeast. It is impossible for candida and yeast to develop an immunity to enzymes as they are capable of doing with herbs and antifungal drugs. This makes enzymes the most effective treatment for candida or yeast overgrowth. Candex by PureEssence is the original plant based, fiber digesting enzyme supplement and has been clinically proven to work swiftly to help detox the body. Their powerful formula is one of the most imitated products in the supplement industry. It does not contain any antifungal herbs, so is safe for those with a compromised liver. Enzymedica, one of the most respected enzyme supplement companies, makes a product called Candidase Extra Strength that combines fiber digesting enzymes and antifungal herbs to help balance the yeast population in the gut and the body’s pH levels. One of our most popular products for yeast and urinary tract infections is RAW Probiotics Vaginal Care by Garden of Life. This is the perfect product for any person who has gone through rounds of antibiotics trying to treat their infection. You need healthy fungus and bacteria to maintain the health of your urinary tract and vagina, and taking repeated doses of antibiotics obliterates the microbiome and actually prevents you from healing. RAW Probiotic Vaginal Care replenishes the body with 38 different probiotic strains specific to urinary tract health and vaginal health while also providing the fiber digesting enzymes to help detox yeast overgrowth and restore balance.
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections (UTI) can occur in the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra, which are all a part of the urinary system. Women are at a greater risk than men for developing a UTI because of their anatomy, and they most commonly occur in the lower urinary tract or bladder. UTI’s are uncomfortable, painful, and can become a chronic issue if they are consistently treated with antibiotics. Common symptoms are pressure and swelling in the pelvis, frequent and painful urination, a constant urge to urinate, and you may see blood in the urine. If a UTI has spread to the kidneys you can experience back pain, fever, chills, nausea, and even vomiting.
UTI’s are caused by bacteria that find their way to the gastrointestinal tract and some of the causes may surprise you. Sugar feeds bacteria that cause UTI’s, and high levels of sugar in your blood create an environment in the urine that is ideal for bacteria to thrive and multiply. Wiping back to front after going to the bathroom introduces bacteria to the urethra. If you have lots of sex you need to pee afterwards to help wash away bacteria that may have moved from the vagina to the urethra. If you hold your pee for too long bacteria are able to easily grow in the bladder. If you don’t drink enough water, bacteria are not flushed out and are able to attach themselves to the wall of the urinary tract. Prescription antihistamines actually make you pee less, make you more susceptible to building up bacteria. The dyes and chemical fragrances in toilet paper, sanitary napkins, and tampons can irritate the vagina and urethra, making these areas more susceptible to infection. Luckily, there are some amazing supplements that can help prevent and treat UTI’s quickly and effectively.
Taking cranberry in capsule form can lower your risk of a UTI by 50%. Cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) that prevent bacteria from attaching themselves to the wall of the bladder. Do not attempt to prevent UTI’s by drinking cranberry juice. Besides containing high amounts of sugar that feed bacteria, cranberry juice does not have the concentrations of PACs necessary to support bladder health. You need at least 36 mg of PACs to reduce the adhesion of bacteria to the walls of the urinary tract. D-Mannose is a naturally occurring sugar found in berries, peaches, apples, and other plants. It does NOT affect metabolism or blood sugar levels like fructose because it is slowly absorbed and is not converted to glycogen or stored in the liver. D-mannose is filtered through the kidneys and sent to the bladder where it helps promote the growth of healthy flora and prevent bacteria from staying in the urinary tract. Bacteria have tiny projections called fimbria that are made from an amino acid-sugar complex called lectin. Because bacteria cells are coated with fimbria they are literally able to stick to the inner walls of the urinary tract system. Once bacteria have adhered themselves to the lining of the urinary tract they can no longer just be washed out with water. D-Mannose is able to cover the lining of the urinary organs, and is enticing to bacteria, which quickly adhere themselves like Velcro to the D-mannose molecules. Lectin binds and sticks better to D-mannose than to human cells, meaning your body can detox and rid itself of bacteria once they have been coated with D-mannose. D-mannose has been shown to be more effective than cranberry alone at reducing the symptoms and length of UTI’s.
Irregular, Painful or Heavy Periods, Endometriosis and Fibroids
Irregular and/or painful periods are very common, and most are related to lifestyle and the health of your endocrine system. Intense body building or physical training, crash dieting or restricting calories, a diet low in protein or calcium, drinking high amounts of caffeine, and chronic stress all contribute to irregular periods.
Crystal Star makes a product called Female Harmony that contains herbs to help balance hormones, support adrenal health, and address symptoms of PMS. Dong Quai helps to balance estrogen, bringing on delayed menses and easing menstrual cramps. Damiana helps to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety that deplete the adrenal glands. It helps balance hormones and increase energy levels. Burdock Root helps to cleanse the liver and reduce inflammation to improve hormone metabolism. It also helps with PMS bloat, and sore breasts. Jiaogolan is an adaptogen that helps the body heal from chronic physical, mental or emotional stress. It helps to stabilize blood sugars and mood and reduces PMS fatigue. Nettle supports the entire female reproductive system. It helps to regulate menstrual flow and reduce PMS bloat. Sasparilla helps to balance progesterone, ease PMS symptoms, and increase physical and mental energy. Red Raspberry is one of the best herbs to promote the health and function of the female reproductive system. Naturally high in magnesium, potassium, iron, and B vitamins, it helps regulate menstruation and is a uterine tonic. Oat Straw helps to relax the nervous system, allowing the adrenal glands to rest and repair. It is rich in absorbable calcium, helping to regulate menstruation, and provides B vitamins for energy. Seaweed is high in bone building, mood stabilizing minerals. It supports thyroid health to balance hormones. Ashwagandha is a powerful and nourishing adaptogen that encourages hormone balance, reduces high levels of cortisol, restores energy, and helps eliminate difficulties with sleeplessness. Maca is rich in absorbable iodine to boost thyroid function and energy. It helps to balance hormones, increase libido and stabilize moods. Hawthorn helps to relieve feelings of intense anxiety or panic, calm the heart, and provide a sense of wellbeing. It can help ease PMS digestive issues. Angelica is an emmenagogue, a type of herb that stimulates blood flow and brings on delayed menses. It reduces low blood sugar attacks, cramping and bloating, and eases PMS digestive issues. Yellow Dock Root is rich in herbal iron to help build blood and ease iron problems associated with menstrual flow. Rose Hips are rich in vitamin C, helping nourish fatigued adrenal glands and boost immune health. It is beneficial for stomach cramps, headaches, and sleep issues associated with menstruation. Rehmannia is a blood tonic specific for anemia and menstrual irregularity. Chamomile helps soothe nerves for PMS stress, tension headaches and indigestion. Licorice is an adaptogen that helps regulate cortisol and encourages the adrenal glands to rest. It has an estrogen-like effect on the female body, supporting healthy menstruation and fertility. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory, helping restore optimal health. It supports digestion and eases nausea. Dandelion supports liver detoxification and breast health. It helps reduce water retention and swelling during PMS. Fennel Seed promotes menstruation, increases libido, decreases bloating, and increases the flow of breast milk. Cinnamon Bark has high levels of manganese, which help alleviate symptoms of PMS such as mood swings, cravings, irritability, and depression.
Evening Primrose Oil provides essential fatty acids and has been shown to help balance hormones, reduce inflammation, promote and regulate menstruation, and treat PMS. Taking 500 mg of Evening Primrose oil twice daily helps to treat hair loss associated with hormone imbalances, boost fertility and ensure a healthy pregnancy, and is beneficial for those who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome. Essential fatty acids also help metabolize hard, clogging saturated fats that contribute to fibroid growth.
Heavy periods, endometriosis and uterine fibroids are often due to low levels of progesterone, high levels of estrogen, and mild to moderate hypothyroidism. Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue is not fully shed during menstruation and begins to build up in the uterus. It increases the risk of uterine fibroids and breast fibroids. Progesta Care cream by Life-Flo supplies 20mg of natural progesterone to balance hormones and reduce estrogen dominance. Progesterone will help treat hot flashes, vaginal dryness, improve memory, and reduce PMS symptoms, mood swings, and sleeplessness. Women’s Best Friend by Crystal Star contains a blend of herbs that help tone the reproductive system, ease heavy blood flow, and address endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Goldenseal Root is a powerful anti-microbial that reduces pain and swelling in the entire ovarian-uterine area. Jamaican Dogwood is one of the strongest non-narcotic herbal painkillers and is especially helpful for menstrual pain, nerve pain, back pain, cramps and spasms. Bladderwrack is a seaweed used to treat menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding) and increase iodine levels to support thyroid health. Arame is also a seaweed, that combined with Bladderwrack boost lymphatic drainage and releases congested wastes. Red Raspberry acts as an astringent to strengthen the uterus and help it relax to normalize bleeding. Cramp Bark is specific to reducing menstrual cramping and spasmodic pain. Ginger helps reduce inflammation and increase circulation for the ovarian-uterine area. Hawthorn helps to relieve feelings of intense anxiety or panic, calm the heart, and provide a sense of wellbeing. Dong Quai is a phytohormone contain herb that helps reduces excess estrogen by binding to estrogen receptor sites. It is a blood and liver tonic that is used to treat menorrhagia. Sasparilla Root has mild progesteronic activity that helps to reduce excess estrogen. It also cleans impurities from the bloodstream. False Unicorn is specific for female reproductive and fertility issues, ovarian cysts and helps to regulate menstruation. It is a uterine and liver tonic. Peony Root has antispasmodic and sedative properties that help ease menstrual cramping and irregularity. Rehmannia is specific for female reproductive problems and is effective at regulating excessive bleeding and interperiod bleeding. Uva Ursi helps to reduce bloating and fluid congestion. Blessed Thistle is a bitters herb that stimulates liver activity and hormone metabolism. Protease is an enzyme that dissolves abnormal tissue and cleanses the blood.
Endometriosis and fibroids in the uterus or breast can be caused by other factors beyond hormone imbalances. X-rays and exposure to low doses of radiation increase the risk for fibroids, especially sensitive breast tissue. Drinking too much caffeine increases estrogen, which trigger the growth of fibroids. Consuming 500 mg of caffeine daily produces 70% more estrogen during the menstruation cycle. Consuming red meat also double the risk of developing uterine fibroids. Symptoms of uterine fibroids include excessive menstrual bleeding, abdominal pain, bladder infections, painful intercourse and infertility. Breast fibroids are more common and feel like moveable, rubbery nodules. For some women they can be fast growing or occur in clusters and be painful to the slightest touch. Reducing caffeine intake, eating a vegetarian diet high in raw, cruciferous vegetables, and increasing fiber all help to reduce circulating estrogen, body congestions, and the risk of developing fibroids. Diindolymethane (DIM) is a supplement that contains compounds from cruciferous vegetables like indole-3-carbinol. DIM protects the body from xenoestrogens, and balances the ratio of good and bad estrogens, pulling the body out of “estrogen dominance”. DIM helps to protect the body from hormone dependent cancers and lower the risk and occurrence of uterine and breast fibroids and endometriosis. DIM encourages the activity of natural killer cells, accelerates the death of cancer cells by promoting apoptosis, and has been shown to depriving growing cancers of their blood supply. Calcium-D-glucarate is also derived from cruciferous vegetables, oranges, apples, and grapefruit. It has liver detoxifying and anti-caricinogenic properties that are extremely beneficial for breast health and against breast cancer. Calcium-D-glucarate increases metabolic efficiency and supports the body in removing excess estrogen, carcinogens and other tumor promoting agents. It has been shown to be safe even when taken at high doses of 3000-4500 mg a day with the standard dose being 500-1000 mg per day. Fibro Defense by Crystal Star contains herbs that help balance estrogen levels for both breast and uterine health and support liver detoxification. Ginger promotes circulation and reduces inflammation. Pau d’Arco Bark is a powerful anti-inflammatory that supports detoxification, fights cancer, and is antiviral and antifungal. Goldenseal Root is a powerful anti-microbial that reduces pain and swelling in the entire ovarian-uterine area. Wild Mexican Yam helps to increase DHEA levels and balance hormones. Watercress is a source of DIM and sulforaphane, another sulfur compound that inhibits the progression of cancer cells. Burdock helps to purify the blood from toxins, and support detoxification of the lymphatic system. It also contains arctigenin, phytochemical clinically shown to kill cancer cells. Dandelion supports liver detoxification and breast health. Black Cohosh contains phytoestrogens that help balance good and bad estrogens and regulates menstruation. It has anti-inflammatory compounds and beneficial triterpenes, isoflavones, and essential fatty acids. Cordyceps is a genus of mushrooms that increases energy and boosts the immune system. It encourages cancer cell death through apoptosis. Bladderwrack is a seaweed used to treat menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding) and increase iodine levels to support thyroid health. Dong Quai is a phytohormone contain herb that helps reduces excess estrogen by binding to estrogen receptor sites. It is a blood and liver tonic that supports whole body detoxification. Protease is an enzyme that dissolves abnormal tissue and cleanses the blood. Ashwagandha is a powerful and nourishing adaptogen that encourages hormone balance. Red Raspberry tones and soothes the uterus to help prevent uterine fibroids. Bladderwrack boost lymphatic drainage and releases congested wastes. Yellow Dock Root reduces inflammation in the liver, kidneys, and uterus and helps cleanse the body of excess estrogen. Yellow Dock helps minimize risk of anemia from excessive bleeding. Kelp supports and promotes thyroid function. Maitake is a genus of mushrooms that provides specific polysaccharides called beta-D-glucans that stimulate T cells to fight breast cancer cells.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in six Americans has osteoporosis or early signs of the disease (osteopenia), and that one in four senior women in the United States have osteoporosis. It is predicted that one quarter of men over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. The bones most affected by osteoporosis are the hip, spine, and wrists. When you are young you have more osteoblast cells than osteoclast cells resulting in bone gain. As you age osteoblasts are unable to maintain the pace of osteoclasts that are still able to efficiently break down bone, leading to loss of bone mass. Other factors that contribute to bone loss include a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, malnutrition, drinking alcohol in excess, and low estrogen.
Besides helping retain and build bone, calcium also helps blood vessels regulate blood flow, assists in muscle contractions, supports nerve cell communication, and contributes to blood clotting. Foods and plants supplying calcium also contain other nutrients and trace minerals that support bone growth and increase bone density. Plant based calcium does not contribute to arterial plaque. You do not need large doses or milligrams of food and plant based calcium, which also makes it more safe and efficient. RAW Calcium, Grow Bone, and MyKind Organic Plant Calcium from Garden of Life are algae based calcium supplements, the superior choice for building and strengthening bones. Highly concentrated in calcium, magnesium and minerals from the sea water, these nutrients are recognized by your body as food, making them highly bioavailable & being used in your body in as little as thirty minutes. Numerous studies have shown algae based calcium to be significantly more effective than all other forms of calcium in every tested parameter.
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) helps to activate proteins responsible for keeping calcium directed to the site of bone regeneration and out of arteries. Vitamin K also supports the ability of your bones to absorb impact ensuring bones are less likely to break from falls and accidents. Studies show that taking high doses of K2 can reduce the risk of spine and bone fractures. Vitamin K2 is found in natto (fermented soy), organ meats, egg yolks and dairy products. Do not confuse this with vitamin K1 that goes directly to your liver to help you maintain healthy blood clotting factors. Vitamin K2 does not get processed through the liver and is safe to take for those on blood thinning medications. Vitamin D is critical to calcium absorption and supports the function of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. People with lower levels of vitamin D are more susceptible to osteoporosis and broken bones. Studies have shown that supplementing with higher doses of vitamin D may increase bone density before the onset of osteoporosis or osteopenia. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis done by osteoblasts and is required for normal bone development. New research shows that vitamin C may significantly contribute to the prevention of bone loss. Magnesium is an important mineral in the bone matrix, and supports calcium absorption. Magnesium may also be helpful in reducing bone loss. Magnesium is often found abundantly in foods that also provide calcium such a spinach, tofu, almonds, broccoli and lentils. Strontium is a mineral that is found in the human body in bones and connective tissue. Studies have shown using 680 mg of strontium daily can reduce the risk of facture by over 40% in those with osteoporosis. Strontium is also credited with showing large gains in bones density and may improve cartilage metabolism. While it absolutely contributes to increasing bone density, many increases in bone density are overestimated with strontium supplementation. Strontium has a larger atomic weight than calcium, and when calcium is replaced by strontium in bone, the density of the bone appears larger. Calcium and strontium both utilize the same carrier protein required for transportation and absorption for use in bones. You should always take strontium four hours away from calcium and at night. Calcium supplements from algae naturally contain 3-5mg of strontium and that amount will not interfere with elemental calcium absorption.