Bacterial vaginosis is a common bacterial infection among women. It can be a chronic and disturbing health condition. Natural remedies are effective for bacterial vaginosis and include hydrogen peroxide, folic acid, apple cider vinegar and dietary changes. It is important to eliminate bacterial vaginosis not only because it is an embarrassing problem but because it is associated with other health issues.
Natural Remedies For BV
An acute BV infection can be embarrassing as well as frustrating. To bring immediate relief while working out a plan to eliminate BV forever, try one of the following remedies:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar Bath
Add 1 cup of raw and organic apple cider vinegar to a warm bath and soak for at least 20 minutes.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide Tampon
Mix 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide (3% hydrogen peroxide from the store in the brown bottle) with 1 teaspoon distilled water. Soak a tampon in this solution and insert vaginally. Remove after 30 minutes. Significant improvement is often reported after one treatment.
The following recommendations can be used over weeks or months to ensure that bacterial vaginosis is gone once and for all.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic
An apple cider vinegar tonic, taken by mouth helps many health problems. It promotes proper pH within the body. 1-3 teaspoons is taken in 10 ounces of water once or twice a day. The “rescue remedy” apple cider vinegar baths are also great for maintenance. One bath every week or two can be helpful.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide was discovered 200 years ago. 1 This anti-infective solution is simply hydrogen and oxygen. It has been used as an antimicrobial for many decades.
When the vagina is healthy and the bacteria are in proper balance, the “good bacteria” (probiotic) lactobacilli produce hydrogen peroxide.2 This hydrogen peroxide helps to keep “bad bacteria” like Gardnerella vaginalis in check.
Probiotic supplements are one way to promote this important natural process. Using hydrogen peroxide in the vagina is also very effective.
Hydrogen peroxide can be used in the way described above on a tampon or it can be used as a douche. A store-bought douche can be purchased. Empty the store bought product from the douche and replace with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and distilled water.
Do not use straight 3% hydrogen peroxide in the vagina as it will burn!
Store bought hydrogen peroxide, the kind in the brown bottle, is a 3% solution. It must be diluted with equal parts of distilled water. For example, mix 1 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide with 1 cup distilled water.
The hydrogen peroxide douche or the hydrogen peroxide tampon can be used each night for a week until the infection is under control. Then it may be used once every week or two for maintenance. (The tampon method being preferred as frequent douching can be stressful to the vagina’s natural balance.)
If it seems to be necessary to used this remedy on an ongoing basis, likely one or more other remedies may be necessary. Dietary changes can make a big difference if hydrogen peroxide seems to be only a temporary solution.
5. Boric Acid
Boric acid is a remedy for vaginal infections that midwives have recommended for generations. One boric acid capsule is inserted vaginally at bedtime three nights in a row.
For prevention of future infections, use one capsule vaginally at bedtime once every two to four weeks. Using one right before or after menstruation can be helpful when BV is related to the monthly menstrual cycle.
Probiotics help the body to maintain proper bacterial flora. Probiotics, taken orally, help the entire body to maintain this proper balance. For stubborn BV infections, probiotics may be used vaginally. One probiotic capsule is inserted vaginally at bedtime each night for one week. 3
7. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps the body fight infection and supports the immune system. A 1,000 mg vitamin C supplement can be taken three times a day to eliminate or prevent BV. For most women, vitamin C will only be part of an overall regime to eliminate BV. Sodium ascorbate powder is the best type of vitamin C to use. If a dose of 1,000 mg vitamin C causes loose stools, reduce the amount to 500 mg.
Check labels when purchasing vitamin C. Many contain artificial sweeteners and MSG.
8. Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency can cause many health problems and can make one susceptible to bacterial vaginosis. Taking a vitamin D supplement daily can eliminate or prevent bacterial vaginosis. Because vitamin D is fat soluble and the body stores vitamin D, vitamin D toxicity can result if large doses are taken for long periods of time. If it seems that BV is only kept at bay with large amounts of vitamin D, it is wise to have blood work done occasionally to ensure that the body is not getting too much vitamin D.
9. Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin. A folic acid supplement is a good idea for all women of childbearing age not only to combat and prevent bacterial vaginosis but to prevent birth defects as well.
Garlic is a powerful antibacterial herb and can be as effective as an antibiotic to get rid of a BV infection.4 Garlic can be taken orally or used vaginally.
A garlic supplement is often the easiest way to use garlic, especially for those who do not care of the taste of garlic. To use as a natural antibiotic, take a garlic capsule 4 times daily for a week to 10 days.
Fresh raw garlic is an inexpensive option for a natural antibiotic and is quite powerful! Separate one clove of garlic from the bulb of garlic. Peel and mince with a knife or garlic press. This garlic can be mixed with honey and taken by the spoon. It can be added to an afternoon salad or spread on buttered toast. One clove of garlic should be consumed 3-4 times a day for a week to 10 days to eliminate infection.
Garlic is sometimes used vaginally to treat BV. Do be careful with the method as garlic can burn the skin. To use garlic vaginally, separate one clove of garlic from the bulb. Peel the garlic clove but do not nick the clove. Wrap this in a piece of cotton cloth. Insert into the vaginal opening before bed and remove it in the morning. If any irritation results, apply coconut oil to the vaginal tissue.
11. Essential Oils
Many essential oils have antibacterial properties. However, essential oils are quite strong and care must be taken when using them, especially in sensitive areas. Never use essential oils undiluted in the vagina!
Tea tree essential oil is antibacterial and antifungal and is especially helpful when yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis become cycling.
Tea tree oil can be used several different ways to combat bacterial vaginosis.
- Mix together 2 drops of tea tree essential oil with 1 tablespoon of water. Soak a tampon in this mixture and insert vaginally. Leave this in overnight.
- Add 1-2 drops tea tree essential oil to an empty gel cap. Fill the gel cap the rest of the way with olive oil. (Do not use hydrogenated oil!) Insert this vaginally at bedtime.
One treatment may be sufficient depending on the severity of the infection. Otherwise tea tree oil can be used for 3-7 nights in a row. If after 7 nights the infection has not completely resolved, dietary changes and supplements will likely be necessary as well. After 7 days, give the body a break from the tea tree oil treatment for at least a week.
12. Activated Charcoal
A fascinating study found that tampons with a 10% solution of activated charcoal were effective for BV and this treatment rarely had an adverse effect on the good bacteria in the vagina. 5
Activated charcoal is commonly used to remove odors and has many applications in combatting infection.
To use activated charcoal for BV insert two charcoal tablets or capsules into the vagina at bedtime for one week. Use a pantyliner as charcoal can be a bit messy. As a preventative, use the charcoal vaginally once a week at bedtime.
Dietary changes are often effective in preventing bacterial vaginosis from returning. Diets high in sugar and simple carbohydrates tend to feed bacteria. These foods are also filling and can prevent the body from getting necessary nutrients. Try to eliminate sugar from your diet for at least a month and see if your bv symptoms improve.
A diet high in whole and unprocessed foods is ideal.
Freshly juiced vegetables used on a regular basis flood the body with nutrients and can help the body’s pH to remain more alkaline, preventing infection. Short term juice fasts can benefit the health, however, long term “juice only” diets can leave nutritional holes in the diet and have unintended consequences.
Smoking can increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis. Certainly it increases the risk for many health problems. Smokers who cannot get rid of bacterial vaginosis no matter what remedies they have tried may find that quitting smoking is the longed for solution.
It is tempting to cover up unpleasant smells with store-bought deodorizing body products. However, many body care products contain chemicals that are harsh on the body. They may be a very temporary fix to an embarrassing problem, but can disturb delicate tissue. Simple apple cider vinegar or hydrogen peroxide (both diluted, of course) can reduce odors without damaging tender tissue.
Wear cotton underwear and pants. Synthetic materials do not breathe and can promote infection. It is also more difficult to get odors out of synthetic materials.
While frequent use of pantyliners may be needed if there is a discharge, these liners also do not breathe. Consider investing in some reusable cotton pads. Wash according to manufacturers directions. Vinegar rinses when doing laundry can keep all laundry fresh smelling.
Store bought douching products should be avoided. Douching can push bacteria deeper into the vagina. The exception to this rule is the hydrogen peroxide douche. But even this should not be the long term solution. Employing the above remedies should make hydrogen peroxide douching to be rarely necessary.
Coconut oil has antibacterial properties and makes an excellent personal lubricant. If the vagina is irritated from continued efforts to eliminate BV, coconut oil is soothing and healing to the vaginal tissue.
What Are Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
- Vaginal discharge that may be thick or watery, cloudy, white or gray
- Foul odor
- Fishy smell
- Pelvic pain
- Burning sensation
- Cloudy appearance in urine
- Worsening of symptoms around menstruation
Asymptomatic bacterial vaginosis is also possible.
What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is the result of an imbalance in the vagina.
Good and bad bacteria reside in the vagina and when this balance of bacteria is disturbed an infection can result. This imbalance may be a result of pH imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, or hormonal changes. Some body care products and douching can disturb the balance in the vagina and infection can result.
Bacterial vaginosis can have a sexual component but that is not always the case. Because it can be sexually transmitted, sexual contact should be avoided during an active infection.
Antibiotics are the conventional method for treating BV. Unfortunately, once the antibiotic therapy is complete the infection often reoccurs. Even multiple courses of antibiotics do not necessarily eliminate bacterial vaginosis. Additionally, antibiotics also disrupt the bacterial balance (flora) in the vagina, and a yeast infection can result.
Complications of Bacterial Vaginosis
Beyond the embarrassment and inconvenience of BV, bacterial vaginosis can cause other complications. 6
BV may cause problems for pregnant women including pre-term labor and post-partum endometriosis. There is an increased risk for babies born to mothers with BV to have birth defects or neurological problems.
Bacterial vaginosis appears to make the body more receptive to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. 7
Natural remedies for BV focus on restoring proper pH to the vagina, keeping the flora of the vagina balanced, providing nutritional support to the body and optimizing hygiene practices.
Continue reading to be encouraged by the many success stories our readers have shared over the past 20 years from this common women’s health issue! Have you used one of these natural remedies for bacterial vaginosis? Our readers would love to hear about your experiences!