Alternative and complementary therapies for vulvovaginal candidiasis

Abstract

When it comes to women’s health, treating vaginal infections makes up a high proportion of the gynecological services. Among the forms of vaginitis, vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is considered the second most common. Demand for new treatment alternatives is increasingly relevant, especially for therapies with fewer side effects, better tolerability, and lower cost, while still offering improved quality of life in terms of disease prevention. This study intended to investigate the alternative therapies described for the adjuvant treatment of vulvovaginitis caused by Candida species, including alternative and complementary treatment methods used by women. This literature review is based on articles written in English and Portuguese in the PubMed, Google Scholar, and SciELO databases. This study was conducted for the most part using the Brazilian Government’s Capes Periodicals Portal, which directs to Google Scholar and PubMed. Since the 1980s, there has been growing interest in alternative therapies in Brazil, a trend which also began in other Western countries in the second half of the twentieth century. Some alternative treatments include substances with antifungal activity, some substances help restore the balance of the vaginal microbiota, while others have an inhibitory activity on microbial virulence factors. The proper use of therapeutic alternatives can effectively contribute to the treatment of VVC, but it should be remembered that some chemical products, such as boric acid or vinegar, and even natural products such as propolis, garlic, and tea tree may have undesirable side effects, having not been tested by well-designed clinical studies. Even so, alternative therapies in the treatment of VVC do have support in the scientific literature.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to FAPEMIG (Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais, Brazil), call announcement 001/2017, for the award of a master’s degree scholarship to TC Felix.

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Correspondence to Thais Chimati Felix.

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Felix, T.C., de Brito Röder, D.V.D. & dos Santos Pedroso, R. Alternative and complementary therapies for vulvovaginal candidiasis. Folia Microbiol 64, 133–141 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12223-018-0652-x

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