Vaginal Yeast Infection Could Be Treated Using Zinc, Research Shows

In Education

Thrush, commonly known as a yeast infection, is a prevalent and uncomfortable issue affecting approximately 75% of women at some point in their lives. Recent research suggests that zinc may offer an effective treatment for this common ailment, providing a potential solution for both healthcare professionals and patients.

Zinc could treat yeast infections

Many women experience yeast infections, with approximately 140 million facing recurring infections. Researchers at the University of Exeter’s MRC Centre for Medical Mycology conducted a study on Candida albicans, the primary yeast causing thrush, to gain insights into the condition.

Researchers discovered that the yeast requires zinc for its diet, similar to humans, and produces pH-regulated antigen (Pra1) molecule to ensure zinc availability as a food source. However, Pra1 has been identified as a trigger for inflammation, believed to be a contributing factor to thrush.

In experiments, researchers discovered that inhibiting the production of Pra1 in Candida albicans genes and applying low levels of zinc to mice effectively prevented inflammation. This finding is significant as inflammation is the root cause of discomfort, including itching and burning, in thrush.

Zinc inhibits Pra1 molecule production

Lead researcher from at the University of Exeter’s MRC Centre for Medical Mycology Dr. Duncan Wilson said that recurrent thrush poses significant distress, necessitating innovative treatments. A promising discovery highlights zinc’s potential to inhibit inflammatory Pra1 molecule production. Wilson cautions that the treatment recommendations are premature and larger trials are crucial for confirmation. Therefore, caution is advised against using non-genital products, as high zinc concentrations can be toxic.

Additionally researchers went a step further by enlisting women with recurring infections every three months. Participants applied a vaginal moisturizing cream with a trace of zinc nightly for two weeks, then twice weekly. Among the six completing the study with thrush, five remained infection-free for three months. Dr. Wilson emphasizes the need for a larger trial to validate zinc treatment’s efficacy, potentially offering a strategy for treatment-resistant conditions. Studying the Pra1 molecule for over a decade reveals insights into zinc scavenging, offering potential for improved, enduring treatments for recurrent yeast infections in women.

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