Vaginal yeast infections in pregnancy: Management with pongamia oil


eMediNexus    28 April 2018

Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), or yeast infection, is commonly encountered in gynaecologic practice and has been seen to affect 3 out of 4 women in their lifetimes. Pregnant women are more commonly affected by VVC. Higher levels of estrogen and higher glycogen content in vaginal secretions during pregnancy seem to heighten a woman’s risk of developing VVC.1

Overgrowth of yeast cells belonging to the Candida species in the vaginal mucosa leads to VVC. Candida albicans infection is noted in nearly 80-90% of diagnosed VVC cases. Infection with other species, such as C. glabrata or C. tropicalis, occurs less frequently. Medical management and avoidance of contributing factors such as douching, and tight clothing, help relieve VVC and associated symptoms in a short period of time.1

Karanja, or Pongamia, has been described in Ayurvedic textual references as having antimicrobial activity. The antifungal and antibacterial activity of Karanja is attributed to Pongarotene, a rotenoid and karanjin, a known flavonol.2 Karanja has traditionally been prescribed for cutaneous affections and vaginal discharges.3 Methanol extract of karanja has shown moderate inhibition of C. albicans and significant inhibition of C. tropicalis fungal isolates.2

A study evaluated the antifungal activity of Pongamia pinnata extracts on C. albicans strains. Pongamia extracts were found to have significant anticandidal activity. The extracts of this plant are a potential source of natural antifungal agents.4 In an evaluation of the antimicrobial activity of seed oil of Pongamia pinnata, the seed oil showed inhibition against tested fungal and bacterial cultures.5 Pongamia is also used to relieve itching in vagina.6

Considering its antifungal activity and its potential to inhibit strains of Candida species, Pongamia oil is a potential agent to manage vaginal yeast infections in pregnancy.


  1. Soong D, Einarson A. Vaginal yeast infections during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 2009 Mar; 55(3): 255–256.
  2. Patil U. Antifungal activity of karanja (Pongamia glabra) on medically important clinical isolates of Candida fungi. IJAAR 2017;III(1):43-47.
  3. In: Indian Herbal Remedies: Rational Western Therapy, Ayurvedic and Other Traditional Usage, Botany. Khare CP (ed.). Springer; 2004.
  4. Buvanaratchagan A, Jayakumar P, Jaikumar S. Pongamia pinnata: a potential topical herbal antifungal agent against Candida albicans. International Journal of Biological and Pharmaceutical Research. 2016;7(2):102-105.
  5. Kesari V, Das A, Rangan L. Physico-chemical characterization and antimicrobial activity from seed oil of Pongamia pinnata, a potential biofuel crop. Biomass and Bioenergy 2010;34(1):108-15.
  6. Bobade SN, Khyade VB. Detail study on the Properties of Pongamia Pinnata (Karanja) for the Production of Biofuel. Research Journal of Chemical Sciences 2012;2(7):16-20.

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