Can So-Called ‘Vaginal Pearls’ Be a Major Health Hazard?

People have been using holistic methods to attempt to cure themselves of diseases for thousands of years.  Many people swear by the effectiveness of herbs and homemade remedies to relieve illnesses, rashes, headaches, and more. In some cases, there are medical studies to back up these claims. For example, a common home treatment to alleviate the symptoms of a cold is to eat chicken soup. There have been medical studies done on this theory that indicate that chicken soup is, in fact, a good way to alleviate cold and respiratory problems. However, not all holistic “cures” are good—some do nothing at all, and others can even contribute to a person’s death.

Vaginal “pearls” from Embrace Pangaea are one supposed remedy that are drawing scrutiny. These so-called “pearls” are small bags that resemble round tea bags and are supposed to be inserted into the vagina for 72 hours to theoretically cure or alleviate a variety of conditions.

These tampon-like sacks contain an assortment of herbs including mothersworth, angelica, cnidium monieri, rhizoma, and borneol, to name a few. The company alleges that the herb mixture can cure a vast array of infections and diseases. Embrace Pangaea offers the vaginal pearls in special herb mixtures to help heal yeast infections, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and more. The company goes as far as claiming that these herbal “balls” can potentially make a woman’s vagina tighter.  They even offer a special concoction of herbs they allege could help women struggling to become pregnant finally conceive.

Health experts are warning against the use of these so-called vaginal “pearls.” One of the major concerns is the suggestion that users keep the herb sacks inserted for 72 hours. Typically, women who are menstruating may opt to use tampons.  Tampons have been associated with toxic shock syndrome, and due to this possible link, experts recommend not wearing a tampon for longer than 8 hours.  Yet, companies selling the vaginal pearls instruct women to keep them inserted a full 72 hours.  This is a concern because the vagina is the perfect breeding ground for unwanted bacteria when things like tampons are inserted for extended periods of time. There is a concern these vaginal pearls could cause women to contract toxic shock syndrome.

Jen Gunter, a San Francisco Ob-Gyn, writes in her blog that these vaginal pearls should not be used and feels they are a health hazard. In addition to the increased risk of toxic shock syndrome, these herb sacks have not been shown to conclusively improve any vaginal health conditions. The company’s website offers as “proof” many pictures of assorted vaginal discharge samples to back their assertions that the vaginal pearls could improve health issues. However, Dr. Gunter states that vaginal infections actually cause discharge.

A woman’s vagina is designed to be “self-cleaning.” It has certain pH levels, and inserting foreign items not medically made for the vagina can have dire consequences. This is why the medical field does not even encourage women to douche. Douching can throw off the pH levels of a woman’s vagina and cause her to get all sorts of infections. There are no true medical reasons to be introducing anything to the vagina to clean it or “rejuvenate” it.

Tamieka Atkinson, the owner of Embrace Pangaea, spoke to the Independent, and stated her product is not a drug, and there were “no claims of curing, diagnosing, or treating disease.  Embrace Pangaea is a holistic company that provides high-quality herbal detoxes and information to educate clients about natural living. Our Herbal Womb Detox Pearls is simply a natural herbal alternative that women can make a conscious and informed decision in using. With all our clients, we do advise them that we are not medical professionals, and that they should seek assistance from their doctor. As for our products doing more harm than good, there are various women that received positive benefits from using our product.”

While Ms. Atkinson agreed the vagina is self-cleaning, she also believe its “ability can get reduced due to a person’s lifestyle.”

She advised MailOnline that she stood by the comments she had made, adding: “We understand people who do not understand holistic health via herbal supplementation have an issue with our product.”