Back to Africa Check

Smelly white discharge? See your doctor, don’t use this herbal remedy

The Facebook page “Dr Jones Medical Solutions” claims that a mixture of neem leaves, ginger, turmeric and water treats vaginal infections with a “smelly white discharge”. 

Neem, also called nim or margosa, is a tree in the mahogany family. It is thought to be indigenous to Asia and has been introduced to parts of Africa.

The post says the mixture should be boiled for 30 minutes, and then drunk morning and night for seven days. 

Is this sound advice? We spoke to a medical expert to find out. 


Vaginal discharge normal

“The vagina is designed to keep itself clean with the help of natural secretions,” the UK’s National Health Service says. 

It’s normal for a woman to have a white discharge from her vagina. The discharge comes from the cervix, the lowest part of a woman’s uterus. 

The amount and texture of discharge may vary over the course of a woman’s menstrual cycle. 

The Mayo Clinic, a US non-profit medical centre, says that vaginal discharge may become thick and stretchy during ovulation, the point in the menstrual cycle when a woman releases an egg.  But if your discharge changes colour or starts to smell bad, you might have an infection. 

Don’t try ‘untested online remedies’

Dr Sharon Hillier, an infectious diseases and bacteriology researcher at Magee-Womens Research Institute in the US, told Africa Check there was no evidence that this concoction would be of any benefit. 

Hillier said “fishy-smelling vaginal discharge is a condition called bacterial vaginosis”. 

She said it was caused by bacteria in the vagina. A woman was more susceptible to contracting bacterial vaginosis if they douched, used antibiotics or had a new sexual partner. 

“Women should pay attention to symptoms and seek medical care rather than trying out untested online remedies,” Hillier said. 

Consult your doctor if you’re worried 

Hillier cautioned against home remedies: Women who have foul or fishy smelling discharge should see a doctor to get appropriate antibiotic treatment.”

“The vagina is not a dirty space to be cleaned out. It has a unique ecosystem which can protect from infections and preserve fertility. The vagina is the doorway to the reproductive tract and should be treated with respect."

Republish our content for free

Please complete this form to receive the HTML sharing code.

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.