What Is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a severe life-threatening illness caused by infection with certain types of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. Women who are menstruating have the highest risk of getting TSS, as it is thought to be associated with tampon use. TSS can also affect men, children, and postmenopausal women. It is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms and rapid increase in severity, leading to multiple organ failure.

Causes For TSS

TSS is caused by toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that is present as a natural microflora in the vagina. In women, cases of TSS are closely linked to the use of tampons. For TSS to occur, these particular types of bacteria must first over-grow and make large amounts of the TSS toxin, which then enters the blood.

During menstruation, the vagina has a neutral pH and protein-rich menses. In addition, the tampon allows oxygen into the normally anaerobic vaginal environment. Hence, a tampon saturated with blood is a supportive place for the rapid growth of bacteria. The toxin thus produced by staphylococcal bacteria thrives in this protein-rich,

neutral pH environment with high oxygen levels.

Also, sliding a tampon into place in the vagina can make microscopic tears in the walls of the vagina, rupturing tiny blood vessels. A super-absorbent tampon (especially if it’s left in place too long, or if it is used when the menstrual flow is light) can dry out the vagina, making such tearing, even more, likely. The toxins produced by the thriving bacteria activate T cells of the immune system to produce chemicals known as cytokines that subsequently cause shock and tissue damage.1

Possible Symptoms

Symptoms of TSS occur suddenly. Because it’s an illness that is caused by a toxin, many of the body’s organ systems are affected. Symptoms include fever over 102 degrees, vomiting/diarrhea, peeling, sunburn-like rash on fingers and toes, dizziness, confusion and cold, clammy skin which points to a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Risk Factors Involved

  1. Recent childbirth
  2. Infection with Staphylococcus aureus commonly called a Staph infection
  3. Foreign bodies or packings (such as those used
    to stop nosebleeds) inside the body
  4. Having cuts or burns on your skin
  5. Recent surgery
  6. Prolonged usage of tampons
  7. Using contraceptive sponges and diaphragms
  8. Having a viral infection, such as the flu or chickenpox
  9. Immunosuppression (for example, as seen with diabetes and chronic lung, heart disease or in elderly patients)2

Prevention Measures

In order to prevent toxic shock syndrome, one must keep all sorts of wounds and bruises covered and clean to prevent the chances of infection. If a wound does not heal for a long period of time, it is better to seek medical assistance. Women should change tampons frequently during menstruation to prevent the chances of bacterial infection. It is best to avoid using tampons to keep toxic shock syndrome at bay.3

Possible Dietary Changes

Diets that are rich in vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, fresh peas, green beans, as well as fish and chicken help to fortify the immune system. In addition, consumption of fruits like apricots, apples, berries, bananas, melons, and pineapples, along with buckwheat and brown rice strengthens the immunity

of the body.

Treatment With Herbs

There are herbs and other plants that can help you recover from TSS.

Red clover

Studies have shown that red clover (commonly used by homeopathic practitioners as an effective expectorant) aids in the relief of menstruation as well as TSS related symptoms. Take red clover in the form of tea or as pills. Steep dried red clover (about 2-3 teaspoons) in one cup of hot water for a few minutes before drinking. Red clover pills should be taken as recommended by the homeopathic medical practitioner.


This natural antibiotic has been in use for a very long time. Using garlic, which possesses antibiotic attributes, also helps to strengthen the immune system. Eating half a clove of this aromatic antibiotic will give you an extra boost against your battle with TSS. Garlic is very effective in eliminating all harmful bacteria from the body.

Other Medicinal Herbs And Plants

Rosemary, ginkgo Biloba, and Burdock root are helpful in the treatment of toxic shock syndrome. However, before ingesting these herbs for TSS, consult with your healthcare provider. Toxic shock syndrome is a life-threatening condition. Anyone

who shows symptoms of the illness should see a doctor immediately.4