Fungi are everywhere. You likely breath them every day, and may even eat them regularly. In the form of various edible mushrooms, fungi are both harmless and delicious. Different strains of fungi, however, cause many problems in the body. If you have ever experienced athlete’s foot, ringworm, thrush, or a yeast infection; a fungus was responsible. So, how to get rid of these infections? There are many over the counter antifungal creams, and stronger prescription medications to eliminate them. Luckily for many people seeking a natural alternative to fungal creams, pure essential oils provide the answer.
How Fungal Infections Work
A fungus is an organism which often gets lumped in with other microbes like viruses and bacteria. Fungi are actually a bit different. Fungi are far-reaching; from single-celled organisms like yeast to the mushrooms on your pizza. Most fungi exist as spores in the air or soil. As such, that is how most fungi travel.
Fungi exist in great number in the body, especially in the mucous membranes and the intestines. This is perfectly natural, as the immune system keeps them in check. If the immune system is compromised, either by drugs or conditions, and the fungus has the ideal time to incubate and procreate, the body can be thrown out of balance, causing many of the fungal infections we see today.
The common treatment for fungal infections such as these is chemical medications containing azole class antifungal agents. Azoles have been used since the 1950’s, and work by disrupting the membranes of the fungal cells. Different types of azole medicines remain the standard treatment for fungal infections through the use of various creams and oral medications. There is evidence that over time, fungi have become resistant to azole medications, decreasing their effectiveness.
Natural Remedies for Fungus
Because of resistance to chemical medicine and the possibility of hypersensitivity and adverse reactions to azole medications, more and more people turn to natural fungicidal solutions. Many home remedies have come out to get rid of fungal infections, but a few of the most promising are listed below.
Probiotics are microorganisms which help keep the body’s intestinal microbes in balance. Most of the fungi which cause infection in the body exist normally, and are kept in check by the immune system and cultures in the intestines. If your intestinal cultures are out of balance, it is not long before the symptoms of fungal infection start to show up.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, kefir, and kim chi all have a large amount of these beneficial probiotics. Additionally, isolated strains like Lactobacillus acidophilus and LactobacillusBulgaricus can be taken as a supplement to help bring the body back into balance. You can support the actions of probiotics through sustaining a diet that is low in processed carbs and refined sugars, as fungi especially love these two foods. As fungi like trichosporan and candida are notoriously difficult to completely eliminate, it is important to make dietary choices that help starve the fungi.
The boom in the use of coconut oil is for many reasons. Coconut oil has many benefits for the body, due in large part to the medium chain fatty acids it contains. These fatty acids are responsible for coconut oil’s antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects. Caprylic acid is the fatty acid attributed to the oil’s antifungal effects. Topical application of coconut oil can help reduce symptoms of infection such as toenail or foot fungal growth.
Garlic is one potent little bulb. Used for centuries in traditional medicinal, modern medical science is finally starting to catch up. A recent study looked into the use of a compound in garlic as an antifungal. Researchers compared a compound in garlic to the active ingredient in a leading over the counter antifungal cream. The study concluded that the natural compound was actually more effective than the chemical medication. Cloves of garlic can be minced, added to olive oil, and spread on your foot every day to treat athlete’s foot.
Antifungal Essential Oils
By far the most promising home remedy for fungal infections is through the use of essential oils. As many different fungal strains like to attack plants, many plants contain compounds which they use to protect themselves from invaders such as bacteria and fungi. Because of this, the list of essential oils which contain antifungal compounds is HUGE, and would require much more than one article. Here we will take a look at the most well researched antifungal essential oils to date.
The various bioactive compounds of these plants are extracted to produce these pure essential oils. It is the high concentrations of these natural compounds which make various essential oils powerful antifungal treatments.
1. Lemongrass Essential Oil
Native to many tropical islands and used in various culinary dishes, lemongrass is actually a potent medicinal herb. Its power as an antifungal agent is just one of the many benefits of lemongrass essential oil. If you are unaware of the power of this oil, it is well worth the read.
One recent study found Lemongrass essential oil is an effective antifungal. Researchers looked at the effectiveness of lemongrass essential oil and one of its main compounds, citral, in combatting the Candida species of yeasts. The study concluded that both citral and lemongrass essential oil were very effective against yeasts of the Candida species.
To increase effectiveness, add a few drops of lemongrass essential oil to your coconut oil and gently apply it to the site of infection as needed.
2. Citronella Essential Oil
As it shares many of the same compounds as Lemongrass oil, Citronella essential oil also has similar properties; such as the power to repel insects and help clear up fungi. One recent study focused on Citronella as a possible fungicide for crops, and found that it was indeed useful against problematic fungi, eliminating virtually all fungal cells in just 10 days.
Another study focused on the effectiveness of citronella oil against aspergillus fungi. Researchers found the oil significantly reduced the fungal strains present.
3. Camphor Essential Oil
The same study found that Camphor essential oil is a potent antifungal, especially for people suffering from aspergillosis. Aspergillosis is a disorder caused by inhaled aspergillus fungal spores latching onto the lungs and procreating. Most people inhale aspergillus spores every day, and the body easily eliminates them. In someone with a compromised immune system or lung disease, the risk of contracting aspergillosis is much higher.
The application of camphor essential oil in this instance is obviously through inhalation via an aromatherapy inhaler. The calming effects of camphor essential oil also help to reduce cough and the pain associated with strong coughing.
4. Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano Essential oil is as powerful as its scent is strong. The sharp, herbaceous scent may remind you of pizza- but the health benefits are a bit better than that of your favorite slice. Oregano essential oil is composed of primarily carvacrol, a strong antimicrobial compound. The high levels of carvacrol make oregano essential oil an amazing antifungal compound. This particular study focused on the effect carvacrol had on candida overgrowth. Researchers concluded the compound showed very significant damaging effects to the fungal structure, and noted its possible benefit as an antifungal agent.
5. Ravintsara Essential Oil
The scent of ravintsara oil is unique and yet familiar. The scent is close to that of Eucalyptus oil, and it is no wonder! Ravintsara essential oil contains high levels of a compound called 1,8 cineole, better known as eucalyptol.
1,8 cineole is being very highly studied for its major medicinal benefits in the body. Just one of thse benefits is its use as an antifungal. One recent study focused around antifungal activity of different compounds. Researchers found that 1,8 cineol is a potent antifungal. It follows that any essential oil high in the compound, such as ravintsara oil and eucalyptus essential oil, is beneficial for eliminating fungi from the body.
6. Dill Weed Essential Oil
While your favorite pickled snack will not clear up your fungal infection, the smell just might! The fresh, herbaceous scent of dill weed essential oil is rather true to the herb, and often reminds people of their favorite pickled cucumbers. Delicious scent aside, dill weed essential oil is also a natural antifungal. A recent study shined the spotlight on the fresh essential oil’s ability to fight off certain strains of fungi. By way of destroying the strain’s ability to function properly, researchers found dill essential oil is an effective antifungal agent.
7. Orange Essential Oil
Because you see it every day, you may not assume the essential oil from common oranges is so powerful. Truth be told, the sweet juice of this fruit has been a favorite target for bugs and various microbes throughout history, and the plant has adapted itself to this. This adaptation makes orange essential oil a great antifungal. In studies against multiple strains of fungi and bacteria, orange essential oil effectively eliminated them all.
Another such study focused orange essential oil itself, finding that both the essential oil and vapors from the orange peel were effective antifungal agents. Researchers noted that orange essential oil quickly inhibits fungal growth. This makes a promising case for using orange oil as an antifungal.
8. Palmarosa Essential Oil
Palmarosa essential oil is kind of a background oil, not often talked about except for in tight-knit essential oil circles. Time for that to change! In reality, palmarosa essential oil has a lot to offer. It can help to reduce cramps, relieve stress, and – of course – fight fungal infections.
One recent study found palmarosa essential oil has amazing antifungal abilities. The oil was tested against twelve of the most common fungal strains, and effectively eliminated all of them! Another such study found that the antimicrobial effects of palmarosa were not only against fungi, but included many bacteria as well. Numerous strains of bacteria and fungi were easily controlled by palmarosa essential oil.
9. Patchouli Essential Oil
Patchouli essential oil has long been used as a way to repel insects and kill microbes. Cloth shipped from India in the 19th century was not considered “authentic” unless it had the unmistakable scent of patchouli. Traders put the plant in between folds of the cloth to protect it from moths and invaders on the long trip overseas. Medical science is now supporting the many benefits of patchouli essential oil, some 200 years later.
One such medically studied benefit of patchouli essential oil is in its use against fungal infection. A recent study looked at the effectiveness of many essential oil against the common fungal strains. Researchers found patchouli essential oil is very antifungal, effectively eliminating 12 different fungal strains.
10. Lemon Essential Oil
Seen as an everyday oil, lemon essential oil is no less powerful. In fact, its use as an antifungal is just one of the large number of benefits of lemon essential oil. The terpenes a-pinene and b-pinene, both found heavily in lemon essential oil, work to kill fungal cells. According to one study, this makes lemon essential oil a great antifungal. The antifungal effect of these terpenes also acts synergistically with other antifungal compounds, so combining lemon oil with other antifungal home remedies can prove even more beneficial.
11. Tea Tree Essential Oil
With all the health benefits of tea tree essential oil, it is a must have in any medicine cabinet. The oil is astringent, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and of course, antifungal. Recent research focused on a wide range of the properties of tea tree oil. Researchers highlighted the fact that tea tree essential oil is effective against candida. As species of Candida are responsible for many of the common topical infections experienced today, having pure tea tree oil on hand can be a timely remedy.
12. Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil
A recent study noted a “renaissance” of antimicrobial essential oils, testing many oils and finding them to be effective at eliminating chemically resistant strains of bacteria and fungi. Due to rampant overuse of chemical antimicrobial compounds, resistant strains were created. Pure cinnamon bark essential oil provides a natural alternative to antimycotic- resistant Candida strains.
Of the most effective compounds, cinnamon essential oil inhibited fungal growth in some of the most stubborn strains affecting hospitals. Researchers noted that while some strains were more effective, nearly all tested strains had a great effect on fungal strains. Essential oils tested for their antifungal properties included Eucalyptus, Tea tree, Thyme white, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Cinnamon, Grapefruit, Clove Bud, Sandalwood, Peppermint, Kunzea and Sage oil.
13. Rose Geranium Essential Oil
The most common form of yeast infection in the body is an overgrowth of the infamous Candida albicans. The fungus is a common cause of vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, oral thrush, toenail fungus, skin fungus, and some sinus infections. The good news is that rose geranium essential oil completely blocks the fungus’ development. This recent study focused on both the antifungal and antibacterial activity of rose geranium essential oil. In addition to strong inhibitory effects against C. Albicans, the study also highlighted the ability of the essential oil to eliminate various problematic bacterial strains.
Essential Oil Recipes for Fungal Infections
Applying essential oils topically to the site of a fungal overgrowth can be a great way to inhibit the fungal growth and keep it from coming back. As a natural remedy to fungal infections itself, coconut oil makes for the best carrier oil around.
The essential oils also make for great aromatherapy sessions. Inhaling the diffused oils allows the compounds to go directly to the bloodstream, where they can fight the fungi from the inside. Here are just a couple essential oil recipes for fungal overgrowth.
Topical Oil for Fungal Infections
- 10 drops tea tree essential oil
- 10 drops palmarosa essential oil
- 10 drops lemon essential oil
- 2 oz coconut oil
- Mix ingredients in a 2 oz container. Apply daily as needed for fungal overgrowth.
Antifungal Diffuser Combo
- 2 drops camphor essential oil
- 2 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 2 drops rose geranium essential oil
- Add to an aromatherapy diffuser and run for 30-60 minutes daily. Can also be used as a supplemental therapy to topical treatment.
One Last Word
It’s your body. As such, the antifungal remedy that works for you is the right remedy. When using pure essential oils for fungal infections, it is important to remember a few things. Pure essential oils like these are very powerful, and should always be used with care. The pure oils should always be diluted before applying to the skin, as allergic reactions can occur. You want to pay attention to any reactions your body may have to oils when applied on the skin, and should start by applying them to a small area before moving onto a large area of the body. Children and pregnant women should use any essential oil under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
The most important thing to consider when purchasing your essential oil is the quality of the product. Always look for pure essential oils. Pure oils are not only the most beneficial – they are the safest.
These are just a few of the tested oils to heal fungal infections naturally using essential oils. Try out different combinations, and tell us what works best for you in the comments below!