A fungus is an ever-present microbe in and on the human body and most of the time there is no harm in its presence.
However, there are times when conditions in the skin or gut change and allow prolific growth of certain fungal species, which can cause irritation and discomfort.
Those changes can be hormonal as in the case of pregnancy, or a result of conventional medications such as antibiotics and oral contraceptives.
A change in the skin’s pH level as a result of some cosmetics, or an increase in the skin’s moisture, perhaps as a result of sweating, can also prompt a proliferation of fungus.
Even changes in diet or exhaustion can cause the imbalance needed to allow a fungal infection to develop. Fungal infections can break out anywhere on the body, but the most common regions are the feet, groin area, fingernails and toenails, scalp and vagina.
There are many medicinal herbs with antifungal properties that can be used to effectively treat fungal infections. Evidence and observations by herbalists suggest that using mixtures of anti-fungal herbs is more effective than using any one anti-fungal in isolation.
Along with medicinal herbs and conventional treatments, fungal infections can be prevented by maintaining a healthy diet and balanced lifestyle.
Medicinal Herbs Used for Treating Fungal Infections
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Ajoene is a constituent of garlic that is thought to be almost as effective against mildew fungus as pharmaceutical antifungal medications. Garlic extract can be ingested, but it is more potent when used topically.
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
Evidence suggests black walnut could be more effective in treating Candida than some commonly prescribed antifungal drugs. The active ingredients include linolenic acid, sterols, tannins, quinone, and iodine. This medicinal herb also relieves constipation, which is commonly associated with Candida overgrowth.
Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Candida albicans, the yeast responsible for thrush and vaginal yeast infections are particularly susceptible to tea tree oil.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula is a common herbal remedy for thrush, diaper rash, athlete’s foot and ringworm. The essential oil can even be used in a suppository to treat vaginal yeast infections.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice root contains 25 fungicidal compounds, which is more than any other herb, yet it is not well-known as an antifungal herb.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
This medicinal herb is may be effective against the yeast candida and as a result, is often incorporated into over-the-counter antiseptics in Europe.
Pau d’Arco (Tabebuia impetiginosa)
Pau d’arco contains three antifungal compounds: lapachol, beta-lapachone and xyloidine. When prepared as a tea, it can be taken internally but can also be applied topically by soaking a cloth in the tea to make a compress.
Guajava (Cassia alata)
This herb contains anthraquinones, which demonstrate antifungal properties. It is often used as a natural treatment for ringworm.
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
The flower buds from the clove tree contain the compounds carvacrol and thymol, which have strong antifungal properties. Clove oil can be used to treat fungal infections of the fingernails and toenails.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
The oil of oregano contains carvacrol and thymol, which work together as an effective anti-infectious agent. This herb is a natural remedy for treatment ofdandruff and dermatitis.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Treatment with these medicinal herbs is particularly effective as berberine treats the infecting fungus while leaving beneficial microflora in the gut intact. Berberine is thought to prevent yeasts from producing lipase, an enzyme critical to colonization.
Other natural herbs that have been used to treat fungal infections.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
- Chaparral (Larrea tridentata, Larrea mexicana)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
- Acerola (Malpighia emarginata)
- Burdock (Arctium lappa)
- Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
- Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea)
- Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
- Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa)
- Curly-cup Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa)
- Henna (Lawsonia inermis)
- Lavender ( Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis)
- Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
- Myrrh (Commiphora molmol)
- Poke Root (Phytolacca decandra)
- Sage (Salvia officinalis)
- Thyme (Rumex crispus)
- Usnea (Usnea florida) – a lichen
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
- Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)
- Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)
- Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)