Fungal diseases are caused by fungi, which are found in the environment, such as on plants, and in water, air, and soil. Some also live on skin, mucous membranes, and our intestinal tract.You are at greater risk for a fungal infection if you are taking antibiotics or your immune system is weak. When strong antibiotics are taken for a long time, they can disturb the delicate balance of the microorganisms within the body, resulting in fungal overgrowth.
Immune system is weakened in people with HIV or AIDS, people being treated with steroids or those undergoing chemotherapy. Others susceptible to these infections are the very young and the very old people and those with diabetes.Symptoms depend on the type and location of fungal infection. Some may not be severe, like a rash or mild respiratory illness. Others may be severe, such as bloodstream infection or fungal pneumonia, leading to complications like meningitis and even death.
Either topical or systemic antifungals may be prescribed depending on the type and location of fungal infection. You could treat mild fungal infections with herbs. If the fungal infection is severe or recurring, you should consult a doctor.
6 Effective Antifungal Herbal Remedies
Since sometimes fungal infections can lead to complications that are life-threatening, it is always advisable to consult a doctor for your fungal infection, especially if it is systemic and severe. It might be better to use the following herbal remedies as adjunctive therapy to any antifungal medications that you may be taking.
Goldenseal extract is got from the dried root of Hydrastis canadensis. It contains the antibacterial and antifungal chemical called berberine. Its ointment or cream can be used to treat fungal infections of the skin.
Side effects include irritation of skin, and increased sensitivity of skin to sunlight. It is best avoided by people with heart disease, hypertension, liver or kidney disease, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Garlic contains allicin, which is an antifungal. Garlic preparations are made from bulbs of Allium sativum. The dose is two 200-mg tablets thrice daily, or 0.4% cream or 0.6% gel applied topically on the affected areas of the skin. It has mild side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil derived from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia. It is an effective antifungal because it contains turpenes. It can be used to treat candidiasis, thrush, ringworm, athlete’s foot, fungal nail infections, and jock itch.
Depending on the infection, you may need to apply 105-100% solution to the skin twice daily for one to few months. For oral thrush you can use it as a mouthwash. The oil should not be swallowed as if it is toxic. It may cause skin irritation, dryness, itching, burning, stinging, and redness.
Black walnut extract is made from the fruit hull of Juglans nigra. It is effective against thrush, candidiasis, and skin and nail fungal infections because it contains the antifungal chemical called juglone. Check product label or insert for dosage. Long-term safety is not known.
Echinacea is used to treat candidiasis and athlete’s foot. The extracts of flowers and seeds of Echinacea angustifolia contain several chemicals that help in fighting fungal infection by boosting the immune system.
You can take 2-3 ml of tincture, or use creams and ointments for topical infections. Its side effects include allergic reactions.
The extract of the bark of Cinnamomum cassia contains cinnamaldehyde, which has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is useful in treating candidiasis, and athlete’s foot. You can take up to 4 ml of its tincture along with water, thrice daily.
It can cause allergic reactions, sweating, stomach upset, and diarrhea. Do not take it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not use its oil on the skin.