Fungal infections are illnesses caused by fungi like mold or yeast. They often affect the skin and nails causing rash, bumps, lumps and discoloration. Unfortunately, fungi are not superficial only. They can also invade the body subcutaneously and internally. They can reside on open wounds, in the mouth, throat, urinary tract and other parts of the body.
Infections on the skin and nails are not usually serious. However, they tend to spread throughout the body and are capable of spreading to another person. Deep fungal infections affecting the internal organs are not always contagious, but they can wreak havoc on the immune system. Some fungi are opportunistic, which means they only cause diseases in a person with an already weakened immune system.
Treatment for Fungal Infections
The treatment for fungal infection depends on the areas affected. Skin and nail infections are usually treated with OTC creams and lotions. Mouthwash, lozenges, shampoos, eye drops and oral pills are also available. In severe cases, medication is usually applied intravenously requiring hospital confinement.
Antifungal medications kill fungi in the body. Many of the fungi are easy to cure and they hardly require a doctor’s attention.
If you want to dispel fungi naturally, many of the common herbs and spices are effective for the job. Like conventional antifungal meds, they may also be applied topically or taken internally.
Antifungal Herbs and Spices
Antifungal herbs work on the body by breaking the cell wall of the fungi. They merge with the cells to stop their reproduction. Other plants are also able to multiply good gut bacteria that help fight fungal infections.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a handy remedy for a variety of illnesses. It is valued for being the healthiest food and a useful medicinal herb that possesses many healing properties.
The allicin in garlic is an effective antifungal. It works against many different types of infections. It can cure fungal nail and yeast infections. When consumed, garlic enables the reproduction of good bacteria to prevent fungal growth, especially Candida albicans. Garlic is also an excellent spice in treating sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Take 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, preferably crushed, on an empty stomach before breakfast to cure infections and inflammations. For topical use, you may apply garlic oil and olive oil in equal quantities and wrap the nail or foot in plastic for 8 to 10 hours.
Henna (Lawsonia inermis) is an excellent herb for treating fungal nails, inflammation and scalp infection, among others. A paste from henna leaves dispels fungi on the scalp that cause dandruff. Henna powder is sometimes used in dentures to prevent microbial infections and dispel Candida albicans, a yeast responsible for several infections.
Henna leaves contain lawsone which studies and research consider as a possible ingredient in conventional antifungal drugs. Its seed oil is very effective against candidiasis and scabies when applied topically twice a day. The macerated leaves of henna are also useful when used as a poultice in any type of fungal infection.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), or Indian ginseng, is a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine because of its medicinal properties. The herb is widely used in neurological-related diseases and degeneration. It is also used as a plant-derived medicine in microbial and fungal diseases. Ashwagandha contains withanolide compounds that inhibit fungal growth.
The herb is available in different forms like capsules and tablets, but the most potent formulation is taking its root powder. The usual dosage is 4g mixed in a glass of milk and honey. For external infections, a decoction of its leaves is used as a wound wash or bath water.
The curcumin content of turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an active compound known for treating a wide range of illnesses known to man. Curcumin inhibits the growth of fungi that it is even considered a traditional food preservative for preventing mold in food. Turmeric works by breaking down the fungi cell wall – even on the most resistant strain.
Turmeric powder can be applied to the skin affected with fungal infections.
For oral thrush, throat infection and other fungal diseases, try drinking this mixture twice daily: Mix 1 tsp each of garlic powder and turmeric powder and add it to 2 cups of water. Boil it for 10 to 15 minutes and let it steep for 10 more minutes. Strain the concoction and add honey to balance its taste. Honey itself is an antifungal ingredient that will boost the effect of this drink.
The citrusy scent of lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) is due to the presence of the chemical compound citral. Citral is an effective antimicrobial agent that works effectively against bacteria and fungi. It provides good anti-biofilm activity that inhibits the growth of Candida strains.
For skin fungal infections, lemon grass oil and extract are the most effective topicals. You can boost its effect by drinking lemon grass tea prepared by boiling its leaves in water. Drink it twice daily and use some water as a wash or compress.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a common spice and is also one of the most preferred herbal home remedies. It is most effective against digestive complaints including food poisoning from toxic organism contamination. Ginger is rich in the phenolic compound gingerol which inhibits fungal activities.
Ginger essential oils improve moisture permeability for a longer-lasting antifungal activity. To cure other ailments from within, prepare ginger tea by boiling its rhizome for 10 minutes. You can take it twice a day, adding lemon and honey for a better taste and a powerful healing combination.
Check out the Fungal Infection Protocol at page 127 in The Holistic Guide to Wellness: Herbal Protocols for Common Ailments.
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is one of the most effective herbs against histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection of the lungs when fungi are breathed in. Cat’s claw alleviates its symptoms by reducing inflammation and stopping the growth of the fungus. It is also an efficient herb against many other types of bacterial and fungal infections.
A decoction of the cat’s claw bark is prepared by boiling ½ tsp of its powder in a cup of water and simmering it for 20 minutes. Drinking a cup of cat’s claw tea 2 to 3 times a day can cure Candidiasis, histoplasmosis and other fungal problems. 20 to 50 drops of cat’s claw tincture three times a day is also a potent antifungal herbal medication.
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is an acrid but sweet pungent spice that brings an earthy flavor to dishes. It is also a powerful spice with many beneficial healing properties. Its action is most effective in alleviating problems in the digestive tract caused by harmful microorganisms like fungi. Externally, it heals fungal infections and prevents them from spreading. Cumin also boosts the immune system, giving the body a better chance of fighting pathogens.
A study conducted on the effectiveness of cumin holds promising results in the treatment of vaginal yeast infection. Cumin-coated suppositories may be useful in relieving itching and healing vaginal candidiasis.
Echinacea purpurea is a tropical plant best known for its effectiveness in treating a wide variety of infections. It can cure bacterial, viral and fungal infections with its powerful pathogen-fighting properties. Echinacea is an herb of choice for skin problems, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like herpes simplex, and lung and digestive fungal infections.
To help the body fight pathogens and recover quickly, drink 2 to 3 cups of echinacea tea made from its powdered root. Make a paste of echinacea root powder and use it for superficial skin infections, letting it dry before washing it with water.
Neem (Azadirachta indica) is widely used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for treating infections. It has a long history of use in preventing wound infection and treating skin problems. Neem is also a potent solution to fungal acne, dandruff, eczema, ringworm, jock itch, thrush and other yeast infections. Oral intake of neem tones the body and improves the immune responses for easy recovery from various illnesses.
To relieve itching and treat fungal infections on the skin, crush neem leaves and apply them to the affected area. You may also soak neem leaves and boil them for use as a wound wash.
Every day, we deal with fungi from our environment. Most of the time, our bodies can dispel these fungi without us getting sick. However, people with weakened immune systems are highly likely to succumb to it and suffer from infections.
Fungi thrive in moist places so the best way of preventing them is basic hygiene and keeping the skin dry. Fungal infections do not go away when left untreated and they may even spread. Fortunately, they are easy to treat using herbal remedies. Herbs also provide good immune support and disinfection for a quicker recovery from fungal diseases.