A Guide to the Best Anti-Fungal Herbs
Fungal infections are a common and uncomfortable ailment that affects many people. It is estimated that approximately one billion people globally suffer from a fungal infection of some kind, and approximately 5 to 11 million people have life-threatening infections, with an estimated 1 to 5 million deaths occurring annually.
Treating a fungal infection can be difficult, but nature is well-equipped with natural remedies capable of accomplishing the task. Some plants contain active compounds in them that demonstrate anti-fungal properties.
In nature, fungi constitute the largest number of plant pathogens and are responsible for a wide range of serious plant diseases. Fungi damage plants by killing cells and/or causing plant stress. Over time, plants have developed different methods of protecting themselves from fungal diseases by producing powerful antifungal compounds. These compounds found in plants, such as saponins, alkaloids and terpenoids, have antifungal properties for humans as well, and may help us in treating various fungal infections.
What Are Fungal Infections?
A fungal infection, also called mycosis, is any disease caused by a fungus. A fungus can invade the tissue and cause a disease that's confined to the skin, spreads into tissue, bones, and organs, or even affects the whole body. Fungal infections can be mild, showing little to no symptoms, or they can be severe and can even cause serious illness and death.
It is still unclear exactly how many people are affected by fungal diseases, and it is difficult to determine as many fungal diseases go undiagnosed and there is no public health surveillance for common fungal infections, such as ringworm or vaginal candidiasis.
Candida is one of the most common causes of fungal infections. Candida is a type of yeast, or single-celled fungi, that exists as part of the body’s natural microflora. When Candida populations are normal they are virtually harmless. When they grow out of control, however, they can lead to an infection known as “Candidiasis” that can cause numerous health issues. Antifungal herbs can help reduce Candida populations back to their normal levels, especially when paired with an anti-candida diet.
Of all the different species of Candida, five affect humans the most:
- Candida albicans (by far the most infectious, causing an estimated 65.3% of all Candida infections)
- Candida glabrata (causing an estimated 11.3% of Candida infections)
- Candida tropicalis (causing an estimated 7.2% of Candida infections)
- Candida parapsilosis (causing an estimated 6.0% of Candida infections)
- Candida krusei (causing an estimated 2.4% of Candida infections)
How Common Are Candida Infections?
Candida infections are incredibly common. In fact, they are among the most common type of fungal infections affecting a wide range of people—most of whom likely have no idea that they have an infection. The majority of Candida infections go unnoticed or undiagnosed, as the symptoms that Candida overgrowth can cause or diverse and often not traced back to their root cause being a fungal infection.
What are the Symptoms of Candidiasis?
A Candida infection (Candidiasis) can cause numerous candida symptoms, the most common of which include:
- Digestive issues (bloating, stomach pain, sluggish digestion, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
- Skin rashes (including a common rash in the mouth and throat known as “oral thrush”)
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Sinus infections
- Urinary tract infections (especially recurring urinary tract infections)
- Joint and muscle pain
- Hormonal imbalances
- Brain fog
- Anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings
Getting Rid of Candida
Treating a Candida infection can be a challenging process, especially if the infection isn’t treated right away. If allowed to continue growing out of control, the Candida fungus can cause progressively worse health issues and can potentially even spread to the blood, causing a very serious health condition known as Invasive Candidiasis.
There are two important steps to getting rid of a Candida infection and restoring the Candida yeast population back to normal levels:
- Following a strict anti-Candida diet
- Supplementing daily with anti-fungal herbs until the infection is cleared
Candida are a type of yeast, and as such, their primary fuel source is sugar. To reduce the Candida population, one has to significantly reduce their sugar intake in order to starve the Candida yeast. Those following an anti-Candida diet are recommended to stop consuming all processed foods, foods with added sugars, refined carbohydrates (white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, snacks, pasta, sweets, breakfast cereals), and high sugar fruits.
People following this diet are encouraged to focus on consuming nutrient-rich whole foods like vegetables, sprouts, legumes, gluten-free grains (quinoa, oats, amaranth), nuts, seeds, and low-glycemic fruits (blueberries, pears, melons, etc.). Followers of this diet are also encouraged to eat foods with anti-fungal properties like coconut, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, onion, garlic, seaweed, olive oil, lemon, lime, fermented foods, etc.
Step one of a Candida cleanse protocol is to starve the Candida by no longer feeding them the sugar they require to grow their population. Step two is to then kill the weakened Candida with powerful anti-fungal herbs like those in our Candida Cleanse tonic. Anti-fungal herbs will work to kill the Candida yeast and restore their population back to normal levels. Below are listed the top 7 anti-fungal herbs for killing the Candida fungus:
Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), also known as holly-leaved berberry, is a species of flowering plant in the family Berberidaceae, native to western North America. Oregon grape root has powerful antifungal properties and is one of the best herbs for killing Candida. This herb may play an important role as an herbal remedy for helping with candida infection (candidiasis).
Oregon grape root is one herb that is commonly used for Candida infections because it contains powerful antifungal agents like berberine. In numerous studies, berberine extract has been shown to have significant antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi, and yeasts. Studies have also shown that berberine has a significant antifungal effect against the Candida albicans strain in particular, which is the most common type of Candida leading to infection in humans. This makes Oregon grape root one of the best herbal remedies for treating Candidiasis.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), also known as orangeroot or yellow puccoon, is a perennial herb in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to the Eastern United States and Canada. Like Orgeon grape root, goldenseal root is also high in the chemical compound berberine, an alkaloid with antibiotic and antifungal activity that has also been shown to help relieve some of the symptoms seen in people with chronic candidiasis.
Berberine works by binding to specific molecular targets in the body and altering their function. Its most important mechanism of action is in activating an enzyme within our body cells called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). This enzyme has a major influence on the immune system and the body’s ability to fight disease.
Studies show that the antifungal action of berberine enables it to inhibit the growth of various Candida species. A recent study also showed that berberine was able to enhance the effectiveness of some antifungal pharmaceutical drugs. Berberine helps to enhance the body’s overall defense system by activating macrophages (white blood cells), allowing it to fight not only Candida infection but other invading pathogens as well.
Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is derived from the ground-up seeds of red wine grapes and is available as a dietary supplement in a liquid form, tablets, or capsules. It is rich in antioxidants and has numerous health benefits. It is also powerfully antifungal.
In one case-control study on 0.2 ml of Candida albicans yeasts in 20 samples of rats in 2007, it was shown that the grape seed extract compound had a strong effect against fungal samples. The antifungal properties of this extract make it a great alternative for treating Candida and other fungal infections, especially when used in combination with diet and other antifunal herbs.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is a North American species of flowering plant in the sunflower family. It is native to parts of eastern North America and has a rich tradition of use by First Nations Peoples of the North American plains. It is widely known to be a powerful immune-booster, and is often used to reduce the symptoms of colds and flu. It is also traditionally used to treat fungal and bacterial infections.
In one study on Echinacea observing its antifungal properties, it was shown that Echinacea targets and attacks the structure of the fungal cell wall. Fluorescence microscopy showed that yeast treated with Echinacea were significantly more prone to cell wall damage than non-treated cells. The study concluded that there was compelling evidence that the fungal cell wall is a target of Echinacea extracts and Echinacea may therefore be an effective herbal medicine in treating mycoses (fungal infections).
The medicinal benefits of plants are mostly attributed to their active compounds. The active components of the Echinacea species include polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides and cichoric acid, a derivative of caffeic acid. While the polysaccharides and glycoproteins are often attributed to Echnacea’s immune-enhancing properties, it is the alkamides within Echinacea that appear to exert the antifungal activity of disrupting the fungal cell wall/membrane complex.
Cloves are the flower buds of the clove tree, an evergreen also known as Syzygium aromaticum. These aromatic flower buds are often used as a culinary spice, but they also have strong antiparasitic, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
One study published in the National Library of Medicine observed the antifungal activities of clove and its volatile vapour against dermatophytic fungi. It was observed that cloves had significant antifungal activity against Candida albicans, Epidermophyton floccosum. Microsporum audouinii, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, and Trichophyton rubrum.
It was shown that cloves strongly inhibit spore germination and mycelial growth of the dermatophytic fungi that were tested. The volatile vapour of clove essential oil showed fungistatic (inhibits the growth of fungi) activity whereas direct application of clove oil showed fungicidal (kills fungi) activity.
Cloves contain a powerful aromatic oil called Eugenol. In vitro, eugenol has been shown to have antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant and antineoplastic activity. Eugenol and clove extracts have also been purposed to be beneficial for gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain and for cough, phlegm and chest congestion (as an expectorant).
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or ginger, is widely used as a spice and herbal medicine. Ginger has been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy and it has numerous health benefits, especially for the gastrointestinal tract. Ginger also contains compounds that exhibit strong antifungal properties.
Ginger contains antifungal compounds called gingerol and shagelol as well as potent anti-inflammatory agents. Studies show that ginger can inhibit the growth of the common Candida albicans strain. In one study, an antifungal cream containing ginger was more effective at relieving yeast infections than the antifungal cream without ginger. Another study showed that Ginger extract successfully inhibited biofilm formation by A. baumannii, B. cereus, Candida krusei, and Candida albicans.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is the root of plants in the genus Panax, such as Korean ginseng, South China ginseng, and American ginseng, typically characterized by the presence of the compounds ginsenosides and gintonin. Ginseng is an herbal supplement that has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine. It is commonly praised for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting effects. A lesser known benefit of ginseng, however, is its powerful antifungal effects.
In one study, the saponins were isolated from Korean red ginseng, and the antifungal effects of ginsenosides were investigated. Ginsenosides showed fungicidal (fungi-killing) effects toward the pathogenic fungi tested—the primary of which was Candida albicans. The results suggest that ginsenosides may exert antifungal activity by disrupting the structure of the fungal cell membrane. The study indicated that ginsenosides have considerable antifungal activity, deserving further investigation for clinical applications.
Fungal infections are persistent and often difficult to treat. Those suffering from infections like Candida overgrowth know just how challenging it can be to make progress in treatment. For this reason, we have created a one of a kind herbal Candida Cleanse tonic that features the most potent antifungal herbs in nature. We have combined all of the above-mentioned herbs into a single formula, following a therapeutic dose extraction method that optimizes the bioavailability and effectiveness of the formula. Furthermore, all of the herbs used in our formula are either sustainably wild harvested or biodynamically and organically grown on one of our own farms.
These herbs have strong anti-fungal properties, as well as properties that aid in the health of the liver, digestive system, and immune system, all of which are important for restoring balance in the body and treating fungal infections. Each of the herbs in this formula are deeply understood by our master herbalist for the unique benefits they offer, as well as for the ways that they work together, and have been carefully combined to ensure maximum effectiveness and therapeutic value.
Other Anti-Fungal Herbs
Some other common herbs with antifungal properties include:
Garlic – a common culinary herb, garlic contains numerous health benefits and exhibits powerful antifungal activity against numerous types of fungus.
Tea Tree – a popular herbal antifungal, tea tree oil is used topically to treat a variety of fungal skin and nail infections.
Turmeric – this culinary spice is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties, but a lesser known fact about turmeric is that it is also powerfully antifungal.
Black Walnut – the green hulls of black walnut contain a chemical compound called Juglone. This compound has been extensively studied for its antimicrobial activity and ability to kill a wide range of microorganisms including bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and parasites.
Aloe Vera – the gel of the aloe vera plant also contains anti-fungal properties. It can be purchased as a supplement and easily added to water. Drinking a tablespoon of aloe vera gel a day can be a very supportive natural antifungal remedy.
Basil – another common culinary plant, basil also helps to kill fungi and treat fungal infections. It is also delicious and easy to add to a variety of foods.
Cinnamon – this spice contains small amounts of eugenol, which is the same oil that gives cloves its powerful antifungal effects.
Lavender – this aromatic herb contains many antibacterial and antifungal properties. The oil of lavender is often applied topically to soothe and help treat fungal skin infections.
Consuming these herbs in food or applying them topically on infected areas can offer great support during a Candida elimination protocol.
Fungal infections are common and can range from being a very mild health issue to a serious and life-threatening disease. One of the most common fungal infections is an infection caused by the Candida yeast, a single-celled fungus. There are numerous strains of Candida, but Candida albicans is the most common strain to cause infections in humans.
Candida infections often go unnoticed, as symptoms of Candida overgrowth can be diverse and commonly include digestive issues (bloating, stomach pain, sluggish digestion, gas, constipation, diarrhea), skin rashes (including a common rash in the mouth and throat known as “oral thrush”), tiredness and fatigue, sinus infections, urinary tract infections (especially recurring urinary tract infections), joint and muscle pain, headaches, nausea, hormonal imbalances, brain fog and emotional/psychological imbalances like anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings.
To treat Candida, one must follow a specific protocol of starving the Candida yeast by eliminating their primary food source (sugar) from the diet. Then, one follows up with a protocol of daily consumption of antifungal and anti-Candida herbs like the herbs in our Candida Cleanse tonic: Oregon grape root, Goldenseal, Grape seed extract, Echinacea, Cloves, Ginger, and Ginseng. Adding other antifungal herbs and foods to the diet or applying them topically on infected areas may also support the treatment of Candida.
Though Candida infections are often persistent and difficult to treat, they can be treated by reducing their populations back to healthy levels in the body. Through the use of the right diet and the right antifungal herbs, one can restore balance and relieve themselves of this common fungal infection.