Essential oils are popular for their antibacterial, therapeutic and healing properties. These natural oils are also highly recommended for use because they are safe. Many people use different types of essential oils for their anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties. But, did you know essential oils work excellently to treat common fungal infections?
Naturally, the body has some amount of yeast and fungus, which is not a serious concern. The body’s bacteria work to regulate the amount of fungus and yeast. However, a weak immune system for example, can cause an imbalance so that the body produces excessive amounts of yeast, fungus and bacteria.
When this happens, one is likely to suffer from common fungal infections such as jock itch, athlete’s foot, onchomycosis, ringworm and yeast infections among others.
It is entirely possible to buy antifungal medicine over the counter but these typically have awful side effects. It is common for the body to build resistance against antifungal medicine so these may not work very well over the long term.
Today, more and more people are looking for natural treatments that are safe and effective at healing fungal infections. What is really great about essential oils for fungal infections is that you can use them without the fear of adverse effects or resistance.
Read on to find out about the best essential oils for fungal infections and how these oils can be used to treat specific fungal infections.
Note that yeast is a type of fungi and so can be treated using the same essential oils used to treat other types of fungi.
How Essential Oils work as Anti-Fungal Treatment
There is preponderance of research on the antifungal properties of essential oils. According to one study evaluating 75 essential oils, many of the essential oils analyzed were more effective at treating fungal infections the than the common antifungal prescription medicine known as Hexaconazole.
The study found that clove, thyme, lemongrass and geranium were the most effective antifungal essential oils.
The best anti-fungal essential oils
There are numerous potent antifungal essential oils. Below are some of the best oils to use for the treatment of common fungal conditions.
1. Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass oil has been found to have extensive healing properties. If you suffer from conditions such as jock itch, athlete’s foot or ringworm, lemongrass essential oil can help to treat these conditions from inside the body.
In their study, Boukhatem et al (2014) study found that lemon grass was one of the top 91 essential oils in treating Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA ), an infection caused by a strain of the staph bacteria (Boukhatem et al., 2014).
Another study that examined the anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties of lemongrass essential oil using a diffusion approach found lemongrass essential oil to be highly effective against harmful yeasts and fungi.
In particular, lemongrass worked effectively against three fungi strains, which include Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis and Aspergillus niger.
The same study proved the anti-inflammatory effects of lemongrass essential oil. Researchers concluded that lemongrass essential oil could potentially be developed in future to be used in anti-inflammatory and antifungal medicine.
2. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is one of the most widely used essential oils. Several empirical studies have found that lavender oil can be potent to several fungal strains such as dermatophytes and candida, which are known to cause skin and nail infections.
One study in particular showed that lavender essential oil is powerful enough to destroy the cell membrane of fungal cells, which eventually kills the fungi.
For best results when using lavender oil topically, mix it with a mild carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil.
3. Clove Essential Oil
Clove is cited as one of the most effective oils for the treatment of a variety of fungal infections. Studies show that clove essential oils can treat as many as 15 types of fungi including candida albicans, which is a common type of fungi.
Elsewhere, another study found that eugenol, the main compound found in clove essential oil was particularly effective at fighting candida.
Other than treating fungal infections, clove essential oil may also be used to treat oral health problems such as infection of the tooth or toothache.
Before using clove essential oil, dilute it in equal parts with a mild carrier oil.
4. Cassia Essential Oil
Other than its antifungal properties, cassia essential oil is also known for its antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.To use cassia essential oil safely, mix 3 drops of carrier oil with a drop of cassia oil.
5. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree essential oil is extracted from the Maleleuca tree mainly found in Australia. Aboriginal Australians have used tea tree oil for many years to treat a wide array of health issues.
In one study, tea tree oil was found to be effective at fighting candida infections effecting the vagina i.e. vaginal candidiasis by stopping the candida cells from replicating.
6. Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon essential oil works and feels like cassia essential oil. This earthy sweet -smelling essential oil has antifungal, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
Although cinnamon essential oil is commonly used to treat conditions affecting the immune system, it has also been found to be effective at fighting against fungi strains such as staphylococcus.
Before applying cinnamon essential oil topically, it is best to dilute it with a suitable carrier oil. This essential oil is very powerful and can irritate the nose and respiratory system.
7. Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme is among the most potent essential oils. One study found that thyme essential oil was effective at disinfecting walls and surfaces affected by mold. Thyme has also been found to be effective at fighting the MRSA and other staphylococcus bacteria.
For best results, dilute thyme essential oil with a mild carrier oil before application on the skin. Due to its potency, you are advised to first do a patch test on a small areas of the skin before applying thyme oil all over your body.
8. Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium oil has an undeniably aromatic smell making it a popular oil used in aromatherapy. Geranium works as an antioxidant, antifungal and antibacterial essential oil.
Research has found that geranium oil is highly effective at treating fungal conditions by preventing the growth of a wide variety of fungal and bacterial strains.
Geranium works especially well in the treatment of athlete’s foot.
For best results, add 5 drops of geranium essential oil in a footbath and soak your feet for at least half an hour. You may also mix the oil with a carrier oil and massage it to affected areas of the feet two times daily.
9. Rose geranium essential oil
Rose geranium essential oil is widely used in aromatherapy to alleviate stress, the effects of depression and to restore emotional balance.
Other than this, rose geranium essential oil has been found to be a potent antifungal essential oil. In one study, the antibacterial and antifungal properties of rose geranium essential oil were compared. Researchers found the oil to be effective at fighting fungi and bacteria in the same way that prescription medicines are (Bouzenna & Krichen, 2013).
Other studies have also found rose geranium oil to be effective at inhibiting the growth of the candida albicans fungi.
10. Manuka Essential Oil
Manuka essential oil is a relatively new herbal oil but it has been found to be extremely powerful for its antimicrobial properties. Manuka oil is derived from the manuka tree mostly found in New Zealand.
One study compared the antimicrobial properties of kanuka, tea tree and manuka essential oils and found that manuka essential oil had potent antifungal properties (Lis-Balchin, Hart, & Deans, 2000).
The same research concluded that manuka essential oils were unmatched antibacterial and antioxidant properties compared to the other two oils (Lis-Balchin, Hart, & Deans, 2000).
You may use manuka oil for a wide array of conditions including alleviating dandruff, treating athlete’s foot, candida and fungal infections affecting the nail.
For optimal results, dilute manuka essential oil in water, a carrier oil or in a shampoo before using.
11. Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano is largely used in culinary but it is much more than a mere pizza ingredient. Oregano essential oil is a potent antifungal herb used to suppress the spread of many fungal conditions.
In one study, oregano essential oil was found to be effective in treating particular types of the fungi candida as well as yeast infections. Oregano may also be used in treating common skin infections such as athlete’s foot and fungal infections affecting the nails.
To use oregano essential oil for athlete’s foot, add at least 4 drops of essential oil into a footbath and soak for at least half an hour. You may also massage oregano oil together with a carrier oil on the affected parts of the foot.
Essential Oils for Fungal Infections
Treating Fungal Keratitis With Cinnamon Essenial OilFungal Keratitis is a common fungal eye infection. The infection occurs when fungal species such as candida, fusarium an aspergillus attack the cornea.
Symptoms of Fungal Keratitis
- Excessive tearing and eye discharge
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Redness in the eye
Pain in the eyeKeratitis caused by fungi is common in warm climates. Factors such as low immune, eye trauma or use of contact lenses may propagate this eye infection.
In their recent study, Homa et al (2015) examined the effectiveness of essential oils in inhibiting a strain of fungus known as fusarium. The oils included in the study included thyme, juniper, cinnamon oregano, tea tree and lemon.
All the essential oils studies showed some effects in alleviating the symptoms of fungal keratitis. However, cinnamon essential oil derived from cinnamon leaf was the most effective in inhibiting the growth of fusarium fungi associated with fungal keratitis.
Researchers concluded that use of cinnamon essential leaf could be safely used to treat keratitis (Homa et al., 2015).
Essential Oils for Yeast Infections
Vaginal yeast infection affects millions of women globally. This stubborn infection is caused by candida, a well-known fungal strain.
When the balance of yeast and lactobacillus bacteria in the body is upset, a person easily faces the risk of getting a yeast infection. This imbalance may be caused by factors such as a poor immune system, pregnancy or diabetes among other environmental factors.
The main symptoms of vaginal yeast infection include itching or a burning sensation.
Essential oils for yeast infections have been found to be entirely safe and efficacious for the treatment of candida.
Why is Candida so Stubborn?
Many women who have suffered a yeast infection know how common yet stubborn this condition can be. The reason why it can be so difficult to treat a candida infection is that the fungus forms a stick film around itself, which serves as a protective substance. This protection is known as a biofilm, which also serves as a comfortable haven for microbes and parasites.
The more the fungus multiplies, the more biofilm is created, allowing the fungus to grow even more. This tough slimy substance can easily be resistant to strong antifungal medicine.
Fortunately, there are tried and tested essential oils for inhibiting further growth of candida. These oils have been found to be effective at penetrating the biofilm and as a result aid in the treatment of stubborn candida yeast infections.
A recent study found that the use of clove essential oil and lemon essential oil could also help to treat fungal vaginal infections (Khan & Ahmad, 2012).
Other essential oils that have been found to be safe and effective against candida yeast infection include:
Tea tree essential oil:
Tea tree is amongst the most powerful essential oils against yeast infections. Derived from a tree native to Australia, tea tree oil has been found to mitigate the growth and production of candida. Given the potency of this essential oil, it must not be used internally unless diluted with an essential oil.
Thyme Essential Oil:
Thyme oil is potent enough to eradicate even the most stubborn of yeast infections. Unsurprisingly, it has been ranked as one of the top 3 essential oils for yeast infections.
Oregano essential oil:
Several studies have found oregano essential oil to be the most effective oil against the growth of candida.
Cinnamon essential oil:
Cinnamon essential oil has been proven to have antifungal properties and is a potent treatment against yeast infection.Tips on using
Essential Oils for Vaginal Yeast Infections
So how can you get the best results when using essential oils for vaginal yeast infection? Try the following approaches:
Experts recommend cleaning the inside of your vagina using a small amount of essential oil diluted in water or apple cider vinegar, which is known to kill yeast by itself. Use the essential oil mix in the morning and before bedtime for optimal results.
To clear a vaginal infection, you would need to mix essential oil with a shallow bath. Sit in the water to allow the affected areas to get in touch with essential oil water. If you mix the essential oil with too much water, the bath may not be concentrated enough to clear the infection.
Be careful when using essential oils topically, especially in your vagina. It is best to mix the essential oil with an appropriate mild carrier oil such as coconut oil. To minimize adverse reactions, you may want to begin with a diluted essential oil mixture.
There is no doubt that fungal infections can be annoying, embarrassing and stubborn. The good news is there is a solid body of research showing that essential oils work just as well or even better than prescription medicine to treat fungal infections such fungal keratitis, vaginal yeast infection, athlete’s foot and others.
For best result, it is recommended that you use high quality essential oils for fungal conditions.
For more content on the use of essential oils, take a look at our post on best essential oils for wrinkles or our roundup of oils for sinus headaches.