Overview of the most powerful natural antifungals and how to use internally and externally to resolve common, non-serious fungal and yeast infections.
Fungal infections are an increasingly common problem today with a high sugar, refined carbohydrate diet a primary culprit. The modern diet serves as a perpetual disruption to beneficial gut bacteria which make up the bulk of human immunity.
The overuse of antibiotics can also be a contributing factor as it gives the normally harmless strains of Candida that live inside the gut and on the skin the opportunity to grow out of control and invade deep into body tissues.
Common Candidiasis Symptoms
When this situation occurs, a person is said to have Candidiasis. Overgrowth of Candida can occur just about anywhere. Some of the most commonly affected areas include: (1)
- Scalp (dandruff)
- Feet (Athlete’s foot)
- Nails (toenail or fingernail fungus)
- Recurring sinus infections
- Recurrent urinary tract or itchy genital infections
- Bloating and even serious digestive issues such as Crohns’ disease and ulcerative colitis
- Arthritis (yeast invades the joints)
While strong antifungal drugs are likely necessary to treat these types of infections if they get serious, oftentimes, more natural methods can be of benefit when things are caught early.
If you are prone to recurrent fungal infections that are annoying and not life-threatening, consider the use of these natural foods and herbs that pack a powerful antifungal punch.
It’s important to get minor fungal infections under control quickly and without meds if possible since super yeasts such as Candida auris are becoming more common that are resistant to even the strongest antifungal drugs.
Like natural antibiotics, many substances in our environment can serve as a check on the growth of yeasts and fungus. Some are more powerful than others.
If you are seeking a nontoxic way to resolve an internal or external issue with yeast, the list below details the top 6 natural antifungal foods and herbs with suggestions for use and optimal sourcing.
Garlic possesses very strong anti-yeast properties. But, don’t use that semi-dried out head in the back of the spice drawer.
It is very important to use the freshest cloves possible when using garlic as an antifungal.
Once crushed and left on the counter for about 15 minutes, the powerful substance allicin is synthesized which is one of the most potent Candida killers Mother Nature has to offer.
Use orally several times a day as a natural antifungal or apply allicin-infused oil to the skin for external benefits.
Alternatively, allicin activated garlic pills are helpful for those that are otherwise sensitive to garlic in whole food form.
Buffered garlic in supplement form also works well for preventing the digestive distress that can sometimes accompany taking large doses of garlic.
Allicin supplements can also be used to make your own anti-dandruff shampoo.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is about 42% lauric acid, which is an extremely potent antifungal fatty acid.
Note that MCT oil, aka “liquid coconut oil” contains little to no lauric acid.
Even though lauric acid is extremely heat resistant, I would still recommend only using raw, virgin coconut oil for antifungal purposes (I use this brand).
The reason is that co-factors that synergize with lauric acid are potentially destroyed by processing and/or heat treatment.
Anecdotally, expeller pressed or refined versions of coconut oil do not seem to work as well as virgin coconut oil when beating back a fungal infection. For example, oil pulling with virgin coconut oil, is the most effective form for resolving oral thrush.
VCO as Antifungal for Dandruff
Virgin coconut oil works especially well as a natural remedy for dandruff. Simply slather a few tablespoons into the scalp and massage in for a minute or two. Leave on for as long as possible, but a minimum of 20-30 minutes. If you are able to wrap your head in a towel and leave overnight, so much the better.
Shampoo out and notice how your dandruff problems are significantly improved! Repeat as often as necessary. This approach is certainly preferable to harsh, chemical-laden anti-dandruff shampoos!
Note also that some cases of Candida-triggered acne on the face (particularly the forehead), neck and back resolve when you get dandruff under control.
Many people know that properly made, 24-hour kefir contains dozens of probiotic strains.
What they might not know, however, is that it also contains many beneficial yeasts that serve as a powerful remedy to candida overgrowth when consumed.
These “good yeast” strains include:
- Candida humilis
- Kazachstania unispora
- Kazachstania exigua
- Kluyveromyces siamensis
- Kluyveromyces lactis
- Kluyveromyces marxianus
- Saccharomyces cerevisiae
- Saccharomyces martiniae
- Saccharomyces unisporus
Note that the commercial kefir is not typically fermented for a full 24 hours. Hence, if you are going to use kefir as an antifungal, it is best to make it yourself to ensure it is cultured for the proper length of time.
If you are Candida-prone, adding kefir to your diet is a very good idea. Note that, in comparison, yogurt contains no beneficial yeasts and only a few probiotics.
All raw honey possesses antifungal properties. However, if you are looking for the strongest variety, try manuka!
Note that many brands of honey labeled “manuka” are either heat-treated or mixed with other less potent types of honey.
Using heat-treated manuka as an antifungal can actually backfire for two reasons. First, the yeast inhibiting properties have been destroyed, and secondly, the heat-treated honey is now just sugar which feeds Candida!
Like garlic, you can use manuka either internally or externally as an antifungal.
Antifungal Cream using Manuka
Manuka works amazingly well to treat skin-based fungal issues such as Athlete’s foot.
Slather some on the affected areas, cover with a sock and leave overnight before washing off in the morning. Repeat for as many nights as necessary to resolve the infection. You can also use it during the day if the itching is particularly bad.
In research, this phenol demonstrates excellent performance as an antifungal for the feet, nails, mouth and other areas of the body.
A number of hospital approved disinfectants, such as Benefact, are thymol based!
To use internally to inhibit Candida growth in the digestive tract, make an herbal infusion and sip 1-3 cups per day as tolerated.
Warning: the taste of pau d’arco is quite bitter! However, I don’t recommend sweetening or even diluting as this seems to reduce the beneficial effects. This herb is also not recommended during pregnancy or nursing.