There’s definitely nothing fun about fungal infections, and the sad thing is that more people are getting them than ever before. Whats the #1 culprit? Candida! Acidic, processed foods that are rich in sugar, coupled with overuse of antibiotics, are the primary causes today, and the problem many people face is that the fungi they are treating are resistant to most of the drugs on the market! Antifungal essential oils to the rescue. As more research is being done to find the solution, antifungal essential oils top the list and are one of the most promising alternatives.
Antifungal Essential Oils: Fungal Infection Causes and Symptoms
More than just a cause of jock itch and vaginal yeast infections, it’s important to keep in mind that not all men and women present fungal overgrowth in the same way. Here are some of the more common symptoms:
- Body odor
- Leaky gut
- Low sex drive
- Sugar cravings
- Seasonal allergies
Unfortunately, most people don’t see these symptoms as fungal-related and usually don’t go to their doctor unless they get a yeast infection or jock itch. It is important to visit your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms and you cannot explain why.
Fungal Infection Risk Factors
- Antibiotic use
- Being immune-compromised (HIV and cancer patients)
- High acidic, sugar diet
- Unprotected sex
In most cases, the infection is caused by fungi (like candida) that co-exist in your body. The problem is when your immune system gets compromised or the environment in your body changes to favor fungal growth.
The Problem with Antibiotics & Antifungals
Multidrug-resistant fungal strains are on the rise because antifungal drugs of choice have been overused. (3) Not to mention, they are dangerous! Even the FDA recognizes this; they issued a warning against using these drugs for “uncomplicated infections” recently! (4)
Antibiotics enter the mix because they are usually broad-spectrum and kill the healthy microorganisms that help keep fungus in check, particularly candida. Hence, the reason why so many women with urinary track infections come down with yeast infections after taking antibiotics.
This is where choosing the right health care provider is key. You should be able to work with your doctor to manage simple infections naturally first. Then, if you don’t get the results that you’re looking for, consider more aggressive measures like drugs.
Antifungal Essential Oils: The Top 10 Essential Oils for Fungal Infections
No other antifungal essential oil can compare to tea tree because it’s so safe. It’s exceptionally gentle, widely used, and even highly diluted tea tree soaked tampons have been said by clinical aromatherapists to stop candida infections in just 3 days! This is not to say that other antifungal essential oils can't kill candida. No, not in the least. It’s just that tea tree is the perfect balance of safety and effectiveness.
* Application: if you have a fungal infection of any sort, start out with Mama Z's Candida Tampon DIY solution.
* Safety Notes concerning antifungal essential oils:
- Be very careful when treating topical fungal infections by ensuring that you always heavily dilute (1% – 5% max depending on the area of the body).
- Use gentler oils on sensitive area like the underarms and genitals and never more than 1% unless otherwise advised by a trained health care professional.
- Essential oils can be consumed to treat fungal infections, and you'd do well to work with a trained health care professional to ensure safety and efficacy.
- Culinary use of essential oils, 1-2 drops per recipe is also a safe way to use some of the more aggressive oils like cinnamon, clove and thyme.
- Oil pulling with essential oils is a great, safe way to use essential oils to combat oral thrush and systemic fungal infections.
With that said, here is the list of the top 10 antifungal essential oils to use after you try tea tree.
1. Lavender – There is a reason lavender essential oil is so popular. It's the go-to oil for skin care, headaches, sleep issues, stress, anxiety, and is widely used in many blends. A distant second to tea tree for balancing safety with effectiveness, it’s the next best oil in my opinion. A study in the journal Scientifica, compared the use of Lavandula angustifolia to the antifungal drug clotrimazole on vaginal candidiasis. Interestingly, researchers uncovered that in the first 48 hours of infection, clotrimazole had more effect than the lavender essential oil, but after 48 hours, there was no difference between the effects. What this tells us is that lavender essential oil has a positive effect on fungi infections if given the proper time to work. Remember, natural therapies aren't usually the fastest remedy, but it's slow and steady that wins the race! 
2. Thyme – Useful in aromatherapy to promote blood circulation, thyme essential oil is known to heal the gut and battle antibiotic resistant bacteria. Thymus vulgaris is such an effective antimicrobial against bacteria and fungus that more studies are investigating its effects at reducing or eliminating both bacteria and fungus in food.  Able to combat several different fungal strains in particular, thyme has shown to be a natural antiseptic with applications in the pharmaceutical and food industry, which may interest those of you homesteaders out there.
3. Peppermint – One of the most recognizable oils with long list of uses, peppermint essential oil is well known to help ease upset stomachs, headaches and as an aid to boost mental focus. Mentha piperita was tested in a clinical setting along with nine other essential oils against 22 strains of bacteria and 12 strains of fungi. The study showed that peppermint oil had a positive effect against 11 of the 12 fungus strains tested. 
4. Geranium – A highly sought after tool for promoting healthy skin, geranium essential oil also can play a key role in helping people balance hormonal levels, and for menopausal women; it may help relieve the symptoms associated with menopause. The Microbios Journal and the U.S. National Library of Medicine listed geranium essential oil, Pelargonium graveolens, as one of seven tested oils that was able to inhibit the growth of all 12 fungus strains tested. The conclusion is that geranium essential oil is, in fact, a powerful antifungal agent .
5. Bitter Almond – Although it has many uses, bitter almond essential oil should be administered with extreme caution for internal and external applications. Many sources state that the only safe way to use it is via inhalation – the aroma is lovely! So, let's be on the safe side and use it as a highly-diluted pesticide! The agricultural and botanical antifungal properties of Prunus armeniaca were tested against 19 strains of fungi in a study that was published in the International Journal of Molecular Science last year. Bitter almond had a profound effect on all 19 fungi, which suggests that bitter almond can be used as a broad-based antifungal pesticide alternative to those harmful sprays.  All of us organic gardeners should be shouting from the rooftops because we're always looking for natural ways to grow our crops naturally!
6. Black Pepper – Containing several medicinal properties, we usually recognize black pepper as a condiment. It is best known as a support oil for antioxidant effectiveness, to boost our circulatory system and to calm the hunger pangs of addiction. It can also be used to help reduce anxiety and as an aid for digestion. A study in the journal Natural Product Communications aimed at isolating the chemical components of Piper divaricatum oil, and verifying its effectiveness as an antioxidant and antifungal agent. The study showed that the essential oil was sufficient as an antifungal agent; even at low doses fungal colonies were impacted. 
7. Cinnamon – An ancient spice with a long history as a medicinal aid, cinnamon works well as an antiparasitic and antiviral treatment. Cinnamon essential oil is helpful as a tool to stimulate the immune system. The Evidenced Based Complementary Alternative Medicine Journal has  provided an overview of Cinnamomum Zeylanicum oil, which confirms what we have known for years: cinnamon is multifaceted with a long history of use as an antifungal and antimicrobial.
8. Citronella – Citronella essential oil is commonly known as an insect repellent. However, it has many uses including the reduction of free radicals which are known to cause aging, and also a bactericide and an aid for respiratory infections. A study in Microbios Journal discusses ten essential oils that were tested against 22 strains of bacteria and 12 strains of fungi. It was found that Cymbopogon nardus was effective against all seven strains of fungi making this a powerful antifungal essential oil. 
9. Clove – A very familiar spice with amazing medicinal qualities, clove oil is used to treat acne, and is an effective means of killing parasites. As a dental treatment, it helps to reduce gum disease and works as a wonderful anti-inflammatory agent. Research from the Journal of Medical Microbiology tested the power of Syzygium aromaticu oil against candida strains and the result was that clove essential oil reduced the fungi to near zero levels! The study concluded that clove essential oil has considerable antifungal properties. 
10. Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus essential oil is well known and very pungent and has helped people with asthma and lung conditions including pneumonia for many years. Its strong antimicrobial properties make is perfect for treatment against the common cold and flu as well. A recent study shows us that Eucalyptus globulus oil is highly effective as an antifungal and antibacterial agent in several in vitro tests performed against 22 types of bacteria and 12 strains of fungi, making it another broad-spectrum approach. 
These antifungal essential oils have many other useful benefits. Some are capable of helping with common health issues such as colds and flu, while others help to reduce the devastating effects of emotional conditions such as depression. Learning to use them will give you a great health advantage. Here’s to your good health!
What antifungal essential oils have worked the best for you?