Fungal Infections (Candida)
What are Fungal (Candida) Infections?
Fungal infections can occur in almost any part of the body. Most people have some fungi present in their body, but it often does not become pathogenic unless the person is immunocompromised. Candida is the most common species of fungus present in healthy people, and the one most likely to cause infection.
Fungal infections are usually superficial and/or confined to one area; however, in certain cases the infection can become systemic and even life-threatening. Symptoms will vary depending on where the infection is located, but itching and rashes are common.
Natural interventions such as probiotics and resveratrol may help prevent pathogenic fungal overgrowth.
What Can Increase the Risk of Developing a Fungal Infection?
- Diabetes (with poor glycemic control)
- Antibiotics (during and after therapy)
- High levels of estrogen
- Weakened immune system (eg, from age, disease, drugs, etc.)
- Contraceptive devices (eg, vaginal sponges, diaphragms, and IUDs)
- Allowing skin to stay wet for long periods of time
What are Conventional Medical Treatments for Fungal Infections?
Antifungal agents including:
- Azoles (eg, bifonazole)
- Polyenes (eg, liposomal amphotericin B)
Note: The formulation and route of delivery (eg, topical, oral, intravenous, etc.) of antifungals will vary depending on location and clinical presentation of the infection.
What Natural Interventions May Be Beneficial for Fungal Infections?
- Dietary modifications. Limiting sugar and refined carbohydrates may be helpful. Diets rich in glucose and other simple carbohydrates are associated with fungal infections as well as a weakened immune response.
- Probiotics. Certain probiotic strains, such as Lactobacillus, can help prevent fungal overgrowth.
- Resveratrol. Resveratrol is an anti-inflammatory compound shown in laboratory studies to possess potent antifungal properties. Some researchers are hopeful that resveratrol’s structure may be a foundation for a new class of antifungal drugs.
- Goldenseal. Berberine, an active ingredient in goldenseal, has been shown in laboratory studies to have strong antifungal effects as well as synergistic effects when combined with common antifungal drugs. Life Extension currently recommends only using goldenseal/berberine for a short term.
- Lactoferrin. Lactoferrin, a protein found in mucosal secretions (eg, breastmilk and saliva), has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, as well as synergistic effects when combined with common antifungal drugs.
- Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil, an essential oil derived from the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia plant, has many medicinal properties and shows promise for fighting candida infections. Tea tree oil should only be used topically.
- Garlic. Garlic has long been used as an herbal remedy for a variety of conditions. Garlic (and its constituent allicin) can suppress the formation of fungal biofilm, reducing the fungus’ ability to develop drug resistance. Garlic has also been shown in clinical trials to suppress oral and vaginal candida infections.
- Other natural interventions include certain essential oils (eg, menthol and limonene), active hexose correlated compound (AHCC), caprylic acid, and boric acid.