Candida, sometimes known by its proper name Candida albicans, is a commonly-occurring fungus on the skin and in the mouth, digestive tract and vagina. Excess growth can result in a painful or itchy yeast infection. While most yeast infections respond to application of topical antifungal creams, some people opt to try natural remedies like raw garlic instead. Raw garlic is believed to have antifungal properties, although research has produced mixed results. Consult your doctor before self-treating a yeast infection.
Yeast infection, or candidiasis, can occur in many parts of the body, although the most common places are the vagina and mouth. Vaginal yeast infections generally cause swelling, itching, burning, an unusual vaginal discharge, and pain during intercourse or urination. Oral candidiasis, often called thrush, causes painful white patches in the mouth and is most often seen in immunocompromised patients or in nursing infants who may spread it to their mothers' nipples. Candidiasis happens when conditions become favorable for yeast overgrowth. Diabetes, pregnancy and taking antibiotics are all situations or conditions that can favor yeast. Candidiasis can be treated with a variety of antifungals, including over-the-counter, prescription or alternative.
Antifungals and Home Remedies for Candida
According to the New Zealand Dermatological Society, most candidiasis is treated by using topical antifungal medications. The type of antifungal used depends on where the yeast infection is located. Vaginal yeast infections are often treated topically using miconazole, tioconazole, isoconazole, clotrimazole or nystatin. Some people use topically applied or inserted probiotic powder paste or a raw garlic clove wrapped in gauze. They may also eat more of these things in their diet. Research has determined that garlic and garlic derivatives are effective as a natural antifungal, but talk to your physician before treating candida infections with garlic. Oral thrush in infants is often treated using nystatin or gentian violet.
Freeze-Dried Versus Fresh Garlic
In a study published in the March 2002 issue of the "Journal of Applied Microbiology," researchers compared the effects of fresh raw garlic extract on candida with those of freeze-dried garlic powder. They found that, while candida was sensitive to the garlic in all cases, the fresh garlic extract showed greater efficacy than the freeze-dried powder. While this study addressed topical application of garlic to candida, it did not explore whether consuming one kind over the other was more helpful in preventing or treating yeast infections. Talk with your doctor before you use garlic to treat candida.
Garlic and Candida in Chemotherapy Patients
A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic in 2005 sought to find if fresh garlic extract was an effective antifungal in the case of especially resistant strains of candida, such as those found in chemotherapy patients. The researchers found that the fresh garlic extract was successful at inhibiting the growth of candida. While the results were promising, more research is needed before garlic can definitively be prescribed to chemotherapy patients.
- Medline Plus: Vaginal Yeast Infection
- DermNet New Zealand: Topical Antifungals
- "Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine"; Kathleen Wright, 2005
- "Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy"; Effects of Fresh Garlic Extract on Candida albicans Biofilms; Jennifer A. Shuford, et al.; January 2005
- "Applied and Environmental Microbiology"; Antifungal Activity of Ajoene Derived From Garlic; S. Yoshida, et al.; March 1987
- "Journal of Applied Microbiology"; Garlic (Allium sativum) as an Anti-Candida Agent: A Comparison of the Efficacy of Fresh Garlic and Freeze-Dried Extracts; KM Lemar, et al.; March 2005
- garlic image by koko300 from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.