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Fight Fungus Better with Arsenal of Natural Ingredients

The Fight against Fungus

Improve your fight against fungus by hitting it with all you’ve got. Why hold back with such an irritating invader? Skin fungal infections like athlete’s foot, ringworm, and nail fungus are easy to pick up but hard to get rid of.   

Tinea pedis, tinea unguium, tinea corporis and tinea versicolor are all fungal infections that can cause itchiness, rawness, compromise our system and aren’t very attractive either.

In my Fungus Fighter Salve I’ve gathered a variety of heavy hitting natural antifungals recognized in traditional medicine and in science that weaken and kill fungus.

Overcoming Fungus’ Immunity

I don’t rely on just one or two essential oils but use a group of them, along with fungus killing base oils and oil infused with fungus fighting herbs. I believe when it comes to fungus, hit it with all you have because not all fungus is impacted in the same way. Some fungus types may have developed immunities to some treatments so mixing it up covers the bases just in case.

Synergy of Ingredients to Fight Fungus

Natural anti-fungal ingredients often work synergistically – making them work together better than they would alone. Scientist are beginning to refer to the phenomenon of synergistic actions of natural products more now.  We’re only just beginning to recognize – or more accurately relearn – that herbal treatments can require a group effort of several components rather than working alone.  

Powerful Antifungal Neem Oil 

Neem Oil is an excellent example of the power of synergistic components. It is an oil that is very effective against fungus but even better combined with other natural fungicides.

One study showed how a mix of Citronella and Neem worked together to fight a common plant fungal pathogen better than they did alone (and also better than the 2 synthetic fungicides tried.)

By itself, it is thought that Neem interferes with the structure of fungus’ mycelia, the little root-like threads that it uses to find nourishment. 

What is cool so about Neem is that safe for topical use on people at 100% strength. This is in contrast to essential oils which will also kill fungus but which can cause permanent skin sensitivities if a person is over-exposed. Even though Neem is safe at full strength there is some evidence that Neem can be more effective if diluted to a very small percentage. One study found that Neem can work against grape fungus at at .1% and . 3% better than at 50% . I don’t claim to understand the theories why this might be the case but it’s good to keep in mind when using Neem to fight fungus in the garden.

Neem’s effectiveness probably relies on the synergy of its many components. It was thought that Nimonol was the most important fungus fighting component of neem. Yet when scientists separated out the Nimonol in the hopes of making a more potent concentrated fungus fighting chemical , they found it wasn’t as effective as whole Neem extract. A good example of synergy at work.  

Neem Oil and Karanja Oil Do Double Duty in Fighting Fungal Infections

Every salve and healing ointment that fights fungal infections of skin, nails, feet and scalp requires a base that carries the fungus fighting properties to the fungus, hence “carrier oils”. The choice of carrier oils will influence the effectiveness of the product. An effective Fungus Fighter must be a good consistency and stay where it is put too. I use butters, waxes and oils to create the right consistency and staying power.

So of course I use Neem Oil as part of the base of my salves and serums but I also use Karanja Oil which also serves as an excellent carrier oil and also an active ingredient.

Karanja Tree from Karanja.@karanjaK

Healers in India and the Phillipines commonly use Karanja Oil (Millettia pinnata) for a host of ailments. Healers also often combine it with Neem to treat topical skin ailments. This study published in the International Journal of Advanced Biotechnology and Research found that Karanja had promising activity against the two human pathogenic fungi they studied. Interestingly, they found that Karanja worked better on human fungal infections than plant funguses.


Beeswax and Lanolin play an important role in the fight against fungus. They greatly help salve and ointments stay in place. Lanolin comes from sheep shearing and wool processing. Lanolin comes from shorn wool. Sheep are not directly slaughtered to get lanolin. Lanolin is a wax that protects sheep and their wool from water and the elements. Some claim it is also antibacterial and anti-fungal in order to protect sheep further. They found that 40% of the acids derived from lanolin are alpha-hydroxy acids. Alpha-Hydroxy Acids can help the rest of the salve work better. It improves penetration to the area where the fungus is. For those with Tinea Versicolor, it will also even out uneven skin tone.

While some people are concerned they might be allergic to lanolin or have heard it is skin sensitizing, it is unlikely. Only 1% of already skin-compromised people were sensitive to lanolin. People with healthy immune responses are not likely to have any issues with Lanolin. Furthermore, Wikipedia states that studies show that Lanolin has significant long-term benefits for the skin. These benefits are noticeable even after 72 hours after applying (in the study people used it every day for 5 days). Lanolin can “reduce roughness by about 35% after one hour and 50% after two hours. The overall effect of Lanolin lasts more than eight hours. Lanolin has the additional benefit of allowing air in yet forming a moisture reservoir on skin.


I include a lot of essential oils in my Fungus Fighter including; Basil, Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Lemongrass, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Tea Tree and Thyme

Essential Oils seem to really effective because they disrupt funguses ability to survive. A paper in Pharmaceuticals says essential oils harm the cell membranes of fungus and make it hard for fungus to form cell walls. Inside a fungal cell, essential oils harm the fungus’s ability to survive as well.

Synergy plays a part here as well. Studies suggest that constituents of essential oils act synergistically and that the combination of oils can increase anti-fungal abilities. The paper in Pharmaceuticals goes on to say suggests that a combination of essential oils might strongly increase the effectiveness. This is because “pathogens cannot easily acquire resistance to multiple components of two or more EOs. “

Oregano, Thyme, Cinnamon and Clove

The Pharmaceuticals paper also explores Oregano and Thyme’s effectiveness against fungus. It suggests this might be due to the components carvacrol and thymol which work in similar ways and seem to work better together. Citrus essential oils contribute a different assault on fungus. These Essential oils contain monoterpenoid citronellal, a volatile constituent of citrus that harms fungus. The article also mentions Cinnamaldehyde (In Cinnamon Oil) calling it an active inhibitor of bacterial, yeasts, and filamentous mold’s growth. This “…exerts its action through the inhibition of ATPases activity, cell wall biosynthesis, and alteration of the membrane structure and integrity”. The paper also notes how good Eugenol (in Clove, Basil and Cinnamon Essential Oil) performs as a fungicidal; probably working by disrupting the fungal membrane.


Eucalyptus is a common at-home remedy as well as traditional treatment for fungus. It probably works so well in part, according to a paper published in BioMedCentral, because of the component macrocarpal C. They found it to be more potent then common antifungals terbinafine hydrochloride and nystatin. This study suggests that the components of eucalyptus fights fungus Tinea pedis by disrupting the membrane permeability.


Rosemary contains high concentrations of p-cymene. In the book Antifungal Metabolites from Plants, the authors credits p-cymene as the the important component. This gives Rosemary and other essential oils “very strong anti-fungal activities”.


Sage is a traditional treatment in China for ringworm. Astudy of sage applauded it for its antifungal abilities without harming skin.

Tea Tree

Studies often exclude Tea Tree when researching how essential oils is often combat fungus. In comparison to other essential oils, it is a relative newcomer to the world stage. In one study of 100 fungal isolates ,Tea Tree inhibited growth of all of them.


While peppermint oil was effective against eleven of 12 fungi. I included it my fight against fungus for its ability to relieve the itchiness and irritation associated with fungal infections. This is also why I added Frankincense as well. It helps to calm and soot skin by acting as an anti-inflammatory..

Herbal Infusion that Fight Against Fungus

Burdock Root

Burdock root and Quassia amara do not come in the form of an essential oil. I infused them in Fractionated Coconut Oil (chosen because it is a healthy oil that does not go rancid). Burdock and Quassia seem to have strong antifungal qualities that work in different ways with different effective parts.

Traditionally, Burdock is used to fight ringworm and bacterial infections. Burdock possesses metabolites such as tannins, terpenoids, flavonoids and alkaloids whose activity has been demonstrated to be antifungal (Gujar et al., 2012). German researchers have found that Burdock contains substances (polacetylenes) that kill disease causing bacteria and fungi.

Quassia amara

Quassia amara is, according to Wikipedia contains Quassin which is one of the most bitter substances found in nature. It also helps in the fight against fungus. According to one paper all of the eight extracts found in Quassia; “… exhibited marked antibacterial and antifungal activities in most cases higher than the standard reference drugs included in the study. (

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