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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Essential Oils Found Effective Against Drug Resistant Candida

Candida fungal infection is a relatively common ailment in the Western world. Approximately 75% of women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime (also known as vaginal candidiasis), with about 50% having the infection reoccur. Candida overgrowth can occur in many organs; it is also found in the mouth and throat (as 'thrush'), in the esophagus, abdomen, lungs, blood (called 'candidemia') and other organs. Candida fungus is naturally present in the human body, and is usually kept in check by a balanced endogenous microbe profile and healthy immune system. Natural medicine doctors believe the prevalence of stress, along with acid-forming and high-sugar diets allow Candida fungal species to over-proliferate, resulting in one or more of the many symptoms of infection.

In recent years, many scientific studies have shown essential oils, the concentrated steam-distillates of plants, to be effective in eradicating Candida. Oils can be ingested with the direction of a qualified practitioner, diluted and applied topically, or are sometimes used in the form of a vaginal ovule (a natural herbal vaginal implant spiked one or more with essential oils). Several of these studies have focused on the efficacy of Tea Tree essential oil, which is inexpensive, readily available, and relatively safe when used under the care of a natural health professional.

Fluconazole is a drug commonly used to control Candida infections; yet, as is the case with many pharmaceutical preparations, some Candida species are resistant to the drug's effects. In a recent study published in the November issue of the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, several essential oils were tested for efficacy in eradication of both fluconazole-susceptible and fluconazole-resistant species. The main finding, as described by researchers of the Federal University at Santa Maria, Brazil, was that the fluconazole-resistant species were more susceptible to the effects of essential oils than their fluconazole-susceptible counterparts.

This is exciting news that can bolster the use of natural medicines in conventional therapy settings, given that between 5% and 33% of Candida cases may be from fluconazole-resistant strains. Further, it was the essential oil of Oregano, now commonly found in encapsulated form in health food stores across the country, that showed the most potent anti-fungal activity in the study. Oil of Oregano is considered a very potent anti-microbial agent, effective against a broad range of infectious microbes.

At the same time, Oregano oil can be dangerous if mis-used. Direct application to the skin or undiluted ingestion of the oil can cause severe irritation. It is important to use this and other essential oils with the guidance of a qualified medical practitioner for treatment of illness and disease. While the essential oils tested in the study were examined individually, several oils are often used at once or in series for the best results. In Europe, where aroma-medicine has been a common practice for many years, oils are prescribed in very small amounts, in precise formulas for best results. In North America, therapists typically suggest the use of other complimentary therapies and lifestyle changes to support the immune system, in combination with essential oils, to bring the body's natural microbes into balance.

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

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