Turmeric is one of the most well-studied medicinal herbs of our time. Its versatility as a natural remedy for common ailments has made it an incredibly popular and time-tested dietary supplement.
Researchers have uncovered significant health benefits from regular turmeric use, which is the reason why our ancestors used curcumin in natural medicine for thousands of years. But, can turmeric kill off a Candida infection, and does it have antifungal properties?
Turmeric and Candida
Evidence suggests that turmeric can improve health in several ways. From helping cholesterol levels and weight loss to lowering blood pressure, curcumin has proven itself to be a reliable mainstay in medicine cabinets worldwide.
Recent studies have shown that turmeric may potentially help treat Candida overgrowth and various other types of fungal and yeast infections. One study proved that curcumin possessed antifungal activity against 14 different strains of Candida. (1)
If you’re here, the majority of you already know what Candida is and the problems it can cause. For those less familiar, here is a brief overview.
What is Candida (Candidiasis)?
Candidiasis is a fungal infection originating from yeasts belonging to genus Candida. It usually lives in the human body in places such as the gut, throat, mouth, and vagina. It can even appear on the skin. If the yeast gets unmanageable, it can infect the bloodstream and damage your brain health and vital organs such as your kidney, and heart.
Here are a few factors that can lead to Candida overgrowth that you should be aware of:
- Frequently taking antibiotics
- Diet high in sugar and carbs
- Regular alcohol consumption
- A weak immune system
- Consuming oral contraceptives
- High stress and anxiety
If Candida begins to overproduce, you may experience a variety of symptoms including tiredness and fatigue, joint pain, frequent urinary tract infections, digestive issues, sinus infections, and skin and toenail fungus. Prolonged candidiasis in the gut may eventually lead to chronic fatigue syndrome. (2)
Why Turmeric Curcumin?
Strain resistance among the Candida species has become a problem for existing antifungal drugs. As such, many medical professionals seek more effective therapeutic strategies for dealing with the issue. (3)
We know that curcumin has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, it’s also well-known for its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral activity. Thus, it stands to reason that turmeric could be an effective treatment for the Candida fungus. (4)
In this article, we will explore the research and science behind curcumin’s antifungal properties and its ability to kill yeast infections.
Turmeric for Candida: Is Curcumin Antifungal?
Invasive fungal infections (IFI) are a critical consideration of cancer. They have become a significant cause of morbidity and mortality among patients. Enter curcumin, a component of turmeric isolated from the rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant.
Turmeric supplements offer a relatively safe profile with minimal side effects, even when using higher dosages. Researchers have taken an interest in curcumin as a method to provide effective anti-infection therapy and control fungal infections in cancer patients.
To date, curcumin has demonstrated antifungal properties against the following Candida strains:
Therefore, curcumin may help with IFI complications, increasing the fungal infection survival rate among cancer patients with Candida. (5)
In the food industry, it’s common to use antifungal fumigants in food and crop production. One study used turmeric essential oils which proved useful in the inhibition of the Aspergillus flavus strain of fungi. (6)
A second research team uncovered similar results using essential oils. Fumigation using turmeric resulted in fungal growth inhibition between 36%-77%, depending on the strain. This study shows that turmeric rhizomes possess significant levels of toxicity to fungi, even to non-candida genus. (7)
Another study tested curcumin’s ability to inhibit albicans and non-albicans Candida species. The combination of curcumin with piperine (black pepper extract) established significant fungal load reduction. Curcumin also demonstrated that it could target cell wall integrity in Candida albicans. (8, 9)
When using turmeric for Candida, it should contain piperine as the previous study suggests. The reason for this is due to the increase in bioavailability (absorption into the bloodstream). Curcumin by itself offers poor absorption and may not be able to kill yeast infections like Candida without the help of piperine.
Additional research conducted on antifungal properties used 22 common household spices against plant pathogens. Preliminary tests resulted in the selection of turmeric and nutmeg for further investigation.
In the end, curcumin demonstrated superior antifungal activity against Phomopsis viticola and Phomopsis obscurans. It’s important to emphasize that these fungi originate from genus Phomopsis, not genus Candida. Still, the results are worth noting due to curcumin’s versatility in attacking fungus, regardless of the species. (10)
Turmeric can also work in conjunction with fluconazole, a medication that treats a multitude of yeast and fungal infections. One study showed a positive synergistic effect against the strain Candida tropicalis. This result is important since fluconazole-resistant candidiasis has become more common. (11)
Interestingly, a second study conducted yielded similar results regarding fluconazole’s ineffectiveness against Candida. It turns out, curcumin was significantly more effective than fluconazole at inhibiting the adhesion of select Candida strains isolated from AIDS patients to human buccal epithelial cells (BEC). (12)
The last study we’ll look at involves the combination of curcumin with ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Curcumin again performed well by itself, able to effectively inhibit Candida albicans yeast cells.
On the other hand, ascorbic acid alone did not demonstrate any statistically significant antifungal effects. But, when pairing curcumin and ascorbic acid together, the sum of their inhibition proved greater than the sum of each on their own. (13)
Final Thoughts on Turmeric’s Antifungal Properties
Does turmeric kill Candida? It appears that it can happen in isolation. Though, results may vary depending on the strain, the severity of the yeast infection, other medications used, the health of the individual, etc.
Many studies have demonstrated the antifungal activity of curcumin on Candida strains and various other types of fungi. Using turmeric for yeast infections seems to be an excellent natural remedy. But, as always, consult with a doctor or certified medical professional to see if turmeric can improve your situation.