Scientists from Portugal have good news for those who suffer from fungal diseases. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Microbiology identified lavender oil as a powerful antifungal agent that provides protection from skin and nail infections, including Candida albicans.
People who fall prey to fungal diseases often experience a wide range of unpleasant symptoms, ranging from chronic fatigue and yeast infections to a life threatening Candidemia. To make matters worse, many antifungal drugs no longer work against pathogenic fungi because they have developed resistance to them.
“In the past two years there has been an increase in the incidence of fungal diseases, particularly among immunocompromised patients,” explained professors Eugénia Pinto and Lígia Salgueiro from the University of Coimbra in Portugal, authors of the study which confirmed the effectiveness of distilled lavender oil against pathogenic fungi.
“Lavandula oil shows wide-spectrum antifungal activity and is highly potent. Research by our group and others has shown that essential oils may be cheap, efficient alternatives [to antifungal drugs] that have minimal side effects.”
The oil works on the principle of destroying fungal cells by damaging the cell membrane. The researchers found that lavender is more effective than all known antifungal drugs and can ward off the inreasing incidence of antifungal-resistant infections, including, ringworm, Athlete’s foot and Candida overgrowth. Plus, it has no reported side effects.
Lavender is a popular herb widely used in food, cosmetic and medical industries. Previous research suggests that it has powerful antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Aside from dealing with fungal diseases, the species of the lavender plant can be used to combat seasonal coughs and sore throats.
How to use the lavender plant
Nowadays there are many preparations available in the form of bath gels, extracts, lotions, teas, tinctures and soaps. For topical application, the oil can be used undiluted - for ease of application, however, it is recommended to add 1 - 4 drops per tablespoon of base oil (olive or almond oil).
One word of warning: Lavender oil is toxic when taken orally. Furthermore, as with many other essential oils, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using it altogether.
For internal use try lavender tea: 1 - 2 teaspoons whole herb per cup of boiling water. The tea promotes sleep and relieves various Candida symptoms including headaches, anxiety and stress. Allow to stand for 10 - 15 minutes and drink, 1 - 3 times a day.
(Written by James Schreiber, natural health author and former candida sufferer. Visit his website www.ecandida.com for more info on overcoming candida infection.)
(Health24, April 2011)
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