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Essential Oils With Antifungal Properties

By Sharon Falsetto ; Updated August 14, 2017

Many essential oils have the ability to fight common fungal infections. Essential oils are made up of complex chemical components, and scientists have found that several essential oils have antifungal properties. If used correctly, essential oils with antifungal properties are a natural way to treat fungal diseases such as candida and athlete's foot.

Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases are contagious. Most fungal diseases are mild, but treatment with essential oils can help to relieve symptoms. Common fungal diseases include candida (thrush), ringworm, athlete's foot, jock itch (affects both males and females) and tinea (the general term used to describe fungal skin infections). Fungal diseases are more serious in AIDS patients due to a lower resistance in the immune system. AIDS patients should get medical advice before using essential oils.

Scientific Studies

In their book “Aromatherapy for Health Professionals," Shirley and Len Price cite many scientific studies that have been carried out to show the antifungal properties of essential oils. Studies include Schmidt (1936), who tested the antifungal properties of fennel, thyme, cinnamon and clove, and Janssen et al (1984), one of several studies that studied the effectiveness of German chamomile against many fungal diseases--including Trichophyton rubrum. Other scientific studies show that essential oils containing aldehydes and esters chemical components are particularly effective against fungal infections.

Spices and Herbs

According to a research paper “Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties of Essential Oils” on the website, essential oils extracted from herbs and spices have some of the strongest antifungal properties. These essential oils include mint, cinnamon, thyme, clove, salvia and origanum. In addition, Len and Shirley Price list tea tree, pine, peppermint, rosemary and basil essential oils as having antifungal properties. Tea tree oil, in particular, is proven to be effective against candida. This is established in several studies, such as Pena (1962) and Shemesh and Mayo (1991).

How to Use

Dilute essential oils in a carrier oil--such as almond, sunflower of jojoba oil, or in a lotion--before applying to the skin. Never use essential oils directly on the skin. Take advice from a qualified and experienced aromatherapist and/or medical advice if you're unfamiliar with the use of essential oils or have particular concerns about a personal situation. Use the specified amount of essential oils and carrier oil as directed. Do not use essential oils internally.


Some essential oils are more toxic than others. Do not use some essential oils in pregnancy, with high blood pressure, in epilepsy or in sunlight. Some essential oils might cause skin irritation in some people. Check the cautions for individual essential oils in a reference guide such as “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils” by Julia Lawless. Used correctly, some essential oils are as effective as antibiotics in treating fungal infections.

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