Oral thrush is quite common in babies. It is important to treat both mother and baby together if either of them shows symptoms of thrush so that the infection is not passed back and forth between them.
We often don’t realize that many microorganisms live peacefully on our skin until something goes out of whack! If white, patchy sores, swelling, and general discomfort have made you painfully aware of candidiasis or thrush, you know what we mean! The Candida albicans fungus usually lives harmlessly in warm and moist parts of our body like the mouth, vagina, or foreskin of the penis. But some conditions, like having a weak immune system or taking antibiotics which kill “good bacteria” that control the fungus, can lead to their overgrowth and an infection in areas like the mouth or the genitals.1
Thrush is more common in women and can cause symptoms like thick yellowish or white vaginal discharge, inflammation, pain while urinating, and discomfort during sex. It can, less commonly, cause a red, sometimes itchy rash on the genitals in men. Thrush could also affect the mouth, causing velvety, white sores on the tongue or in the mouth, pain while swallowing, and bleeding if the sores are scraped. Antifungal medicines are usually prescribed to tackle thrush. Luckily, many natural remedies can also help you deal with this condition and are even backed by scientific research.234 Here’s what you can try.
1. Apply Diluted Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is famous for its infection-fighting properties. And research shows that it acts against the candida fungus which causes thrush. A component known as terpinen-4-ol present in this potent essential oil is thought to be responsible for this antifungal effect.5
How To Use
- For genital thrush: You can wash your genital area with diluted tea tree oil to get rid of thrush. Prepare a douche by mixing 4–5 drops of tea tree oil in a liter of water. A tampon soaked in a 40% tea tree oil solution can also be used as a suppository. However, do take care that the tampon is not left in for longer than 24 hours. 6 You will also need to do a patch test first to make sure you are not allergic to tea tree oil.
- For oral thrush: You can add 2–3 drops of tea tree oil to a glass of water and use it as a mouthwash to get rid of oral thrush.7 Do not use more than twice a day.
2. Go Garlic
Garlic contains a sulfur compound known as allicin which can inhibit the growth of candida.8 Add a regular dose of garlic to your diet to benefit from its antifungal properties.
How To Use
- For genital thrush: Wrap a peeled garlic in gauze and use it as a vaginal suppository overnight. However, do keep in mind that garlic can irritate your skin. So you might want to do a patch test and check if your skin is sensitive to garlic before using it as a suppository. And some women are put off by its odor, so make sure this remedy is for you!9
- For oral thrush: Apply garlic paste to the affected area. In one study, topical application of a garlic paste for 14 days was found to be as effective as antifungal medication clotrimazole in suppressing oral thrush.10
3. Try Probiotic Yogurt
Probiotics are “good” bacteria that are beneficial for your health. Bacteria known as Lactobacillus acidophilus can especially control the overgrowth of candida. Foods like yogurt naturally contain probiotics. One study found that women who suffered from recurrent thrush experienced a significant reduction in the number of infections when they consumed 8 ounces of yogurt with Lactobacillus acidophilus a day. Having yogurt also decreased candidal colonization. 11 Meanwhile, another study shows that having probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus reuteri can reduce oral candida significantly.12
How To Use
- Including probiotic yogurt in your diet can help fight the infection from within whether you have oral or genital thrush. You can also apply probiotic yogurt to the mouth. In fact, this is a safe remedy for babies too.13
4. Apply Coconut Oil
Although chamomile, coconut oil, or probiotic yogurt are mild but effective remedies that can help if your baby has thrush, keep your baby’s doctor posted about any herbal remedies you use.
Here’s an unlikely candidate that can fight candida! Studies have even found that coconut oil may be as potent as certain antifungal medicines at busting thrush-causing fungus.14
How To Use
- For oral or genital thrush, apply coconut oil to affected areas in order to clear it up. You can even wipe your baby’s mouth with food grade coconut oil if they have oral thrush. Do conduct a patch test to make sure that your baby isn’t allergic to coconut oil, though.
5. Use Diluted Clove Oil
Before using any essential oil or herbal remedy, do a patch test to ensure you are not allergic to the ingredients.
Cloves are a traditional remedy with potent antifungal effects. Research indicates that it is especially effective against candida.15 You can apply diluted clove oil to clear up thrush. But, do keep in mind that clove oil is extremely potent and can irritate mucous membranes and skin. Only really weak dilutions should be used topically.
How To Use
- For genital thrush: Mix 2–3 drops of the oil in a liter of water and use it as a vaginal douche.
- For oral thrush: Mix a drop of clove oil in a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish this around in the mouth.16
6. Use A Goldenseal Wash
Goldenseal is another herbal remedy that helps counter thrush. A compound known as berberine present in it is thought to be responsible for its antifungal effects.
How To Use
- Prepare a tea from this herb and use it as a genital douche or mouthwash. However, do keep in mind that goldenseal is not suitable for use while you are pregnant as they may induce contractions. Avoid it while nursing too.17 18
7. Apply Diluted Oregano Oil
Another essential oil to your rescue! Oregano or wild marjoram essential oil has been found to have an inhibitory effect on infection-causing candida.19
How To Use
- Dilute oregano oil with coconut or olive oil – a drop to a tablespoon or two should work. Apply it to areas affected by thrush to clear out the infection. This should help with both oral or genital thrush.20
8. Use A Chamomile Wash
Soothing chamomile is another remedy that can help you deal with thrush. Studies have found that chamomile oil also has strong fungicidal properties against candida. 21
How To Use
- For genital thrush: Prepare a chamomile infusion and add it to a sitz bath after it cools down. Soak in this 2–3 times a day.
- For oral thrush: Use chamomile tea as a mouthwash. A chamomile wash can also be used to wipe down a diaper rash or for oral thrush in your baby.2223
|↑1||Thrush (genital). Healthdirect Australia.|
|↑2||Thrush (genital). Department of Health.|
|↑3||Thrush – children and adults. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑4||Thrush in newborns. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑5||Mondello, Francesca, Flavia De Bernardis, Antonietta Girolamo, Antonio Cassone, and Giuseppe Salvatore. “In vivo activity of terpinen-4-ol, the main bioactive component of Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel (tea tree) oil against azole-susceptible and-resistant human pathogenic Candida species.” BMC infectious diseases 6, no. 1 (2006): 158.|
|↑6||Pizzorno Jr, Joseph E., and Michael T. Murray. Textbook of natural medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2012.|
|↑7||Olsen, Cynthia. Australian Tea Tree Oil First Aid Handbook: 101 Plus Ways to Use Tea Tree Oil. Lotus Press, 1999.|
|↑8||Lemar, Katey M., M. P. Turner, and David Lloyd. “Garlic (Allium sativum) as an anti‐Candida agent: a comparison of the efficacy of fresh garlic and freeze‐dried extracts.” Journal of Applied Microbiology 93, no. 3 (2002): 398-405.|
|↑9||Khalsa, Karta Purkh Singh, and Michael Tierra. The way of ayurvedic herbs: The most complete guide to natural healing and health with traditional ayurvedic herbalism. Lotus Press, 2008.|
|↑10||Sabitha, P., Prabha M. Adhikari, Shalini M. Shenoy, Asha Kamath, Rampuram John, Malathi V. Prabhu, Soofi Mohammed, Srikala Baliga, and U. Padmaja. “Efficacy of garlic paste in oral candidiasis.” Tropical doctor 35, no. 2 (2005): 99-99.|
|↑11||Hilton, Eileen, Henry D. Isenberg, Phyllis Alperstein, Kenneth France, and Michael T. Borenstein. “Ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus as prophylaxis for candidal vaginitis.” Annals of Internal Medicine 116, no. 5 (1992): 353-357.|
|↑12||Kraft-Bodi, E., M. R. Jørgensen, M. K. Keller, Camilla Kragelund, and S. Twetman. “Effect of probiotic bacteria on oral Candida in frail elderly.” Journal of dental research 94, no. 9_suppl (2015): 181S-186S.|
|↑13, ↑23||McIntyre, Anne. Herbal treatment of children: Western and Ayurvedic perspectives. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2005.|
|↑14||Shino, Beena, Faizal C. Peedikayil, Shyamala R. Jaiprakash, Gufran Ahmed Bijapur, Soni Kottayi, and Deepak Jose. “Comparison of antimicrobial activity of chlorhexidine, coconut oil, probiotics, and ketoconazole on Candida albicans isolated in children with early childhood caries: an in vitro study.” Scientifica 2016 (2016).|
|↑15||Ahmad, N., M. K. Alam, A. Shehbaz, A. Khan, A. Mannan, S. Rashid Hakim, D. Bisht, and M. Owais. “Antimicrobial activity of clove oil and its potential in the treatment of vaginal candidiasis.” Journal of drug targeting 13, no. 10 (2005): 555-561.|
|↑16||Stiles, KG. The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide: Over 250 Recipes for Natural Wholesome Aromatherapy. Page Street Publishing, 2017.|
|↑17||Zhao, Yanling, Dan Yan, Jiabo Wang, Ping Zhang, and Xiaohe Xiao. “Anti-fungal effect of berberine on Candida albicans by microcalorimetry with correspondence analysis.” Journal of thermal analysis and calorimetry 102, no. 1 (2010): 49-55.|
|↑18||Zak, Victoria. 20,000 Secrets of Tea: The Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature’s Healing Herbs. Dell, 2009.|
|↑19||Cleff, Marlete Brum, Ana Raquel Meinerz, Melissa Xavier, Luiz Filipe Schuch, Mário Carlos Araújo Meireles, Maria Regina Alves Rodrigues, and João Roberto Braga de Mello. “In vitro activity of Origanum vulgare essential oil against Candida species.” Brazilian Journal of Microbiology 41, no. 1 (2010): 116-123.|
|↑20||Billings, Samuel. The Big Book of Home Remedies. Lulu Press.|
|↑21||Aggag, M. E., and R. T. Yousef. “Study of antimicrobial activity of chamomile oil.” Planta medica 22, no. 06 (1972): 140-144.|
|↑22||Mabey, Richard, Anne McIntyre, and Michael McIntyre. The New Age Herbalist: How to use herbs for healing, nutrition, body care, and relaxation. Simon and Schuster, 1988.|