Oral thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth. That’s right – it doesn’t just happen “down there.” It’s also called Candidiasis, and is caused by the yeast Candida.
Candida normally lives on the skin and mucous membranes, including the mouth.1 It doesn’t cause problems because “good” bacteria keeps it under control. But if the bacteria become unbalanced, too much yeast will grow. It can also happen with a weakened immunity.
Healthy adults rarely get oral thrush. Instead, it affects adults with compromised immune systems, like those with HIV, AIDS, or diabetes. Chemotherapy and antibiotics also increase the risk.
Yet, oral thrush is most common in babies younger than one-month-old. Elders can also get it, especially if dentures don’t fit right.2
Treatment calls for antifungal drugs.3 But here’s the good news: You can treat it naturally! Here are 11 ways to do just that.
11 Ways To Treat Oral Thrush In Adults
Without enough “good” bacteria, yeast will take over. But you can restore that balance with probiotics. Yogurt, for example, is a stellar source of L. acidophilus. As a fermented food, bacteria growth is a part of the process. However, before buying yogurt, look at the label. Most brands have live L. acidophilus cultures, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
Always buy plain, unsweetened yogurt. Add fresh fruits instead of getting the flavored kind.4
Kefir is another fermented milk product. It’s like a creamy, yogurt-like drink. The probiotics in kefir will also help re-balance the bacteria in your mouth.5
Not a fan of dairy? Try miso soup – a Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans.6 You’ll get a tasty dose of good-for-you bacteria.
Tempeh is also made from fermented soybeans, but in a cake form. It contains probiotics that can replenish your mouth’s balance.7 Thanks to its texture, tempeh is a great meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians.
5. Probiotic Supplements
Probiotics are also available as pills. This is an easy and convenient way to boost your oral health. They’re also available as powders, granules, and liquids.8
Restoring the bacteria is just half the battle. Why not fight it, too? Garlic has powerful antifungal properties. Studies have even found that it can specifically kill Candida.9
To eat garlic, toss it to your favorite meals. You can even combine minced garlic, plain yogurt, and spices for a savory, anti-thrush dip.
7. Coconut Oil
Is there anything coconut oil can’t do? As a natural anti-fungal, coconut oil will keep yeast in check.10 Simply eat a spoonful, or swish it around your mouth then spit out.
Turmeric’s bright color comes from curcumin – its active compound. Curcumin also possesses anti-fungal power! In a study by the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, curcumin actually killed Candida completely.11
Sprinkle turmeric powder on your favorite foods. You can also mix it with milk for a soothing drink, or brew turmeric tea.
Honey is known for its antibacterial properties. But did you know it fights fungus, too? This natural sweetener can totally eradicate Candida.12
Like coconut oil, honey can be eaten by the spoonful. For an extra boost, add it to kefir or yogurt.
10. Clove Essential Oil
Clove oil is spicy and rejuvenating. It can also fight oral thrush! Thanks to a phenolic compound called eugenol, clove oil has antifungal powers.
Keep in mind that this oil is extremely strong. Using too much will cause irritation. To be safe, apply a tiny amount with a cotton swab. You can also buy natural products that already have clove oil.13
11. Thyme Essential Oil
Like clove, thyme essential oil has antifungal phenolic compounds. Its active ingredient is called thymol. Again, use it in small doses with a cotton swab. Avoid it completely if it causes irritation.14
If your baby has oral thrush, talk to your doctor first. These remedies may not be safe for little ones.
And if you have it? Check with your doctor, too. A bad case of thrush might need a combination of treatments. Oral thrush can spread throughout the body, so it’s important to cure it.15
|↑1, ↑3||Oropharyngeal / Esophageal Candidiasis (“Thrush”). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2, ↑15||Thrush – children and adults. MedlinePlus.|
|↑4, ↑6, ↑7, ↑8||L. acidophilus. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑5||Fermented Foods: Kefir. National Center for Home Food Preservation.|
|↑9||Bayan, Leyla, Peir Hossain Koulivand, and Ali Gorji. “Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects.” Avicenna journal of phytomedicine 4, no. 1 (2014): 1.|
|↑10||K Mazu, Tryphon, Barbara A Bricker, Hernan Flores-Rozas, and Seth Y Ablordeppey. “The Mechanistic Targets of Antifungal Agents: An Overview.” Mini reviews in medicinal chemistry 16, no. 7 (2016): 555-578.|
|↑11||Alasmari, Fahad, Ram Mereddy, and Yasmina Sultanbawa. “A novel photosensitization treatment for the inactivation of fungal spores and cells mediated by curcumin.” Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology (2017).|
|↑12||Khosravi, Ali Reza, Hojjatollah Shokri, Farzad Katiraee, Tahereh Ziglari, and Mohammad Forsi. “Fungicidal potential of different Iranian honeys against some pathogenic Candida species.” Journal of apicultural research 47, no. 4 (2008): 256-260.|
|↑13, ↑14||Labib, Gihan S., and Hibah Aldawsari. “Innovation of natural essential oil-loaded Orabase for local treatment of oral candidiasis.” Drug design, development and therapy 9 (2015): 3349.|