Topical Garlic and Thyme Treat Candida Yeast Infections
Scientists have discovered that an applicaiton of garlic topically can seriously treat a vaginal yeast infection of the Candida species.
Why many conventional treatments for Candida fail
Today if a woman visits a doctor’s office for a vagina bacteria or yeast infection, she’ll likely be sent home with a course of oral antibiotics. If its a yeast infection the doctor might prescribe an antifungal – since Candida is a fungus not a bacteria.
Either of these treatments might sound harmless, but in fact that course of antifungals or antibiotics may well destroy most of the gut’s probiotic colonies, leaving her with the potential of digestive problems down the line due to damaged intestinal bacteria. (Yes, many antifungals will also kill intestinal bacteria.)
Antibiotics will also produce the potential of opening up the person to a wide array of other pathogenic infections, and even a worse case of Candida down the line.
Why? Because antibiotics – especially if they are broad-spectrum – are like a nuclear bomb. They ravage all the good guys and the bad guys, leaving the gut practically desolate. That opens the gut – and other regions like the vagina – to the most available and opportunistic species of pathogenic bacteria and yeasts. These hardier species survive in such a variety of conditions that they can easily outgrow supplemented probiotics as well.
Furthermore, most supplemented probiotics do not reach the intestines anyway.
Candida, vaginosis and vaginitis
Most vaginitis and vaginosis cases are caused by bacteria such as Klebsiella and Staphylococcus species, but Candida albicans and other Candida species are the second most prevalent cause for these infections of the vagina.
For this reason, it is often beneficial to have a swab test done prior to any clinical intervention, if a yeast infection or bacteria infection of the vagina are suspected.
Natural strategies for yeast infections
University researchers have found that a garlic and thyme vaginal cream is just as effective for vaginitis as the standard antibiotic cream.
The researchers gave clotrimazole vagina cream or the garlic and thyme vagina cream to 64 women from several clinics in 2010. The patients’ symptoms included painful urination, secretions, itching, dyspareunia and vagina irritation. Their clinical diagnostics included germinating hypha, acidity under 4.5, and a culture that showed infective agents.
After treatment, there was little difference in effectiveness between the group treated with the garlic cream and the group treated with the antibiotic cream.
Other research illustrates garlic’s antimicrobial abilities
Other research has confirmed that garlic has the ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria and yeasts that can inhabit the vagina.
A study from Venkateswara University in India found that garlic inhibited the growth of Candida albicans yeasts. It also inhibited bacteria species including Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumonia. Each of these are known to inhabit the vagina in vaginosis or vaginitis.
Garlic is also effective against superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics according to other research.
Short term oral garlic not so effective
This may not be so applicable to using garlic orally – at least in the short term. Oral antibiotics and antifungals are often prescribed for vaginosis and vaginitis, and studies have shown oral antibiotics and antifungals often work just as well as topical versions.
But research from Australia’s University of Melbourne determined that short-term oral garlic is not so effective against vagina candida yeast infections.
The researchers studied 63 women who were positive for Candida infections within the vagina. They divided the women into two groups and gave one group three tablets of garlic per day twice daily. The other group was given placebo tablets.
After only 14 days of treatment, the women were all retested for their vagina candida colony counts. The researchers found that while the garlic group had 76 percent infections and the placebo group had 90% infections, the difference was not great enough to concede that two weeks of oral garlic treatment was effective.
Why didn’t the oral garlic work?
The explanation for this lack of clear effectiveness with oral garlic may be twofold. First, 14 days of oral treatment is hardly enough to invoke a response within the vagina. Oral antifungals and even topical cream applications of antifungals such as sertaconazole – which will kill both probiotic bacteria and candida – are typically tested and prescribed for between three and six weeks, with the majority being 30 days or more.
The researchers admitted this fault, as they stated:
“Further studies might investigate longer courses or topical formulations.”
Second, garlic is not a broad-spectrum antibiotic/antifungal. Yes, it is certainly has broad antibiotic and antifungal properties. It is not the nuclear strike that broad-spectrum antibiotic/antifungals are. Garlic also has prebiotic constituents, so it tends to feed certain species of probiotics.
Therefore, garlic application is better applied directly in a topical manner – directly to the vagina as the first research study mentioned documented.
Garlic has long clinical history
Garlic (Allium sativum) has a long history of clinical use for various infections. Recent studies have shown that garlic is effective at reducing inflammation and stimulating the body’s immune system to fight disease. Louis Pasteur was a great fan of garlic’s antiseptic properties. It was used to prevent gangrene during both world wars.
Garlic is also one of the most powerful antimicrobial plants known. A fresh garlic bulb has at least five different constituents known to inhibit bacteria, fungi and viruses – including allicin. Much of this antimicrobial capability, however, is destroyed by heat and oxygen. Therefore, eating freshly peeled bulbs are the most assured way to retain these antimicrobial abilities.
Thyme also contains antiseptic properties. Among other constituents, thyme contains thymol, which is currently used in a number of antiseptic formulations on the market today. Research has shown thymol to kill a number of types of bacteria.
A safe and effective natural treatment
Using a topical application of garlic and thyme oil appears to be safe and effective, with little side effects, and little risk of gut health. Oral garlic supplementation may be problematic because not only will it produce a die-off of some important probiotics, but its supplementation would require dosing for at least a month.
There is also clear evidence – as we have discussed in other articles, and in my book on probiotics – that the topical application of probiotics is also helpful for yeast and bacteria infections of the vagina. Oral probiotics also help oral candida infections according to other research.
One might consider, for example, alternating the application of garlic and probiotics.
Bahadoran P, Rokni FK, Fahami F. Investigating the therapeutic effect of vaginal cream containing garlic and thyme compared to clotrimazole cream for the treatment of mycotic vaginitis. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2010 Dec;15(Suppl 1):343-9.
Martin Lopez JE. Candidiasis (vulvovaginal). BMJ Clin Evid. 2015 Mar 16;2015. pii: 0815.
Watson CJ, Grando D, Fairley CK, Chondros P, Garland SM, Myers SP, Pirotta M. The effects of oral garlic on vaginal candida colony counts: a randomised placebo controlled double-blind trial. BJOG. 2014 Mar;121(4):498-506. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.12518.
Meriga B, Mopuri R, MuraliKrishna T. Insecticidal, antimicrobial and antioxidant Allium sativum. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2012 May;5(5):391-5. doi: 10.1016/S1995-7645(12)60065-0.
Croxtall JD, Plosker GL. Sertaconazole: a review of its use in the management of superficial mycoses in dermatology and gynaecology. Drugs. 2009;69(3):339-59. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200969030-00009.
Nurbhai M, Grimshaw J, Watson M, Bond C, Mollison J, Ludbrook A. Oral versus intra-vaginal imidazole and triazole anti-fungal treatment of uncomplicated vulvovaginal candidiasis (thrush). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Oct 17;(4):CD002845.
Bergner P. The Healing Power of Garlic. Prima Publishing, 1996.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.