Evidence of Turmeric's Benefit against Systemic Fungal Infection

yeast infection on the skin

Lab and animal research suggest that turmeric and its compounds can help prevent and treat systemic fungal infections. Turmeric's antifungal properties have even been put to use in soaps to help heal skin wounds in patients infected with HIV. In a turmeric-based antibacterial soap, the herb inhibited Candida albicans and bacteria(v.222599)

Turmeric's Essential Oils

Studies show that the essential oils from turmeric's leaf and rhizome have antifungal activity against multiple fungal species that can cause systemic infections. These include: (v.118)

  • Various Candida species.
  • Cryptococcus neoformans.
  • Sporothrix schenckii.

Turmeric oil also exerts strong antibacterial and antimicrobial effects. These can be helpful with concurrent bacterial infections. Oil from turmeric leaves appears to work better than oil from its rhizome. (v.27106)

Prevents Production of Carcinogenic Aflatoxins

Aflatoxins are cancer-causing substances produced by certain fungi. Lab studies show turmeric leaf oil effectively stops over 95% of growth of Aspergilli fungi. Depending on the concentration used, turmeric leaf oil also suppressed 95-100% of aflatoxin production by Aspergillus flavus(v.107)

In particular, turmeric oil blocks mycotoxin genes. It also disrupts fungal cell membranes and functions. Animal studies confirm that turmeric's essential oil may prevent the toxic effects of aflatoxins. (v.243)

The main compounds in turmeric leaf oil include: (v.107)

Other turmeric leaf compounds include: (v.107)

Dried turmeric rhizome powder prevents DNA mutations in liver cells. This may help prevent the development of liver cancer(v.107123-124)

Whole turmeric rhizome extracts mostly contain ar-turmerone. Lab tests show turmeric rhizome extracts inhibit A. flavus. They also block over 90% of aflatoxin production by A. parasiticus. Conversely, using the turmeric compound curcumin by itself doesn't appear to block any aflatoxins from this Aspergilli fungus. (v.5107)

Individual Turmeric Compounds with Antifungal Effects

Many of the micronutrients and polyphenols in turmeric individually have potent antioxidant, fungicidal, and/or immune-boosting effects as well. These include:

Table V.11: Antifungal Effects of Turmeric Compounds

CURCUMIN combined with LED light

(lab tests)

Candida albicans, C. glabrata, and C. tropicalis

  • Candida fungi are often resistant to treatment by conventional antifungal drugs. But the combination of curcumin and LED was able to inhibit 73-85% of its fungal activity. (v.99)
  • The combination therapy was most effective against C. albicans(v.99)

CURCUMIN with piperine

(animal study)

Candida albicans

  • Curcumin and piperine given together significantly reduced growth of Candida(v.125-126)
  • The animal study was designed to model a systemic fungal infection. (v.125-126)


(lab studies)

Candida albicans, C. dubliniensis, C. glabrata, C. krusei, and C. tropicalis

  • Used by itself, curcumin suppressed all species of Candida(v.102)
  • It was most effective against C. albicans and two strains of C. dubliniensis. These were isolated from patients with HIV and AIDS. Curcumin concentrations of
    64 mg/L and 32 mg/L were used against these two Candida species. (v.102)
  • Curcumin prevented Candida from sticking to cells. (v.102)
  • Curcumin performed dramatically better than the antifungal drug fluconazole. It was especially effective against C. dubliniensis(v.102)


(lab studies)

Paracoccidioides brasiliensis

  • 4 of 7 different strains of P. brasiliensis were more susceptible to curcumin than the antifungal drug fluconazole. Curcumin concentrations of 0.5-8 mg/L were used compared to 8-16 mg/L doses of the drug. (v.102)
  • Curcumin was as effective as fluconazole against 1 of the remaining 3 strains (using concentrations of 4 mg/L). The remaining 2 fungal strains were more susceptible to fluconazole than curcumin. (v.102)


(lab studies)

Cryptococcus neoformans

  • At a concentration of 32 mg/L, curcumin completely blocked C. neoformans(v.102)


(lab studies)

Sporothrix schenckii

  • Curcumin was twice as strong as the conventional antifungal drug fluconazole against S. schenckii(v.102)

1,8-CINEOLE (v.73)

(lab studies)

Candida albicans, C. glabrata, C. kruzei, and C. tropicalis

  • 1,8-cineole disrupts the cell membranes of fungal yeasts. (v.7685)
  • 1,8-cineole blocks Candida's ability to form a protective biofilm. Biofilms make infections more difficult to treat. (v.7685)
  • It is also active against Candida strains that are resistant to the conventional antifungal drug fluconazole. (v.127)

α-PINENE (v.78)

(lab studies)

Candida albicans and dermatophytes

  • In concentrations of 1.5 mg/ml, α-pinene blocked growth of C. albicans(v.76128)
  • Alpha-pinene completely suppressed growth of dermatophyte types of fungi. Concentrations used ranged from 0.008-0.03%. (v.76128)

α-TERPINEOL (v.7375)

(lab studies)

Candida albicans, C. glabrata

  • Alpha-terpineol completely blocked yeast growth when used in concentrations of 0.06-0.25% by volume. (v.76)
  • In much lower concentrations (0.008-0.03%) α-terpineol fully stopped the growth of dermatophyte types of fungi.
    Dermatophytes cause fungal skin infections(v.76)
  • Alpha-terpineol also blocks Candida's ability to form a protective biofilm(v.76)

β-PINENE (v.78)

(lab studies)

Candida albicans

  • Concentrations of less than 0.016% (by volume) of beta-pinene completely stopped the growth of C. albicans(v.76)

BORNEOL (v.74-75)

(lab studies)

Candida albicans

  • Borneol was one of the compounds also found in various Achillea plants considered to have antifungal activity against C. albicans(v.87)

CAMPHOR (v.74-75)

(lab studies)

Candida albicans

  • Camphor also found in Achillea sintenisii showed good antifungal activity against C. albicans(v.87)


(lab studies)

Candida albicans, C. glabrata, C. kruzei, C. lusitaniae, C. parapsilosis, and C. tropicalis; Cryptococcus neoformans

  • Cinnamic acid strongly blocks all Candida strains in various concentrations. (v.129)
  • It also added to the antifungal effects of conventional antifungal drugs against C. albicans(v.129)
  • When used against C. neoformans, cinnamic acid synergistically increased the effectiveness of the antifungal drug itraconazole. (v.129)

EUGENOL (v.75)

(lab studies)

Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger

  • Eugenol blocks yeast's ability to form a protective biofilm(v.76)
  • At 3000 µg/ml concentration, eugenol stopped growth of C. albicans and A. niger(v.79)

FARNESOL (v.130)

(lab studies)

Candida albicans and C. parapsilosis

  • Low concentrations of farnesol significantly suppress Candida growth and biofilm formation. (v.76)


(lab studies)

Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, Sporothrix schenckii

  • Geraniol blocks C. albicans' ability to form a protective biofilm(v.76)
  • 200 µg/ml geraniol concentrations suppressed C. albicans(v.124)
  • At 100 µg/ml concentration, geraniol blocked growth of C. neoformans(v.124)
  • When citronella and geranium oils were tested, geraniol was one of two compounds of the two oils that were most active against fungi, including S. schenckii(v.123)

γ-TERPINENE (v.7375)

(lab studies)

Candida albicans, C. glabrata

  • In studies published after 1999, γ-terpinene was found to weaken fungi by changing the permeability of their cell membranes. (v.85)
  • Gamma-terpinene also blocks formation of biofilm by Candida fungi. (v.85)


(lab studies)

Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans

  • Various concentrations of limonene suppress growth of C. albicans and C. neoformans(v.76)

ρ-CYMENE (v.7378)

(lab studies)

Candida albicans, C. tropicalis, C. glabrata, C. kruzei; dermatophytes

  • Cymene compounds are active against fungal strains that are resistant to the conventional antifungal agent fluconazole. (v.127)


(lab studies)


  • Xanthorrhizol substantially increased the effectiveness of conventional antifungal drugs (amphotericin B and ketoconazole). (v.101)
Used in phototherapy.
Increases bioavailability of curcumin by 2000% in humans. (v.126)
The measured effectiveness of the combination is greater than the sum of both compounds' effects added together. (v.109)

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