Aspergillus is a genus, or category, consisting of hundreds of mold species around the world. Aspergillus species prefer oxygen-rich environments and are common contaminants on starchy foods, such as bread and potatoes, and some nuts, such as peanuts and walnuts. Some species cause fungal infections in people, animals and birds. Aspergillosis is a fungal infection of the respiratory tract, lungs and sinuses, which can become a life-threatening condition in immune-weakened people. Anti-fungal drugs are often effective at killing Aspergillus species, although some prefer herbal remedies that cause fewer side effects. Consult your primary care physician before you embark on an herbal regimen.
The species that most often cause aspergillosis infections are A. flavus, A. niger and A. fumigatus, according to “Human Biochemistry and Disease.” Aspergillus species produce large quantities of oxalic acid when they proliferate in the respiratory system, which leads to symptoms of chest and sinus pain, coughing, breathlessness and fever. Aspergillus lung infections are fairly common in those with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS and chemotherapy patients. The most common and successful conventional treatment of aspergillosis is a generic drug called itraconazole, which is a triazole type of anti-fungal. Itraconazole is considered safer than other triazoles, but many herbal anti-fungals are also effective with less risk of serious side effects.
A popular and economical natural anti-fungal remedy for Aspergillus and other fungal infections is raw garlic cloves. Garlic was used as an antimicrobial, blood cleanser and general health tonic as far back as ancient Greek and Chinese times, according to “The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine.” The strong anti-fungal properties of garlic are mainly related to a compound called allicin, which destroys a wide spectrum of mold, fungus and other potential pathogens throughout the body, although it seems to safeguard the beneficial bacteria of the intestinal tract, as cited in “Biochemistry of Human Nutrition.” Garlic is eaten raw or consumed as non-odorous capsules and is able to travel to the infected areas via the bloodstream.
Goldenseal root was traditionally used externally as a disinfectant to promote the healing of minor cuts and burns, but it was eventually discovered to be an effective anti-fungal and antiviral when consumed orally. Goldenseal root is not considered as strong as other anti-fungals on this list, but it is often recommended to be taken in conjunction with them, as it is thought to enhance their effects. Goldenseal root is taken as a capsule or a tincture. Check with your doctor before using goldenseal, though, to ensure safe and proper usage.
Olive Oil and Olive Leaf Extract
Olives were revered for their health properties for thousands of years by the peoples who populated the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Both olive oil and extracts taken from its leaves contain the chemical oleuropein, which displays strong anti-fungal properties. Instead of directly killing mold or fungi, oleuropein disrupts the reproductive cycles of Aspergillus species and quickly stops their proliferation and spread, as cited in “Fungal Infection: Diagnosis and Management.” Oleuropein also starves mold and fungi by reducing and stabilizing blood sugar levels, which is their main source of energy. Ask your doctor if olive leaf would be beneficial for your condition.
Coconut oil has been used by indigenous peoples of tropical regions for health benefits for countless generations. Coconut oil reduces mold and fungal infections in a variety of ways. It contains lauric, capric and caprylic acids, which have strong anti-fungal properties. Coconut oil also stimulates the immune system and is a mild laxative, which flushes dead or dying mold and fungi out of the body. According to “The New Healing Herbs,” coconut oil is a popular remedy for Candida yeast infections and Aspergillus fungal infections and is a good source of nutrition.
- “Human Biochemistry and Disease”; Gerald Litwack; 2008
- “The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine”; Simon Mills; 1994
- “Biochemistry of Human Nutrition”; George Gropper; 2000
- “Fungal Infection: Diagnosis and Management, 3rd Edition”; Richardson and Warnock; 2003
- “The New Healing Herbs”; Michael Castleman; 2010
Owen Bond began writing professionally in 1997. Bond wrote and published a monthly nutritional newsletter for six years while working in Brisbane, Australia as an accredited nutritionalist. Some of his articles were published in the "Brisbane Courier-Mail" newspaper. He received a Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan.