What is a fungal infection?
Fungal infections are diseases caused by fungi (e.g.molds). If you have a fungal infection, your doctor usually calls it a mycosis.
These diseases affect any part of the body (because fungi can grow anywhere) but the most predominant areas are skin and nails.
They may also affect various internal organs and brain (fungal meningitis).
How common are fungal infections?
Fungal infections are quite common.
For instance, Candida (yeast) infection or candidiasis, one of the most common healthcare-associated fungal infections, affects about 46 thousand people in the USA (1).
Athlete's foot or tinea pedis affects 3 - 15% of the population (2).
In general, fungal infections mostly affect hospitalized and immunocompromised people (e.g. people with a weaker immune system).
Conventional treatment options for mycosis
If you suffer from a fungal infection, you should always see your physician and get a proper medical treatment.
Available treatment options include antifungal medications (such as Clotrimazole, Fluconazole or Amphotericin).
These drugs may be applied topically (e.g. directly on affected skin, nails, etc.), swallowed (peroral antimycotics) or as an IV (intravenous antimycotics).
Some medication requires a prescription from your doctor, while you may buy some over-the-counter antimycotic drugs in your local pharmacy.
How may apple cider vinegar help in treatment of fungal infections?
Apple cider vinegar is one of the strongest natural antibiotics and studies confirm that it may kill various microbes. In addition to viruses, bacteria or protozoa it may also deal with fungi and stops them grow (3).
Apple cider vinegar has strong antimycotic properties
Here is how ACV treats fungal infections:
Acetic acid in ACV has antifungal effects
Making of apple cider vinegar involves two steps. In the first one, we add yeast to crushed apples to ferment the sugar and convert it into alcohol.
Then we add bacteria into the alcohol solution to turn it into acetic acid, the main active ingredient in ACV.
Acetic acid is very efficient in eliminating harmful microbes and fungi from your body.
Several studies back the antimicrobial effects of acetic acid (4).
What is more, apple cider vinegar is very low in calories (one tablespoon of ACV contains just about three calories).
Pectin in ACV promotes growth of good gut bacteria
Fungi are opportunistic organisms, which usually start to grow when the immune functions are deranged.
Gut health is essential for the proper functionality of the immune system. There are trillions of helpful bacteria living in your digestive tract, which may prevent overgrowth of disease-causing organisms, including fungi.
However, these friendly bacteria must have something to eat. If they strive, they cannot grow and your risk of fungal infection (and other diseases) increases.
Apple cider vinegar is rich in pectin.
This ingredient comes from apples and is an important energy source for gut bacteria, promoting their growth (5).
These bacteria may inhibit fungus growth (6).
ACV may soothe itchy and sunburnt skin
Fungal infections predominantly affect irritated and damaged areas of your skin.
While there is no research to back up this claim, a topical application of diluted apple cider vinegar is claimed to manage skin irritation, itching or sunburns (7).
Chlorogenic acid in ACV reduces inflammation and oxidative stress
An exaggerated inflammatory response is responsible for most of the symptoms associated with fungal infections.
For instance, it is responsible for skin manifestations of mycosis, like itching and redness.
Apple cider vinegar is rich in chlorogenic acid, which may inhibit the activity of inflammation-causing enzymes and reduces oxidative stress in the body (8, 9).
The summary: Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, pectin and chlorogenic acid. These active ingredients are responsible for its antifungal properties.
How to use apple cider vinegar as a remedy for fungus?
There are several ways how to use ACV in the management of mycosis.
If you suffer from skin and nail fungus you may apply appropriately diluted (see the remedies below) apple cider vinegar topically (e.g. on affected areas).
For instance, the topical application of ACV may prove useful in blister or red rash forming yeast infections of the skin, which do not affect whole body but only some small areas of the skin.
You may add some apple cider vinegar to your warm baths to prevent skin infections and to heal vast areas of skin (e.g. if the infection is so spread that topical application would take ages).
A woman relaxing in a bath
See the remedies below for detailed instructions on how to use ACV in your baths.
For oral thrush (fungal infections in your mouth) you may use diluted ACV as mouthwash.
This may help you get rid of thrush and prevent spreading of fungi down your throat, stomach and intestines.
There are lots of apple cider vinegar supplements available on the market.
While these may be helpful to some extent, I do not think it is a good idea to take them as it has not been proved that they really work and they may cause serious burns (10).
Therefore only take these tablets with prior consent of your physician and at your own risk.
You may actually drink apple cider vinegar and research shows that it may have some positive effects in prevention of mycoses and cancer (11).
However the results are mixed (12).
If you decide to drink ACV, make sure you dilute it in the following ratio: 1 part of ACV in 4 parts of water.
Never drink undiluted apple cider vinegar and never exceed 30 ml of ACV daily.
The summary: There are many ways in which apple cider vinegar may be used in treatment of fungal infections, including topical application, mouthwash, bath or pills. Use ACV only with prior consent of your doctor.
What is the best ACV to use as fungus remedy?
Before we proceed to the real apple cider vinegar treatments, here is some valuable information for you.
You should know that apple cider vinegar comes in different qualities and some commonly marketed products may not have any healing properties.
Unfiltered (raw) apple cider vinegar contains proteins, enzymes and bacteria, which are responsible for its curing properties. These strands are commonly known as "The Mother".
However lots of manufacturers filter apple cider vinegar as it "looks and sells better".
Filtered apple cider vinegar does not contain "The Mother" and the majority of its healing qualities is lost.
Therefore make sure you only buy unfiltered raw organic apple cider vinegar from proven manufactures (such as Bragg’s) and make sure you read the product label before purchasing.
The product label should clearly state that ACV is raw and with "The Mother".
The summary: Only use and purchase unfiltered (raw) apple cider vinegar with "The Mother" in it for the best results.
Apple cider vinegar remedies for mycotic infections
Here is how to make and use apple cider vinegar treatments, which may help you deal with yeast and other fungal infections.
Remedy 1: Diluted ACV for skin
This treatment should be used for topical application on skin areas affected by fungal infection (e.g. ringworm, jock itch).
It takes just 5 minutes to prepare.
Use it two times a day until you get rid of mycosis.
Do not use this remedy without prior consent of your physician and stop using it immediately if your symptoms worsen.
- Two cotton balls
- Diluted raw ACV solution
How to make the remedy?
- Dilute 1 part of unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 4 parts of water (e.g. 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 4 tablespoons of water).
- Now take a couple of cotton balls and soak them in diluted ACV for two to three minutes.
- Pull out the ACV soaked cotton balls and gently rub the areas of skin suffering from fungus.
Remedy 2: Apple cider vinegar tampon
If you are suffering from a vaginal yeast infection (candidasis), here is an ACV remedy you may use to ease itching and other symptoms.
You will need about 5 minutes to prepare this solution.
- A vaginal tampon
- Diluted raw apple cider vinegar
How to make this remedy?
- Dilute 1 part of ACV in 4 parts of water (e.g. 1 tablespoon of ACV in 4 tablespoons of water).
- Soak a vaginal tampon in the solution for 2 - 3 minutes.
- Insert the tampon into your vagina.
- After 15 minutes remove the tampon and clean your genital area with diluted ACV solution (use soaked cotton balls for that as seen in remedy 1 above).
Read this for other apple cider vinegar remedies for urinary tract infections.
Remedy 3: Apple cider vinegar bath
If you need to treat larger areas of your skin or just prevent fungal infections, you may add some apple cider vinegar into your daily bath.
How to make this remedy?
- Fill your bathtub with enough lukewarm water to cover your body (head excluded).
- Pour two cups (about 500 ml) of unfiltered apple cider vinegar in your bath.
- Use your hands to produce waves in the water, so that it mixes with the vinegar.
- Now soak yourself completely into the water, so that the skin areas infected by fungi get covered in water.
- After 15 minutes, get out of the bath and rinse your body with clean water.
Remedy 4: Apple cider vinegar gargle
If you are suffering from oral thrush, try this ACV gargle. It just takes a few minutes to make and may prove helpful not just in treatment of fungus but also in management of bad breath (halitosis).
Three ways to use apple cider vinegar in treatment of mycoses
Use this remedy one time every day until you get rid of mouth fungus.
- Two tablespoons (30 ml) of unfiltered ACV
- A cup (235 ml) of water
How to make this remedy?
- Mix ACV with water.
- Stir well.
- Use the solution as "mouthwash" and gargle with it for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Do not swallow the liquid and spit it out into the sink.
Remedy 5: Apple cider vinegar nail drops
If you suffer from nail fungus this remedy may help you. Use twice a day until you heal the problem.
- Unfiltered apple cider vinegar and water solution
- A clean glass dropper bottle
How to make this remedy?
- Mix 1 part of apple cider vinegar in 4 parts of water.
- Stir well.
- Pour the mixture into the dropper bottle.
- Apply two drops to your nails affected by fungus.
Store this remedy in a refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Remedy 6: Apple cider vinegar foot or hand bath
If you are suffering from foot or hand fungus (e.g. conditions like athlete’s foot or nail fungus), you may give this ACV bath a try. It will also help you get rid of smelly feet.
Keep using this remedy one time a day until you see improvement of your issue.
- Unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- Basin to soak your hands or feet in
How to make this remedy?
- Fill your basin with lukewarm water (use enough water to cover your feet or hands up to the ankles or wrists).
- Add 1/2 cup (120 ml) of apple cider vinegar and stir well.
- Soak your feet or hands in the basin for 10 - 15 minutes.
- Rinse your feet or hands with clean water.
Remedy 7: Apple cider vinegar drink
You may drink diluted ACV to prevent mycoses or to strengthen your immune system and promote the growth of friendly gut bacteria. Make sure you do not consume more than 30 ml (two tablespoons) of apple cider vinegar a day.
How to make this remedy?
- Dilute 1 tablespoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass (250 ml) of water.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Drink once a day to prevent fungal infections and promote your gut health.
- Add 1 tea spoon of raw honey to make it sweeter and tastier.
Warning: Never drink ACV undiluted as it can cause throat and esophageal burns (13).
Remedy 8: Apple cider vinegar in your daily diet
It is quite easy to add apple cider vinegar into your diet.
Here is how to proceed:
- Dilute raw ACV (1 part of apple cider vinegar in 4 parts of water).
- Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and sprinkle some ACV mixture over your fruit and vegetable salad just before consuming it.
- You may also spray some ACV over any other dish, such as meat, pulses or fish.
Just make sure you do not exceed the maximum allowable ACV daily intake of 30 ml.
Remedy 9: Wash your fruits and vegetables with ACV
Fungi on fresh fruit and vegetables you consume may cause mycosis unless properly washed.
Washing foods in vinegar have been shown to kill many harmful bacteria and fungi, including E. coli (14, 15).
Therefore, using ACV as a "cleaning liquid" for your food may help prevent oral thrush and fungal infections of the tongue.
Here is how to proceed:
- Fill your basin or saucepan with water.
- Add 1/2 cup (120 ml) of apple cider vinegar for each 500 ml of water.
- Wash your food in the mixture.
- Rinse with clean water before eating.
Side effects of apple cider vinegar
While apple cider vinegar may have some healing effects on fungal infections, it is also associated with some risks.
ACV is acidic in nature and may cause throat burns or skin burns if used undiluted (16).
Drinking undiluted apple cider vinegar or taking ACV pills may result in sore throat or irreparable damage of the food pipe (esophagus).
When used on skin, it may irritate and burn the tissues and damage the hair cells and follicles (17).
Therefore you should only use it with prior consent of your physicians and never exceed maximum daily dosing (30 ml a day).
Also never use apple cider vinegar on damaged skin after removal of moles.
Make sure you always dilute apple cider vinegar before using it on your skin or as a drink.
Apple cider vinegar may worsen the symptoms of heartburn, nausea and bloating as it slows down stomach emptying (18).
Therefore you should not drink it if you suffer from these symptoms or diseases like gastroparesis.
Bloating is a common side effect associated with ACV use
The research also associates ACV intake with indigestion (19).
If you suffer from bloating or heartburn after drinking apple cider vinegar, you may either dilute it more (e.g. 1 part of ACV in 5 parts of water) or add 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of baking soda to your drink.
Bone loss and hypokalemia
There is no research confirming the effects of ACV on bone density and potassium levels, but one case report of a 28-year old woman consuming massive doses of apple cider vinegar attributed her decreased bone density and low potassium levels (hypokalemia) to ACV (20).
Also, you should not take apple cider vinegar if you are suffering from osteoporosis or taking medication for osteoporosis or bone loss.
To stay on the safe side, you should not consume excessive amounts of apple cider vinegar and limit your daily intake to 30 ml.
Tooth enamel deterioration
Frequent or excessive use of apple cider vinegar may erode your tooth enamel (21, 22).
So you should never use undiluted ACV as a gargle or drink.
If you are a regular consumer of apple cider vinegar have your teeth examined regularly by your dentist.
You should avoid using apple cider vinegar if you are taking the following medication:
- Diabetes medication (e.g. insulin, metformin, etc.) as taking ACV may cause a life-threatening hypoglycemia or hypokalemia (low potassium level).
- Diuretic drugs (these usually lower your blood potassium levels and ACV would decrease them even more).
- Heart medication such as Lanoxin (digoxin), which is used to treat atrial fibrillation and decreases blood potassium levels. The combination with ACV would, therefore, be too dangerous.
If you are not sure about ACV interactions with medical drugs you take, ask your doctor for advice before using apple cider vinegar.
The summary: The common side effects associated with use of apple cider vinegar include skin and throat burns, digestive issues, potassium level decrease and bone loss. ACV also interacts with some medical drugs, including insulin, diuretics and digoxin.
Is apple cider vinegar a real remedy for fungal infections?
Research confirms that ingredients found in apple cider vinegar have some antimycotic and antimicrobial properties.
On the other hand, there are no studies proving that apple cider vinegar is an effective remedy for fungal infections.
What is more, use of apple cider vinegar is associated with some side effects.
If I were you, I would always consult a doctor and ask him for proper medical treatment of your mycosis or yeast infection.
And if you want to add apple cider vinegar to your fungal infection remedy arsenal, ask your doctor for approval first.
Probably the best thing you can do is just add some apple cider vinegar to your diet. Sprinkle some diluted ACV over your salad or meat before you eat it.
This may actually help you prevent fungal infections but do not expect apple cider vinegar to cure your mycosis.