To help rid your body of fungal infections and parasites you may need to look no further than your kitchen cupboard. A variety of the most common foods may offer distinct anti-fungal and anti-parasitic effects. Some foods act directly on the infecting organisms, while others spur the immune system to attack. Always consult your doctor about using foods to treat an infection or other medical condition.
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Fresh garlic tops the list of anti-fungal and anti-parasite foods, according to Martha Libster, author of "Delmar's Integrative Herb Guide for Nurses." Organosulphur compounds in garlic increase your immune system's activity against bacteria, fungi and parasites. Fresh garlic has been found to be more effective than the anti-fungal drug nystatin against Candida albicans. Avoid dried garlic, which does not contain active allicin, the antimicrobial component of garlic. Dried garlic contains alliin, a precursor to allicin; however, the enzyme that converts alliin to allicin is destroyed by stomach acid.
Onions and cruciferous vegetables contain thiols, sulfur-bearing chemicals with anti-fungal effects, says certified nutritional consultant Phyllis Balch, author of the book "Prescription for Dietary Wellness." Thiols also prevent blood clotting and have cholesterol-lowering effects. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale and others. Chopping or chewing these vegetables activates their health-promoting qualities. A study published in the February 2011 issue of the journal "Food and Chemical Toxicology" reported that a fermented cabbage product exerted significant inhibition of Candida.
Pumpkin seeds are particularly anti-parasitic, says naturopath Asa Hershoff, N.D., author of the book "Herbal Remedies: A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and Their Herbal Treatments." Pumpkin seeds are known to be effective against tapeworms and pinworms. Take 12 oz. of pumpkin seeds after fasting for 12 hours. One hour after consuming the pumpkin seeds, drink warm fluids and take a laxative to encourage elimination. Pumpkin seeds are safer than conventional de-worming agents and can be taken by children and pregnant women.
Figs, cinnamon, cloves and rhubarb are good dietary sources to ward off parasites. Rhubarb has laxative properties that stimulate removal of parasites. Ginger and olive leaf also offer mild anti-parasitic effects, according to Trent W. Nichols, author of the book "Optimal Digestive Health: a Complete Guide." Ginger contains a chemical called zingibain that has been shown to dissolve parasites and their eggs, and the Japanese pair ginger with sushi for this reason. Pomegranate stems and roots provide anti-parasitic effects by virtue of a compound called pseudopelletierine.