Essential Oils Proven to Fight Ringworm Infections

Ringworm essential oils.

Ringworm inhibited by essential oils.

Ask any veterinarian: Ringworm is one of those infections considered to have no conventional cure. When cats are infected, they may be cleaned and washed and hopefully will repel the infection over time, but there is no known cure for the infection among conventional veterinarians.

In humans, applying antifungals repeatedly over months and months can effect a removal of the infection – but these will often take time. In some cases, powerful prescription antifungals are necessary, and they usually work, but they have been shown to exert considerable toxicity and possible resistance over time, and for these reasons the European Community has banned the use of most ringworm antifungals on sheep and other farm animals.

Over-the-counter antifungal creams advertised as useful for combating the infection also tend to be often ineffective, depending upon the species of infection. Whether this is because the Microsporum canis or Trichophyton mentagrophytes fungi – which produce dermatophytoses that infect the cells – have become resistant remains to be fully understood.

What is known by most veterinarians is that ringworm infections are so difficult to treat that they will often refuse to allow ringworm-infected animals into their clinics or treatment areas.

Does Nature provide Antifungals?

Yet researchers from the University of Pisa have found that certain essential oils can effectively treat and largely cure the ringworm infection. In one study they applied a mixture of essential oils to seven cats infected with ringworm. The mixture cured four of the seven cats completely and the others showed improvement.

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The mixture was composed of 5% essential oil of Oregano (O. vulgare), 5% essential oil of Rosemary (R. officinalis) and 2% essential oil of Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) – in a base of sweet almond oil.

The researchers also tested a number of essential oils against no less than eleven different isolated species of ringworm. They found that Wild Thyme and Oregano show the most inhibition of the ringworm fungi. Star anise (Illicium verum), Rosemary and lemon oil (Citrus limon) closely trailed those oils in their ability to stop the infection.

A more recent study at the University of Pisa studied the same essential oils for ringworm infections occurring in sheep – infected by Trichophyton mentagrophytes. The researchers applied the same combination of oils described above onto 13 ringworm-infected sheep. They applied the oil combination twice a day for 15 days. Seven untreated sheep acted as controls.

The mixture was successful in treating all of the infected sheep given the essential oil blend, while the infection among the control animals continued.

Other Studies Confirm These Oils’ Antifungal Actions

Other research has found that Oregano and Wild Thyme have antifungal effects in other areas. A number of studies have found Oregano and Rosemary oils useful in eliminating aflatoxins from harvested fruits and grains.

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A species related to Wild Thyme – Thymus broussonetii – was found to inhibit candida in a study from Morroco’s University of Cadi Ayyad.

And In vitro and In vivo tests from Pakistan’s University of Karachi found that Oregano can inhibit urinary tract infections – many of which are fungal in nature.

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Mother Nature’s Formulary

Thyme and Oregano share potent antifungal constituents, particularly thymol, which has been isolated and utilized as an antifungal in conventional medicines. Oregano oil contains from 40 to 64% thymol.

Natural Oregano oil was found in a 2012 assay to also contain p-cymene, terpinene, bicyclogermacrene, terpinen-4-ol, α-pinene, octenol, α-terpinene, carvacrol, β-caryophyllene, β-myrcene, terpinenol, octanol, β-pinene, cineole, α-cubebene and β-ocimene. How is that for one of Mother Nature’s recipes!


Mugnaini L, Nardoni S, Pistelli L, Leonardi M, Giuliotti L, Benvenuti MN, Pisseri F, Mancianti F. A herbal antifungal formulation of Thymus serpillum, Origanum vulgare and Rosmarinus officinalis for treating ovine dermatophytosis due to Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Mycoses. 2013 May;56(3):333-7.

Mugnaini L, Nardoni S, Pinto L, Pistelli L, Leonardi M, Pisseri F, Mancianti F. In vitro and in vivo antifungal activity of some essential oils against feline isolates of Microsporum canis. J Mycol Med. 2012 Jun;22(2):179-84.

de Sousa LL, de Andrade SC, Athayde AJ, de Oliveira CE, de Sales CV, Madruga MS, de Souza EL. Efficacy of Origanum vulgare L. and Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oils in combination to control postharvest pathogenic Aspergilli and autochthonous mycoflora in Vitis labrusca L. (table grapes). Int J Food Microbiol. 2013 Jun 10;165(3):312-318.

Jamali CA, El Bouzidi L, Bekkouche K, Lahcen H, Markouk M, Wohlmuth H, Leach D, Abbad A. Chemical composition and antioxidant and anticandidal activities of essential oils from different wild Moroccan Thymus species. Chem Biodivers. 2012 Jun;9(6):1188-97.

Khan A, Bashir S, Khan SR, Gilani AH. Antiurolithic activity of Origanum vulgare is mediated through multiple pathways. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Oct 17;11:96.

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Portillo-Ruiz MC, Sánchez RA, Ramos SV, Muñoz JV, Nevárez-Moorillón GV. Antifungal effect of Mexican oregano (Lippia berlandieri Schauer) essential oil on a wheat flour-based medium. J Food Sci. 2012 Aug;77(8):M441-5.

Kloucek P, Smid J, Flesar J, Havlik J, Titera D, Rada V, Drabek O, Kokoska L. In vitro inhibitory activity of essential oil vapors against Ascosphaera apis. Nat Prod Commun. 2012 Feb;7(2):253-6.

Avila-Sosa R, Palou E, Jiménez Munguía MT, Nevárez-Moorillón GV, Navarro Cruz AR, López-Malo A. Antifungal activity by vapor contact of essential oils added to amaranth, chitosan, or starch edible films. Int J Food Microbiol. 2012 Feb 1;153(1-2):66-72.

Gómez-Sánchez A, Palou E, López-Malo A. Antifungal activity evaluation of Mexican oregano (Lippia berlandieri Schauer) essential oil on the growth of Aspergillus flavus by gaseous contact. J Food Prot. 2011 Dec;74(12):2192-8.

Verma RS, Padalia RC, Chauhan A. Volatile constituents of Origanum vulgare L., ‘thymol’ chemotype: variability in North India during plant ontogeny. Nat Prod Res. 2012;26(14):1358-62.

Missopolinou D, Tsioptsias C, Lambrou C, Panayiotou C. Selective extraction of oxygenated compounds from oregano with sub-critical water. J Sci Food Agric. 2012 Mar 15;92(4):814-20.

Bisht D, Pal A, Chanotiya CS, Mishra D, Pandey KN. Terpenoid composition and antifungal activity of three commercially important essential oils against Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus niger. Nat Prod Res. 2011 Dec;25(20):1993-8.

Lazar-Baker EE, Hetherington SD, Ku VV, Newman SM. Evaluation of commercial essential oil samples on the growth of postharvest pathogen Monilinia fructicola (G. Winter) Honey. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2011 Jan 19.


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