Does CBD Oil Help With Fungus?

  • Researchers of findings published in the British Journal of Pharmacology noted that cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabichromene (CBC), may boost the effects of caryophyllene oxide, an extremely potent antifungal(1).
  • Many terpenes have been found to possess antifungal properties in vitro (performed outside a living organism), as a study published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Journal in 2018 indicated. However, the authors reported that none of the essential oils in the study was as effective as purified CBD(2).
  • The highly lipophilic nature of terpenes makes them capable of disrupting the cell membrane, causing cell death, or inhibiting the proliferation of certain fungi, according to authors of a 2017 study published in the Pharmaceuticals Journal(3).
  • Results of a study that was published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews showed that both CBG and CBC possess antifungal properties. When these cannabinoids are combined, they produce an entourage effect, which can be found in a fullspectrum CBD-rich oil, also called wholeplant extract(4).

Why People Are Turning to CBD for Antifungal Treatment

Typically, fungal rash and infections are treated with topical antifungal drugs and medications, such as creams, lotions, and gels(5)

However, antifungal medications cause some side effects, especially when administered intravenously or taken orally.

Adverse reactions may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, rashes, skin redness, and itching or burning. These side effects are typically mild and last for a short time(6).

Occasionally, antifungal medicines may cause severe side effects, such as swelling of the face, neck, or tongue, difficulty breathing, peeling or blistering skin, and liver damage characterized by nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and jaundice(7).

A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology showed that certain cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabichromene (CBC), have moderate antifungal properties(8).

The study mostly examined the therapeutic benefits of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid that induces psychoactive effects on users.

The researchers also noted that the cannabinoids CBD, CBG, and CBC may boost the effects of an extremely potent antifungal: caryophyllene oxide (a primary terpene found in cannabis, basil, and hops).

Terpenes, or isoprenoids, which are similar to essential oils, provide cannabis plants their distinctive aromas and flavors. 

Many of the terpenes were also observed to possess antifungal properties in vitro, according to a study published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Journal in 2018(9).

In the said study, researchers noted that none of the essential oils was as effective as purified CBD. They also suggested that terpenoids (chemically-modified terpenes) may be used to reduce inflammation.

Meanwhile, research showed that terpenes help carry major cannabinoids, like CBD, through the bloodstream(10).

Terpenes form the largest group of phytochemicals and are vital contributors to the pharmacological properties of many medicinal herbs(11)

Some terpenes, such as β-amyrin and cycloartenol, were reported to possess antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties in research labs(12).

A 2006 study examined essential oils containing the terpenes alpha-pinene and delta3carene found in the cannabis plant. This study found that both terpenes, delta3carene in particular, had antifungal benefits(13).

Another study suggested the moderate antibacterial and strong antifungal effects of orange jessamine essential oil, which contains beta-caryophyllene, a terpene found in some cannabis strains(14).

Meanwhile, CBD was observed to possess anti-inflammatory characteristics, which may help with fungal infections, such as swelling, redness, and warmth(15).

CBD’s anti-inflammatory characteristics were demonstrated in several human and animal studies, like the 2014 human study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and the 2012 research conducted by authors from Hungary(16).

Another research published in the Free Radical Biology & Medicine Journal showed that CBD, which may interact with the endocannabinoid system’s (ECS’) cannabinoid receptors, is a promising prototype for anti-inflammatory drug development(17).

The ECS is a biological system responsible for several bodily functions.

The authors’ findings suggested that CBD may interact with the immune system, reducing stress and inflammation.

Studies like these suggest that CBD, as a potent anti-inflammation compound, may also help with fungal diseases.

Can CBD Help With Fungal Infections?

Fungi and humans have similar intracellular structures, as both are composed of eukaryotic cells, which, unlike bacteria, have a membrane protecting their nuclei.

Also, both humans and fungi are heterotrophic, meaning both species generate energy by feeding on other organisms in the ecosystem instead of producing their food like plants do(18).

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Fungi showed that the inhibition of ergosterol synthesis is the mode of action of many antifungal drugs(19).

Ergosterol is an immunologically active lipid that induces pyroptosis, according to the authors of a 2018 study in a journal published by the American Society for Microbiology(20).

Pyroptosis (from the Greek roots “pyro,” relating to fire or fever, and “ptosis,” denoting falling) is the proinflammatory programmed cell death(21).

Thus, antifungals work by inhibiting the production of ergosterol in fungi, ultimately destroying the fungi cell membranes without affecting human cells in the process, as explained in a 2017 study that examined the mechanistic targets of antifungal agents(22).

Consequently, if the cell membranes are not there to protect the fungus, it is destroyed.

At their chemical core, nearly all cannabinoids have a single hydroxyl group of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, as researchers of a study published in the Journal of Natural Products in 2016 noted(23).

As explained in the said study, these hydroxyl groups attract other compounds that include oxygen. When these compounds meet and react, they go through a chemical process called oxidation, which binds them, forever changing both molecules.

After the molecules have gone through oxidation with cannabinoids, fungal cells cannot build on themselves and continue multiplying. In their oxidized state, fungal cells cannot proliferate as they cannot produce ergosterol, which they need to survive.

This mechanism explains how cannabinoids theoretically prevent fungal infections from spreading by blocking them on a molecular level.

Although the said study was conducted on nine biologically active cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa only and did not include CBD, the results illustrated how cannabinoids work as antifungals.

In another study, researchers explored the antimicrobial and antifungal activities of cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabichromene (CBC)(24). Both of these cannabinoids are present in full-spectrum cannabis oil in varying quantities.

When all the cannabinoids work in synergy, they produce an entourage effect, found only in a full-spectrum CBD-rich oil (also called whole-plant extract).

Health Benefits of CBD Oil and Its Risks


  • The studies mentioned previously demonstrated CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties, which may help with fungal infections in the human body. However, these findings need further clinical research. 
  • CBD is non-addictive, says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in a 2015 article(25). This characteristic may suggest that CBD is safe for daily intake to improve wellness.
  • CBD “is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile,” as the World Health Organization (WHO) stated in a critical review(26).
  • CBD oil may be purchased without a prescription in locations where they are legally available.


  • Studies are limited to determine whether CBD is an effective treatment for conditions other than those approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • As with the use of any natural chemical compound, there are risks involved in using CBD. According to Mayo Clinic, possible side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, diarrhea, fatigue, and reduced appetite(27).
  • CBD may alter how the body metabolizes certain medications. Data from a 2019 study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine indicated that antifungals and anti-inflammatory medicines are among those that may adversely interact with CBD(28).
  • Dr. Doris Trauner, professor of neurosciences and pediatrics at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and a physician at San Diego’s Rady Children’s Hospital, cautions that CBD products marketed online and in dispensaries are mostly unregulated(29).
  • CBD use is restricted in some states. Based on the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived products with 0.3% or less THC content is federally legal in the United States(30)

However, it is best to remember that different states have specific regulations regarding CBD. Knowing these laws and stipulations may help avoid legal repercussions.

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Fungus

There has been a great interest in using essential oils as possible natural alternatives for conventional synthetic fungicides, according to a 2017 study published in the Pharmaceuticals Journal(31).

Researchers stated that essential oils represent one of the most promising natural products for fungal inhibition. 

They also noted that a wide variety of essential oils obtained from different plants or herbs exhibited powerful antifungal properties in the laboratory setting(32).

Another noteworthy finding was that essential oils may also attenuate the microbial growth and biofilm development through specific mechanisms(33).

Classified as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), essential oils are not harmful and may be preferred by consumers over synthetic agents(34).

The antimicrobial or antifungal activity of essential oils may be attributed to the properties of terpenes or terpenoids, according to a study published in the Pharmaceuticals Journal

The terpenes’ highly lipophilic nature makes them capable of disrupting the cell membrane, causing cell death, or inhibiting the proliferation of certain fungi(35).

In a study published in the Molecules Journal in 2018, 10 essential oils showed outstanding antifungal and cytotoxic (toxic to cells) activities in vitro: Indian, Australian, and Hawaiian sandalwoods, melissa, lemongrass, cilantro, cassia, cinnamon, patchouli, and vetiver essential oils(36).

Researchers noted that several essential oils showed notable antifungal actions against fungal pathogens in the non-clinical setting(37)

Thus, these oils may theoretically be a viable addition to current antifungal treatment options, as agents themselves or as adjuvant therapies, to combat fungal infections(38).

According to a 2017 study published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Journal, CBD had a better side effect profile than other drugs(39). Thus, CBD is generally safe to use.

The authors explained that this study on safety may improve patients’ compliance and adherence to treatment with the cannabinoid, as CBD is often used as an additional treatment (adjuvant therapy).

In an article posted by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) in June 2019, CBD was described as a potentially active agent for disrupting biofilms, a physical form of bacteria growth that leads to difficult-to-treat infections(40).

Like essential oils, full-spectrum CBD oil is derived from plants, most of which naturally contain potent terpenes that may prove beneficial in fighting fungus.

CBD oil’s high lipophilicity is another characteristic it shares with essential oils. This lipophilic property may help facilitate the diffusion of CBD oil, making it readily absorbed when used in topical or transdermal applications(41).

How to Choose the Right CBD to Help With Fungus

Studies cited previously showed that CBD is not the only cannabinoid with antifungal properties.

Hence, when choosing a CBD product to help with fungal infections, opt for one that contains full-spectrum CBD oil instead of CBD isolates or products that have pure CBD molecule alone. 

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all phytonutrients from hemp plants, including trace amounts of THC, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential oils. 

These compounds may work together to intensify the therapeutic benefits of each cannabinoid, resulting in the entourage effect.

Individuals with allergies to THC may opt to use broad-spectrum CBD oil, which is like full-spectrum CBD but without the THC that gets users high.

However, regardless of the form of the chosen CBD product, careful consideration must still be employed in selecting the best CBD oil to help with inflammation, fungal infection, and itchiness.

There is no recommended CBD dosage specific for fighting fungus or any fungal infections, as prospective clinical research should be undertaken.

According to an article written by Peter Grinspoon, MD, on Harvard Health in August 2019, experts do not know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition(42).

It is encouraged to consult with a doctor before taking CBD to avoid adverse interactions with other medications.

How to Take Antifungal CBD Oil

There are different types of fungal diseases, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The treatment varies with each type, depending on the particular affected area(43).

Fungal nail infections are among the most common fungal diseases that result in discolored, thick, and cracked nails. 

This type of fungal infection is commonly treated with oral antifungal drugs, medicated nail cream, or medicated nail polish(44). However, no studies confirm what medications treat this infection the fastest. 

Other types of fungal disease are athlete’s foot (fungal infection between the toes), vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection in the vaginal area), jock itch (yeast infection in the groin), and candida infections of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.

A consultation with a doctor can help determine the type of fungal infection that one has, and this information can help an individual set a specific target for the CBD.

Full-spectrum CBD oil may be the best option in fighting fungal infections as it contains all phytonutrients from hemp, including trace amounts of THC, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential oils.

One of the fastest ways to feel the effects of CBD is to vape it. However, an article in Harvard Health Publishing discussed several reports that vaping is linked to lung disease(45).

If the target is close to the skin or a mucous membrane, one could first try a localized CBD product, such as a topical or suppository. Topicals, like CBD creams, lotions, and patches, may also be applied to a skin’s target area.

For inflammation, CBD needs to travel through the bloodstream to reach its target. Oral CBD products, like tinctures, are best for this purpose. Sublingual (under the tongue) absorption provides a relatively fast onset time of 15 to 30 minutes(46).


Pharmaceutical antifungal options may be dangerous for some people and lead to undesirable effects on the human body.

CBD may provide relief from fungal infections without the adverse side effects that typically come with conventional antifungal treatments.

Medical cannabis, also called medical marijuana, is a term for Cannabis sativa plant derivatives used to relieve severe and chronic symptoms(47).

To fight fungal infections, choose a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD oil product that contains all the beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids of the cannabis plant.

Consulting a trusted medical practitioner experienced with cannabis use is the best course of action for anyone looking to try CBD for the first time.

  1. Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163(7):1344–1364. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x.
  2. Gallily R, Yekhtin Z, Hanuš LO. The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Terpenoids from Cannabis. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018;3(1):282–290. Published 2018 Dec 26. doi:10.1089/can.2018.0014.
  3. Nazzaro F, Fratianni F, Coppola R, Feo V. Essential Oils and Antifungal Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2017;10(4):86. Published 2017 Nov 2. doi:10.3390/ph10040086.
  4. Ghannoum MA, Rice LB. Antifungal agents: mode of action, mechanisms of resistance, and correlation of these mechanisms with bacterial resistance. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1999;12(4):501–517.
  5. Aaron, D. M., (February 2020), Overview of Fungal Skin Infections, retrieved from,-Antifungal%20drugs&text=Fungal%20infections%20are%20typically%20treated,also%20be%20taken%20by%20mouth.
  6. NHS Choices. (2020, Feb 3). Antifungal medicines. Retrieved from
  7. Ibid.
  8. Russo EB. op. Cit. ok
  9. Gallily R, Yekhtin Z, Hanuš LO. The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Terpenoids from Cannabis. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018;3(1):282–290. Published 2018 Dec 26. doi:10.1089/can.2018.0014.
  10. Andre CM, Hausman JF, Guerriero G. Cannabis sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules. Front Plant Sci. 2016;7:19. Published 2016 Feb 4. doi:10.3389/fpls.2016.00019.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Cavaleiro C, Pinto E, Gonçalves MJ, Salgueiro L. Antifungal activity of Juniperus essential oils against dermatophyte, Aspergillus and Candida strains. J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Jun;100(6):1333-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2006.02862.x. PMID: 16696681.
  14. Neta MCS, Vittorazzi C, […], and Scherer R. Effects of β-caryophyllene and Murraya paniculata essential oil in the murine hepatoma cells and in the bacteria and fungi 24-h time–kill curve studies.
  15. [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What is an inflammation? 2010 Nov 23 [Updated 2018 Feb 22]. Available from:
  16. Oláh A, Tóth BI, Borbíró I, et al. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. J Clin Invest. 2014;124(9):3713–3724. doi:10.1172/JCI64628; Ribeiro A, Ferraz-de-Paula V, […], and Palermo-Neto J. Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic plant-derived cannabinoid, decreases inflammation in a murine model of acute lung injury: role for the adenosine A(2A) receptor. Eur J Pharmacol. 2012 Mar 5;678(1-3):78-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2011.12.043. Epub 2012 Jan 12.
  17. Booz GW. Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011;51(5):1054–1061. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.01.007.
  18. Detoni M. (2015, Sept. 20). What do humans and fungi have in common? Retrieved from
  19. Pan, Jiao & Hu, Cuiting & Yu, Jae-Hyuk. (2018). Lipid Biosynthesis as an Antifungal Target. Journal of fungi (Basel, Switzerland). 4. 10.3390/jof4020050.
  20. Rodrigues ML. The Multifunctional Fungal Ergosterol. mBio. 2018;9(5):e01755-18. Published 2018 Sep 18. doi:10.1128/mBio.01755-18.
  21. Cookson, B. T., and M. A. Brennan. 2001. Pro-inflammatory programmed cell death. Trends Microbiol. 9:113-114.
  22. Mazu TK, Bricker BA, Flores-Rozas H, Ablordeppey SY. The Mechanistic Targets of Antifungal Agents: An Overview. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2016;16(7):555–578. doi:10.2174/1389557516666160118112103.
  23. Radwan MM, Elsohly MA, Slade D, Ahmed SA, Khan IA, Ross SA. Biologically active cannabinoids from high-potency Cannabis sativa. J Nat Prod. 2009;72(5):906–911. doi:10.1021/np900067k.
  24. Ghannoum MA, Rice LB. Antifungal agents: mode of action, mechanisms of resistance, and correlation of these mechanisms with bacterial resistance. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1999;12(4):501–517.
  25. Nora Volkow. NIDA. Researching Marijuana for Therapeutic Purposes: The Potential Promise of Cannabidiol (CBD). National Institute on Drug Abuse website. July 20, 2015. Accessed January 31, 2020.
  26. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Fortieth Meeting. Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. June 2018.
  27. Bauer, B. (2018, Dec 20). What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use? Retrieved from
  28. Brown JD, Winterstein AG. Potential Adverse Drug Events and Drug-Drug Interactions with Medical and Consumer Cannabidiol (CBD) Use. J Clin Med. 2019;8(7):989. Published 2019 Jul 8. doi:10.3390/jcm8070989.
  29. Peachman, RB. (2019, Feb 26). Can CBD Help Your Child? Retrieved from
  30. Congressional Research Service, (March 2019), Defining Hemp: A Fact Sheet, retrieved from
  31. Nazzaro F, Fratianni F, Coppola R, Feo V. Essential Oils and Antifungal Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2017;10(4):86. Published 2017 Nov 2. doi:10.3390/ph10040086.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Edris AE. Pharmaceutical and therapeutic potentials of essential oils and their individual volatile constituents: a review. Phytother Res. 2007 Apr;21(4):308-23. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.2072.
  35. Nazzaro F, Fratianni F, Coppola R, Feo V. Essential Oils and Antifungal Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2017;10(4):86. Published 2017 Nov 2. doi:10.3390/ph10040086.
  36. Powers CN, Osier JL, McFeeters RL, et al. Antifungal and Cytotoxic Activities of Sixty Commercially-Available Essential Oils. Molecules. 2018;23(7):1549. Published 2018 Jun 27. doi:10.3390/molecules23071549.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid.
  39. Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):139–154. Published 2017 Jun 1. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034.
  40. Khan, A. (2019, June 23). Cannabidiol is a Powerful New Antibiotic. Retrieved from
  41. Maghu S, Desai VD, Sharma R. Comparison of efficacy of alternative medicine with allopathy in treatment of oral fungal infection. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015;6(1):62–65. Published 2015 Mar 18. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2014.11.023.
  42. Grinspoon, P. (2018, Aug 24). Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Retrieved from
  43. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, May 6). Types of Fungal Diseases. Retrieved from
  44. Mayo Clinic, (n.d.), Nail Fungus, retrieved from
  45. Shmerling, R. H., (Spetember 2019), Can vaping damage your lungs? What we do (and don’t) know, retrieved from
  46. Konieczny, E., (2018), Healing with CBD, retrieved from
  47. Mayo Clinic. (2019, Nov 27). Medical Marijuana. Retrieved from
CBD Clinicals is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more