Dandruff is often the result of a yeast infection (Malassezia furfur) that usually lasts a lifetime despite and treatment measures taken. However, there are some herbs that can lessen the effects without resorting to harsh chemicals. Nutritive shampoos cleanse and soothe the scalp. Herbal rinses help reduce the inflammation. Tea tree oil helps reduce the yeast or fungal cause. Apple cider vinegar is another remedy, plus such herbs as myrrh, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
There are numerous antifungal ointments, powders, creams, and solutions available over-the-counter. Many that contain tolnaflate are effective in providing relief, providing they are coupled with good hygiene. A systemic treatment involves the antibiotic griseofulvin that accumulates in the keratin tissues, exhibiting an antifungal effect. A newer group of antifungal agents called azoles are now used and can be obtained without a prescription. Fungacides work by damaging the shell of a fungii, enabling the human immune system to attack and destroy the interior of the fungal cell.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties in a component called chamazulene, which inhibits the production of inflammatory prostaglandins. The essential oil of chamomile can be applied directly to the skin or diluted in water, oil, or cream. One chamomile cream, called Kamillosan, has proven to be effective in relieving inflammation associated with dermatosis. Chamomile can be found in many skin creams.
Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) has many antimicrobial properties. A tincture of cloves made in 70% alcohol has been successful in treating athlete’s foot.
Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia,E. pallida, or E. purpurea) is one of the most widely used herbs. It stimulates the immune response, which can support the body in its fight against chronic infections. It is usually recommended that echinacea extract be taken 3xd (homeopathic solution) during an active infection.
Garlic (Allium sativum) has a successful history of treating fungal infections. This has been backed by scientific experiments.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) has been used for a very long time on fungal infections. Its antimicrobial activity is a result of its potent alkaloids, hydrastine, and berberine. Goldenseal is best used topically as a poultice directly on the affected areas of the skin to work in direct contact with the pathogen. Other herbs that contain berberine and may be useful arethe following: bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), shrub yellow root (Xanthorrhiza simplicissima), barberry (Berberis vulgaris), and goldthread (Coptis chinensis, or C. groenlandica).
Sage, rosemary, and thyme also have a history of use as antifungal agents.
Tea tree oil is the essential oil from various species of Melaleuca. It has been found to be active against most forms of fungus that cause skin infections. Results of its use rival those of expensive antifungal creams, as well as clotrimazole, used for toenail fungus. It can be applied full strength to nail fungus, but should be diluted when applying to the skin. It should never be taken internally.