Candida are a group of yeasts that can cause fungal infections in different parts of the body. There are more than 20 different types of candida, but candida albicans is the most common cause of infection.

Candida normally live in the body without causing problems. They can be found in the intestines and on a type of tissue called mucous membranes, which line the vagina and mouth.

Candida are an opportunistic fungus that can grow out of control in the right circumstances. An overgrowth of candida causes an infection with a variety of symptoms. In the vagina, a candida infection is commonly known as a yeast infection. An infection in the mouth is called thrush. People with diabetes get yeast infections more often.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a scientifically proven antifungal. Laboratory research shows that it can inhibit the growth of candida growing in a petri dish. While it’s important to note that a petri dish is much different than a person, you may be able to use ACV to treat a yeast infection by ingesting it or applying it directly to the affected area. There’s probably little risk to trying this approach.

ACV has proven benefits as an antibacterial and antifungal agent. A 2018 study found that undiluted (or mildly diluted) ACV can prevent the growth of candida. The researchers discovered this effect in a candida culture, which is a small sample of these organisms.

However, more research is required to discover whether ACV works to combat yeast in the human body. It appears that this opportunistic fungus doesn’t like ACV. Consuming ACV could potentially make your body less hospitable to fungus, which means it wouldn’t grow out of control and cause an infection.

You can use ACV to combat candida in a variety of different ways. You can take it to treat an overgrowth or incorporate it into your daily routine to prevent future infections.

Drink it straight

Apple cider vinegar can be taken straight, undiluted. Try taking 1 tablespoon twice per day. It doesn’t taste great, but it’s not awful. You can always add a drop of honey. Follow it with a glass of water.

Continue this routine daily until your candida infection clears up or for as long as desired.

Gargle it

To treat an oral thrush infection, you can apply ACV directly to the infected tissue. Mix 1/2 cup of ACV into 1 cup of water. Gargle and swish it around your mouth for 15 seconds. Spit and repeat for at least three minutes.

Repeat these steps two to three times per day until the infection clears.

Add it to tea

Add 1 tablespoon of ACV into a cup of black tea. Studies show that the polyphenols in black tea work to slow the growth of candida. The flavor of the tea will also help mask the strong taste of ACV.

Drink this tincture twice per day to treat an infection and once per day as a preventative measure.

Use it as salad dressing

Apple cider vinegar makes a great salad dressing. Putting it on your salads is probably the least obtrusive way to incorporate it into your diet, because you’ll likely enjoy the taste. Mix ACV with olive oil for a quick and easy dressing, or get creative and spice it up with dried herbs or some garlic.

Mix it with coconut oil

To apply ACV topically, mix it into some organic coconut oil. Studies show that virgin coconut oil may be nearly as effective as prescription antifungal medications. For the best results, buy coconut oil that is 100 percent pure.

Mix 1 teaspoon of ACV into 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. You can apply this to the vulva, insert it into the vagina, or consume it orally. To insert into the vagina, remove a tampon from its applicator, and fill the applicator with your mixture. Learn more about using coconut oil to treat a yeast infection.

Be aware that coconut oil can break down the latex in condoms, so you’ll need to abstain from sex while using this treatment, or use another method of birth control if you want to prevent pregnancy.

Add it to a smoothie

Hide the strong taste of ACV by mixing it into your daily smoothie. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to any standard smoothie. Try complementing the taste of ACV by adding apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg. You can also make a green drink and mix in other natural antifungals like garlic, radishes, and cloves.

Use it in the bath

Many people find that mixing ACV into a warm bath helps sooth and moisturize the skin. It may also be an effective way to fight or prevent yeast infections. Bath water does make its way into the vagina. The tricky part is using enough ACV to make it effective.

Fill the tub halfway (at the most) and add 2 cups of ACV. Soak for about 15 minutes. While you’re in the tub, practice your Kegel exercises. Not only will this help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, it will help circulate water in and out of the vagina.

Apple cider vinegar has a very high safety profile. Generally, there are no negative side effects associated with drinking it, although too much can create a burning sensation in your throat since it’s acidic.

Little research has been done on the topical application of ACV, but most people don’t have any problems with it. Discontinue use if you experience any odd side effects.

If your symptoms don’t improve after one week, make an appointment with your doctor. Yeast infections share many of the same symptoms as other, more serious conditions. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and bacterial vaginosis are often mistaken for yeast infections. Left untreated, these conditions can put you at risk of serious complications and increase your vulnerability to other STIs.

The only way to make sure you’re treating the right condition is to get tested for yeast. If you test positive for a yeast infection, follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations. You can also ask your doctor about adding apple cider vinegar to your treatment plan.

ACV is thought to be natural and safe for people with diabetes who experience reoccurring yeast infections. Consider other treatments like coconut oil, over-the-counter suppositories, or prescription antifungal medication.