This Little-Known Herb May Be Effective Against Candida

Pseudowintera colorata. Also known as Red Horopito, New Zealand Pepper tree, Winter’s bark. Found in New Zealand, it’s a traditional medicinal herb of the Maori people. And maybe an herb effective against Candida?

What Is It?

It’s an evergreen shrub that grows in wet areas of New Zealand. In fact, Horopito can only survive in very wet, rainy environments because it can’t conduct water the way most other plants do.

Its leaves produce taxifolin and quercetin, which are antioxidants. But the most important substance its leaves produce is called sesquiterpene dialdehyde. Also known as polygodial, this is what gives Horopito its antifungal (and antibacterial) properties.

How Does It Work?

Polygodial has lots of tricks up its sleeve. It combats Candida in a number of ways, including disrupting the yeast’s cell membranes. It acts as a surfactant, like soap.

And one of the sneakiest strategies Candida uses is called a biofilm. It’s a protective surface that some microorganisms build up around themselves. Like the walls of a house, it keeps the antibiotics out.


There is a fair bit of research. For instance, one study found the herb effective against Candida. Another study compared a polygodial compound to itraconazole and found the plant compound was as effective as the “azole” antifungal.

How Do You Take It?

It’s being grown commercially now. It’s available in capsules, powders, and liquids. But taking it with food is recommended, as is drinking a glass of water with it.

Because Horopito is hot. It’s peppery, citrusy, woody, and hot. But the heat comes from the polygodial, so it might just be worth it.

Some people can’t stand Horopito, either because of the heat or the taste (thank goodness for capsules). Others use it in their cooking as a spice. And eating it, if you don’t hate it, might be beneficial for your oral health.


Horopito has some very promising research behind it. And to find an herb effective against Candida would bring real relief to those who are besieged by Candida albicans.

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