Posted by: Chris Maloney | October 14, 2012

How Do We Treat Fungal Infections Caused By Steroid Injections?

Fungus (3)

Fungus (3) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deaths and thousands of tainted bottles.  A set of generalized symptoms and an unknown length of incubation,  Sounds like an action movie, but it’s playing out on the news instead.

Are you at risk?  Have you had a steroid injection from an unknown source since May 21st?  If so, talk to your doctor.  You are very likely completely fine, but you don’t want to be slurring over the dinner table and spend precious hours getting worked up for a stroke when they really need you to start antifungals immediately.

At this point, we’re treating with several strong antifungals.  But the reality is that we don’t have a cure-all because we’ve had some deaths despite treatment.

The biggest treatment is the body’s own immune system, which is ironically suppressed by the steroid injection in the first place.  But one doctor in Tennessee estimated that only 1% of people getting the contaminated steroids would develop any disease.  So 99% of the time the body would be taking care of the issue.

If you want to become an expert on this particular fungus, it is possible relatively quickly.  Medline has only ninety-one abstracts listed under Exserohilum species.

To get a sense of where we stand with this fungus, in the last ten years two new strains of the fungus have been discovered and named in Israel.

So is the disease-causing ability of this species a new thing?  It was described as an emerging issue in 2006. It was also described as an emerging issue in 1986.  So when we hear it hasn’t really been an issue, it’s more likely we haven’t really been paying attention to it.

For an in depth look at the brown fungus species, head to the Mycology online pictures:

Oh, and what will kill this fungus if you just happen to not want it around your healthy body?   All the same things that will kill most funguses.  Think volatile oils and oily spices.  Turmeric and cinnamon spring to mind, although they haven’t been tried on this particular species.  Exserohilum is slow growing and a lot less deadly than a number of other fungi.  So the volatile oils that kill more aggressive fungi should work on Exserohilum.

J Tradit Chin Med. 2012 Mar;32(1):19-24.

Mechanisms, clinically curative effects, and antifungal activities of cinnamon oil and pogostemon oil complex against three species of Candida.

Wang GS, Deng JH, Ma YH, Shi M, Li B.


Department of Fungus, Second Hospital of Hebei Medical University, Hepingxilu 215, Shijiazhuang, Hebei 050000, China.


The anti-fungus mechanisms and curative effects of cinnamon oil and pogostemon oil complexes towards intestinal Candida infections were investigated. We measured the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of the complexes against Candida using proportionally-diluted test-tube medium, and examined the evolution of the morphology and structures of Candida albicans using scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) and transmission electronic microscopy (TEM). We found that the average MIC values of the complexes against the fungi were 0.064 mg/mL (cinnamon oil), 0.032 mg/mL (pogostemon oil) for Candida albicans, 0.129 mg/ mL (cinnamon oil), 0.064 mg/mL (pogostemon oil) for Candida tropicalis, and 0.129 mg/mL (cinnamon oil), 0.064 mg/mL (pogostemon oil), for Candida krusei. SEM examination over a 24-48 h period showed that the morphology of Candida albicans cells changed significantly. Irregular hollows appeared on the surfaces, inside organelles were destroyed and the cells burst after treatment. TEM examination over a 48 – 72 h period indicated that the cell walls were damaged, organelles were destroyed and most cytoplasms became empty bubbles. Sixty intestinal Candida-infected patients were treated with a capsule containing cinnamon and pogostemon oil. The curative ratio was 71.67% (43/60), and the improvement ratio was 28.33% (17/ 60), giving a total ratio of 100%. Thus, the cinnamon oil and pogostemon oil complexes had strong anti-fungus effects against Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, and Candida krusei. They impacted the morphology and sub-micro structures of the fungus within 48 – 72 h, and eventually denatured and killed the cells. The complexes have also shown considerable curative effects to intestinal Candida infections.

PMID: 22594097


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