When you look down at your toes, have you noticed that your toenails have a white, brown, or yellow discoloration in them? Perhaps your toenails may have even thickened or cracked, maybe even crumbling. These are the typical symptoms of toenail fungus, otherwise known by its medical term onychomcosis. Some people don’t even notice it until there is some swelling and associated pain while others spot it early.
Whichever of the above you can relate to, if you’re one who cares about your appearance and general wellbeing, you need to do something about it, particularly if your typical footwear exposes your toes. Most people will go shopping for pharmaceutical creams for toenail fungus, but we’re here to talk about some alternative natural remedies for toenail fungus which are not only just as effective, but less expensive, more permanent in their effect and take less time to work.
What Causes Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is caused by an abnormal pH levels in our system (“pH” stands for “potential for hydrogen” and refers to acidity or alkalinity levels, which are affected by hydrogen or oxygen respectively). Abnormal pH levels can be caused by poor hygiene, a compromised immune system after illness or chemotherapy, exposure to high levels of moisture, and/or poor circulation. When this happens, the opportunity arises for dermatophytes – a class of fungus that grows on the skin, hair and nails but doesn’t penetrate into the tissue – to breed and multiply and consequently, ‘feed’ on the skin.
The specific fungus from the dermatophytes family that causes tinea unguium or toenail fungus is called trichophyton. It can also lead to ringworm, jock itch, and even infections of the beard, skin and scalp.
Infection can also begin by touching objects that have dermatophytes on them, such as nail clippers, nail files, socks, shoes, shower floors, etc. Fortunately, it’s not usually transferred between people.
Try These Natural Remedies for Toenail Fungus
1. Improve Your Diet
One of the most effective keys to removing toenail fungus, is addressing your diet. Why? Because when we enjoy a healthy diet, it not only produces a more efficient immune system but also a balance between good bacteria and other microbes that keep each other under control. But if we’re taking antibiotics, or have poor digestion, or suffering from stress, hormonal changes, or perhaps undergone a medical procedure, combined with a diet high in sugar and grains, we become a prime target for the overgrowth of fungi which leads to toenail fungus infections.
Once it takes hold, the bacteria and yeast thrive off of sugar molecules entering the digestive tract through the foods you eat. That’s exactly why you need to eliminate the underlying cause, which is likely a reflection of your diet. This will help ultimately restore your body’s pH balance, improve your immune function and boost the presence of good bacteria in your gut.
Your diet should consist of foods that support the growth of good bacteria. These include fermented foods, cultured vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi, kombucha, yoghurt and kefir. These, supplemented by a quality probiotic, work toward restoring your gut health and powering up your body’s defense systems.
Increasing the fiber in your diet will provide you with substances that pass through your intestines without being absorbed, but taking along with them toxins, waste, fat and cholesterol particles until they are eliminated. You should also supply your gut with healthy fats such as coconut oil, which contains caprylic acid and lauric acid, which are antibacterial and anti-microbrial fatty acids that help your body kill off candida.
Go for the green and colorful vegetables, which are full of vitamins and minerals that assist with healing. Add herbs and spices such as garlic, turmeric and cinnamon, which are all great infection fighters. Minimize your intake of grains because these break down into sugar molecules which feed candida, yeast and bad bacteria. Same goes for alcoholic drinks which contain sugar.
You may need to go ‘cold turkey’ at first, but over time, will be able to slowly reintroduce some sources of sugar such as fruit, or whole grains. If you have lived with this condition for years, it may take some time.
Essential oils are more concentrated forms of oils which, rather than being crushed or pressed to produce them, have been distilled. Among the best essential oils for eliminating skin fungi, are tea tree oil, thyme oil, lavender and clove oils. These can be used to safely treat fungal infections, knowing that you are highly unlikely to experience any side effects.
Because essential oils are highly concentrated, they should be diluted before applying to the skin, but we’re talking toenails here. Combining them with carrier oils such as coconut, or pure castor oil will achieve this most effectively, as these oils also have anti-fungal properties.
Let’s say a few words about tea tree essential oil.
Tea tree oil is both an antiseptic and funcicidal (think ‘homicidal to fungi) remedy. In this case, you should apply the tea tree oil directly to the nail, let it soak in for a while. Then then gently scrub the toenail with a toothbrush. Do this every day until new toenail begins to grow out – and then continue for a few more weeks to prevent any recurrence.
Alternatively, you can place 4-5 drops of tea tree oil in enough water to soak your feet in, and do that for 15-20 minutes. Both treatments should be undertaken without fail, morning and evening.
3. Try Baking Soda
Toenail fungus needs an acidic environment to flourish. Baking soda, on the other hand, is alkaline. This being the case, baking soda will making living conditions impossible for these nasty little dermatophytes. If you combine some baking soda with sodium borate (Borax) with just enough water to form a paste and apply to the toenail, you’ll see great results fast. Do it twice daily and continue for 2 weeks after symptoms have subsided, to ensure that the symptoms don’t return. This solution will also help minimize any associated foot odor.
4. Vicks VapoRub – a Novel Approach
Vicks VapoRub contains camphor and eucalyptus oil, which have anti-fungal properties. A small study was done and results published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, which reported that 83 percent of people who used a cotton swab to apply a small amount of Vicks to an affected nail at least once a day reported improvement, with almost 20 percent getting rid of the infection entirely.
All you need to do, is apply a small amount of Vicks to the toenail, using a cotton swab, at least once a day. You’ll see better results if you’ve allowed your toes time to dry after showering, before doing this.
Toenail fungus is both embarrassing and unpleasant, so it’s one of those things we don’t want to ignore. The above natural remedies for toenail fungus have been proven effective and have a scientific basis for them. They’re also mostly inexpensive and convenient. Choose the one that you’ll enjoy the most and feel the satisfaction that comes from conquering a persistent problem.