Onychomycosis – commonly known as toenail fungus – is characterized by inflammation, pain, and swelling of the toe, as well as yellowing, thickening, and crumbling of the nail itself. Toenail fungus can be the result of abnormal pH of the skin, continuous exposure to moisture, wearing synthetic socks, compromised immune system, sweat build-up in shoes, poor foot hygiene, or weak circulation such as that caused by diabetes.
Modern medicine addresses toenail fungus with topical treatments, oral anti-fungal medicine, and in some cases surgical removal of the nail. Side effects of these medications may possibly include trouble breathing, swelling of the mouth or face, hives, rashes, blisters, headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, liver damage, weight gain, fatigue, heart problems, fever, diarrhea, and more pain – all just to get rid of fungus on your toenails…
Traditional herbal medicine does the same job using natural oils, fruit juices, and dry goods from your pantry most of which have no side effects at all (assuming that you aren’t allergic to them.) Easy choice. Here are the top ten options when it comes to natural remedies for toenail fungus.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the best remedies for toenail fungus, apple cider vinegar can be used topically, internally, or both. Mix one part ACV and one part Epsom salts with six parts hot water. Let the water cool so that it is still warm to the touch, but not so hot as to be damaging to your skin. Soak feet up to twice daily for at least thirty minutes to kill fungus. Mix two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar with eight ounces of warm water and add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten the beverage.
Read more about the amazing benefits of apple cider vinegar here.
2. Olive Leaf Extract
Another excellent choice for taking out toenail fungus is olive leaf extract. When taken daily as a supplement, this powerful natural remedy not only cures fungal infections. Olive leaf extract is also anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and can help lower cholesterol among other things.
Olive leaf extract is also a powerful detoxifier, so you may experience some discomfort when you first begin taking the supplement. In this case, consider lowering your daily dose while your body sheds the bulk of its stored up toxins. When you begin to feel revitalized, you can increase your intake to the recommended. Ready to try olive leaf extract? Get some here.
3. Tea Tree Oil
As both an antiseptic and fungicidal remedy, tea tree oil is a great remedy for onychomycosis. First clean areas on and around the infection with rubbing alcohol then apply undiluted tea tree oil directly to the affected nails and let it soak in. After about ten minutes, gently scrub the nail with a soft bristle toothbrush. When applying tea tree oil directly to skin, consider mixing the oil one-to-one with an all-natural carrier, like olive or almond oil. Repeat daily until the new healthy nail grows out completely, then continue treatment for two to three more weeks to prevent regrowth.
Furthermore, if you aren’t yet familiar with the many uses for tea tree oil, check out this article for some of the other great reasons to keep this amazing remedy in your medicine cabinet.
4. Orange Oil
Orange oil is another natural anti-fungal that can be applied daily to toenails in order to cure an infection. Use a dropper to apply oil on nails and between toes. Let the oil soak in for at least one hour. Orange oil may be too strong for people with sensitive skin. If you find this is the case for you, dilute the oil at a one-to-one ratio with an all-natural carrier such as olive oil. Also, because citrus allergies are somewhat common, it is recommended to test orange oil on a spot of healthy skin before applying it to infected nails. (Many health and wellness stores have open ‘testers’ of their products for just such a purpose.)
5. Corn Meal
One of the more interesting remedies for toenail fungus is organic cornmeal. Corn naturally hosts a form of fungus that is harmless to the human body but deadly to Candida – the most common fungal parasite that causes infections in people. In a container big enough to fit your foot (or both feet if needed), mix one cup of cornmeal and about two quarts of water. Allow the cornmeal to soak in the water for at least one hour then submerge the infected foot (or feet) in the mixture for a half hour or more. While the frequency of use for this remedy is up for debate, sources have reported success with treatment performed as seldom as once per week. Others say to perform it daily. Because cornmeal is totally harmless to skin and nails, realistically the treatment can be repeated as often as you like.
6. Baking Soda and Sodium Borate
Because fungus needs an acidic environment to flourish, alkaline baking soda actually prevents toenail fungus from spreading by creating an uninhabitable environment for it. Sodium borate, commonly known as simply borax is a naturally occurring mineral that is also a powerful fungicide. These two combined create a remedy that can cure nail fungus fast. Mix equal parts borax powder and baking soda with just enough water to form a paste. Wet feet and gently rub the mixture onto infected nails. Do this twice daily and continue for at least two weeks after fungus appears to have cleared up.
Read more about the many uses of baking soda in this article.
7. Coconut Oil
Caprylic acid, one of the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil, has the ability to penetrate the durable cell wall of Candida and other fungi. Without its protective coating the cells of the fungus dissolve, effectively destroying the infection. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to infected areas and let it soak in for at least fifteen minutes. Coconut oil is great for skin health, so there is no limit to how often you can use this treatment. Just make sure you aren’t allergic to coconuts before applying this product to sensitive tissue.
8. Lavender Oil
Anti-fungal properties of lavender oil make it an effective remedy for mild cases of toenail fungus. Apply a few drops of lavender oil (available to buy from this page on Amazon) to the infected nails every night and let it soak in while you sleep. To prevent the oil from rubbing off, you can optionally cover your feet with a pair of wool socks. Just be sure not to use socks made of synthetic fibers as this will only worsen the infection. Remember, a nail that looks healthy may still be hiding traces of fungus. It is best to continue topical treatments such as this one for at least a few weeks after the infection appears to be gone.
9. Oregano Oil
Another herb with anti-fungal properties is oregano. Mix a few drops of oregano oil into a teaspoon of carrier oil and dab onto infected nails. Alternately, because oregano is a perennial in temperate climates and very easy to grow, you may even want to create your own oregano-infused oil. Check out this great article by Mountain Rose Herbs for more information or alternatively, pick up a bottle of ready-to-go oregano oil from here.
An imbalance of healthy micro-flora in the body can also be a big cause of fungal overgrowth like onychomycosis. Be sure to partner a good pro-biotic supplement with your toenail fungus remedy. Thriving, healthy gut bacteria hinder the growth and spread of parasitic fungi and other microbes by limiting their available living space. Also, lactobacillus bacteria found in most probiotic supplements actually secrete a biproduct that is poisonous to Candida. Just make sure that your supplement contains no sugar or artificial fillers that may inadvertently feed the unwanted fungus.
Further Reading: Top 12 Probiotic Foods For Better Gut Health
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