Top Natural Solutions for Nail Fungus

Fungal nail infections are an uncomfortable experience. They are notoriously hard to treat and can lead to further, more serious, complications if ignored. The current anti-fungal, prescription medications available leave a lot to be desired. Whilst often being ineffective at treating bacteria in and around the toe tissue, they can also cause several unwanted side effects. Coupled with a hefty price tag, it comes as no surprise that people are looking elsewhere for fungal infection relief. We take a look at what nail fungus is, how it's contracted, and what natural solutions you can use to rid yourself of this painful condition.

What Are We Talking About?

The term 'nail fungus' is medically referred to as onychomycosis—this is the most common form of nail disease and causes approximately half of all nail related conditions.

Symptoms can include any or all of the following:

  • Discoloration of the nail
  • Swelling of the nail
  • Brittle and ragged nails
  • Discomfort when pressure is applied to the nail

When left untreated, the fungus can spread to other nails on the foot, and in extreme cases can cause excruciating foot pain, leading to complete loss of the nail.

Fungi and bacteria exist in and on the body—this is normal and perfectly healthy. The problem arises when a fungus begins to overgrow on the affected tissue, resulting in infection. So what causes this overgrowth? Fungi require two things to thrive: warmth and moisture. This explains why toenails are more at risk than fingernails. Your shoes and socks act as a warm and moist environment to incubate the fungi.

Fungi require two things to thrive

In addition to developing the disease yourself, you can also be infected by other people you come in contact with. Public swimming pools are examples of high-risk areas; the moisture combined with bare feet makes severe infections significantly more likely.

The Problems

Nail fungus can be very difficult to get rid of when treated with traditional medications. Standard medical treatments have proven to be inefficient at treating disease, some with cure rates as low as 30%. Oral medications bring with them a whole range of potential adverse effects, with some medications being linked to liver damage. Topical treatment drugs are generally safer, but often struggle to penetrate deeper into the nail. We're going to share some wallet friendly natural solutions that can be just as effective as prescribed medications—without the negative side effects.

The Solutions

Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a natural remedy suggestion for an endless number of ailments: its versatility is indisputable. The oil's array of health benefits are down to its copious beneficial properties: it acts as an antiseptic, antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial, fungicide, stimulant, and more. What makes it particularly vital in the treatment of nail fungus is its antiseptic and antifungal properties. These properties help clean the infected area and fight the fungus.

In a clinical study by Tropical Medicine & International Health, a group of sixty patients suffering from onychomycosis were administered a cream containing tea tree oil.  After 16 weeks, 80% of patients were cured. That's over twice as effective as ciclopirox, one of the leading topical treatments.
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The efficiency of tea tree oil was also tested against that of clotrimazole (a prescribed fungal medication) in a comparative study. The two treatments were found to be of a similar level of effectiveness, with tea tree oil having the advantage of no possible adverse effects.

Tea tree oil is best administered by massaging the oil into the infected area without rinsing afterwards. This should be done twice daily for at least six months.

Snakeroot extract (Ageratina pichinchensis)
Snakeroot extract is a great anti-fungal product for toenail fungus. Snakeroot extract comes from the wild plant species, Ageratina pichinchensis. This plant is native to Mexico and is used in traditional medicine for the effective treatment against various health problems, including nail fungus.

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In a comparative study between the extract and the prescribed antifungal ciclopirox, results showed a clinical cure rate of 71% in patients, more than twice as effective as the ciclopirox. This makes it an attractive solution when the side effects of ciclopirox, such as burning, itching, swelling and other signs of irritation, are weighed against it.

Snakeroot extract also has the benefit of being more convenient, with the extract only needing to be applied topically every third day for the first month, twice a week for the second month, and just once a week for the third month. This is in contrast to ciclopirox, which must be applied every day for six months or more. The shorter duration of treatment and lack of side effects make snakeroot an effective, simple, cheap, and desirable alternative to prescribed antifungals.

For these scientific reasons, snakeroot extract is one of the great anti-fungal remedies for toenail fungus.

Thymol is a crystalline compound found in the essential oils of thyme and oregano, and there is mounting evidence concerning its effectiveness at treating nail fungus. The most common form of utilization has been through topically applying a medicated chest rub containing thymol.

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In a study documenting the antifungal effects of a generic medicated chest rub, scientists found that thymol was the most effective ingredient at inhibiting the pathogens that cause nail fungus. To further bolster these results, a recent study by the American Board of Family Medicine found that 15 of the 18 participants (an impressive 83%) showed improvement, with 10 patients experiencing partial clearance.

While possibly not as effective as some prescribed treatments, what we yet again see is a quantifiable improvement in nail condition, without the expense or health risks associated with prescribed oral medication.

When applying, be sure to coat the nail thoroughly daily until you're satisfied with the results. When combined with a carrier oil such as a good quality vegetable oil, the essential oil can be a more effective treatment. Make sure you are using therapeutic grade essential oils and apply a small amount first to test for allergies.

Natural Topical Ointments
Natural topical ointments also act as a great toenail fungus treatment. Emuaid is a great ointment option. The all natural homeopathic ointment is made with all natural ingredients including tea tree oil. Emuaid has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties and is a great all-in-one natural treatment choice.

What Next?

There is an understandable level of skepticism from dermatologists concerning many of these natural treatments; however people who are happy with the results of a natural solution are less likely to mention their success to their doctor than those individuals who were dissatisfied with the results. It's also the case that natural remedies don't generally have sales reps persuasively informing doctors about the studies that backup the treatment's effectiveness.

Natural solutions offer the effectiveness of prescribed and over-the-counter medication without the health risks. They are much less toxic and also lower in price. As with the medicinal remedies, it may take a while before you see results. The important thing is to keep applying your chosen remedy diligently, twice a day in many cases, often for longer than 6 months.