Fungal mycosis is a fungal infection of our nails usually toenails but sometimes fingernails characterized by nail discoloration, deformity, detachment, thickening, crumbling, ridging.
Here’s an example of what it can look like. Reported prevalence is estimated to be about 1 in 25 people though it’s more common in older individuals. One in five over 60 years, and half of 70 year olds.
Unfortunately it’s really hard to treat because the fungus can hide deep inside the nail, protected from the blood supply on one side, or anything you want to put on topically on the other.
So, recurrence after treatment is common due to residual fungus – even if you’re able to beat it back. Many of the oral systemic treatments can be toxic and many topical applications require long treatment courses – which may limit patient compliance – especially in patients who want to use nail polish or something to cover it up.
Given all the problems with a lot of prescription anti-fungals, there has been renewed interest in natural remedies. If tea tree oil can affect athlete’s foot and endure fungus what about nail fungus? A study of a combination of an anti-fungal drug in Lotrimin cream with tea tree oil seemed pretty effective (compared to no treatment) but what about compared to each other?
One head-to-head study comparing tea tree oil with a common anti-fungal drug, in a double-blind randomized controlled trial, twice daily application was performed over a few months.
After six months the drug only wiped the fungus out completely in about one in ten cases but looked better – with partial or full resolution of the appearance in the majority of patients either from the doctors assessment or the patient’s.
The tea tree oil did just as well – the two preparations were comparable in efficacy of cure, with clinical assessment and subjective improvement. So for patients desiring a natural treatment for athlete’s foot or nail fungus, topical tea tree oil is a reasonable alternative to prescription or over-the-counter anti-fungals.
Speaking of natural treatments; how about a truly natural treatment – one potential reason for the poor long-term benefits of any therapy for nail fungus he said it may only be treating a manifestation of underlying disease such as generalized immune suppression or a peripheral micro or macro vascular disease,
A fungal nail infection may just be a manifestation of poor peripheral blood circulation, that would normally allow your body’s natural defenses to keep the fungus from taking root in the first place.
There was a study of 400 patients that looked at the relationship between blood circulation of the skin and development of fungal disease – and found a greater than 50% reduction in blood flow in patients with athlete’s foot and nail fungus compared with patients without these disorders.
So in many cases, as fungal nail infections are just a symptom of an underlying process then treatment aimed at eradication of a pathogen may be unrealistic – it just grows right back. A more appropriate goal then, may be to treat this as a circulation problem; why not instead improve the circulation?
We’ve known since the 1950’s you can effectively switch peripheral artery circulation on and off (like a light switch) within days, by switching people to a low-fat, plant-based diet instead of a more conventional diet (one that contributed to the problem in the first place).