Fungus is a low form of plant life most commonly thought of as mushrooms and growths on the side of trees. Similar but different organisms live on and under the human skin and may even colonize our intestine. Many of these fungi are harmless and may compete with more aggressive or pathogenic fungi, thereby being protective. This is an important factor when treating fungal conditions because we do not wish to wipe out our own beneficial flora.
Most fungal infections are noticed because of red, itchy, inflamed areas on the skin. Athlete’s foot is the most frequent but fungi will grow in any darkened or moist area such as the groin, under the breasts, armpits and skin folds, especially in those who are overweight.
Fungi will predominate in those who are immunocompromised and, whilst not dangerous, can be an indication of a depressed immune system.
Medically speaking nails are an extension of the skin and therefore fungal infections of the nails should also respond to the following recommendations. Fungal infections of the nails are characterized by a discolouration (usually yellowing) and thickening of the nail without any discomfort. The fungus is embedded in the growing part of the nail (the nail bed) and is difficult to get at. Orthodox treatment recommends oral antifungal agents that will, unfortunately, not only destroy the harmful fungus over a six-month period but will also potentially damage the healthy fungus that we have on our skin and in our bowel. This treatment is not recommended by holistic practitioners, who are more concerned with the underlying deficiency in the immune system that has allowed the fungus to settle.
Twice daily applications of vinegar, selenium-containing solutions or grape seed extracts can be applied.
Garlic can be applied, although the smell may be unsociable. Fungal infections under the nail respond well to twice daily applications of garlic under the nail and around the nail bed.
Teatree oil applied in a solution as concentrated as the skin will allow (there should be no discomfort) is effective.
Reduce refined sugars and sweet foods.
Aerate the affected areas as much as possible.
There may be an association with yeast infection in the system and persisting fungal infections should be treated systematically (by looking at the whole body) by a complementary medical practitioner.
If the above techniques fail then antifungal drug treatments from the chemist can be used but avoid oral antifungal drug treatment by seeking complementary advice.