Fungal infections can live on the dead tissues of the hair, nails and outer skin levels. The presence of this common condition on the toenails, also known also as onychomycosis, accounts for nearly half of all such fungal nail disorders and can become quite painful if not addressed. Beginning as a light colored spot under the tip of the toenail, this fungus will initially cause the nails to lose their natural luster. As it continues to spread, the entire toenail will appear thick and distorted. The toenail may also become discolored, often first turning yellow as the edges begin to crumble. If nothing is given to destroy the fungus, the condition will worsen and eventually the color may become green, brown, or black and may emit a foul odor. At this point the nail may become completely detached from the toe and fall away, causing ongoing discomfort and even pain.
Although there are many options available to fight nail fungus, it is best to chose a natural remedy that is safe and effective. One such method is the rainforest herb pau d’arco. Also known as lapacho colorado, the bark of the pau d’arco tree has been used for hundreds of years in its native South America. This enormous canopy tree grows to nearly 100 feet high and can have a trunk up to 10 feet in diameter. The wood from this tree is used for a multitude of purposes, including the construction of houses and boats.
Indigenous groups in Argentina and Paraguay have long appreciated pau d’arco and its ability to fight infections such as ringworm and yeast infections. This herb was reportedly used extensively by the Incas to fight a number of health problems and has been used for internal problems such as fever, dysentery and intestinal problems. Not only has this herb been used to effectively combat harmful organisms, it has also shown great ability to destroy harmful fungus. It is the latter of these properties that makes it useful for toenail fungus.
When using this for toenail fungus, it is wise to carefully choose which brand of pau d’arco you will use. There are many products that claim to be effective, but which lack the appropriate amount of the active ingredient, lapachol, needed to successfully fight toenail fungus. The safest bet is to seek out the standardized extracts of pau d’arco to ensure that you are getting a quality product. Spagyric formulas are concentrated and highly effective too. Although these extracts may be somewhat more expensive that others, it is certainly worth it to know you are purchasing a product that will genuinely relieve you of your toenail fungus.
Because pau d’arco is not soluble in water it is ineffective if used as a hand soak or if ingested in a tea, although it is generally marketed as a tea in the United States. To fight toenail fungus with pau d’arco, it is best used externally in the form of pau d’arco oil or internally in a tincture. Rub a small amount of the oil on the affected area several times per day. It is also available in capsule form; however, it is necessary to carefully monitor the ingestion of this powerful herb as large amounts may cause nausea and abdominal upset.
When used as a topical agent against toenail fungus, it should be done two to three times daily. Internal formulas should be used 2 times a day. It is essential to complete this therapy daily for four to six months. Even as the fungus dies and the nail begins to clear it is vital to continue until the infected portion of the toenail has completely grown out. Once the toenail is completely healthy, it is vital to take steps to ensure that the fungus does not return. If you typically have your toenails done at a salon, be sure that it is one that sterilizes all manicure equipment. It also may be necessary to discontinue using toenail polish as it can trap moisture under the polish and encourage the growth of fungus. Keeping toenails clean and trimmed is important because fungus can make a home under the excess exposed toenail. Wear socks that allow the feet to breathe, such as those made from natural fibers like cotton. Throw away all old socks and replace as many shoes as possible to avoid re-infection of the nails. If you have exceptionally sweaty feet, give them ample time to dry out during the day, if possible.