Since I am in the somewhat unique position of being both a clinical herbalist and massage therapist, I have been able to track the relationship between toenail fungus and chronic inflammation. You see, clients may come to me with a pain in the hip or elbow or some other place - usually a joint; we discuss this, I work on the affected area and give stretches, but eventually - since they are there for a massage - I see their feet. To a one - they have toenail fungus and their pain seems to be proportional to the number of toes affected.
These clients often have a fondness for sweets, alcohol (especially beer and wine,) pasta and or bread. It occurred to me that there must be some connection. So in the spirit of 'it can't hurt,' I counseled the most desperate to modify their diets. The results were rapid and dramatic: a reduction or elimination all together of pain that had bothered them for years.
The diet modification I recommended and continue to recommend to my clients is the same one I use to treat Candida and other opportunistic microorganisms. So from my herb book's 'Wellness Through Herbs' Chapter, I offer the section on Candida with the diet guidelines spelled out.
Yeast infections were all the rage a few years ago. I was quite with the times and had a fine one myself.
The causes are many and common in our life styles:
These are but a few.
Candida are 'opportunistic' microorganisms. While they are common in the flora of the body, they can 'bloom' in our system like a pond in summer does with algae - and for similar reasons. In both cases there is an environment rich with nutrients and there is little or no competition. Not enough can be said about having a healthy balance of microorganisms in the body. They maintain digestive health and optimize the absorption of nutrients.
The symptoms of Candida and Candida-like blooms vary. I often see rashes, patches of dry skin - especially on the face, cradle cap and crusty scalp, jock itch, vagina and/or anus itch and irritation, toe nail fungus, canker sores, athletes foot, etc. Fortunately, I have seen these conditions clear up time after time when my clients have followed the program I am going to describe.
One particular soap box I can be found on is marked with "out with sugar." I think many of the ills experienced by the average person can be traced to the over consumption of refined carbohydrates in general, sugar in particular. Read any 'Candida' book and you will see described in great detail a 'Candida' diet and, no surprise, it basically eliminates all sugars and refined flours. If you go on one of these diets, the Candida symptoms will decrease and sometimes go away all together. Trouble is, even after months on this diet (and there are a few stalwart souls who last months - even years) the minute you go back to your old ways, the symptoms often reappear.
Enter an alternative plan - which works! - Even on me, the addicted daughter of an addicted daughter of a full-fledged sugar junkie. I will give full details of the plan, but first I'd like to give you some background information. My breakthrough occurred when I attended a lecture given by one of my favorite herbalists - Susun Weed. As with the Candida diet plans, she preached eliminating sugar, but introduced a new concept: providing competition for the Candida and other opportunistic microbes. Susan went on to describe how her kid goats nibble on just about everything - tree bark, grass, garbage - you name it. They do this, instinctively, to support their widening omnivore habits as they mature.
Susan also talked about baby termites being 'born' without the ability to digest wood/cellulose. To paraphrase Susun: The 'grandmother' termite regurgitates into the thorax of the 'baby' to give it the microorganisms needed to do termite work. The point Susun makes with the stories is that we have to consciously eat in a way that supports our digestive health - that it is not enough to just avoid certain foods - we must be mindful or what we include as well.
This made terrific sense to me and I (rather loosely) followed the reduced refined carb/ increased 'living foods' diet. Within a week I was symptom free and have been symptom free for nearly 10 years. Not to say I haven't reverted to sugar highs, but with the first signs of a certain itchy feeling, I'm back on living foods and off the simple carbs.
I have passed this program on to dozens of people. Some screamed "Heresy!" - because the Candida plan has you avoiding most living foods, except acidophilus. And that is why I told you some of Susun's stories - because woman does not digest by lactobacilli alone. No! Over 200 beneficial bacteria can exist - in balance - in a healthy intestine. Each has a unique role in aiding digestion and in the absorption of nutrients.
So what do I mean by 'living foods?' Here's the list for your right brain and shopping pleasure:Sauerkraut (especially the good old fashioned kind found in the refrigerator section.)
…and any other living foods you can think of - all cultures have them! Most of us eat some of these foods some of the time. Hopefully you can see that with some subtle shifts in your shopping/eating habits it can become pretty effortless to include some of them all of the time.
More of an effort is required in avoiding the refined carbohydrates - but the good news is that it's short term - 2 or 3 weeks. Though many people, because they feel so much better and have so much more energy, opt to stay on a loose version of this diet indefinitely.
So here's the list of food to avoid:
Any Form of concentrated sweetener - sugar, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, fructose, etc. etc. - alone or as an ingredient.
Any form of refined carbohydrate - this includes all products made from flour: bread, pasta, crackers, cakes, candy, cookies, etc. Note: The first week you may choose to get your starches from only vegetable sources: potatoes, beans, peas, etc. (the more complex carbohydrates.) After that you can experiment with whole grains: brown rice, porridge, quinoa, etc. You could also try breads made with sprouted grains - Manna Bread, Ezekial Bread are a few brand names. Let your energy level, your symptoms, be your guide.
Any refined fruits - this includes fruit juice, fruit leather, dried fruit, fruit spreads, etc. Cooked fruits are OK, such as poached pears or applesauce, all unsweetened, of course.
Alcoholic Beverages - especially commercial wine and beer - they contain microbial inhibitors, which are often the cause of the Candida, toe nail fungus, etc. in the first place. You don't need to go cold turkey. Remember that you can drink home brew. But be careful reintroducing alcohol after the few weeks off. If your symptoms come back, you may need to switch your habits. For example: avoiding wine and having a moderate amount of refined spirits instead.
So you know what to include in your diet and what to exclude - but what do you eat? For starters: Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and some good quality protein. Throw in some nuts, olive oil, lots of garlic (it's anti fungal), dairy products, etc. Translating that into meals can look something like this:
Breakfast: Coffee, tea with milk (no sugar;) 1) yogurt with applesauce and cut up fruit; 2) omelet loaded with mushrooms and interesting cheeses; tempeh strips (Fakin Bacon) or organic bacon or sausage; home fries.
Lunch: 1) Giant Chef's Salad with mushrooms, red onion, bleu cheese, walnuts, chicken, smoked tofu, avocado. Dress with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce and fresh pressed garlic - yum! 2) Leftovers from last night's dinner. 3) All sorts of soups - including miso. Just avoid thickeners.
Dinner - 1) Your basic meat (or meat substitute) 2 or 3 veggies, including potatoes, yams, etc. if you like. 2) Big plate of beans (unsweetened) franks (tofu or meat) sauerkraut and pickles. 3) Shrimp/scallop/tofu/chicken/beef stir-fry. 4) Your favorite pasta sauce (no sugar or thickeners) dumped over a baked potato. And a nice wedge of melon for dessert.
This is how I eat all the time - with the occasional bit of pasta, bread, dessert - and I feel great!
Coming off this diet - go slowly. Introduce whole grains as mentioned earlier. Try wheat- free cereals. Opt for whole grain breads. You want to save the pizza, bagels, cakes, candy, cookies and the like for special occasions. I have found that the more refined carbohydrates I eat - the more I crave. But the special occasion eating of them rather than daily consumption does not kick me into a craving cycle.
A final note: there are many natural products that can be considered anti-fungal. You might wish to do a short course of one of these once you have the diet under control. Check with your health care professional for a recommendation. For Toenail fungus, I have used some external applications: 1) Tea tree oil painted on the affected nails. 2) Pau d'arco tea, as a soak for the toes. (I also suggest drinking the tea daily.)