Friday, December 12, 2008

Lavender for Nail Fungus

Natural healers often recommend using essential oils from herbs such as thyme, oregano, mint, and even lavender for nail fungus treatment. Lavender (from the scientific genus Lavandula) is not one of the commonest herbs mentioned in this regard, but it is a member of the mint family and scientific studies have shown that it does have some antifungal properties. Aromatic herbs, which must fend off the attacks of fungi and other organisms in nature, seem to produce potent substances that can be extracted or distilled from the plant to produce a concentrated antifungal substance.

Lavandula antifungal properties are perhaps the least well known of the herb's many uses - esthetic, culinary, and medicinal. Lavender has long been used to create a sweet flowery scent in perfumes, bath water, linens, and closets. It is used to flavor teas, potato dishes and other foods. It is known to have a calming effect and has been used in many first aid remedies including medicines for headache, wound dressings, and insect bites, and as a treatment for chronic health problems such as rheumatism, psoriasis and parasitic infections, to name just a few. Lavender has antiparasitic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, characteristics that explain why herbalists recommend lavender for nail fungus treatment.

The mechanism for lavandula antifungal activity is not well understood, but it may act in similar ways to essential oils from other herbs. Fungi that are actively growing spread by putting out long fine branching stalks called hyphae - most people have seen this type of growth on occasion when mold starts to grow on food items. It has been noted that essential herbal oils seem to eat away at the walls of hyphae, causing them to disintegrate and lose their inner contents. Interestingly, some studies show that a preparation that contains other essential oils as well as lavender for nail fungus may work better than single oils by themselves. For example, lavender oil appears to be synergistic with tea tree oil, meaning that the two mutually increase each other's positive effects.

Fungal nail infections have always been notoriously hard to treat and modern medicine, despite many attempts to find effective antifungals, hasn't been very successful at developing drugs that are both safe and effective. In this respect the potential of herbal oils such as lavandula antifungal extract provide considerable hope for people who don't want to take a systemic drug which may cause unpleasant side effects. Many preparations from alternative medicine vendors today contain special blends of essential oils including lavender for nail fungus, and there is a growing collection of literature confirming that these remedies do work. If you're looking for an alternative to an expensive prescription drug for a nail fungus infection, a natural remedy containing essential oils is worth a try.

Before starting self-treatment with lavender for nail fungus, or any other alternative or home remedy, have your nail infection confirmed by a medical professional: other nail conditions can look similar but will not respond to antifungal remedies.

R. Drysdale is a freelance writer with more than 25 years experience as a health care professional. She is a contributing editor to Lavender for Nail Fungus at Nail Fungus Treatment, a blog dedicated to the treatment of fingernail and toenail fungus.

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