Probiotics are live bacteria that are similar to bacteria found in the human gastrointestinal tract. They are considered to be “good,” or “friendly," bacteria, as compared to pathogenic bacteria that can cause disease. Western doctors have come to recognize that probiotics are helpful in treating gastrointestinal disorders, and even for treating eczema in children. Many studies have shown that probiotics are likely to be helpful in promoting GI health. Most alternative practitioners, such as chiropractors and naturopaths, however, now feel that probiotics can also be helpful in treating the whole body, because they see imbalances in the GI tract as being the root of many other problems. Probiotics are particularly recommended for people with internal yeast infections. Toenail fungus is not the same species of fungus that causes yeast infections, but many practitioners believe that a person who is susceptible to one is likely to get the other as well. They recommend finding an appropriate topical treatment for the toenail, but also encourage their patients to work on bringing the bacterial populations in their bodies into balance by taking probiotics.
Fungi have a high rate of recurrence, even when people manage to get rid of them. There is not much point in treating a toenail fungus with probiotics or with antifungal agents unless you also take action to change the conditions that made it possible for fungi to settle in to begin with. This means, first, keeping the feet and toes clean and dry, and wearing socks that are clean and dry. Some people also find that they cannot totally eradicate toenail fungi until they make changes to their diet. Providing the body with a balanced, nourishing diet is helpful for most health conditions, and toenail fungi are no exception.
Using Probiotics to Get Rid of Toenail Fungus
Eat foods containing probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut.
You can also buy probiotic supplements in capsule or powder form. Take three times a day.
Why It Works
Many people develop a susceptibility to fungal infections because they have an imbalance of the bacteria in their intestines. Sometimes populations of “good” bacteria have been killed by a round of antibiotics or by a bout with a disease. If toenail fungus developed right after you took a round of antibiotics, it is safe to assume that taking probiotics should be a part of your recovery plan. In some cases, though, toenail fungus may have developed because of an exposure to fungi on the floor of a communal shower in a gym environment, and the bacterial balance in the intestines could be just fine. In that case, probiotics might not help.
Probiotics are generally considered safe for almost anyone. People with lactose intolerance or milk allergies should avoid dairy products containing probiotics. Some people have gas or bloating, temporarily, after beginning to take probiotics. This usually resolves as the body adjusts. Some scientists also feel that there is a theoretical risk that probiotics could cause infection in people who have severely compromised immune systems, such as people taking immunosuppressant drugs, or in people who have HIV or AIDS