Does Olive Leaf Extract for Toenail Fungus Really Work?
A substance in olive leaf extract, called oleuropein, is thought to have potent antifungal, immune-enhancing, antiparasitic, and antimicrobial capabilities – making it an excellent natural remedy for toenail fungus. Olive leaf extract can also benefit your immune system, as it contains almost double the antioxidant capacity as that of vitamin C, vitamin E, grape seed extract and green tea.
Olive leaf extract is derived from the dark green leaves of the olive tree, called Olea Europea. Olive leaves were first used for medical purposes in Ancient Egypt when it was considered a symbol of “heavenly power.” They have been in the human diet for centuries for their powerful bioactive compounds which harbor powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, antiatherogenic, hypoglycemic and hypocholesterolemic properties.
Olive leaf extract can be applied directly to toenail fungus, or taken orally in capsule form. According to a review published in The Pharma Innovation, taking one to three olive leaf extract capsules with meals may be more effective in treating toenail fungus, than applying it topically.
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How Olive Leaf Extract for Toenail Fungus Works
Olive leaves are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants. Oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol are two of the most bioactive compounds found in their highest concentrations in olive leaves.
Toenail fungus is a contagious condition that occurs in many individuals. It generally occurs as a result of a suppressed immune system, and once a person is affected by it, it can be difficult to remove from the body. Fungal infections of the skin are among the most common infections that affect humans. In most cases, symptoms of toenail fungus may be a sign of yeast or candida in your body.
Infections that involve fungi on the nails are called Tinea unguium or onychomycosis. According to an article published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, they typically result from an underlying fungal growth from yeasts (mainly Candida), dermatophytes and non-dermatophyte molds.
1) Antifungal Effects
Olive leaves contain oleuropein, as well as derivatives, such as hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, which have been shown to reduce the risk of microbial infections. These bioactive compounds can suppress fungi, molds, years, bacteria, viruses, retroviruses, mycoplasmas and other parasites, particularly in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts.
Candida albicans is the most common yeast found in our mucosal membranes that stick to epithelial tissues and cause skin infections. According to a study published in Mycoses, olive leaf aqueous extract eliminated 15% of Candida albicans within 24 hours, and almost all the bacteria present within 3 hours. Another study published in Current Medical Mycology, confirmed the results of the previous research, indicating that olive leaf extract can be used as an effective treatment against Candida yeast.
A similar Croatian study, published in the journal, Molecules, found that oleuropein in olive leaf extract inhibits the activity of cellular enzymes secreted by Candida albicans, which may be associated with the pathogenicity of the yeast. It also discovered that oleuropein inhibits various other factors required by the fungi to survive and establish infection.
2) Immune-Boosting Effects
Toenail fungus is a common condition that typically occurs as a result of a poorly functioning immune system. Researchers have found that olive leaves may also have positive effects on the immune system, stimulating immune cells and bolstering the body’s defense mechanisms against damaging candida overgrowth and other parasitic invaders.
Chemotherapy, AIDS, cancers of the immune system and multiple myeloma are examples of conditions that may suppress immune system function. Research conducted by the New York University School of Medicine found that using olive leaf extract reversed changes associated with HIV-1 infection, indicating it can be used as a powerful tool against infections, and immune-system suppressors.
3) Improved Blood Circulation
The immune system relies heavily on adequate blood circulation. Your immune system becomes less effective in fighting infections when your blood circulation is compromised. Also, because inadequate blood flow affects the extremities first, it’s highly likely that one will contract nail fungus on their hands or feet when their immune system is impaired.
This explains why seniors are at high risk for toenail fungus. Your blood circulation naturally slows with age. The same goes for people with diabetes, which can severely affect blood circulation. Poor blood flow to the feet can prevent your nails from getting proper nutrition, making them more susceptible to damage.
Trauma is a common cause of toenail fungus as well. Oleuropein prevents arteries from constricting, improving heart function and increasing blood flow to all body tissues. It also helps diabetic patients control their blood sugar levels naturally. According to a study published in the European Journal of Medicine, taking olive leaf extract may lead to favorable improvements in cardiovascular risk factors.
How to Use Olive Leaf for Toenail Fungus
Olive leaf extract can be purchased in salves, capsules or tincture form. If you’re using a salve, be sure to use it as directed according to the strength of the active ingredient, oleuropein.
When taking olive leaf extract orally, it is critical that you start slow to prevent a Herxheimer reaction, or a “die off.” This reaction results from a detoxification process that causes flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea and muscle aches. The effect occurs only when a person takes large amounts of it without an introductory phase. However, slowly introducing and increasing the dosage may prevent this detoxification from taking place.
If you are looking to get rid of toenail fungus with olive leaf extract, your best option would be to take one to three capsules, twice a day. It’s vital that you always take olive leaf extract with your meals and drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent stomach upset.
You should also continue taking olive leaf until your toenail fungus completely clears from your system. This means that even as the fungus reduces and your toenail starts you clear, it is essential that you continue using olive leaf until the infected area has entirely grown out.
How to Keep Toenail Fungus from Returning
Although fungal nail infections are painless, they can often be unsightly. Common symptoms of toenail fungus include yellow or brown nails, split or crumbled nails, or lifted nails. However, when left untreated, it can become painful when you wear shoes. Therefore, it’s vital that you reach for appropriate treatment to heal the condition and prevent it from returning.
Once your toenail fungus has been completely eradicated, and your nail is once again, healthy, it is imperative that you take further steps to prevent the condition.
To prevent toenail fungus from coming back, you should follow these steps:
- Trim Your Toenails Regularly. This helps prevent dirt and debris from accumulating under the nails, thus reducing the risk of nail injuries. Furthermore, fungi can reside under long toenails, and due to the contagious nature of toenail fungus, the condition might affect other toenails as well. Be sure to trim your nails straight across to keep nails strong and prevent ingrown nails.
- Wear Breathable Footwear. Fungi thrive in warm, moist regions, such as sweaty shoes. Be sure to wear breathable socks made of natural fibers such as cotton and allow your feet to dry thoroughly whenever possible. Wear sandals whenever you can to prevent your feet from getting hot and sweaty.
- Wear Proper-Fitting Shoes. If your shoes touch your toes, they’re not the right size. Get your feet professionally measured and wear shoes that fit you well. You can also alternate shoes every day to air them out before wearing them again.
- Use Antifungal Products. Spray or sprinkle an antifungal spray or powder inside your shoes and socks every time you wear them. This will help control sweat and moisture that create the perfect environment for fungal infections. It’s crucial to use antifungal products especially on hotter days or before working out.
- Avoid Sharing Shoes and Nail Clippers. During your visit to a nail salon, always be sure to make sure that the staff sanitizes nail tools and footbaths before each use. If the salon doesn’t seem clean, try a different place or consider doing your own pedicure at home. Avoid sharing nail tools, towels and shoes with family members as well.
- Avoid Walking Barefoot in Pools and Locker Rooms. Wear flip flops or shower shoes while taking showers in public bathrooms. Fungi that cause ringworm, athlete’s foot and other skin infections may be present on public floors.
- Stop Using Nail Polish. Nail polish traps moisture under the polish, promoting the growth of fungus. If you are struggling to get rid of your toenail fungus, you may have to stop using nail polish or start using an antifungal toenail polish.
It’s also crucial that you maintain a healthy immune system by consuming fruit and vegetables, avoiding smoking, reducing alcohol, getting eight hours of sleep and working out regularly. If you are overweight, losing weight can be beneficial for your immune health and prevent toenail fungus in the future as well.
Include olive leaf extract supplements in your diet to remove toenail fungus (yeasts, dermatophytes, and non-dermatophyte molds) from your body naturally. And apply a topical toenail fungus treatment to clear up the obvious physical symptoms of the condition.