Fungal nail infections are one of the most stubborn conditions to treat.
But what if a potential treatment was hiding in our kitchen cabinets?
A recent and as yet unpublished study available on the Authorea Preprints platform reveals a common spice, found in all kitchens, is more effective than even the strongest chemical treatments for nail fungus.
Fungal nail infections are particularly prevalent in individuals with compromised immune systems. Infections in this population are resistant to most of the usual treatments and can develop resistance to antifungals, making treatment even more challenging.
Up to 31% of HIV-positive patients experience fungal nail infections and a similar percentage of people who are otherwise immunocompromised are also suspected to struggle with them. Therefore, it is crucial to find new, effective treatments.
Now, cinnamon is not just a pancake spice. It has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and its essential oil is recognized for its healing properties.
At the heart of these properties is a compound called cinnamaldehyde. In addition to giving cinnamon its distinct smell, cinnamaldehyde has been noted for its antibacterial and antifungal qualities.
This gave the authors of this new study their research idea. They wanted to know whether cinnamaldehyde could effectively fight off the yeast responsible for nail fungal infections in HIV/AIDS patients.
After collecting nail clippings from HIV/AIDS patients, they applied cinnamaldehyde to some, and cinnamaldehyde in combination with other antifungals to others. They then watched whether and how the fungi developed.
The results were promising:
1. Cinnamaldehyde was better than antifungals alone at preventing fungi from growing and spreading.
2. Cinnamaldehyde significantly reduced the ability of the Candida yeast, which often causes these infections, to stick to surfaces and form thick fungal layers called biofilms.
3. It worked well alongside other antifungal treatments, potentially boosting their effectiveness.
The fact that cinnamaldehyde can break down established yeast structures and prevent the formation of new structures is a big deal. Preventing thick biofilm layers from forming is even more advantageous, as these structures make nail fungus even more difficult to treat.
If you have cinnamon oil at home, try using that on your nails. Otherwise, cinnamaldehyde is available as a liquid at many health stores and online.