Case Study: Athlete's Foot

Treat athlete's foot before it spreads

| March/April 1999

3 at home recipes to fight Athete's Foot

  Sage and Clove Foot Powder
 Fungus-Fighting Lotion
 Heat-Clearing Formula 

In addition to being an herbalist and health counselor, I’m an acupuncturist. Many important acupuncture points are around the ankles and between the toes, so I see a lot of naked feet. And among all these toes and soles, I see more signs of fungal infections than you might expect.

A few weeks ago I was working with Mike, a carpenter, who had an on-the-job knee injury. I took one look at his feet and wondered whether he was aware that a fungus was literally devouring them. He had the telltale peeling and scaling of skin in large patches on his soles, redness and cracking between several of his toes, and yellowing and thickening on his big toenails.

“The itching is driving me nuts,” Mike said as he sat up from the treatment table and began scratching his feet. A look of devilish pleasure came over his face, which soon turned to agony as the itching became even more intense and insistent. Powerful itching rashes are like that—alternating agony with ecstasy.

I asked him to stop scratching and lie back, and I applied some St.-John’s-wort oil liberally to the affected areas; the oil, although not a cure for athlete’s foot, temporarily stopped the itching and gave him peace of mind.

Considering foot fungi

As Mike began to relax, I told him that it’s important to treat any signs of athlete’s foot between the toes or on the soles immediately. When left untreated, the athlete’s foot fungus, Tinea pedis, can spread to the nails, where the infection becomes entrenched and difficult to treat. I have seen nail infections that continue to develop for years until the nail is eventually destroyed. In such cases, a doctor will sometimes remove the nail and prescribe a potent antifungal cream that can be quite toxic to the liver and kidneys. For resistant cases, a stronger oral drug called Griseofulvin is widely prescribed, with side effects ranging from headaches to lowered immunity.

Fungal infections of the feet are often considered surface infections with no connection to the internal world of the organs and tissues. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anything that occurs on the outside of the body, including rashes and eruptions, often has a corresponding internal condition contributing to the problem.

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