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Dear Pharmacist,

I have toenail fungus, three toenails that are thick, discolored and broken. It’s really unattractive. I’ve taken prescription medications, but they don’t work, and I’ve had this problem for many years. Will you help me?

--L.J., Dallas, Texas

Answer: Toenail fungus is termed “onychomycosis” by doctors, a big word for toenail crud. Keep in mind that just like your tongue, your fingernails and toenails are the outward expression of what’s going on inside of you. Long-standing toenail fungus could mean you have diabetes, or very poor immunity.

And while this seems obvious, I must remind you: Toenail fungus is a fungus! The laws of nature govern that fungus thrives in moisture. Sweaty feet will exacerbate fungus so make sure your shoes and socks consist of breathable material and let your tootsies go bare sometimes. Fungus flourishes in areas where healthy normal flora has been destroyed. If you lack a healthy stash of intestinal flora (ie probiotics) then the yeast can take over. It’s remarkable that estrogen-containing drugs like hormones and birth control fuel fungal growth; I think happens via the drug mugging effect these drugs have on intestinal flora.

Shelves are jam-packed with non-prescription treatments which I’ve listed below. Please resist the urge to email me and sound off that people smell you from a mile away, or you’re banished from your bedroom because you waft of salad dressing. And no pictures either, okay?! Here we go:

Vicks Vaporub- This is a cough/cold formula sold at pharmacies that contains menthol as its primary active ingredient. You rub it into your toenail about three times daily for a few months.

Apple cider vinegar or ACV- Sold at health food stores. ACV contains natural antifungals (including carbolic acid) and helps many people. Don’t use this if your nail is lifted off your nail bed because it may sting. Make a foot bath with one part ACV to two parts warm water and soak 20 minutes/day, for 3 to 6 months.

Saccharomyces boulardii- This oral dietary supplement is just a friendly yeast that helps drive out dangerous fungus. I recommend you take this along with a high-quality probiotic formula.

Clotrimazole- It’s just generic Lotrimin, sold at pharmacies and it’s has anti-fungal properties.

Tea Tree Oil or Cream- It contains “terpenoids” which are antiseptic and anti-fungal. Tea tree fights toenail crud just as well as clotrimazole according to the Journal of Family Practice.

I’m often asked if prescription anti-fungal drugs, taken orally, are safe. As America’s Pharmacist, I say try natural treatments first because their safer. A few of those prescription drugs have hurt the liver and it’s been fatal in some people. Reduce toxic load by eating more organic foods and avoid chemicals. The stronger your GI tract, the less you’ll develop fungus. Of course, see a podiatrist to ensure the healthiest toes and feet.

Did You Know?

If your teenager has a lot of acne, it may be due to zinc deficiency.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website,

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)