Tea trees and toenails... For 40 years – since I spent six months in the Philippines while in the U.S. Navy – I've been battling a persistent toenail fungus. Twice over the past 20 years I've taken a course of Lamisil (generic: terbafine), which did a magnificent job of wiping out the fungus. Unfortunately, within six months of finishing each course the fungus returned. Lamisil accumulates in the liver, so it's not something you can just keep taking. Medicine offers no better solution.
So for the past 10 years or so, every time I go in for a physical I ask the doctor if there are any post-Lamisil treatments for toenail fungus. A little over a month ago, I asked my new GP that question, and got an answer I didn't expect. She told me that a recent Mayo Clinic study had shown that Australian tea tree oil, applied directly to the toenails twice a day, was just as effective as Lamisil – without any of Lamisil's problems. It was safe to use continuously.
I couldn't find a reference to the Mayo Clinic study that my doctor referred to in an online search, but I did find a little information. It wasn't particularly optimistic. Though I couldn't help being skeptical of it, I bought myself a little bottle of that tea tree oil the same day, and I've been applying it religiously ever since.
I'm happy (and a little surprised) to report that it seems to be working. It is certainly true that my toenails are in far better condition now than at any time other than during my two courses of Lamisil. What appears to be the case is that my toenails are growing in totally free of any fungal infection, and the affected parts are no longer infected (though they are, of course, still damaged by previous infection). It looks like within a few weeks my toenails will be completely clear. The only side-effect I've noticed is that our Savannah cat steers well clear of my feet – he doesn't like the smell of the tea tree oil :)